25 facts for Valve super fans!

Celebrate Valve’s birthday with some BTS trivia

24 Aug 2021

If you’ve ever bought or played a PC game, you probably know Valve Corporation. Actually scratch that, if you’re a gamer full stop you probably know who Valve are. Valve aren’t just responsible for some of the greatest games of all time -like Half Life, Portal and Counter-Strike. They also built Steam, the world’s most famous marketplace and gaming community.

And today, Valve is 25 years old! So let’s take a few minutes to celebrate all things Valve with these 25 facts for Valve super fans.


#1 Eat. Sleep. Steam. Repeat.

Steam isn’t just for buying games – it's for updating them, modding them and chatting to your mates. So it’s no wonder a massive 62.6 million people use Steam every day![1]


#2 Who’s that guy in Valve’s logo?

Back in the day, Valve’s logo was a man with a valve where his left eye should be. And the original model for that logo was a former Valve employee. But what about Valve’s logo now?

When the team developed Valve’s current logo (a bald guy with a valve coming out the back of his head) they pulled a random person of the street for the photo. So the Valve guys identity is pretty much a mystery!


#3 Full Steam ahead

If you have your own gaming PC... or if you’ve just ever downloaded a PC game, chances are you bought it on Steam- a 75% chance to be exact. That’s because Steam accounts for over 75% of digital gaming sales.[2] That’s a whole lot of play time!


#4 The most successful mod of all time?

Counter-Strike didn’t start off as a game in its own right. In fact, it was originally a Half Life mod that got so popular Valve bought the rights to turn it into a fully-fledged game. Pretty humble beginnings for what’s now the most played game on Steam[3].


#5 No Microsoft, no Valve.

Valve was founded back in 1996 by Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington. But where did they get the money to start their new business? From Microsoft! Both of them made their fortune from working at Microsoft. But, lucky for us, they left to make video games and Valve was born.


#6 Better than a bot

Before the latest update, if you couldn’t make up a full team of players in Counter-Strike, AI bots would fill in any spares. But the names of those bots were actually inspired by real-life people. Gabe was named after Gabe Newell (Steam co-founder); Dave was named after the creator of the Dust, Dust 2 and Cobble maps; and Minh and Cliff were named after Counter-Strike’s original developers.


#7 Portal gets an A+

Valve’s smash hit game actually started off its life as a student project. A bunch of game design students at DigiPen created a game called Narbacular Drop. In it, players have to solve a bunch of puzzles using- you guessed it – two portals. Gabe Newell discovered the game and loved it, hiring the entire dev team to create a full game.


#8 Good things don’t always come in threes

Half Life and Half Life 2 are often held up as two of the greatest games in video game history... which is probably why fans were desperate for a Half Life 3. Well, that and the fact that Half Life 2 never got a proper ending.

Valve decided that rather than making one big Half Life 3 game – which would take years to release – they'd release smaller game episodes to follow on the Half Life 2 story. Except that they stopped at Episode 2, leaving the story interrupted again. That’s why you’ll see a whole load of memes about Gabe Newell (Valve’s co-founder) hating the number 3!


#9 Gaming gets the big screen treatment

Portal: the movie. Yep, you read that right. JJ Abrams (director of Star Wars and Star Trek) and Valve’s Gabe Newell announced their collab all the way back in 2013. But it looks like things are picking up the pace now, with Abrams saying a script is finally in the works.[4]


#10 You’re my hero!

Loads of the Dota 2 heroes take their inspiration from characters in Warcraft III. And it’s not surprising really, since Dota started off as a Warcraft III mod before it was developed into its own game by Valve.

But Warcraft isn’t Dota’s only original source. You can find heroes related to a bunch of other fantasy games and stories, like Sega’s Phantasy Star, Blizzard’s Diablo and Magic: The Gathering.


#11 Games, games everywhere

Ever lost for what to play next? Well, one thing’s for sure, we’re definitely spoiled for choice these days. Over 6000 games are launched on Steam every year. In 2020 it was more like 10,000![5]


#12 NASA gives a nod to Portal 2

If you’ve created a game set in space, probably one of the biggest compliments you can get is a thumbs-up from NASA. Which is exactly what happened in 2012 when a NASA tech showed Valve a picture of Wheatley they’d drawn on an ISS supply ship. You can check it out here!


#13 From updates to everything

A person looking at Resident Evil 3 on Steam

When Steam was created, Valve probably had no idea it would be as massive as it is today. Basically, every time Valve issued an update for their multiplayer games, it would stop loads of people getting online until everyone had downloaded the patch.

So Steam started off its life in 2003 as a way for Valve to automatically patch their own games, like Half Life or Counter-Stike. Plus, it made it way harder for people to illegally download or share their titles. Steam was such a success, it wasn’t long before other publishers and devs wanted to get in on the act!


#14 Anything from Half Life sound familiar?

If you’ve ever read Stephen King’s The Mist then you might already have realised that it was one of the inspirations for the plot of Half Life. In King’s novel a military experiment goes wrong, unleashing a whole lot of chaos… just like in Half Life. As a nod to the book, Half Life was code-named Quiver while it was in development, after the Arrowhead military base in The Mist.


#15 A quick tip to keep your head in the game

You know how it is. You’ve done the same boss fight about a gazillion times and it’s time to admit (semi) defeat and pull up the walkthrough. You have to pause, leave the game, pull up the browser, all of it adding salt to the wound.

Not anymore! If you’re playing a game on Steam you can press Shift and Tab to open the in-game overlay. This is basically a Steam dashboard that goes over the top of your game, letting you use Steam chat or other features. But at the bottom of the page there’s also a Web Browser link that lets you check stuff online without exiting the game. Easy!


#16 Hunt for this Left 4 Dead easter egg

If you’re ever playing Left 4 Dead, keep an eye out during the hospital section of the ‘No Mercy’ campaign. In a room near the elevator you’ll see three x-rays hanging up on the wall. One of them is a thumbless hand, just like the Left 4 Dead logo!


#17 No dice, EA

Let’s be honest, what company wouldn’t want to own Valve? So you can’t blame EA for trying to buy the business for $1bn. Gabe Newell was pretty clear though that Valve would rather ‘disintegrate’ than sell out.[6]


#18 GLaDOS? Meaner!?

One blue and one orange portal

We already think Portal’s GLaDOS is pretty harsh, and we kind of love her for it. But apparently she was originally way more cruel. So cruel, in fact, that the developers decided to tone it down after playtesters found it all a bit too much.  That’s how we got the passive-aggressive GLaDOS we all know and love today.


#19 This zombie didn’t make the cut

Valve originally designed an extra Special Infected to join the lineup: the Screamer. The key with the Screamer was to stay well away. If you disturbed it at all it would run off and scream, attracting a whole lot of zombies.

The Screamer was cut from the game, but lots of elements got added to other Special Infected. You had to avoid it, like The Witch. Its ‘attack’ made zombie hordes come running, like the Boomer. It screamed, like the Hunter. And, finally, it has a crazy creepy laugh, like the Jockey.


#20 What’s that spell?

In Portal go to any room with a keyboard and you’ll notice some of the keys are yellow. Specifically, the A, S, D, E, R, H, N, I, and P keys. And if you switch the letters around you’ll see it spells ‘ADRIAN SHEPHARD’, the main character in Half Life: Opposing Force!


#21 The cake that wasn’t a lie

Most of us probably know the ‘the cake is a lie’ meme – the phrase from Portal that took on a life outside of the game, meaning ‘you are chasing after an empty, unattainable goal’.

But did you know there’s one cake in the game that isn’t a lie?

During GLaDOS’ song ‘Still Alive’ in the end credits, a cartoon cake appears. This cake is based on a real Black Forest gateau sold near the Valve headquarters at the time.


#22 The weapon is a lie

Look at the Counter-Strike logo and you’ll see the little soldier in it is holding a gun- the Scar-L weapon. But if you want to use that weapon in-game, no can do. That particular gun was cut from the game during development, but the logo was never changed.


#23 In it to win it

One of the reasons Dota 2 is such a big success is the elite-level of e-sports that have sprung up around it. Probably the most famous Dota 2 tournament is The International or TI organised by Valve where there is seriously big money to be made. This year’s prize pool was over $40 million!


#24 Rochelle Burgundy?

Remember Rochelle from Left 4 Dead 2? The game’s creators decided to have a bit of fun with the fact that Rochelle used to work for a news station. Whenever Rochelle gets injured, she says lines from the movie Anchorman- like ‘Knight of Columbus, this hurts!’, ‘Son of a bee sting, this hurts!’ and ‘By the beard of Zeus, this hurts!’.


#25 Gimme the facts

Ever get curious about what the most popular game is on Steam? Or how many people are online with you at once? Steam make it really easy to find out a whole bunch of real-time stats about the service, just check out https://store.steampowered.com/stats/


[1] https://backlinko.com/steam-users

[2] https://comparecamp.com/steam-statistics/

[3] https://store.steampowered.com/stats/Steam-Game-and-Player-Statistics?l=t

[4] https://www.theverge.com/2021/5/24/22452272/jj-abrams-portal-movie-valve-half-life-2013-script-production

[5] https://www.statista.com/statistics/552623/number-games-released-steam/

[6] https://www.gamespot.com/articles/ea-sought-to-buy-valve-for-1-billion-report/1100-6394880/

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