The “Valve Manifesto” explored in new Develop Magazine

Tuesday, 10th May 2011 08:41 GMT By Jessica Citizen

Gabe Newell would like you to know that he is not a man who has gone back on his word, even despite his apparent backflip on the topic of PlayStation 3 development. Instead, he’s just another vote in a democracy, and the tribe has spoken.

Chell, Glados, Cake

According to Erik Johnson, long-time Valve employee, there were apparently a bunch of developers who were “annoyed” that the company did not create new content for Sony’s platform. So, as they were “willing to cross over”, the company shifted focus and “simply started working on it”.

This is all part of a fascinating feature article – The Valve Manifesto – published in the latest edition of Develop magazine. The story covers Gabe Newell’s adventure, starting as the young developer left Microsoft, touching briefly on his “likely billionaire” status and finishing, quite happily, in the heart of Valve.

“Working with everyone here at Valve is what I would do if given the choice to do anything,” Newell explains, describing the company’s lack of a strict chain of command, and identifying how Valve manages to work – and work well – without a strong hierarchical structure.

According to Develop, the CEO is fiercely defensive of his company’s studio model. Any time it is questioned or challenged, Newell squashes any arguments with a confidence that suggests he really does know what he’s talking about.

But he’s not afraid to admit that he was wrong – or, more correctly – that he is no longer as right as he once was. Following the release of Half-Life 2: Episodes One and Two, the company has backed away from episodic content, once hailed as the bringer of shorter development cycles and taking pressure away from staff.

“We went through the episodes phase,” he says. “Now we’re going towards shorter and even shorter cycles.

“With episodes, I think we accelerated the model and shortened development cycles with it. If you look at Team Fortress 2, that’s what we now think is the best model for what we’ve been doing. Our updates and release model keeps on getting shorter and shorter.”

That’s the way of the future (for now, at least). Rather than cutting games into smaller, bite-sized chunks, Valve are now thinking of each title as its own platform, which can then be evolved and updated through Steam. Team Fortress 2 has now seen more than 200 patches, tweaks and improvements in just under four years, and Newell hints that even that is too slow, suggesting that the goal might be daily updates.

But only if that’s what the audience wants, Newell concludes: “In general, our approach to our customers is, every day, to ask what we can do for them.”



  1. Freek

    “In general, our approach to our customers is, every day, to ask what we can do for them.”

    So Half Life 3 E3 reveal confirmed, then? ;p

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Edo

    Oh Valve,you have no idea how many people would cry a sweet tears of joy, just for the announcement…..

    #2 4 years ago
  3. mojo

    nice read.

    the full article is also worth reading.
    it realy shows, if its not as develope said “the most elaborate lie ever”, why valve is simply an astonishing studio!

    #3 4 years ago
  4. Jessica Citizen

    mojo – isn’t it, just! If I thought I could have gotten away with “Go here. Read this.”, that would have been the entirety of the article. But, y’know, I has journalistic integrity to uphold, so I had to stick a few more words in around it.

    The tl;dr version of it though, definitely, is “Go here. Read this.”

    #4 4 years ago
  5. mojo

    it wasnt directed to you, sorry if it sounds like that, lady :D
    just wanted to say that the full article is realy worth it.
    it wasnt my intention to dumb down your article.

    im gonna edit it.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. auschoc82


    #6 4 years ago
  7. Jessica Citizen

    #6 – *chuckles* I saw that :P

    #5 – No dumbing down, I was actually being serious! The Develop article was a really, really fabulous read, and I felt I was doing it a dis-service by saying anything more than telling people to go read it without hesitation.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. mojo

    ah ok, then i got u wrong.
    lol, sorry, im a foreigner, i thought ur blaming me for essentialy saying “ignore this bit, read the full article”.

    anyhow, yeah it gives great insight to one of the worlds greatest devs.
    would love to lurk arround there, cleaning their shoes or whatever, just to be part :D

    #8 4 years ago
  9. TheWulf

    Mr. Newell never ceases to amaze, really. All I’d love to see them really do now is try innovating a bit more, like they did with the original Portal. Take some chances, do some experiments, and see what happens.

    You may not be immediately successful but you will drive pats of the gaming industry forward for future developers to use, and any truly experimental game will likely get a cult following.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. HighWindXIX

    So, you want to know what you can do for me Gabe? MAKE HALF LIFE 3!! Seriously. That’s it. That’s all we want. Everyone wants it. Seriously. Everyone.

    #10 4 years ago

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