News

Gabe Newell muses on the wisdom of moving from developing Half-Life to multiplayer games and Steam

Valve co-founder stresses the importance of trusting staff choices on what projects to work on

Gabe Newell has been talking about Valve's decision to jump from making their insanely successful Half-Life franchise to making multiplayer games and their Steam platform.

In an new interview with the Washington Post, Newell considers the wisdom of their jump and allowing Valve staff to invest time in projects that they believe in.

“I think there’s just more much more of history of it now so people are willing to trust it more and be less worried that it’s going to go in some poor direction,” Newell said. “I just think that we’re more confident now and we’ve got that experience in lots of things. When we started out we were a single-player video game company that could have been really successful just doing Half-Life sequel after Half-Life sequel, but we collectively said let’s try to make multi-player games even though there’s never been a commercial successful multi-player game.” Gabe Newell muses on the wisdom of moving from developing Half-Life to multiplayer games and Steam

He went on, ”Then we tried to do Steam. There were a bunch of people internally who thought Steam was a really bad idea, but what they didn’t think was that they would tell the people who were working on Steam what to do with their time. They were like “that’s what you want to do wit your time, that’s fine, but we’re going to spend our time working on Half-Life 2. We think you’re kind of wasting your time, but it’s your time to waste.”

”In retrospect, it was a great idea, right?” he concluded. “So the key thing was that people bear the consequences of their own choices, so if I spend my time on it the only persons time I’m wasting is mine. Over time, I think people sort of recognize how useful it is for people to vote with their time. There is a huge amount of wisdom in people’s decisions about what they personally want to work on next."