Valve Corporation

We’re always creating.

Tuesday 14 June 2016, by Fabien

11 inspired

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

Valve Corporation (also known as Valve Software, commonly referred to as Valve) is an American video game developer and digital distribution company headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, United States. Its Luxembourg-based business office subsidiary for European regions, Valve S.a.r.l., was opened in 2012. Founded in 1996 as Valve L.L.C. by former Microsoft employees Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington, the company has developed the critically acclaimed Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Portal, Day of Defeat, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead video game series, alongside Dota 2. It also developed and maintains Source on which most of its games run, and the software distribution platform Steam, which has led to the Steam Machine, a line of pre-built gaming computers running SteamOS.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

Valve is addressing most of the ethical issues in the video game industry:

  • The western video game industry is notorious for its unethical handling of creative talents. The labor practices of the traditional game industry are exploitative and abhorrent. The industry’s historical production model involves staffing up, demanding extreme work weeks, and then letting go of the ‘excess’ talent after a product ships. Speaking out against these conditions is socially sanctioned, and developers who speak to the press at any time other than when marketing wants them to risk being fired.
  • Developing technological countries host what we can refer to as "video game sweatshops".
  • The stealing of other people’s creative work is widespread. Developers who invest in design and publishing on mobile storefronts can expect to have free, unsanctioned clones of their games steal their revenue and come ahead of the original on charts with no action taken from the companies that own those storefronts.
  • On many websites game developers can pay for reviews that make unproven promises to improve games’ positioning on mobile storefronts.
  • Women in games are routinely abused, bullied and harassed while their professional community, and the industry’s largest companies, tend to remain silent. Interrogating this culture or attempting to advance this conversation can result in censure or punishment.
  • The consumer-facing games press largely releases material on a mutually-agreed upon set of terms and schedules dictated by game companies.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

Valve stands out from the crowd in two ways:

  • Valve is run as a flat organization without managers or bosses, and uses open allocation (employees can move between teams at will). Every Valve employee has hiring capabilities, as well as the power to greenlight an idea. Employees are not expected to work overtime. And once a year, the company takes all its employees and their families on a “tropical” vacation on top of many advantageous perks. They created an organization where virtually all game developers want to work at.
  • Valve opened its digital distribution platform Steam to independent game developers offering great visibility to small studios struggling to compete with big corporations. Valve also help promising small games by offering promotion and bundling indie titles together to reach even more people.

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

Some challenges are:

  • Some indie developers do not see Valve and the steam platform as really helpful. Valve is a big player and seen by some as taking advantage of the little studios to develop their brand.
  • Growing as with a flat structure shows some limitations. Some former employees mentioned that even if there are no bosses, some peoples’ voices have more weight in the decision making process. The organization was also referred as resembling a high-school and where the ever-changing environment was hard for newcomers to adapt to (e.g. difficulty to build mentorship).


Location: Bellevue, WA 98009 (USA)

Sector: Arts, entertainment and recreation

Official website:

Key figures:

Key Figures:

  • 3.5bn in total sales in 2015
  • 300m in royalties from third-party titles in 2014
  • Library consisting of over 781 million games
  • Over 330 employees located in 2 different offices

Nbr. visits: 5759

Nbr. inspires: 11