For Engadget’s 20th anniversary, we put together a pack of stories about the most essential pieces of technology from the past two decades, and mine was on Steam. It’s hard to overstate how influential Steam has been on PC gaming, or how rich a showcase Valve has made. As a private company with endless piles of money on Steam, Valve has the freedom to ignore market pressure from users, creators and competitors. It is known to have a flat hierarchy without a strict management structure and developers are encouraged to follow their hearts.

All of this led to an incredibly rich studio that didn’t produce much. It might be a tired joke that Valve can’t count to three in their games, but we’re not talking about Half-Life today. We’re talking about Valve’s history of buying exciting franchises and talented developers, playing with them for a while, and then forgetting they existed. Real fucking behavior – but that’s just how Valve does business.

Let’s take a look at Valve’s history of attracting talent. One of its oldest franchises, Team Fortress, began as Earthquake mod created by a small team in Australia, and Valve bought its developers and game rights in 1998. Team Fortress 2 it came out in 2007 and has received several good years of updates and support. Today, the game has a dedicated player base, but it’s full of bots, and it’s unclear if anyone at Valve is constantly working on TF2.

The portal began life as a student project called Narbacular dropand Valve hired its developers after seeing their demo in 2005. Portal officially released in 2007, Portal 2 landed in 2011, and both became instant classics. There hasn’t been a whiff of another Portal game since, though one of the series’ writers, Eric Wolpaugh, really, really wants to Making valve Portal 3.

Of all the Valve franchises that were left to wither and die, I miss Left 4 Dead the most. Turtle Rock has begun construction Left 4 Dead in 2005, and by the time it was released in 2008, Valve had fully purchased the studio and its IP. Citing slow progress and poor communication, Turtle Rock left Valve before helping the company make Left 4 Dead 2 in 2009 Turtle Rock hit the market Evolve in 2015 and Black 4 blood in 2021 and is now owned by Tencent. Meanwhile, I’m here dreaming of that third one Left 4 Dead game.

In 2010, Valve secured the rights to Warcraft III mod Protection of the Ancientsand hired its lead developer. Dota 2 was released in 2013 and has become an incredibly successful title in eSports. Now, eleven years later, Dota 2 the players are complaining regarding the lack of support and communication from Valve, especially compared to games like League of Legends.

Counter-Strike has received the most attention from Valve in recent times, with the release of Counter-Strike 2 the end of last year. The original Counter-Strike it was Half-Life mod and Valve acquired it and its developers in 2000. Counter-Strike 2 is the fifth installment in the series, released 11 years after its predecessor, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. After this recent attention, it’s time for Valve to start ignoring the Counter-Strike community again.

Valve quietly continued to make acquisitions. In 2018, Valve hired all 12 developers in the Firewatch studio Campo Santo, who were working on a very good looking new game at the time, In the valley of the gods. This could turn out to be another spectacular, genre-defining franchise for the recap of Valve’s acquired IP, but there have been no updates from this team for nearly six years. In April 2018, Campo Santo said it was still under construction In the valley of the gods at Valve and promised regularly blog posts and quarterly reviews. And then nothing.

Matt Wood has worked at Valve for 17 years, where he helps build Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Portal 2, CS:GO both episodes of Half-Life 2. He left in 2019 and is now preparing to release his first indie game, Little kitty, big city. Wood told me in 2023 that Valve “are kind of sitting on their laurels and like they’re not really challenging themselves or taking risks or doing anything. Steam makes a lot of money, so they don’t really have to.”

Of course, Little kitty, big city is coming to Steam.

Steam’s unwavering success has helped Valve become a community of senior resorts for computer science geeks, where game developers go to live out their later years surrounded by fancy amenities, tinkering, and no supervision. This is a wonderful scenario. At least the developers there aren’t being laid off – and I mean it sincerely. Steam is a great service, and Valve seems to be at least temporarily committed to the Steam Deck hardware, which is very cool. I do miss the games that Valve gobbled up though. I have to wonder if the developers there do too.

Valve’s treatment of legendary franchises and developers raises questions about their commitment to… everything, including Steam. What happens if Valve decides to turn around, or sell, or Gabe Newell retires and blows everything up? What if Steam stops? As a native DRM service, all our games will be gone immediately. Just like all these game developers.

This week’s news

Playdate update

The Playdate is one of my favorite gaming gadgets of the last decade, not only because it has an incredibly cute crank, but also because its low-res screen belies a buffet of weird and beautiful experiences pushing the boundaries of traditional gaming. Panic held a showcase for new games at Playdate last week and it was hosted by Lucas Pope Mars after midnightwhich comes out on March 12. Pope is the developer of Documents please and The Return of Aubra Deantwo amazing games and Mars after midnight stands on the threshold of an overpopulated alien colony. Pope’s games were made for Playdate, this time literally.

Yuzu and Citra are gone

A week after Nintendo threatened to sue Yuzu’s creators into oblivion, the popular Switch emulator has been pulled from the market as part of a $2.4 million settlement. To make matters worse for the emulator community, lead developer Yuzu has announced that they are also killing the 3DS emulator zither. Both emulators were open source, so it’s likely we’ll see Citra at least supported by the wider community. It’s unclear if anyone is willing to take the Yuzu fork and risk a lawsuit.

Bonus content

  • Ghost of Tsushima will hit PC on May 16th. It comes with all its DLC, and Sony says it will run on everything from high-end PCs to portable gaming PCs.

  • by Capcom Kunitsu-Gami: The Way of the Goddess apparently coming out this year for PC, PlayStation and Xbox. It debuted at Summer Game Fest and looks pretty unique.

  • Hades is coming to iOS as a Netflix mobile exclusive on March 19. There are currently no plans for an Android version, which sucks for me.

It’s playing now

i found We made this bed while doing research for the GLAAD Gaming report I reviewed a few weeks ago, and I’m incredibly pleased with it. We made this bed is an exploration and narrative driven game set in a 1950s hotel oozing with drama and mystery. The writing is fantastic, the characters are complex, and there’s an exciting plot that runs through the whole thing. It is now available for PC and consoles.–this-weeks-gaming-news-153020318.html?src=rss