The History of Valve Releases, A Timeline

This is something I painstakingly wrote up for a Valve opinion piece I worked on. It was originally in that column but it was way too long so I decided to pull it out and publish here for anyone who was interested.


  • 1998: Valve’s seminal debut is released
  • 1999: The first Half-Life expansion, Opposing Force, developed mostly by Gearbox Software is released.
  • 2000: Deathmatch Classic (now more commonly known as Half-Life: Deathmatch) is patched into the game. It is almost an exact remake of deathmatch from Quake, by id Software, but of course in Valve’s GoldSrc engine (which was in itself a heavily modified Quake engine).
  • 2001: Blue Shift, the final Half-Life expansion, is released, again mostly developed by Gearbox.
  • 2004: Half-Life 2 is released after many delays and very public set-backs.(Eurogamer)
  • 2006: HL2 Episode 1 is released.
  • 2007: HL2 Episode 2 is released as part of The Orange Box.

Now to be fair, I think this undersells Half-Life 2 and its subsequent episodes a bit. The three HL2 titles are an incredible accomplishment. It is technically part of an existing fiction and property, but almost everything about the HL2 games are wholly original, from the engine to the setting.

Team Fortress

  • 1996: The original Team Fortress mod, devel0ped by Robin Walker, John Cook and Ian Caughley, is released. It was based on id’s Quake. 
  • 1998: Valve contracts and eventually hires the original developers.
  • 1999: Team Fortress Classic, a remake of the original Quake mod now running on Valve’s GoldSrc engine, is released at retail. Team Fortress 2 (the real reason the original dev team was hired) is revealed at E3, but of course disappears for nearly a decade.
  • 2007: The new and completely different Team Fortress 2 is released as part of The Orange Box.


  • 2000: Ricochet, a GoldSrc multiplayer mod developed by Valve, is released for free. It’s now currently for sale on the Steam store for $4.99.


  • 1999: The original Counter-Strike mod, developed by Minh Le and Jess Cliffe is released.
  • 2000: Valve hires Le and Cliffe and takes on the CS copyright. The game is released at retail by Valve. Le and Cliffe begin work on a Counter-Strike 2 that never sees the light of day. (IGN)
  • 2004: CS Condition Zero from Valve, Ritual Entertainment, Gearbox and Turtle Rock Studios is released. Later that year CS Source is released soon after Half-Life 2.
  • 2011: CS Global Offensive, a collaboration with Path Entertainment, is announced for release in 2012.

Day of Defeat

  • 2000: The original Day of Defeat mod is released. The development team is hired by Valve.
  • 2003: Valve releases an official version DoD at retail.
  • 2005: DoD Source, now running on the engine powering Half-Life 2 is released.


  • 2005: Nuclear Monkey Software, a team of students from the DigiPen Institute, releases Narbacular Drop, a game featuring a protagonist navigating a dungeon using portals. Valve hires the entire Nuclear Monkey team.
  • 2007: Portal, very much a successor to their original game, is released as part of The Orange Box.
  • 2010: Valve hires the DigiPen team behind Tag: The Power of Paint to work on Portal 2. The sequels gel mechanics are lifted directly from Tag.
  • 2011: Portal 2 is released.

Left 4 Dead

  • 2005: Turtle Rock Studios, a long-standing Valve partner, begins development of L4D.
  • 2008: Valve purchases Turtle Rock and L4D. It’s released later that year as a collaboration between the two studios.
  • 2009: L4D2 is released.

Valve has since let go of Turtle Rock, which was initially positioned to become a satellite studio named “Valve South.” It reformed under the Turtle Rock banner and worked on “The Sacrifice” DLC for Left 4 Dead 2. It is currently working on a project for THQ for release in 2013.(Eurogamer)

Alien Swarm

  • 2004: The original Alien Swarm, a mod for Epic’s Unreal Tournament 2004 by Black Cat Games, is released.
  • 2005: Black Cat announces a remake of the game using Valve’s Source Engine.
  • 2007: Development on the remake goes quiet. At this point Valve likely hired the dev team. (Gamasutra)
  • 2010: Valve releases a freeware remake of the mod running on the Source Engine. It was developed by the Black Cat folks in between work on L4D and Portal 2.

DoTA 2

  • 2003: The first version of the Defense of the Ancients scenario for Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft III is released by modder “Eul.”
  • 2009: Valve hires “IceFrog,” the longtime and current caretaker of the most popular DoTA variant, DOTA-Allstars. (Game Informer)
  • 2010: Valve attempts to trademark DOTA 2. Announces it is developing the game for release in 2011 and “IceFrog” is acting the lead designer.
  • 20XX: DoTA 2 is released and makes heaps of money.

About Matt Gerardi
Matt Gerardi is a journalist and musician. He also happens to write about video games.

One Response to The History of Valve Releases, A Timeline

  1. Pingback: The Valve Model — Good or Bad for the Industry? « Rated J, For Janky

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