Gabe, Wolpaw, EJ, Ido, and Coomer are here.

UPDATE: Going away for a bit. Will check back to see what's been upvoted.

Comments: 13558 • Responses: 45  • Date: 

presidentjim4081 karma

Mr. Newell,

During the leak of the Half Life 2 Source Code in the fall of 2003, a group of vigilante gamers banded together with the hope of catching the hackers. This was because we were told by Valve (and you specifically) on the Valve Forums that there would be major game delays due to the leak. We were FURIOUS. The original Half-Life was my favorite game and I was very much anticipating the release of Half Life 2.

There were two of us who were leading the “investigation,” TheAmazingXemo and myself, Gtwy. I was still in high school and had no formal background in any kind of investigative work, but I knew basic HTML and so we did what we could. We started a website known as the "Half Life 2 Source Code Resource Page." At the time, Usenet was a hugely popular file sharing utility and we traced the source code files back to a user who had posted them there. We were able to google his Usenet username and find that he was a member of a clan in some MMORPG and got his full name and contact info from their clan site. He gave up his source as soon as we contacted him as someone from IRC.

At its peak, our website was receiving between half a million and a million hits per day. It was amazing going through all of the anonymous tips and messages from people that came pouring in from all across the globe. And it felt like we were doing something to help.

I know that your company was aware of our website because we were contacted by the FBI and even accused of committing the hack ourselves. I don’t blame you for this course of action, it probably was very suspicious from your vantage point. I was contacted and told to redact the file count and file tree listing that proved the hack was real, which we did.

However, we did successfully identify the hacker, Ago, in our final post, dated October 13, 2003. I don’t know if this was before or after the FBI had already privately figured it out, but I would like to think that somehow we helped the investigation. I know that if they had figured it out, it wasn't public knowledge yet. (Evidence we released can be found archived here.)

Now that it’s been over a decade since the investigation, I was hoping you could shed some light on what happened behind the scenes. I have always wanted to reach out to you about this but I never knew how. Mainly, I just want you to know that our intentions were benevolent and that we were and still are loyal Valve fans. Really hoping you respond to this and even if you cannot, thanks for doing the AMA!

GabeNewellBellevue4116 karma

Thanks, presidentjim/Gtwy for all of your help. We still remember your site about the leak as an invaluable resource. Weren't we directly in touch with you, back then? Obviously we were working closely with the FBI during that time, but they could not share with us which sources led to the arrest, and which ones didn't. From what we could tell, though, you guys were doing far more to uncover Ago than anything the Feds could do. We think it was one of the first cases in which the authorities were humbled by what a community of motivated people on the Internet can do. Edit: Thanks to Xemo, too.

biruy3383 karma

Do you ever play games such as tf2 on a secret steam account?

GabeNewellBellevue4119 karma


swanston993374 karma

How do you feel about the Internet's obsession with you?

GabeNewellBellevue4573 karma

It's entertaining for my friends.

AirsoftUrban3297 karma

Are you aware that a Redditor has to eat a hat now because you're doing an AMA?

Edit: Hat should have to be a fedora.

GabeNewellBellevue3805 karma

Post pics or it didn't happen.

Fluttertree3212912 karma

GabeN, what are your specs?

GabeNewellBellevue5390 karma

Well, I'm a handsome man with a charming personality.

motoxalex2788 karma

What improvements will we see out of the Source 2 engine?

GabeNewellBellevue3092 karma

The biggest improvements will be in increasing productivity of content creation. That focus is driven by the importance we see UGC having going forward. A professional developer at Valve will put up with a lot of pain that won't work if users themselves have to create content.

DevinWatson2540 karma

What is your favorite non-Valve video game?

GabeNewellBellevue3869 karma

Mario 64.

mwblink2463 karma

What do you think of twitch plays Pokémon?

GabeNewellBellevue3911 karma

Very cool. Can't wait for twitch plays Dota 2.

rbino2429 karma

Hi! First of all, thanks for bringing Steam on Linux.
1) Do you use Linux in your everyday life? If so, what is your distro of choice?
2) Do you think that in the long run Linux will not only be the future of gaming, but also the future of desktop?
3) Is Valve planning to release any exclusive for SteamOS?
Thanks in advance for your time!

GabeNewellBellevue2883 karma

1) Debian. 2) Probably. 3) No.

LazyGames2398 karma

Is there any specific reason why you're doing this AMA?

GabeNewellBellevue3363 karma

To support the fund raising effort we are doing for Seattle Children's Hospital with the Heart of Racing effort.

cirek2390 karma

My questions:

  • What was the strangest/funniest thing you guys received in the mail?
  • What is your favorite cosmetic item from TF2?

GabeNewellBellevue3920 karma

4Chan sent us a crate and offered to sell us a key to open it. We sold it on craigslist.

Humanitarian's Hachimaki.

dudelsac2331 karma

Hi Mr. Newell & colleagues at Valve - first of all thanks for taking the time out of your day to do this AMA!

I'm a member and moderator at the Oculus Rift subreddit and I am writing to you today on behalf of all users of /r/oculus. Ever since you and Mr. Abrash supported the original Rift kickstarter, it was clear that Valve had a huge interest in Virtual Reality. So I would like to ask a few questions relating to that topic, some of them coming directly from our users.

  1. Recently, the experimential Valve VR headset has stunned developers and has shown what's possible in the years to come. When did Valve originally start to research VR technology and why?

  2. /u/Gl0we asks: SteamOS could potentially be the first commercial Virtual Reality OS - what plans do you have for the future of the platform? How do you want to tackle the harder problems like user input for example?

  3. /u/Pingly and /u/druidsbane ask: The vast majority of demos for the Oculus Rift are done with Unity. Does Valve have any plans to turn Source or Source 2 into a more user-friendly development system with a C++ API as well as easy tools and release it early to give VR developers a headstart?

  4. /u/remosito asks: What VR experiences are you personally looking forward to the most for Year 1 and 5?

  5. Have you personally played the HLVR mod that expands Valve's current VR implementation for Half-Life 2 into a full-fledged experience with body tracking? See this article for a short example of the great work that /u/Wormslayer and /u/adoral84 are putting together with the community's help.

  6. Finally - and I guess you get that question a lot - I wanted to ask about the title that everyone is waiting for and that lends itself perfectly for a VR adaption, due to its way of storytelling, the open world as well as the puzzle elements: Ricochet 2. Did the long development time have anything to do with evolving technologies such as Virtual Reality? Are you planning to bring full VR support to future titles, such as Ricochet 2?

Again, thanks for your time and please accept our humble invitation to join the discussion in /r/oculus. We would love to hear your feedback on emerging technologies in the video game space!

Best greetings from all users of /r/oculus,


GabeNewellBellevue1880 karma

1) Abrash was thinking about it for a while, and started to get serious around 2 years ago. He thought that we'd reached the point where VR problems were getting tractable.

2) User input is hard. We haven't seen a solution yet to the problem. It's in the next round of problems to tackle. We need to start doing experience fragments to help drive this.

3) Alex Vlachos is working on this now (getting Source 2 working well with VR). Unity is pretty useful for lots of things as well.

4) Having a product ship that is worth customers money and time.

5) No.

6) We aren't holding any game until VR is shipping. You don't want to create that kind of dependency.

Bajeezus2309 karma

Hi Gabe. No question, but its my birthday. If you wish me a happy birthday, my life will be complete.

GabeNewellBellevue2901 karma

Happy birthday, Bajeezus

Ekrow2265 karma

Why did you choose "Valve" as the company name?

GabeNewellBellevue3497 karma

Because it was better than "Rhino Scar"

DavCor2232 karma

You guys are my favorite!!

How many hours a week would you say that you spend actually playing video games and whats your current favorite?

GabeNewellBellevue2936 karma

Dota 2 and about 20 hours.

Garchoz2212 karma

How old were you when you start programing?

GabeNewellBellevue2833 karma


glorkcakes1825 karma

What was your first language?

GabeNewellBellevue2837 karma


indexcardartist2208 karma When is Ricochet 2?

GabeNewellBellevue2963 karma

When we announced our products years in advance in the past and then were really late delivering them, it was pretty painful for both us and the community. We'd rather not repeat that.

voksul2086 karma

Hi, Gabe! I've got a question about Steam Music. Forgive me if this isn't your area, or whatever.

Is it possible for some sort of integration with services like Pandora and Spotify, in the future? I don't have a music library, per se, and mostly just use internet radio, so it'd be great if I didn't have to alt tab to change stations or skip songs. Could this happen?

GabeNewellBellevue3012 karma

Yes, we've got some things in the works that we think you'll like.

liamdawe1877 karma

Can we please get an update on when we are likely to see Counter Strike Global Offensive for Linux?

GabeNewellBellevue2543 karma

It's being worked on but we don't have an ETA.

McMqsmith1556 karma

Hey Gabe and friends! Thanks for doing this AMA!

If Valve could borrow an IP from another company to make a game for it, what would you guys choose?

GabeNewellBellevue2205 karma

Gabe: The Warriors Coomer: Groundhog Day, Heathers Wolpaw: God Hand, Saints Row Ido: Casablanca

nawoanor1549 karma

Did you intentionally give 3:30 minutes notice of your canceled AMA on 3/3 just to torture us?

GabeNewellBellevue2100 karma


Ignatius2561509 karma

When did you start collecting knives, and which are your 2 favorite in your collection so far?

GabeNewellBellevue1948 karma

Since I was a kid. There are lots of great knife makers working today. Two lesser known ones worth checking out are Kevin Cashen at, and Elizabeth Loerchner at

rockgod141423 karma

Hey Gabe. What is your stance on the current government issues both in America and Europe around privacy and internet rights?

GabeNewellBellevue2936 karma

A couple of years ago I donated a million dollars to the ACLU.

TaiTheOracle1390 karma

Seeing as you (valve) are now rolling out the steam OS and steam machines will be coming to market soon, what do you think your core target market is, the desktop, pc gamer, or the living room console player?

GabeNewellBellevue2027 karma

We see Steam Machines (along with SteamOS and the Steam Controller) as a service update to Steam, porting the experience to a new room in the house. As we've been working on it, we've focused first on the customers who already love Steam and its games. They've told us they're tired of giving up all the stuff they love when they sit in the living room, so it seemed valuable to fix that.

TerryWogan1377 karma

Hi Gabe,

Have you ever found your interest in videogames waning as you've grown older, or do you continue to enjoy playing games as a hobby as much as you've ever done?

GabeNewellBellevue2178 karma

It doesn't seem to be age dependent in my case.

GoldMoat1372 karma

A year ago at the D.I.C.E. summit, you and J.J. Abrams mentioned you’re going to collaborate on some projects. I’m incredibly excited as a huge fan of both of you.

Bad Robot is going to make movies based on Valve games. Will the game you're working on feature Bad Robot’s property? (I’d love to see a new Lost game, especially if it was made by Valve.)

What is it that appeals to you in J.J. Abrams as a filmmaker?

EDIT: link to the keynote where they announced their collaboration

GabeNewellBellevue1939 karma

The main thing is that when we talk with him it's like talking with someone who works at Valve. That's not usually the case with people from the film industry.

Dwood151341 karma

Hi Gaben!

What was the initial concept for the Companion cube?

Snipufin2753 karma

Not Gabe here, but iirc it was meant to be a puzzle where you had to drag the cube along, but playtesters didn't bring the cube with them. Then they made the cube into something special, something you should care about and never let go. That's how I remember it from the developer commentaries.

Edit: Welp, now my top comment is about not being Gabe.

GabeNewellBellevue2598 karma

That's exactly it.

Colinm4781310 karma

Thank you for doing this ama.

I am planning on majoring in Computer Science, and I want to someday work in game development. What do AAA companies look at, other than a degree? Past experiences, etc?

GabeNewellBellevue2029 karma

We look for a history of shipping things. There is no substitute for shipping things that make your customers happy.

teleekom1253 karma

Question for Mr. Newell.

Was there a point in your life when you considered selling/leaving Valve and get away from gaming industry to do something else?

GabeNewellBellevue2066 karma

Not really. I really like the people I work with and being part of the community.

zeviot1203 karma

What are your thoughts on Valve making new IP's?

GabeNewellBellevue1733 karma

An IP is really a tool for a development team more than anything else. The key is to have clarity around what is uniquely of value in what you are trying to do and not waste your effort on things that don't directly contribute to that.

Starace011115 karma

You are officially on Forbes billionare's list,it must be satisfying to know that you have made that amount of money in your lifetime, but as many billionare's seem to be depressed (or mask it with something like an addiction)

Are there any decisions you have regretted outside of your proffesional life?

GabeNewellBellevue1970 karma

Opening any link sent to me by EJ.

DumplingDragon1112 karma

What hobbies do you have outside of your job?

GabeNewellBellevue1892 karma

Machining. Motorsports.

psych71111083 karma

Are you able to go into any details as to why Valve's VR headset is "lightyears ahead of the original Oculus Dev Kit"?

GabeNewellBellevue2008 karma

I'm not sure I'd agree with that. We are collaborating with them, and want their hardware to be great.

davidpanik1068 karma


We haven't heard any more about lower cost Steam Boxes for streaming from existing hardware. Is that something that's still on the agenda?

GabeNewellBellevue1449 karma

Yes. We're making some progress.

virtualghost999 karma

Hello Gaben how hard was it to promote Steam in 2004?

GabeNewellBellevue1430 karma

Any time you do something new, it can be challenging. There's basically a normal distribution of pain. With that proviso, it was pretty much in the middle of the pain curve.

citan359991 karma

Mr. Newell & Friends,
I proposed to my girlfriend at Valve almost a year ago (March 15th). We are now happily married with a daughter on the way (any day now actually). Thank you for creating something that has played such a significant role in our lives and please pass along a big thanks to the outstanding staff at Valve, especially Tom G. & Alyssa H., who truly made the event wonderful. It was the best day of our lives. We fell in love with Seattle on that trip and are moving out there this May. I mainly just wanted to pass along my appreciation.

Though what is an AMA without questions:

Wife’s Question: Any restaurants you would recommend in the area?

My question: I love all the community based stuff, but will Steam summer camp type events make a comeback? I’m guessing it took a large amount of work and coordination without a noticeable enough payout, but man it was so awesome!
Lastly, I have a tattoo of the Steam logo on my shoulder, I just feel like I need to tell you that.

GabeNewellBellevue1342 karma

Nishino. Yes. Cool.

Teh_Skully955 karma

Hi Gabe, first of all many thanks for all the work with valve and the steam software

With the success of Dota2, and then with CS:GO, what do you think is the future for esports on the PC?

Also, with micro transactions in the games helping fund prize pots for tournaments, when do you think we will see a tournament fully funded by micro-transactions?

GabeNewellBellevue1189 karma

We still think we have a long way to go to get to the point where all of the different people that are contributing value to competitive play get everything out of it that they should. Feels like we are making pretty good progress though.

Giving the consumers of content a direct relationship with the creators of content is something we think about a lot. That is what drove our thinking about how the community could be more involved in the tournaments that mattered to them.

cuntking935 karma

Has Dota 2's growth been unexpected? And where will TI4 be held?

GabeNewellBellevue1339 karma

We knew there were a lot of people playing Dota 1, and quite a few of those people worked at Valve, so our hope was that we'd do a good enough job on it that those people would play Dota 2.

We haven't finalized where this year's International will be. We are pretty sure it will be at Key Arena in Seattle, but we haven't gotten everything finalized, and there is always a risk that our schedules and theirs won't align in some way. As soon as we get everything finalized one way or another, we'll get the dates out there for everyone who would like to attend. Should be fun this year.

psay859 karma

Will Kaci return?

GabeNewellBellevue1856 karma


Omberone859 karma

Hello! This question is directed to Eric Wolpaw. I'm sure you've had this questioned asked many times, and if that is the case I apologize for repeating the past, but I'm curious as to how the process of writing a game looks like? A brief summary perhaps. How many fresh pots of coffee per hour? Etc.

GabeNewellBellevue1464 karma

Wolpaw: It's a lot of loose sketching at first, and then a lot of dot-connecting and backfilling as the game gets closer to being done. Lots of procrastinating, too. Lots.

FallenWyvern697 karma

Has the decision to allow publishers to have their own storefronts and manage their own "stock" gone forward, or was that just an idea being kicked around?

GabeNewellBellevue986 karma

We realized that a store ought to be UGC (not just for publishers).

[deleted]495 karma


GabeNewellBellevue1055 karma

1) Yup 2) Sand King / Random 3) Yes

frazehaze493 karma

Thank you for doing this ama!

I have had the pleasure of being a part of the Steam community for over ten years. I joined when it all began in September 2003.

Looking back to 2003, what were your (and Valves) goals and visions for Steam back then, and did it turn out as planned? Also, What is your vision for the Steam platform and PC gaming over the next ten years?

GabeNewellBellevue813 karma

I'm not trying to dodge the question, but we find it more useful to think in terms of feedback loops than in terms of visions/goals. Iterating with the community means that your near-term objectives change all the time. The key benefit to Steam is to shorten the length of the loop. Longer term, we see that working at the level of individual gamers, where we think of everyone as creating and publishing experience. "How can we make gamers more productive" sounds weird, but is an accurate way to characterize where we're going. It may make more sense if you think of it as "How can we make Dendi more entertaining to more people".

rashondala79 karma

Hey Gabe,

I remember reading that you had a million dollar CNC machine. I took a CNC class back in highschool, where I made This brass keychain with the lambda logo. What do you use?

I also made this black mesa tag in CAD.

As for a general question to valve, what is something you want to see happen in the video game industry in the next decade?


GabeNewellBellevue195 karma

It's a DMG HSC 105.