Valve Buys Pet Turtle

YOU find a screenshot.

Why, it was only the other day that us RPS types were discussing over pie and RPS-branded debit cards whether Left4Dead should be considered “a Valve game”. Any doubt is now removed. L4D developers, Turtle Rock Studios, have now been om-nom-nommed into the Valve belly. If it were any other… publisher? we’d be concerned. So let’s get cross about Valve buying Turtle Rock. Ready?

Oh my goodness! It’s the homogenisation of the gaming industry! Soon they’ll all be one company only making Sims games! I imagine the end of the world is about to occur! It doesn’t work, does it? But what’s important is that we tried. Valve’s press release on the matter rather sweetly describes it as the “merger of the two companies,” which is a bit like suggesting I’m merging with a sandwich when I buy it from Sainsbury’s. So Valve now have a California office, just in case any of the Seattle crew wants to find out what this “Sun” looks like. And Left4Dead is definitely “a Valve game.” Glad we’ve got that settled. Press release under the boink.


Leading Content and Technology Company Adds California Studio

January 10, 2008 – Fresh off the success of The Orange Box, the 2007 game of the year award-winning collection of new games heralded as “the best value in gaming history,” Valve Corporation announces the acquisition of Turtle Rock Studios, the Orange County-based development house behind one of 2008’s most anticipated games, Left 4 Dead.
Valve was founded in 1996 and has grown to become one of the game industry’s leading technology and content creators, with a portfolio of over 20 million games sold worldwide. The merger of the two companies extends Valve’s development team and provides the company with a new studio in southern California.
Turtle Rock Studios’ Left 4 Dead joins a growing list of Valve’s game properties which includes the Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Team Fortress and Day of Defeat series of games as well as Portal, introduced as part of The Orange Box.
“We have been seeing very strong growth with Steam and Source, our content distribution and development platforms, up over 150% over the last 12 months. Given our expectations for Left 4 Dead and our long-standing relationships with members of the Turtle Rock team, this was an easy decision. It also gives us a base from which to expand our development activities in the Los Angeles area,” said Gabe Newell, president of Valve.
“Left 4 Dead fills a long-standing demand gamers have had for a coop first-person action experience, and it will also help Valve’s expansion into the console market,” added Doug Lombardi, Valve’s VP of marketing.
“Valve has had great success bringing in projects and teams such as Team Fortress and Portal. As I spent time working and talking with the creators of those products over the past several years, it became clear that this was the right next step for myself, my colleagues at Turtle Rock, our customers, and our products,” said Michael Booth, founder and CEO of Turtle Rock Studios. “We are excited to be a part of such a visionary and forward-thinking company.”
Founded in 2002 by Michael Booth, Turtle Rock Studios is the creator of Left 4 Dead, named one 2008’s most wanted titles by many of today’s leading game-enthusiast publications and Web sites.
For more information on Valve, its games, or the Steam platform, please visit

About Valve
Valve is an entertainment software and technology company founded in 1996 and based in Bellevue, Washington with offices in Irvine, CA. The company’s portfolio of entertainment properties includes Half-Life®, Counter-Strike®, Day of Defeat®, Team Fortress®, PortalTM and Left 4 DeadTM. Valve’s catalog of products accounts for over 20 million retail units sold worldwide, and over 80% of PC online action gameplay. In addition, Valve is a developer of leading-edge technologies, such as the SourceTM game engine and Steam®, a broadband platform for the delivery and management of digital content. For more information, please visit


  1. Ging says:

    Mike Booth is awesome and is deserving of major recognition – if only because he got some of the valve guys to actually hang out at the IGF mod booth a couple of years ago at GDC.

    It’s also nice to know that L4D is now officially a Valve game, it’s been a weird point of contention amongst some of the people I’ve talked to about it.

  2. Kast says:

    I actually literally shouted with glee when I first read this, then immediately felt bad. I felt I should be thinking… well, everything listed in the third paragraph. I mean, I’d be angry or cynical if EA or ActiBlizz bought another developer.

    But it’s Valve. They are a special case.

  3. Ging says:

    They’ve been trying to get Booth and Co to work for them for ages but Turtle Rock didn’t want to move away from California – I suspect this is a good compromise!

  4. grey_painter says:

    I was ignorant to the fact that the people making left 4 dead weren’t a part of valve. So this news is filed under “how I assumed things were to begin with”.

  5. dhex says:

    I actually literally shouted with glee when I first read this, then immediately felt bad. I felt I should be thinking… well, everything listed in the third paragraph.

    well, is there a particular size everyone should be? measured by # of employees, or perhaps net worth, or perhaps just yearly income?

    i know people don’t generally think like that and lot of this is because valve has an excess of goodwill – or even love, really – that other developers don’t. you can call it the apple effect, or irrational attachment, or “lovemarks” or whatever. it’s mostly an issue of preference, as well as past performance and whatever you want to call that extra ball of aesthetic/emotional attachment. (companion cube syndrome?)

  6. terry says:

    Maybe I have been taken in but this news is infinitely better than hearing that Bioshock is going to be flogged to sequel hell to bolster Take2’s dwindling cash reserves. For good or ill Valve have based their success around being gamer-friendly and as Kast noted, Steam puts them in a unique position.

  7. Meat Circus says:

    It all depends on how swift and merciless the process of Gabeisation is.

    Resistance is (hopefully) futile.

  8. Piratepete says:

    Likewise I thought Turtle Rock were owned by Valve, and isn’t L4D running on Source?

    Anyway I cannot express my excitement about this game being one of those mad souls who has had crazy Zombie dreams since the age of 7, to the point now where they don’t scare me anymore and I enjoy running around dreamtime lopping the heads off the undead, until I get bit and wake up of course.

    In fact where I’m bored (usually being dragged round Mothercare feigning interest in another Pooh bear bib she has cooed over) I usually scan for the exits and any makeshift weaponry that could be employed to prevent an ongoing zombie apocalypse.

    So the thought of fighting off the new 21st century ‘fast’ model of Zombie makes me weak at the knees, and the thought of doing this with 4 mates in tow makes me drool and gibber like the hero of a HP Lovecraft novel.

  9. yns88 says:

    What will this mean for the rest of the game’s development?

    Better testing, definitely. I don’t even consider this one an argument. But will changes be made to existing elements due to Valve’s influence? Will the production be homogenized into that of Half Life 2? Will it be delayed until 2012?

    Anyway, my biggest hope here is that Valve will ensure the game supports fun teamwork, a key element that is completely missing in famed zombie mod Zombie Master.

    …now that I see these guys have only ever made Condition Zero, I have absolutely nothing but positive thoughts on this “om nom merger.” I take back all worries, seriously. Except for the fact that everyone here seems to have nothing but positive thoughts on a game by the guys that made Condition Zero and…nothing else. I am so bewildered right now.

  10. Cruz says:

    I love Valve. My hope is that they pour some extra effort now that it is an inhouse game. I mean, if L4D is going to be “the next Valve” game, it would have to be triple A, right?

  11. Max says:

    Are they named after the Turtle Rock dungeon from A Link to the Past/Link’s Awakening? If so, WINNAR.

  12. KingMob says:

    Sadly I think “om nom” should go the way of the Imperial Peggle. It had its day in the sun.

    Anyway, I’m trying to think of a downside for the games industry if Valve just went ahead and bought everybody.

  13. Piratepete says:

    nope kingmob I don’t think I can think of one. Also Vive la Imperial Peggle and om nom nom

    Actually we are weaning our little daughter and she gets om nom nom already

  14. The_B says:

    L4D is running on Source, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a Valve game. See: The Ship, Vampire:Bloodlines, Dark Messiah of Might and Magic etc etc.

  15. Ging says:

    yns88: The games basically been developed hand in hand between Valve and Turtle Rock anyhow. Nearly all the previews talk about having Valve people present during play sessions, so I suspect that this will have little real impact on the game itself.

  16. Champagne O'Leary says:

    I’m rather steamboat, and it looks like you wrote this article in a similar fashion. Does anyone else agree?

  17. Zeno, Internetographer says:

    Oh Valve… much like Google, they’re slowly conquering the world, and yet I find that I don’t mind one bit.

  18. kadayi says:

    Valve have been after them for as long as they’ve collaborated, but TR didn’t want to move to Seattle. I guess they figure Video conferencing will mind the gap. I have to say it’s great news as I think TR do excellent AI (the Hossies in CZ are way smarter than in CS:Source imo), but how well communication holds up between the teams long term is always going to be an issue. Where I work we have a couple of satellite offices and communication between them accept at board level is practically non existent.

  19. DigitalSignalX says:

    The game looks great, and having valve’s endorsement & oversight can only help, though I think I saw this game in a movie once….

  20. Pace says:

    Oh Valve… much like Google, they’re slowly conquering the world, and yet I find that I don’t mind one bit.

    Perhaps ‘like Microsoft’ might be a more apt comparison. If I recall correctly the founders of Valve were former Microsoft employees, and also, again, if I understand correctly, buddies with Bill Gates. If I may be allowed a smidgen of cynicism, Steam may be a good product and all, but it does remind me of Microsoft type intrusiveness and maneuvering.

  21. Saul says:

    As someone who only buys Valve games, and who was intending to by Left4Dead, this news seems little more than a correction in the universe.

  22. Ging says:

    kadayi: Mike Booth wrote the majority of the AI for the bots in CSS – in fact, TR did a lot of work on CSS.

  23. Seniath says:

    Randomly, someone by the name of MattC turned up in the Steam RPS room earlier. He didn’t say anything but, presuming him to be a spammer, I checked his SteamID page. Turns out he was a dev for Turtle Rock. Wonder what he was hoping to find in our den of inequity.

  24. Leelad says:

    Surely this is just like getting married.?
    You’re living together you have kids together. it’s just a bit of paper to say “yep, we had an over-priced honeymoon with a lovely swan shaped towel on the hotel bed when we got there”.

  25. James T says:

    A swan-shaped towel would be a bit impractical — what good is the long, slender neck? [/hot fuzz]

  26. Matt Dovey says:

    Sainsbury’s? You posh buggers. And I always thought blogging was a starving artist kind of profession.

  27. Pwnzerfaust says:

    Considering I have nothing but love for Gabe and his band of merry men, I wholehearted accept this merger. Though Turtle Rock would have had a bit more personality as an individual company, I think they’ll fair that much better under Valve’s wing, much like what happened with the Portal team.

  28. Dude says:

    So will left4dead be publish in a kind of orange box deal with episode 3?
    I hope not, that would mean another year or so to wait for it… But it might just happen as the game looks ready to ship but we still have no release date.
    Meh, me want shoot zombies.

  29. Freelancepolice says:

    Unlikely, episode 3 is potentially 2009. I’d hope we’ll see L4dead in march time.
    It does certainly seem ready to release but valve ususually don’t set a date until they’re absolutely sure it’ll ship on that date. Otherwise it just tends to be a Quarter they specify.
    Anyway this merger may of affected the release slightly

  30. Lightbulb says:

    When i hear of EA buying someone i think: Well thats that game fucked then.

    When Valve by someone i think, *shrug* good for the devs they got some money.

  31. kadayi says:

    ‘kadayi: Mike Booth wrote the majority of the AI for the bots in CSS – in fact, TR did a lot of work on CSS.’

    If that’s the case, why are the bots so much smarter in CZ? Their navigation in CS:S is second rate in comparison.

  32. Andrew B says:

    Valve is the Google of game developers.

  33. Dude says:

    A french gaming website only about FPS report that valve has push left4dead for aout/septembre, I fell I wanna cry…
    (from my experience they don’t bullshit on this website)

  34. Mr. Softpants says:

    @ Andrew B,

    Valve let’s me look up porn and stalk ex-girlfriends? :O

  35. Mr. Softpants says:

    Also, Valve mentioned later last year that TR will indeed go back to CS:S after L4D’s launch and do a sort of “revamp” of the game.

    I’m actually excited to see Valve and TR pump new life into that game as well. Especially with the latest Source engine updates. Maybe DOD:S can get the same love too? :o

  36. poullos says:

    @Mr. Softpants,

    This is one of the things valve does, and love: supporting games to an extend of expansion without any return except playing them.

  37. FuzzDad says:

    It’s a smart move. Valve will be able to add development time beyond what they’ve already done for TR (I was at Valve’s HQ a year ago and they were working w/TR then on the game), they offer an extremely well funded organization that perhaps TR lacked, and since all we’ve seen are action scenes that seem to repeat themselves, perhaps Valve’s prodigious story-telling machine will add some pacing or flow to the game outside of four people running through decrepit buildings.

    PS: Mr Softpants: Valve is also working on an update to DoDS…we should get some bug fixes, a new CoF, a map, and the move to the core EP2 engine (the same source engine used by TF2). A month or so.

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