It's common knowledge that Gabe Newell used to work at Microsoft, right? In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, the Valve CEO discusses learning that the first Doom outranked Windows as the most used software application:
But what was so shocking to me was that Windows was the second highest usage application in the U.S. The number one application was Doom, a shareware program that hadn't been created by any of the powerhouse software companies. It was a 12-person company in the suburbs of Texas that didn't even distribute through retail, it distributed through bulletin boards and other pre-Internet mechanisms. To me, that was a lightning bolt. Microsoft was hiring 500-people sales teams and this entire company was 12 people, yet it had created the most widely distributed software in the world. There was a sea change coming.
The main thrust of the interview talks about Valve's unorthodox organisational structure. But this quote stuck out to me because it also seems like this eureka moment could've also planted an idea about alternative distribution methods in Newell's head. Granted, he doesn't say as much in the piece but I find it hard to believe that Newell could come across data like that and not have ideas rolling around in the back of his brain. And it's entirely likely that those ideas probably manifested into what became Steam. What do you think?
Why There Are No Bosses At Valve [Bloomberg Businessweek]