Valve, a video game creator with few rules

Mr. Newell concedes that this approach has been successful for Apple. He says, however, he’s worried Microsoft will take a similar approach for Windows 8 apps, which will have to be distributed through a Microsoft app store if they take advantage of the operating system’s more modern features. Valve is concerned that Microsoft’s control will undermine Steam on Windows 8 by creating a bottleneck for game updates.

“We would say to Microsoft, we understand all of these frustrations with your business challenges,” he said. “But trying to copy Apple will hasten, not slow, Microsoft’s decline.”

Mark Martin, a Microsoft spokesman, declined to comment.

SOME game executives say it’s ironic that such concerns come from Valve, which has become a gatekeeper with Steam. Last year, the company had a dispute with Electronic Arts over Steam’s policy of reducing all revenue generated from a game, such as the sale of virtual goods, even after a player purchased the game. As a result, EA is not selling a number of its latest games through Steam.

Valve says that without such a policy, developers could easily game the Steam system by making all their software free and charging consumers for additional content later. It’s also worth pointing out that last year EA started directly competing with Steam by launching its own online game store, Origin.

Valve can dispense with many formalities of a traditional company because it is owned and controlled by Mr. Newell. He and Mike Harrington, who is no longer with the company, founded Valve in 1996 with the wealth they accumulated in Microsoft’s early days. The company has never raised funds from outside investors, so it is not under any outside pressure to sell itself or go public.

Not that Mr. Newell didn’t have the opportunity to sell himself. Valve has been sued over the years by Electronic Arts, which most likely would have valued Valve at more than $1 billion had the talks progressed this far, said two people with knowledge of the discussion who spoke under the guise of anonymity because the talks were private.

Although Valve’s finances are private, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter estimates the company could be worth around $2.5 billion today.

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