Who’s the Richest Man in the Video Game Industry?

Over the past few decades, the gaming industry hasn’t slowed down. Tabletop arcade games were only the beginning – today, there’s a gaming device in 80 percent of American households. What began as a curiosity is now a booming industry, and many people have profited off of that fact. None more so than Gabe Newell.

Gabe Newell: He’s Worth $4 Billion

According to Forbes, Gabe Newell is the 134th richest billionaire in the entire world, with a net worth of $4.1 billion. Some of the people above Newell on the list include Bill Gates (his old boss), Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison and Mark Zuckerberg. While the list makes it clear that technology begets profits, have any of those billionaires made their fortune strictly from the gaming industry?

Newell has. He followed in the footsteps of Bill Gates by dropping out of Harvard, then was hired at Microsoft in 1983. He was one of the early producers of the Windows operating system. He dedicated 13 years of his life to Microsoft, then quit to found his own company, Valve L.L.C., known today as Valve Corporation. That’s when things started to get interesting.

The Valve Empire

Newell, along with his partner Mike Harrington, launched Valve L.L.C. in 1996, then released their debut game, “Half-Life,” the acclaimed first-person shooter game, in 1998. After widespread commercial success, Harrington left the company. The next major launch from Valve was Steam, the widely used digital distribution platform that accounts for most of PC gaming sales today. Valve is also known for the puzzle-based game “Portal.”

Newell has made his billions from game sales, and not just the sales of his own popular titles. Millions of people around the world use Steam to purchase and download games, and with every transaction, Valve and Newell get a little bit richer. Steam charges developers to publish their software, then they take a cut with every sale as well. Even though EA and Microsoft have tried to break in to the market with their own game-selling platforms, nothing beats Steam, plus it runs on both PC and Mac.

His fortune proves it – Newell knew gaming would be the next major tech industry and he’s capitalized on his expertise.