Gabe Newell was a World of Warcraft gold farmer

(Image credit: Valve)
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WoW: Shadowlands

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Gabe Newell: CEO and co-founder of Valve, recipient of the BAFTA Fellowship award, billionaire, and as we have now learned a gold farmer in World of Warcraft (retired). The topic came up in a recent interview with Edge Magazine (opens in new tab), where Newell discussed the evolution of Steam, explaining that at a certain point Valve started thinking of games "as productivity platforms" rather than just entertainment.

"As a sort of proof-of-concept I decided to be a gold farmer in World Of Warcraft for a while." As you do. "I was making $20 an hour farming gold. I was making what was a spectacular wage for most people in most parts of the world."

Having seen an in-game economy up-close, Valve began the Steam Workshop, a hub for player-created mods and in-game items, including ones that are available for sale. As Newell explained, that paid off for some people for far more than $20 per hour.

"There's this story of the parents that called us up because they thought we were selling their kid drugs. What happened was PayPal pinged the parents and said, 'Your kid is exceeding our limits of how much money they can put into PayPal per month. They're probably selling stolen goods or drugs, because there’s no other explanation.' So the parents called us up and I said: 'He makes items on the Team Fortress Workshop. He’s making $500,000 a year.' That to us was an indication that this was a helpful way of thinking of games—as platforms—and it's informed all of our decisions about multiplayer games subsequently."

Newell also took the opportunity to discuss the Epic Games Store (opens in new tab) and increased competition in the digital storefront market, saying that his real issue was with the Apple Arcade and the way "people who are falling in love with Apple's model of controlling everything".

Thanks, PCGamesN (opens in new tab).

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games (opens in new tab). He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun (opens in new tab), The Big Issue, GamesRadar (opens in new tab), Zam (opens in new tab), Glixel (opens in new tab), Five Out of Ten Magazine (opens in new tab), and (opens in new tab), whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.