Gabe Newell is about to make a promise. It's 11am on an overcast morning in Bellevue, Washington, and Newell, the impresario behind Valve, lumbers into the company's starkly decorated 10th-floor conference room. He pulls out an Aeron chair, plops himself down, and runs his stubby hands through his reddish-brown hair.
"OK," he says, taking a deep breath. "During any project there comes a time to draw a line in the sand and put a stick in the ground and say, 'This is it. We're ready,'" he says. "That moment, I'm happy to say, is right now. We finally know when this game is going to be done."