Digital download unit sales of PC games surpassed their physical cousins during the first half of 2010 according to statistics compiled by the research firm NPD Group. One man leading this charge is Gabe Newell, CEO of Valve and its mega distribution house Steam, which recently tallied its 30 millionth user. Now, financial magazine Forbes has its eye on the man, saying Newell is a "name you need to know in 2011."
Forbes kicked off the "Names You Need to Know in 2011" campaign in late October, saying that the magazine is "looking for 'names' that are likely going to have a huge impact in the coming 12 months." Selections for the list will be chosen, in part, by nominations made by the community.
The magazine believes Newell is an appropriate selection for the list largely due to his work with Steam. The Forbes report cites "one industry estimate" that postulates that Steam's virtual storefront accounts for a whopping 70 percent of the market for digitally distributed video games. The source of the estimate was not specified.
What is known, however, is that Steam has partnerships with most major publishers--from Activision to Electronic Arts--and has over 1,200 PC and Mac games available in its Web store.
Newell worked for Microsoft for 13 years and held multiple positions in the company's Systems, Applications, and Advanced Technology divisions. After leaving the company, he founded Valve in 1996. The studio's first title was 1998's Half-Life, the adored first-person shooter. Valve is also responsible for the Portal, Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress, and Counter Strike franchises, among others.
Other "names" on Forbes' list include James Murdoch, the son of News Corp's Rupert Murdoch, NBA star Kevin Durant, Honestly.com, the nation of Ghana, and urban farming.