Half-Life is a series that is big. It is bigger than itself – so to speak. It’s a landmark, groundbreaking title chocked full of innovative ideas, interactive environments, and creative weapons leading a strong conspiracy narrative with a silent lead. Half-Life’s legacy isn’t solely known for it’s stellar gameplay and stories, it’s the long wait for a sequel to an incomplete tale. People who’ve never played Half-Life know it’s a loved series that won’t get the conclusion it deserves. Valve Corporation keeps communication to a minimum to prevent rumors and misunderstandings. (Don Mattrick -The former CEO of social gaming company Zynga is a living example of the opposite.) Valve corporation’s work environment is unorthodox to that of a typical company with a hierarchy and bosses. At Valve, there is no hierarchy and everyone is encouraged to explore freedom creatively. However, as each year passes, the release of a Half-Life 3 game looks bleaker and bleaker. There are two sides to this coin – on which we are balancing the ifs of Half-Life 3.
First. Valve stretched their resources into other areas beyond development. Valve always attempts to think outside of the box and to do things differently. Valve’s Steam itself pushed digital distribution to the forefront of the industry along with holiday sales, movie distribution, console games, and now support for VR games – their latest game is a collection of VR mini-games. Not a lot of people saw the future that Steam now has when it first launched. Additionally, it takes several teams to help oversee the service. Along with that idea, what if Valve has enough money from Steam alone that they are no longer developing? It’s more of a crackpot question but, what if the private company is comfortable with their revenue? Their development role recently is support to a company which they hired to run the main development cycle. The last game they developed outside of VR was Counter Strike Nexon: Zombies.
Second. Let’s say Valve’s resources are stretched thin. We’ve seen Valve hire ground breaking modders and companies to work internally on their niche project. DOTA 2 was a sequel from a Warcraft III mod and Portal is a loose recreation or spiritual successor to Narbacular Drop. When the game dropped, Gabe Newell (Valve president) personally hired the team to create another portal based game similar to Narbacular Drop which ended up as Portal. Instead of the antagonist being a demon it was switched to an AI with an emphasis on portal-puzzles. They did the same with Alien Swarm a mod for Unreal Tournament that ended up being developed for Valve. Since Valve reaches out to developers that catch their eye, this may happen if someone shows a breathtaking demo or alpha of Half-Life 3 proving to Valve that they can develop their IP.
From a Reddit AMA, Gabe Newell dropped that the Source Engine 2 is in development and they’re developing games under that engine. A next generation of Half-Life would be a great flagship for that game engine considering the first Source engine’s first title was Half-Life 2.
Hot on the heels of discussion of Half-Life, a former writer of Valve, Marc Laidlaw, posted on his blog a story that resembles a continuation to the episodic adventures of Half-Life 2: Episode 2. No one knows if the blog post was a serious plot for the game or merely Laidlaw having fun. But it has brought the attention of Half-Life sequels back to the forefront. We’ve seen things like this before. A reminder of the franchise but nothing to follow-up and keep in mind Laidlaw is amongst several writers and content creators that have left Valve during it’s heyday.
Counting the series out and moving on is a tough thing to do. However, it seems Valve has done that already.