It is a brand new year, but things are already beginning to look very familiar. Not a few days into 2014 and we are already questioning Half Life 3‘s existence again. The game’s #development – or lack thereof – has become a running joke on the internet due to it not being announced ten years after the franchise’s previous sequel. Understandably, fans have wondered where the game’s been hiding for so long, with Valve‘s CEO Gabe Newell often playing down the question and imploring patience.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Newell may have hinted at exactly what is taking so long while talking about Valve’s process of work.
“So, if somebody becomes the group manager of X, they’re going to really resist it when X is not what you want to do in the next round of games. You don’t want them to sort of burrow into that – you want them to recognize that being really good at Half-Life level design is not as nearly as valued as thinking of how to design social multi-player experiences. You’ve had them feel like they have an organization and title tied up to something when the key is to just continue to follow where the customers are leading.”
What Newell is suggesting here is that they are trying to chase the demands and pre-empt where the consumer is going, in a broader sense. Valve, at least for the moment, appears to be more focused on the business side of what they are doing, instead of straight up game development. While there are rumors about the development of Half Life 3 and Left 4 Dead 3, the company’s more immediate plans revolve around Steam OS and the Steam Machines launching this year.
The company has always been forward thinking and Newell points that out saying that Valve could’ve been “really successful just doing Half-Life sequel after Half-Life sequel”, but instead went about making multiplayer games which weren’t successful at the time. Today, the genre arguably rules the console market. Newell appears to be more focused on guessing what kind of gameplay and services customers want rather than giving them something from the past or as specific as Half Life 3.
This isn’t new for Valve, as Newell explains that even Half-Life 2 was made with conflicting opinions within the company on whether to chase a software or service future.
“Then we tried to do Steam. There were a bunch of people internally who thought Steam was a really bad idea, but what they didn’t think was that they would tell the people who were working on Steam what to do with their time. They were like “that’s what you want to do with your time, that’s fine, but we’re going to spend our time working on Half-Life 2. We think you’re kind of wasting your time, but it’s your time to waste.”
Valve has changed the gaming landscape, that much is certain. Half-Life and Portal are cited as some of the best franchises of all-time, but the incredibly popular and successful Steam service has also changed the way consumers buy and interact with games. The company appears as though it has two divisions, one trying to create world class games – on a slow timetable – and the other focused on changing the business side of gaming and technology. For the moment, it seems most of company’s eggs are in the latter’s basket.
Which would you prefer Valve to chase? Could you give up Steam’s advancement into gamer’s living rooms for Half Life 3 or do you think that the company should leave their franchises alone to nurture their consumer friendly business model? Let us know below.