Don’t expect Half-Life 3, unless it’s a pet project

Half life 3

The Valve business approach is a unique one. Essentially, they recruit a bunch of the best minds, give them a desk with wheels and plenty of freedom to work with anyone they want on any project that they find interesting. Valve CEO and co-founder, Gabe Newell explains that the company works well because of this ethos – but it also means we probably won’t be seeing another Half Life.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Newell explains:

When we started out we were a single-player video game company that could have been really successful just doing Half-Life sequel after Half-Life sequel, but we collectively said let’s try to make multi-player games even though there’s never been a commercial successful multi-player game.

So, rather than a new Half-Life game, we got Dota 2. It’s completely different to Half-Life, and yet Valve did the impossible and made a commercial success out of a multiplayer game. So what comes next? Will we ever see another Half-Life sequel? Well, maybe:

One of the nice things about having pretty distributed decision-making in the company is that it tends to scale really well. You can trust that lots of good decisions are being made all the time.

[…] We’ve essentially crowd-sourced supervision of a lot of these decisions to our customers and it works way better than almost any other system we could design. They’re rabid, they’re passionate, and there are a lot of them.

There are definitely enough rabid and passionate fans who are desperate for Half-Life 3, so will that push someone at Valve to make it? Well, maybe. It seems that everyone over at Valve is based on pet projects – not everyone agrees with what other people are doing, but they each have a project that they’re happy to work on. If someone decides to make Half-Life 3, they’ll have plenty of support, but there isn’t any push from “higher ups” to make that happen.

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.

I wonder if working on Half-Life 3 would now be seen as a waste of time – everyone is busy working on SteamOS, Steam Machines, or the next new awesome game/product. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, to be honest. Of course, everyone who loved Half-Life is desperate for more. However, don’t we also keep complaining about franchises that churn out sequels year after year, selling out. At least we know that we won’t see a half-baked Half-Life sequel – if it does ever get made, it will be a pet project filled with plenty of love and passion.

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Author:Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let's get on with it!
  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    It’s how we got Portal.

    The Half Life boat has sailed I think, if they ever release another one it’s unlikely to live up to what people imagine.

    • VampyricSquirrel Monk

      Much like Duke Nukem…

    • Hammersteyn

      The story isn’t finished yet, it’s like Return of the King was never written and we never knew if Frodo made it. That’s would be the difference between Half Life and Duke Nukem.

      • Gareth L (That Guy)

        That’s exactly it though from Half-Life’s perspective. It needs one more game to cap off the story, be it a sequel or simply Half-Life 2: Episode 3.

      • Milesh Bhana

        Completely agree, this is like cancelling a really good TV show before it ends. HL is now the “Firefly” of gaming.

        • Kromas

          So we should send Gabe a lot of money to make “Serenity” out of HL3. :P

    • JJ’s horrible secret (John)

      I agree. SP games are dying a slow death it seems.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        I don’t know, there are still plenty in the making. The day all new games start requiring you to play MP is the day I stop buying new games. #foreverSP!

        • Gerhard

          Agree 100%. Have a up vote.

        • SaintsRowNigri

          I somehow do not think that day is too far off…

      • Ian Carlton

        That’s the thing about any art form: none of them ever really die. Sure, right now doing multiplayer is popular and SP is taking a backseat. Sure, for most of the last several years, vinyl was on the ropes and CDs and MP3s were taking the music world by storm, but now vinyl is getting increasingly popular among hobbyists and hipsters and it’s finding its way back into the mainstream, almost every indie artist is releasing vinyl editions. SP games will never die, and MP games will never kill them, because all gaming companies know that every gamer sometimes just wants to go into singleplayer mode.

        And the other thing is, have you even played HL2EP2? Sure, maybe HL3 won’t live up to peoples’ expectations, but THAT IS NO WAY TO END A SERIES. Valve has never made and will never make a bad game (except maybe Ricochet, but even they don’t talk about that one), and even if HL3 is only as good as EP1, if that fucking cliffhanger gets resolved, legions of fans all over the world will breathe a deep sigh of relief and then pelt Gaben in the face with their money.

    • Zubayr Bhyat

      Disagree, half-life 2 came years after the first but is still one of the best games ever made. If we do see HL3 it’d be up to standard.

    • Ian Carlton

      It’s Valve, and it will be released on Source2 (which, incidentally, I hope to god is actually called Steam Engine). It will look gorgeous, have an incredible story, and be intuitive and fun to play, while remaining difficult to beat. These are given truths about all Valve games.

      And, if that wasn’t enough to convince you, have you played HL2EP2? Do you realize how big of an injustice it would be to simply leave that massive cliffhanger hanging for all eternity? Mark my words. HL3 is coming out within the next couple of years (I have evidence, feel free to ask for it), and I don’t even particularly care if it’s amazing and epic or simply good, as long as it resolves that GODDAMN CLIFFHANGER.

      If you can’t tell, I’m still quite new to the HL universe. If I’d been around as long as you I’d probably have developed a similar attitude of apathetic resentment towards the whole thing.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        Stick around long enough kid & we can be apathetic together. Well, not that I really care ;)

        • RinceThis


      • Johan du Preez

        I would like to see this evidence you claim to have ….

  • Sageville

    HL3 …. pass.

    I want new stuff, they left HL too long to do a sequel now.

    • Matthew Holliday

      the third game would never meet up to the hype.

      • Gareth L (That Guy)

        What hype? We haven’t seen anything to build up hype yet. ;)

  • VampyricSquirrel Monk

    I’d rather take another Portal game.

    • Matthew Holliday

      well you’re not going to get one anytime soon, Left 4 dead 3 is next up.

      • VampyricSquirrel Monk

        I can wait… I’m patient :)

        L4D3 should be fun tho… if they don’t kill it.

    • Ian Carlton

      I think the Portal story arc finished off really well with 2, I doubt there’s even going to be another one.

      • VampyricSquirrel Monk

        Spin off story… I really couldn’t care… they can re-release the first one with a better engine etc… I’d still be happy

  • SargonTheGreatPandaOfAkkad

    I’ll pretty much take anything Valve have to offer, to be honest. Valve and CR Projekt Red can have my money any day of the week.

  • Hammersteyn

    The problem is we need closure. Alyx and Gordon was on their way to Borealis even though Eli warned them about the ships cargo. What happened next??? Also what’s the G-Mans story in all of this? I still think if Half Life 3 were to see the light of day it would be a Steam machine exclusive.

    • Ian Carlton

      Since Steam Machines are PCs, you couldn’t really make an exclusive for them, and it would be extremely shitty business on Valve’s part, too. What I can see is doing a promotional, e.g. every Steam Machine comes packaged with the Steam Box, a package of new Valve titles including HL3, L4D3, and maybe DoD2, TF3, or a new IP entirely, all running on Source2, all SteamOS early releases (everyone with SteamOS gets them a couple of weeks to a month before everyone else). That sounds good to me.

      • Hammersteyn

        It does but frankly I just really really want to know what happens next.

        • Ian Carlton

          I feel ya, dawg. I feel ya.

  • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

    I wonder how they’d do on a racing sim..

    • DrKiller

      I think you are wondering too much today :P

  • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

    I wonder how they’d do on a 3rd person action adventure..

  • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

    I wonder how they’d do on a GTA clone..

  • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

    I wonder how they’d do on a Batman game..

  • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

    I wonder how they’d do on a farming simulator..

    • JJ’s horrible secret (John)

      You wonder about a lot of things.

      • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

        You have a firm grasp of the obvious.

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          If he keeps this up, one day he’ll be promoted to Captain.

  • Devourer of Small Bunnies

    Lets face brass tax. NO ONE liked steam when it first came out. Bandwidth issues and the inane ability to drop connections or restart long installation procedures were the norm. Today? Its the life a breath of most of the PC gaming community. I’d much rather have innovation with the likes of SteamOS and Steam Machines than HL3.


    Well, lets look at it this way. Pretty much anyone who has owned a pc and enjoyed gaming took both HL and HL2 (not forgetting portal etc) very much with them as they grew older. They were fantastic games, for the day, for the age, the graphics were outstanding, the story was wonderfully enticing and the voice acting was phenomenal bar none. If we look at what we are getting out of gaming today, most of our wants/needs are getting quite fulfilled with both AAA and indie titles ticking all our boxes. HL3 will not live up to this. It wont beat its hype, and chances are it wont even impress. If anything another AAA title with millions splashed on it that gets played for a week or two and then forgotten. I dont think anyone wants that. i dont think, with the state of the industry today, that anyones heart could deal with it (at least us passionate gamers :P)

    Maybe its a biased synopsis but I truly feel, that the world, us gamers, dont need HL3. However, we do need Valve.

    • JJ’s horrible secret (John)

      Hail Valve.

      • Devourer of Small Bunnies

        All hail out lord and father #Gaben

        • Matthew Holliday

          Gaben pls. #volvo

    • Ian Carlton

      Thing is, though, the Half Life series needs HL3. You realize that the ending of EP2 is the main reason we’re still talking about it, right? Leaving a cliffhanger like that hanging for 6 goddamn years like that is just not cool.

      Maybe it couldn’t be particularly innovative, maybe SP FPS games have maxed out their potential in that department, but at the same time, this is Valve we’re talking about. They smashed everyone’s expectations with HL, they pushed gaming forward a good five or six years with HL2, and they’ve had more classic titles than basically any other company I can think of. Everyone plays Portal and Portal 2, everyone plays TF2, everyone plays Dota 2, loads of people still play CS:S, let alone GO, hell, there are still people buying and playing HL and HL2. Valve’s the best in the business. If anyone can live up to six years of expectations, they can.

  • Umar of The Rebellion

    Blah Blah Money Money Money Money ……….. They owe it to the fans to complete it, it’s not like they aren’t by the means…

  • Mark Treloar

    Except DOTA is not really Valve’s success but rather 3rd party developers who made it popular. Valve is just riding the wave.

    • frikkenator

      Of course, the 5 years of development poured into DotA 2 was kinda pointless, as no-one really minded the limitations and horrible graphics of the WC mod…

      • Johan du Preez

        Pointles how, the beta was more polished than most release titles the pat few years. Then when they do it half assed you come and complain here because its half assed.

        Why play dota 2 then just stay with Dota ….

        • frikkenator

    • Matthew Holliday

      but remember, in the search for the stand alone dota title, Ice frog pushed out DemiGod and Heroes of Newerth which were both gameplay failures and commercial failures.
      he was also involved with league of Legends, which he left because Riot was pushing a game that wasnt “Dota” enough.

      Ice frog went through 3 titles befor he arrived at valve with Dota 2.

  • Rock789

    Would love a HL3 (would love it even more if they gave us HL2 – Part 3!). But am coming to the sad conclusion this article suggest – it ain’t happening. It does make me sad. But hey, at least Valve are still shipping great games. Even if they don’t contain anyone by the name of Gordon Freeman anymore. :)

    • DrKiller

      Shipping great games like Dota2… Fully agree with you :D

  • Gareth L (That Guy)

    I far prefer this attitude from studios. Gosh, imagine if Blizzard had to be creative instead of just re-hashing and re-skinning the same dead horses.

    It saddens me that people are happy with what they’re getting for the Diablo 3 “expansion” – one new character and one new act – for the price of a full game. Blizzard clearly only made Diablo 3 because people were screaming for it, when all they want to do is make World of WarCraft expansions and re-skin StarCraft as a sequel.

    Gamers are disappointed in games these days because the games themselves are released half-heartedly in order to make the same gamers not have to wait for what they “want”. It makes me a sad panda.

  • UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

    They gave me DOTA2. I am happy. Thanks Volvo <3

  • MichaelMatusowsky

    There are no “higher-ups” at Valve. As far as their working model goes, a newly joined recruit is an equal to GabeN himself lol.

    • Johan du Preez

      The higher ups have the final say on decision making. They all are equal but Gabe is still the boss ….

      • MichaelMatusowsky

        There’s no final decision making that’s the thing. If a bunch of developers at Valve want to do something, they can. A similar work model is employed by Google except you actually have to devote 75% of your time to their projects and the other 25% on any project you’re interested in (including your own ideas).

        The only thing the “higher ups” at Valve do is tell the stock holders that THINGS ARE LOOKING SUPER DUPER!

  • Confused2

    i only really want Half Life 3 for closure, Hl2 Episode 2 ended on a cliff hanger, what happens next? all i want is closure.

  • RinceThis

    We still going on about HL3? Chuckles.

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      Why are you commenting on a 2 month old article?

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