The recent rumors flying around about Half-Life 3 being in active development with an announcement imminent, are total crap. But despite this, Valve is working on Half-Life. Just what iteration of Half-Life they’re working on is anybody’s guess, though. Let’s run down the possibilities.
The rumors are everywhere you look: “Valve is working on Half-Life 3! Valve is running an Alternate Reality Game to start early buzz for Half-Life 3!” And on and on. But with one simple post on the Steam forums, Valve writer Chet Faliszek has dashed our hopes for the third game in the genre-defining series.
Or have they?
Here are the facts. Six years passed between the release of the original Half-Life and Half-Life 2. It’s now been a little over seven years since the release of Half-Life 2. The Half-Life series is Valve’s best-known, biggest money-making franchise. Is there a single gamer alive who hasn’t played Half-Life or one of its spin-offs? (Portal would not exist without Half-Life, nor would Team Fortress 2.) It’s nothing less than the cornerstone of Valve’s entire business.
There is absolutely no way on earth that Valve is not working on something new for this iconic series.
Is it the long-delayed Half-Life 2: Episode 3? Quick history lesson: Following HL2‘s release in late 2004, the game’s story continued with a pair of add-on episodes, the second of which was released way back in 2007. At least one further episode was announced, but has become vaporware. Was Episode 3 a victim of FPS technology advancing too far beyond Valve’s Source engine to make it viable? Is it, against all odds, still in production — making it at least three years late? Or was it cancelled altogether, in favor of something else on Valve’s plate?
And what about Half-Life 3? No third entry in the series is unthinkable. Yet we’ve gone seven long years without so much as a whispered rumor coming out of Valve’s impenetrable fortress. Even these recent rumblings wound up being nothing more than an (understandably) over-eager fan community’s wishful thinking.
The Episodes marked a major shift in Valve’s game release strategy from standard boxed disc releases to downloads. But the endless delay in the third episode has led most fans to believe that Valve failed to meet their revenue goals with the first two, forcing them to reexamine this strategy. Earlier this year, Valve head honcho Gabe Newell told Develop Magazine that he had been forced to reconsider the episodic releases. “We went through the episodes phase, and now we’re going towards shorter and even shorter cycles,” he said. “For me, ‘entertainment as a service’ is a clear distillation of the episodic content model.” What do you suppose this means? Is Valve thinking of moving to a persistent online world with the franchise? Or has he got something unprecedented in mind?
But back in 2010, in an interview with MTV Geek, Newell alluded to a Half-Life 3 when he said in regards to the series, “I feel like we’ve gotten away from genuinely scaring the player more than I’d like, and it’s something we need to think about.”
So there you have it. We will get more Half-Life. But only Valve and Gabe Newell know what and when that will be — and frustratingly, they’re not in any hurry to talk about it.