On Saturday, 13,000 Half-Life fans showed up on Steam to play Half-Life 2 multiplayer simultaneously. That’s 10k more HL2 players at one time than the Steam servers are accustomed to. Their reasons for gathering to play? They want to know the status of Half-Life 3.
30,000 players originally signed a pledge to play over the weekend, but in the end, less than half of them showed up. The idea was cooked up by the Steam Community Group, who (like many of us) have grown frustrated at Valve’s refusal to comment on future plans for Half-Life 3 and/or Half-Life 2: Episode 3. But rather than risk ticking off the games’ developers, SCG decided to hold a more positive “protest” to send a message to Valve.
In their own words, that message is:
Your oldest and longest running fanbase would like better communication.
Waiting patiently for over four years can be challenging as a fan… Valve had stated that information was scheduled to be released towards the end of 2008, and we believe that if they have chosen to change those plans, fans should be acknowledged, regardless of developmental plans for the next Half-Life project.
The entire trilogy of [Half-Life 2] episodes was scheduled to be completed and released by 2007, and if Valve have decided to do other things for the time being, that is fine; all that we ask for is a basic response on the matter, and to let fans know whether or not the current story arc is scheduled to conclude at another point in time.
I’m all for creators keeping their secrets. Creative expression is largely dependent upon surprise, after all. But I sympathize 100% with these Half-Life fans. I will cheer them on until they get results, because I think they’re in the right. They’re not asking for Valve to spill all their secrets. They just want some idea of whether or not Half-Life 3 and/or Half-Life 2: Episode 3 are even in the cards, particularly the latter, which was due for release five years ago.
You know, if they’re saving their big reveal for E3, that’s perfectly understandable. But throw the fans a bone in the meantime. A morsel. Anything. Something as vague as, “We can’t comment on Half-Life at the moment, but stay tuned!” would appease the masses.
Valve is in no way required to respond to their fans. Delays are inevitable, and Valve has a history of them, due to the uncompromising quality of the games they produce. Then there’s the industry, which goes through seasons of change, financial/business considerations, employee turnover, and any number of other reasons why developers alter their plans all the time. No doubt Valve has a very good reason for not releasing Episode 3 when they said they would.
But they’ve fostered a symbiotic relationship with their fans based on mutual communication from the start. Now, after making promises to their fans regarding the future of the franchise, they’re dead silent. This is unacceptable. Valve has a moral responsibility to at least comment on any change to the promises they’ve made to their fans. And it’s not like we’re talking about a few months of silence, here. Valve has been in total black-out on the topic of Half-Life for five years.
There’s a word for that kind of blatant neglect of fan interest and enthusiasm.
It’s called disloyalty.