Open Question 001 – Why do you think Valve haven’t released Half-Life 3?

21st July 2018

My Goodness! How long has it been since the last release of an official half-Life game? Too long, that’s for sure.

We all know how hard it is to start something again after we have taken a break – going back to school after the summer (teachers as well as students!), starting a new diet after eating whatever we want or doing exercise after lazing on the sofa for months.

It can’t be much different for Valve and let’s not forget that Valve back then and Valve now are very different. Different people, different objectives and different priorities.

There’s also the Duke Nukem effect. The longer you leave it, the greater the expectation.

So, what do you think is the reason for the lack of Half-Life 3?

About This New Monthly Series

Back in October 2006 I started a weekly Poll Question. Lasting more or less ten years was pretty good and we have some very insightful discussions based on the questions. It became harder and harder for me to think of new questions and it eventually fizzled out in November 2016.

Then in November 2017, I decided to try the idea of a Re-Poll Question. My think was that the site has mostly new readers and they probably won’t comment on ten-year old poll questions. That lasted 2 questions before I realised that it was “probably” a mistake.

So here we are. I would like to encourage some discussion on the site and the Monthly General Chat is getting quieter and quieter. The Open Question series will be approximately once per month, probably near the middle of the month.

Unlike the poll questions, which had choices to select, as the name suggests, these will be open – no poll, no choices. I will write an introduction piece but it won’t be an article or very long. Just something to clarify the question and get things started.

I’ll probably have lots of opinions myself but it’s not a soap box for ME to tell YOU what I think, but really just a nudge to get the conversation going.

If you have any ideas for topics, please email me directly. I want to try to keep each Open Question as “On-Topic” as possible.


  1. That’s… a complicated question, I think. It’s almost assuredly not one single factor.

    This video from Valve News Network ( goes over a lot of what I think’s going on.

    The long and short of it is that they have worked on several projects, from Half-Life 3, Left 4 Dead 3, multiple Source 2 ports for several of their games, and so on. The issue is that they can’t finish them.

    This can be attributed to both the business structure over at Valve, a large nest of internal office politics and differing views on how things should be done, as well as well as the “perfection” issue you spoke of.

    One of the notable examples in the video of this is with Left 4 Dead 3, where evidently, the game was in a playable state, but was shelved because they couldn’t decide what engine to work in. And as for Half-Life 3, it has been shelved on and off again and again, and it’s hard to say if it’ll ever come to fruition.

    Honestly, I expect something like Project Borealis to have a greater chance of finishing than it.

    How Valve works seems to be quite detrimental to actually getting things done, which we likely see in the form of “Valve Time”, and I honestly think there needs to be a restructuring at some point if we ever want to see more from them.

  2. I have a lot of possible things to come up about it lately. 1) Valve is having a massive writer’s block or 2) The fear of having anything revolutionary. Looking back at both 1 & 2, they were both revolutionary for its time. For example, sophisticated AI and story inside a game (Half-Life 1), visually original-looking enemies and physics (Half-Life 2)

    And 3) I fear this reason the most and this might sounds silly, the oversaturation in multiplayer scene, from business perspective, [coughing violently] microtransaction is the way for incomes.

  3. Wesp5

    I think that besides that Valve does not need to make real games anymore because of their CS-forced headstart with Steam which is only slow waning as other services gain ground, it might have a lot to do with their internal structure. Read this:

  4. Apart from what people said above, I think it’s also because of the gaming industry today. For every game to be considered good by today’s critics, it needs to: 1) be heavily cinematic, 2) implement RPG elements (due to the success of the Souls games) and/or 3) have some sort of family/bonding story.

    Since Half-Life has nothing to do with these things – and because of the incredible success of Steam – I don’t think Half-Life 3 will be coming out any time soon.

    (but I sure wish it will)

  5. Half Life 2 is almost laughable by the standard of modern games, but I like it and would rather Valve release Episode 3 to finish the story off and free themselves from something they no longer appear to want. Half Life 3 has become a dirty stain covering Valve and the sooner they clean it off the better!

    Maybe release HL2 and it’s episodes as a free download and let the very generous and talented modding community take over Half Life’s future and the name will live on even longer, and not be a rusting anchor stopping Valve moving on, but a positive light.

    Maybe even gathering new fans with new ideas for the future of this intriguing universe.

    Although my modern gaming nephew has said there are sharks circling Valve…

  6. I just think they can’t be bothered, things have moved on now for them, which is a horrendous betrayal of a community and rapidly dwindling loyal fans. String them up for treason I say.

  7. I think they are trying to live up to the expectations or are just working on other stuff.

  8. oliver

    I think valve are looking to make their own hardware and saving hl3 for an exclusive steambox, also the original hl2 had quality per map unit consistently above anything,
    less is more im not sure hl3 fits into the current landscape of social/casual games i hope it can engage and exist

  9. bolec

    Two simple reasons
    1) They are too busy handling the store and competitive games (CSGO and Dota2).
    2) HL3/EP3 will NOT live up to the hype (especially now when key people left the team).

    Let it die. Enjoy the mods. Migrate to other games. I love HL2 and EPs, but that’s boring to moan about HL3/EP3. I would rather focus on something else.

  10. I think there are a great many contributing factors to this. There is a lot of evidence that a Half-Life sequel has been in development more than once over the years. Some times the team doesn’t stick together, people move on to projects which interest them more, such as VR hardware and software.

    The one question that you really need to ask is, would you play Half-Life 3 if it was developed by a different team. The fact is, a lot of the people who worked on Half-Life 1 and quite a few that worked on Half-Life 2 and the episodes have now left Valve.

    It’s the same argument I see with one of my other favourite developers, Obsidian Entertainment. For 18 months, between 2008 and 2010, Obsidian worked on and released one of my favourite games of all time, Fallout New Vegas. Bethesda softworks own the rights to the franchise, but a lot of people who worked on New Vegas were the original owners of the franchise. Since then, a lot of people have said that Bethesda Game Studios are not able to develop a true Fallout game and should sell the rights to Obsidian. However, it’s the same issue. People who worked on New Vegas do not work there anymore. It would be a totally different team and the resulting game would feel entirely different.

    For that reason, I have come to accept that a new game in the Half-Life franchise developed by Valve is very unlikely, and at this point, were it to be announced, I would need to see a good deal of the gameplay and mechanics before I considered buying it.

  11. Nicol Bolas

    With every passing year it gets less and less likely. Unless valve does something for the upcoming anniversary then we likely have no hope left.

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