Poll Question 320 – Would you prefer Valve outsourced Half-Life 3?

12th September 2015

Sorry, I’m a few days late with this week’s poll question and lucky too because I didn’t really have one until I read Reddit today and saw the above.

I’ve talked about outsourcing Half-Life 3 before, specifically with regard to Gearbox, but I wonder if Valve would ever sell the whole Half-Life licence. If they actually plan to never make another HL game again (and I don’t believe that for a second), it could make financial sense.

The question is if whoever they sold it to made a crappy game that would also tarnish Valve reputation. In many ways it’s a lose-lose situation for then.

But maybe it comes down to would you rather take the chance of playing a crappy HL game than never knowing if Valve were to make one?

Time to Vote


  1. Zekiran

    If there was an option for HELL F’IN NO, I’d have voted that. 🙂

    It’s their product, their world, their code, and their work. Even if “it never comes out” (which I don’t for a moment think they would never put another out) I’d rather have it be their decision and their studio doing the work. Otherwise it simply is fanfic.

    Gearbox’s supplemental work for HL1 was … well, fun, but it was certainly not as good as Valve’s work, and at this point while I can look around here and see individuals who I’d love to see working ON it, anything other than Valve’s name and list of workers on the product would be of no interest to me.

    1. but it was certainly not as good as Valve’s work

      I disagree with this. I believe that Opposing Force is equal in quality to half-Life. If players hadn’t played Half-Life first, I don’t believe that they would judge it to be worse. Blue Shift is different becasue it wasn’t suppsoed to be released for PC and that makes a difference.

      1. Zekiran

        While OP4 was ‘fun’ it was… kind of mary-sue fandom in a nutshell. It wasn’t bad in any way except for of course Gearbox’s dreadful and oft-repeated “boss fight syndrome” which to be fair since HL1 was also made in the end of that era the Nihilanth fight was similar in nature. My problem with it is that since Valve has not specifically stated that it IS canon, only the bits which have made it through in mentions in actually-published games can count as things THEY see as ‘working right’ with their universe.

        No matter how much we like it, or how well it seems to flow, Minerva is still not Half Life. R&D is still not Half Life. A dozen more that are quite good, very well done – to the quality point of Valve I would say – are still *not* Valve’s work.

        I’m not saying that any given modder or other game company wouldn’t be CAPABLE of handling creating a sequel. There are many talented people, studios, and mod groups that can handle code and artwork, visuals, fights and the like with the *kind* of precision and care that I’d expect from Valve. The BMS team is not among them, their work fell absolutely flat at a certain point (while their visuals and care to detail in any given area was stunning, the flow of the overall game was pathetic and didn’t even come close to the excitement of playing the old HL1 game itself).

        While I’d say “hire these people for this aspect!” or “get this modder on that project right now!” the overall issue is that those people aren’t the writers, aren’t the creators who had this in their heads since the mid-90s or earlier. The product itself evolved, obviously reading RTB proves how much it can change from ideas on restaurant napkins to finished game. But only the folks within the structure of the company *still* know what it is that they have in mind. Anyone else is literally me – just a fan who loves the existing product and takes what they can from it, and runs with it. Even if that running is pretty good, it’s not theirs. We’re playing in their field. Not the other way around.

  2. The Rabbit

    I’ve heard this idea of handing the reigns off to another studio before, and it makes zero sense to me. It suggests people want a new Half-Life, ANY Half-Life, and they’ll be happy. But who actually feels this way? The people clamoring for a new installment want the Valve-quality game they expected. Sure, they want a resolution to the story, but (a) it’s foolish to think that any resolution will do, and (b) of course they want it wrapped in a great game. They want more novel encounters and exciting set-pieces. They want the kind of engaging environments and level design mixed with varied gameplay and impeccable pacing that the series excels at. This sounds straight-forward enough, but the high bar raises an important concern: There are a lot of different shooters from a lot of different studios. How many of them are as good as fans want the next Half-Life game to be? How many of them are as good as the existing Half-Life games are?

    Put simply: How can another company expect to make a Valve-quality FPS when they don’t already?

    1. How can another company expect to make a Valve-quality FPS when they don’t already?

      Is this true? Does everybody agree that Valve make the best SP FPS games? I’m not saying you are wrong and I highly doubt any of this website’s readers would disagree, but what about the gaming community as a whole?

      1. Derpmind

        You, uh, you played Portal 2, right? It’s not a flawless game but it was polished up the wazoo in every way possible.

  3. No, no and no.

    Half-Life 3 would be completely ruined if it was made by another AAA company. Imagine if EA or Ubisoft made HL3. It would be completely ruined.

    Also, like Zekiran mentioned, Half-Life is the work of Valve. They wasted so many hours of their life trying to make these games and satisfy the fans of the series.

    The sole reason Valve exists today is Half-Life, so selling the HL trademark which created the company in the first place would make zero sense to me.

    About HL3, I’m sure they’re currently working on it. I don’t have any clear proof (no one does) and I don’t think it will come out in the next 2 years, but Valve never disappoints. Even if it comes in 20, 30 years, HL3 will be amazing, and I’m sure about it.

    1. Even if it comes in 20, 30 years, HL3 will be amazing, and I’m sure about it.

      A sequel with that amount of time between its initially releases and itself is going to be amazing but seriously, 20 or 30 years!, is that fair?

      1. I said that metaphorically. I don’t really mean that 😛

    2. but Valve never disappoints.

      I’d say the way they’ve handled HL3 or Ep3, refusing to give the community a straight answer, has been nothing short of a disappointment.

      1. Zekiran

        Disappointing to you maybe. That’s not universal, nor does it apply to the quality of the games overall. Just because they haven’t released a Half Life game doesn’t mean that Valve has been sitting on their thumbs all this time. That they don’t speak of their projects until they’re released or just about to go live is a completely sharp marketing and sanity-saving move on their part. *nothing* they could ever say would satisfy some people, and those people tend to be quite loud about it. People would take even one breath of a statement as absolute, immutable fact – and when the game does come out and that ‘feature’ which was ‘promised’ isn’t there, they have an absolute meltdown.

        They make no promises, thus they need to keep none. From their standpoint it’s the only way they can get their work done. I’d rather have them working – even if it’s not ON Half Life – in a sane, sound environment, than continually have to dodge ‘fans’ who nitpick “there were two dots after this tweet! it means something!!!one!2!”. It’s not worth their time to do that, when they have games, services and products that would be better served with that time.

        1. Exactly. Especially in this part:

          I’d rather have them working – even if it’s not ON Half Life – in a sane, sound environment, than continually have to dodge ‘fans’ who nitpick “there were two dots after this tweet! it means something!!!one!2!”.

          Just watch the YouTube channel “Valve News Network”. It’s just that.

          1. I get what you’re saying, but it’s a chicken-and-egg problem. The entire reason people are so rabid about it is because Valve says nothing. If they don’t control the message, then rumor is going to control it.

            Valve sold people on the idea of an episodic gaming experience, only to stop working on it at the cliffhanger. It’s like if Star Wars ended at The Empire Strikes Back, or if a Telltale game series aborted two episodes in. The game industry is volatile and plans change all the time, but to say absolutely nothing about it for 8 years? That’s what’s so cheesy to me.

  4. Duke

    C’mon guys, if Valve ever get’s it out, (no rush it seems so I haven’t been holding my breath) I’ll be amazed, and as for the comments on whether a third party team could do it, well, I’ve played mods that were better than the original, so sure they could. Licensing and all apart, there are some decent teams out there. If the powers that be are waiting for the ‘dramatic pause’ to take effect, then sorry, you missed it.

  5. OJJ

    Maybe not HL3 but I would like to see another full on game in the HL universe made by competent developers, there was going to be a spin off game set in Ravenholm by Arkane studios but it got cancelled back in 2008, it may not be HL3 but we would’ve atleast had an official game post-2007.

  6. Let’s wait a little time and try “The closure” which will be released soon. It will almost be the answer for the question in the title. Or, at least, the answer will become clearer.

    1. OJJ

      I don’t think that a fan mod made by a single person would be able to define if a HL2 game not made by Valve would be good or not.

    2. Zekiran

      I think this exemplifies what’s wrong with the idea of ‘let someone else do Valve’s work’. While the mod – like any other – may turn out to be excellent in any given way? It’s not ever going to be HL3. No mod is.

  7. Mega Sean 45

    I’ve seen alot of different theories online about what’s going on with HL3, and quite frankly, I believe in the theory that HL3 is only being delayed because they want it to be 100% perfect. You know how long it took for them to make HL2 because they thought it wasn’t perfect? It could be the case here. Valve wants to make a totally new experience when making this game. HL2 introduced completely new methods and gameplay, and they might want to do the same to it’s sequel. The only problem is: it’s a difficult process. They wanna be original, and they wanna make sure the game remains fun for the fans.

    Valve knows what we want, and I’m pretty sure they wanna give it to us now, but Valve is a picky company when it comes to making their games. I still have faith in them. Every game they’ve given us was super fun (at least at first). To be honest, I’m in no hurry for the game because there’s a bunch of different games out there that are really fun too. Before you know it, HL3 will be released – all you have to do is not sit around and wait for it! ^_^

  8. after reading the comments above i have to agree that the half life franchise should “never” be sold by valve .. as TolisXTRM rightly stated “valve” wouldnt be here today if it wasnt for half life and allthough im not the biggest fan of the original it did change the way first person shooters were played and rightly so
    it may be valve are just playing with us … the more we plead for half life 3 the more valve will keep us waiting,however i dont think they are keeping us waiting on purpose …
    producing and developing a game that can better half life and half life 2 is a massive undertaking and can rightly take many years… but one thing is sure .. a half life 3 game would make valve millions and i mean millions ….
    i never buy games for more than £20 but i would happily pay £50 for half life 3 and i think many other would be the same .. so unless valve are happy to make their money on current titles then thats their problem ……

  9. Yes, but under certain conditions.

    Unfortunately, HL3 has developed ‘Duke Nukem’ Forever’ syndrome, I don’t have any doubt in my mind HL3, if ever released, will be “good”, it will live up to the Half-Life name, perhaps even revolutionize gaming aspects once more, but will it have been worth waiting nearly 8 years? Is anything worth waiting that long?

    I’d say the way they’ve handled HL3 or EP3, refusing to give the community a straight answer, has been nothing short of a disappointment.

    This. Valve has never even said a word whether or not they were working on Half-Life 3, which is the most frustrating of issues I have about the wait. A simple “yes” could of satisfied hundreds of thousands of people, prevent further usage of a terrible meme, but yet we get nothing at all! I understand the internal development process is very secretive, but when your (potential) future title becomes one of the most infamous cases of vaporware in gaming, maybe it’s time to set the record straight…

    The fact they didn’t even say anything for Half-Life’s 10th anniversary gives the impression that maybe not enough people who work at Valve still care about the series. The announcements they do make often relate to their multiplayer games, such as CS:GO and Dota 2, and it makes much more financial sense to appeal to these players than work on another single-player game. Thus I’m very pessimistic about the future of Half-Life.

    If one day, Valve annouces they are not going to make Half-Life 3, by all means, I would want to see what/if any progress they made for HL3, and would want to see it outsourced to another company. It’s true, Half-Life has a certain formula/charm that only Valve is able to perfectly replicate, many similar titles/modifications have managed to get pretty darn close to getting it “right”.

    I would rather see a series find closure through some other means than let it die and remain unresolved forever.

    1. The fact they didn’t even say anything for Half-Life’s 10th anniversary gives the impression that maybe not enough people who work at Valve still care about the series.

      This was the death knell of HL for me. It would have taken minimal effort on Valve’s part to do that, but instead they did nothing.

      You also bring up a good point about studio retention. it’s not uncommon for the studio of 2015 to be wildly different from the one in 2007. People come and go and, with them, attitudes and priorities change. I’m sure there is a small contingent of people at Valve who want HL3 to happen and may be working on it, but it’s hard to rise above the noise and money that DOTA2/CSGO/TF2 generate.

      I’ve also wondered if Valve feels it’s “beyond” HL at this point. You know, like when a band decides it’s not going to cover its old material anymore. There’s a philosophy among creatives that you eventually come to hate the work you did 5 years ago. Even though it might sound or look great to your fans, it’s primitive to you.

  10. thinking about it valve have such talented guys they could create a blockbuster half life release in less than 2 years … so you can understand why many guys including gabe above are thinking there may not be another half life game
    what about the future of modding/mapping … this is whats kept me so interested in half life .. and with the help of the wonderful phillip marlowe ( including some of his excellent voice overs in mods ) the future of mods are safe !

  11. There’s no doubt that Valve is a talented studio but they aren’t the only talented studio. If another studio was to take the reigns of Half Life 3 it would have to be one willing to take risks so in that sense Naughty Dog (because google says Neil Druckmann works for them) would be a pretty solid candidate although they have never made a First Person game before (to my knowledge)

    1. Naughty Dog is known for Jax & Daxter, Uncharted and The Last of Us. They, along with Insomniac and Sucker Punch, formed Sony’s “holy grail” of second-party developers. However, I don’t believe Naughty Dog ever did an FPS. Insomniac did the Resistance series, which was an FPS where World War II involved aliens, which led to the whole “sci-fi technology in the 1940s” motif.

      The problem with Naughty Dog, by way of The Last of Us, is that they actually focus too heavily on the narrative such that the gameplay feels like an afterthought. I know TLOU was a critical darling, but I thought its actual gameplay was pretty mediocre and uninspired. Of course, it doesn’t help that I don’t enjoy stealth games very much, and I don’t think their implementation of stealth was very good (I love how the NPCs can run around undetected).

      Truth be told, I can’t select a developer who could do HL justice. What makes HL so great is that it does everything so well. Other games might do a handful of things right, but drop the ball on others. Games like Fallout and BioShock have superior storytelling abilities, but the gameplay isn’t as fluid. Id’s games have fantastic game feel and looks, but not story. As for Gearbox, after Colonial Marines, I think few publishers would want to do business with them.

  12. Wesp5

    I don’t think the company Valve now is the same Valve that released HL1 and HL2, so giving HL3 to some other studio that actually cares about making games would be the best solution! All Valve cares about right now is Steam and Steam machines and Steam controllers… and thus making money from the games of other developers. All they have released themselves since the HL2 episodes are pimped up mods (CS, how many times now?, Portal and Portal 2, L4D and L4D2, Dota2 and Dota2 Source 2) that were more or less made by the modding groups they bought up. Most of which have left Valve again since, so I really wonder what the rest of Valve’s game development people are doing!

  13. 2muchvideogames

    There is an insider revelation video on youtoob that discusses HL3. Basically, valve at present is afraid of the hype for HL3 and is unwilling to make it. They say that the story and plot etc. are already complete but that they have no need to make HL3 for two main reasons: First, they have no urgency to make it because they rake in millions of cash from steam, tf2, dota, and csgo microtransactions. Second, they are aware of the massive hype for it and are afraid to make a product that will not be as good as the elitist gamers want. Speaking of which, they seem to have a very bad conception of gamers in generals. Quotes from insiders they gave include “Sadly, most people are shitheads” and “If HL3 came with a free blowjob then gamers will bitch that balls werent cupped properly”. The massive hype has basically made them unwilling to make the game.

    The video concludes by telling everyone to say ‘ I dont want HL3’ and hope that hype goes away. But after 10 or so years i havent seen much of that. NOBODY is getting an HL3 as long as there is HYPE.

    1. Yeah, I didn’t buy that story at all. It was propagated by The Know, who claimed to have some secret insider source at Valve who said all of this. At no point did they bother to ask anyone else at Valve for an explanation.

      But the Reddit did.

      Marc Laidlaw weighed in and said that he wasn’t aware of anything like that. Yet, The Know continued to stand behind their mysterious source. If they refuse to prove anything though, then you have to take them at their word, and frankly, I have no reason to believe them over Laidlaw. Plus, I think the source’s crude language makes it either sound phony or disgruntled.

  14. Something that Philip said up top struck me: “The question is if whoever they sold it to made a crappy game that would also tarnish Valve reputation. In many ways it’s a lose-lose situation for then.”

    Valve has control over who they sell to, and whoever comes knocking will have to be tried and true, simply to be able to raise the capital to buy the license in the first place. Also, I’m pretty sure Valve wouldn’t sell the license to a phenomenon like Half-Life solely on promises. The licensee would have to come with a concept, maybe even a demo that shows they have a viable sequel.

    I also disagree with the idea that only Valve could make Half-Life 3. When I was in college, my friend, a music major, was required to compose music in the style of some of the greatest composers. Skilled professionals could mimic the feel of the half life games, carry on the story, and introduce innovations that keep it fresh without being too different.

    To answer the question, yes, I’d prefer they outsource it.

  15. bobdog

    I think a couple of the things listed above are holding Valve back from developing and releasing HL3.

    First, Valve is meticulous about its game design. They will work and rework and re-re-work scenes and settings dozens of times. That in itself is why HL2, Episode 1 and Episode 2 took so long to put out. If they HAVE been working on HL3, with an advanced Source (maybe even Source 2) engine, then that process will probably be even more protracted.

    Second, Valve always want to introduce something “new” into their games. HL2 introduced physics into gameplay and lip-synching technology. After physics, what else is there to add that we haven’t already seen? Pretty graphics, more realistic human faces, better AI, better ragdoll effects — all of those are standard for just about every FPS after HL2. Other than bringing in VR, I’m not really sure what Valve can do that’s new.

    Third, Duke Nukem syndrome. Surely every game studio is leery about bringing a sequel out after such a long time, and fearing that it doesn’t live up to the hype or expectations of series fans. What would have been best would be to bring out Episode 3 maybe 18-24 months after Episode 2, and provide a limited bit of closure. I’m not sure why that didn’t happen, as any studio can craft a 6-hour game in 2 years. But the Episodes were not rated as highly as HL2, so maybe they felt it was a diminishing return.

    Fourth, Valve doesn’t need the cash. They probably make more from Steam in one month than HL2 made in its whole life. They have no impetus — and more importantly, no “fire in their belly” — to make HL3. Maybe they also realize that, and that without a hunger to create something, then they know it will just be an okay game, maybe comparable to what has gone before, but certainly nothing industry changing.

    I think the way that Valve could innovate with this title is to bring in an open game-world spread across MULTIPLE worlds, as Gordon frees enslaved worlds from their domination. I think that would definitely take HL from the corridor shooter it always has been, to something that no one else has really done.

    In the end, Valve would probably be leery of giving up their baby to another studio, even one like Gearbox, because Gabe Newell probably feels like no one else could do it justice. But on the flipside, a number of Valve employees have left from the original fold, so other than Gabe and Marc Laidlaw, there may not be anyone left with the original vision of what HL is supposed to represent. If that’s the case, and no one at Valve has any desire to work on HL3, I say let another shop give it a shot. That way, because the hype train says nothing that has taken this long will be any good, when it isn’t as good as HL2, then Valve can blame it on someone else.

    1. Every developer works and re-works scenes. It’s just that some have the luxury of more time and a higher budget than others.

      The amount of games that have come out since around the time of Episode Two is staggering. We’ve had something like three BioShocks, two (soon to be three) enormous Fallout games. Skyrim. Two Grand Theft Autos. Nintendo is on a roll again with its high-quality content.

      So why can’t Valve do it? 8 years. I mean, how meticulous can one really be? At what point does perfection turn into the enemy of the good?

      And it’s not like HL2 was perfect. The Episodes weren’t rated as highly and I’d agree with that. The majority of HL2 was great, but it had its weaker moments like every game does. It’s not immaculate. In fact, the problem with this logic – that Valve is holding out for perfection – contradicts what’s happened with HL2 itself. After all, they had no qualms about unleashing Steampipe on everyone and leaving it broken like that. Valve won’t fix what they’ve already broke, so why should anyone believe that they’ll magically produce a dream sequel just because we ask nicely?

  16. Heinz

    No, pls no outsourcing!

    But Valve should give them a chance to develop a demo and if it is good, give them the job for developing a HL Game under their roof and work it out together.

    That would be a way, that could satisfy me and I think many others too!

    1. I think that would be the best of all worlds. Provided that the modders or individuals don’t already work steady somewhere else (and let’s face it, many people who work on hobby projects with tool kits from companies like valve also do professional level work elsewhere) and don’t come with too much baggage, having new blood is an excellent idea. It would still be ‘in house’ – that’s what’s important to ME, that it isn’t sluffed off to some other group or company, that if it’s going to be Half Life, it’s *going* to be Valve.

      Sure I’d love to see all the people that worked on earlier versions still there – but that’s not possible. Attrition and industry motion sees to that, but that’s true of every company. Gathering the right people for the job, that’s something Valve *does* know how to do – Portal, CS, are good examples. They do know a good thing when they see it.

      But I know for sure that if something calling itself Half Life 3 came out, and didn’t directly have Valve working on it, it wouldn’t be getting my interest.

  17. I can say this; I would never forgive Valve if they decided not to release HL3, but they kept the license.

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