Half-Life 3 Needs to Shit or Get Off the Pot

(This is another edition of </RANT>, a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)

I have a lot of love for Valve. In fact, I’ve defended the company more often than not, since I enjoy its games, respect it as a company that does right by its fans, and admire how it generally manages to be a successful corporation without becoming the world’s biggest metaphorical prick. It’s a company with a rabid fanbase, and rabid fanbases often carry with them a high level of emotion and personal attachment, which can lead to a huge amount of conflict. Like BioWare, Valve’s fanbase can often be mistaken for a veritable hatedom, given the amount of vitriol and rage that occurs as a natural result of pure passion.

I have rarely agreed with the backlash. I couldn’t believe how angry people got when Left 4 Dead 2 was announced, and despite the appearance of highly optional (and pointless) downloadable content, I still fail to understand what made Portal 2 so horrible as to deserve a slew of 0/10 Metacritic user reviews. Nevertheless, the customer can be right just as much as it can be wrong, and if there’s one thing Valve’s furious funbase is correct about, it’s this:

Valve, you need to fucking announce Half-Life 3.

While I understand a company not wanting to announce something before it’s ready, and I totally respect Half-Life’s lengthy development cycle and commitment to getting everything done right, the customers are long overdue a bone tossed their way. Even if there’s barely enough gameplay in existence to justify an announcement trailer, some acknowledgement that the game is definitely in production needs to come, and it needed to happen ages ago. Fact of the matter is … I’m sick of hearing about it. So sick, in fact, that I fear the final confirmation will no longer excite me. I am worried I’ll just roll my eyes, mutter, “about damn time,” and expect to see nothing else for at least two years. That’s not the attitude I want to have about Half-Life, but right now, thinking about the series makes me want to fall asleep.

We recently “enjoyed” April Fools Day, and Valve was up to its usual trolling self with a cute little joke — a teaser site for Half-Life 3. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually find it cute. It wasn’t funny. The whole, “Valve won’t announce Half-Life 3″ gag is overplayed and trite now, and I don’t think Valve can get away with it anymore. It’s dipped into that particular honeypot one too many times, to the point where it can’t even get a trace taste by licking the glass. Every cautious nod toward the game, every subtle wink at the camera, I’m just tired of it. Many fans are as well, and I think that’s what’s annoying them more than anything. Valve’s been playing coy for years, and there comes a time when you have to either put up or shut up. Valve has arrived at that moment.

Half-Life 3, I feel, needs to be announced this year, and sooner rather than later. By now, the hype is so ridiculous that I worry not even the Half-Life series can pull enough tricks out of the bag to justify it. Hype can be a great thing, but it can also destroy even the most precious and sacred of franchises. Just look at what happened when Mass Effect 3 failed to deliver on its promises. Now imagine what’ll happen if Half-Life 3 is considered a let-down, after all this build. Gamers have rioted over a lot less. The equation of “Valve Fans + Huge Build + Years Of Trolling” leads me to think that Valve’s strategy is a powder keg in the making. I’m not looking forward to the fallout if something goes wrong.

Of course, I could be wrong, and Half-Life 3 might be everything the world dreamed of and more, managing to appeal to everybody who’s excited for it and escaping the wrath of the scorned audience. I’d hope so. But I think it would be better for everyone if we just dropped all this silly pretense and finally got the word from the horse’s mouth. No games, no teases, and no making us jump through hoops to “unlock” the news. Just tell us straight — is Half-Life 3 happening or not?

Valve is a master manipulator of its audience, and has successfully exploited the passion of its fans in a variety of ways over the years. You can only dance around a beehive for so long before getting stung, however, and in an era where gamers are more and more likely to rebel against their favorite games, Valve might be a bit too close to the nest this time around. At the very least, it needs to relieve the pressure and finally give the fans what they’ve asked for over the course of so many years. Next time it promises a big game announcement, it has to be Half-Life 3. If it’s Portal 3 or Left 4 Dead 3, I think it might be one misdirection too many and it could backfire stupendously. People were already bitter at the idea of new Portal and Left 4 Dead games getting precedence over Half-Life. If we see a threequel for either of those games before we get more Gordon Freeman? Well … it won’t be pretty. You know it won’t be.

One sentence can alleviate all that pressure. Just fucking do it, guys.

Join the Conversation   

* required field

By submitting a comment here you grant GameFront a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

16 Comments on Half-Life 3 Needs to Shit or Get Off the Pot

Mark Burnham

On April 18, 2012 at 11:37 am

“The whole, “Valve won’t announce Half-Life 3″ gag is overplayed and trite now, and I don’t think Valve can get away with it anymore. It’s dipped into that particular honeypot one too many times, to the point where it can’t even get a trace taste by licking the glass.”

This ^^ The “HL3 non-announcement meme” has been distracting and kind of fun for a while, but its charm has worn off.

Phil Hornshaw

On April 18, 2012 at 11:48 am

Hate to say it, but I’m to the point where I’m starting to not really care about Half-Life anymore. It’s gotten to the point where even thinking about Half-Life 3 is boring. The meme is boring, like Mark said, and I’m starting to feel like whatever the game might have to offer is going to feel like it’ll be too little to justify, like, a million years of waiting. I don’t want Valve to rush, but then again, my Half-Life attention span is waning big time.

Jeff Mills

On April 18, 2012 at 11:49 am

I hope it’s released soon. The Half-Life games always had a decent story mixed in with some great nerd humor.

Please don’t let this turn into a running joke like DNF became.

Ross Lincoln

On April 18, 2012 at 11:53 am

Word. Seriously, it’s getting old, especially the winking acknowledgement of demand. We don’t need wearable computers guys. And like Phil says, I’m kind of getting over the idea anyway. At this rate it’s going to be like Godfather 3. And they’ll probably cast Sophia Coppola as the voice of Freeman. #zing.


On April 18, 2012 at 1:12 pm

They haven’t announced it because they’re not actively working on it. Gabe has stated numerous times that the devs work on whatever they feel like working on, and I personally believe they just don’t have the desire to work on anything Half-Life related anytime soon. I made a prediction about 2 years ago that we wouldn’t see another installment in the HL franchise before 2014, and I stand by that belief. And let me clarrify, what I’m saying is at LEAST until 2014, but it could very well go beyond that.

As for defending Valve over Left 4 Dead 2, I have to call you out on that. I for one boycotted it, and still stand by that decision. I’ve even had it gifted to me and didn’t accept it. Gabe made VERY clear assertions about how they would handle post-release content for L4D, comparing it directly to TF2. It’s no different than how Bioware made claims about how they would handle the ending to ME3, then didn’t deliver. The content being made for L4D ended up ballooning in size and Chet decided they would roll it into a sequel instead. For me it the issue wasn’t so much that they were charging money for it (although gifting $250 worth of copies of L4D to my friends did sting a bit), but that the community would now be split between predecessor and sequel. This not only hurts server numbers & population, but splits the mod community as well (they even held back the SDK until L4D2 launched thereby screwing over L4D owners completely). They could’ve divided it up into separate DLC packages, or release it as a large expansion, and kept the community at least someone unified even if they charged money for it.

As far as Portal 2. Pre-ordered it, loved it, even if it was a bit on the easy side compared to the first game. Didn’t mind the day one DLC cause it was just cosmetic stuff akin to the hats in TF2.


On April 18, 2012 at 10:04 pm

HL3 needs to be announced, prepped and ready asap. Enough of the continuation of the abysmally overrated sh**t like L4D. ITS BORING NO ACTUAL STORY, MULTIPLAYER ONLY… get the picture valve? With HL series there is a lot more then simply shooting zombies and playing through repetitve linear missions with friends or bots!


Aleks Kmiec

On April 19, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Good article. Honestly though, I don’t think Valve needs to announce at this point. It’s been so long, I’ve totally lost interest. Whenever someone mentions Half-life, I immediately respond “oh yeah, I forgot about that game”. It just doesn’t matter to anyone anymore.


On April 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm

So now everyone’s gonna focus on hating Valve and petitioning, etc etc now that the ME3 controversy has died? lol


On April 19, 2012 at 4:37 pm

No hate, just devoted fans. Even after the debacle with L4D2, I still highly respect Valve. It was just one dumb move which they later corrected by parting ways with the people who made the decision (bye bye Turtle Rock!). Besides all that, they are one of the only dev studios that put game design before money. In a recent interview regarding DOTA 2, Gabe Newell even stated that when they design games they don’t even consider how to monetize it until they’re nearly done with it.


On April 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I’ve always found the relationship between Valve and their fanbase to be rather amusing. It’s been eight or so years since the release of HL2 and in that time they have released Team Fortress2, two L4D, two Portal (one of them was developed out of house) and two HL2 episodes; all running on the same (if gradually improved) engine; and their fans love them to bits. Why? Steam; that’s why.

In a market where DRM has become an expletive, somehow Valve can be the market leader in third party DRM solutions and still come out smelling of roses. They offer a cheap and efficient distribution service (with the key word being cheap) so a mediocre (by Valve standards) almost decade of game releases and persistant DRM is overlooked.

My personal view on Valve is they do not see themselves as developers anymore as they do not need to make games to make money so any games that are made are either a) pet projects as in Portal and L4D or b) token upgrades to existing products to maintain the illusion of being developers.


On April 21, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Wow… you guys need some help… I love the half life series but I don’t even kind if have time to complain about it. I know how this sounds, but get a life. Go out and do things and just… when it comes out it comes out. Portal has tie ins and so they are just building up some required back story. Holy crap. All this talk of powder kegs and turning against a company and ? … nerd rage. Why not try something else in the meantime? I read the halo books and played the games and same with mass effect. I am getting into skyrim. I have two jobs and a girlfriend. , you guys are just… .


On April 22, 2012 at 8:29 am

Watch your word, er.
You need to wait til Valve announce HL3 so wait your ass.


On April 24, 2012 at 11:48 am

Shane, explain to me how being upset about video games is any different than someone being upset about their favorite team in sports. Does the fact that we’re upset about the lack of a continuation of a game series we love somehow determine everything else in our life? Or is that just your short-sighted generalization of the entire gaming population? I can love my hobby and still have a functional “normal” life. I can complain about things and still be a productive member of society. We’re not all degenerates with no self-worth just because we have a passion for something.


On April 25, 2012 at 10:10 am

I would have to agree with this . I was a pretty big Half-Life fan, read, was. They started loosing me when they went to the Episodes (I bought them all, semi-begrudgingly). Somehow the experience of “Episodes” cheapened the effect of a new Half-Life installment. Now, with all the constant rumors, teases and marketing PR “genius” strategies that Valve and/or Gabe are employing, HL2:EP3/HL3 has just become annoying white background noise to me. Granted, this is partially the medias doing as well. Reporting every little comment Valve/Gabe makes, most of the time not even directly related to HL, trying to read between the lines, trying desperately to tie it to HL3. But, until there is actual information, its all opinions and guesswork, which is just as worthless as garbage. Valve and HL3 are quickly venturing into dreaded DNF territory and I have a feeling it will probably suck just as bad, if that is even possible. I rarely even care to click on EP3/HL3 articles anymore, as they are mostly “blah, blah, blah, cryptic message, misinformation, inserted reporter opinion, blah”, I read this one because it was a and figured it would be entertaining, which it was. However, massive marketing hype and delayed sequels rarely live up to their expectations. Hopefully, this will not the case for Valve and HL3. But, I don’t know if I will even care when the time comes. I feel as though I will have been over it, long ago.


On December 13, 2012 at 6:52 pm

I’ve been waiting too damn long just for Chapter three of Half Life 2! I agree, announce the new game or tell us it’s not going to happen. What a wonderful franchise Half Life USED TO BE


On January 14, 2013 at 3:00 pm

The problem is, they aren’t announcing it because they aren’t making it, period.
Newell said several times that making HL3 would take years of developement, so they decided to go episodic instead and the ensemble of Episode 2, 3 and 4 is basically to be considered HL3. Valve is all focused on Steam nowadays and won’t waste most of its resources working on a long-developement title.
They even recently announced that they dropped the developement of episode 4, so HL3 is not coming. Not sooner or later, just NOT COMING. And when they are making those gags about HL3, they are not making them to raise the hype. They are making them to remark the concept they ACTUALLY ARE NOT MAKING ANY HALF LIFE 3 GAME. Live with that.