Half-Life – the game about a crowbar-wielding, bespectacled, goatee-sporting mute guy – set Valve on its path to become one of the biggest gaming software companies on the planet. Its sequel and their episodic follow ups have become some of gaming most revered properties. For better or worse, Valve now holds the keys to PC gaming. Valve’s Steam platform is largely considered the de-facto PC video game distribution service.
In these days of hats, gun and knife skins and trading cards, it’s easy to forget that Valve actually make games. If there’s one game that would very quickly help people remember that fact, it would be Half-Life 3. For a long time, I’ve argued that we’ll never see it happen. Valve’s become so focused on their service (and their in-game monetisation) that they don’t seem especially concerned with making new games. According to an alleged insider at Valve, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see Half-Life 3.
In a lengthy and fascinating interview at Game Informer, an apparent insider has spilled the beans of Half Life 3. Or rather, on the fact that Half-Life 3 doesn’t, and likely will never exist. It’s worth pointing out that Game Informer themselves say this information is verified, but they consider their source trustworthy. Take it, then, with a boulder of salt.
According to the insider though, “there is no such thing as Half-Life 3”.
“Valve has never announced a Half-Life 3,” the source continues. “The closest they’ve come is after Half-Life 2, they said there would be three episodes. We only got two of those. That is arguably an unfulfilled promise. Anything else that we might think about as a full game or sequel has never been promised.”
Apparently the game did reach the conceptualisation stage, but with Valve’s corporate culture, it’s never really progressed far beyond ideas. People would start projects that they hoped would become the next Half-Life, with a handful of people working on them. Sometimes they’d become larger projects with bigger teams of a few dozen, but they’d ultimately go nowhere.
There was meant to be a third episode of Half Life 2, but that, as we know, didn’t happen.
“There’s something with that third episode that isn’t sitting right with Gabe and other people at Valve. Ultimately it just starves to death. The people that tried to give it life find themselves better off working on other projects.”
The insider suggests that Half-Life 2: Episode 3 will never happen – and it’s unlikely that Half-Life 3 will happen either.
“I don’t think there will be any more. But at any given moment, they make decisions as they come. If some people within Valve make something that they collectively feel is exciting, then it will happen. That’s going to be hard for that to happen now. Every time a Half-Life project gets some gravity and then collapses, it becomes harder for the next one to start up. Because the business changes so much, and there are so many other things to do, it just gets harder and harder. It’s one of those things they’ll always have to accept. People are going to harass them for more Half-Life. The idea of delivering a third episode of Half-Life 2, that’s dead. There’s no universe where that will happen. I think there is a universe where a standalone thing could come together to fill in that hole, but that’s tough.”
I think it’s really time to give up on the idea of a Half-Life sequel. Perhaps we’ll see it one day in the future, as a Virtual Reality game, or something exclusive to Steam Machines – but I doubt it. There’s too much at stake, and with expectations where they are, anything less than perfect would be deemed a failure – tarnishing the entire series’ legacy.