Gabe Newell on why Valve doesn't churn out Half-Life sequels

Cofounder says studio could have been successful by creating more and more Half-Life games, but wanted to branch out to multiplayer games instead.

Valve cofounder Gabe Newell has explained why the popular Seattle studio does not churn out Half-Life sequel after Half-Life sequel, even though it could have been successful doing so.

"When we started out, we were a single-player video game company that could have been really successful just doing Half-Life sequel after Half-Life sequel," Newell told The Washington Post in a new interview.

He recalled that in retrospect, moving ahead with multiplayer games like Dota 2 and the Steam platform was a "great idea." Indeed, the platform now has 65 million members and is a juggernaut in the PC gaming community.

Still, Half-Life fans are still left waiting for Half-Life 3, which Newell said previously has gone through numerous "twists and turns" and remains officially unannounced.

Newell's interview largely addresses Valve's unique organizational structure where there are no official titles or positions, and vacation and sick time is not tracked. Newell said this structure is beneficial because it means employees are never tied to one project forever.

"So, if somebody becomes the group manager of X, they're going to really resist it when X is not what you want to do in the next round of games. You don't want them to sort of burrow into that--you want them to recognize that being really good at Half-Life level design is not as nearly as valued as thinking of how to design social multiplayer experiences," Newell said. "You've had them feel like they have an organization and title tied up to something when the key is to just continue to follow where the customers are leading."

Finally, Newell said it is important that Valve's employees be highly adaptable because game production methods and other industry trends are changing at such a rapid rate. Locking in to one specific specialization would be a disaster, he said.

"If you look at the requirements for just one piece, like art, from one generation of games to the next, it will change radically. You need people who are adaptable because the thing that makes you the best in the world in one generation of games is going to be totally useless in the next," Newell said." So specialization in gaming is sort of the enemy of the future. We had to think about if we're going to be in a business that's changing that quickly, how do we avoid institutionalizing one set of production methods in such a way that we can't adapt to what's going to be coming next."

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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485 comments
charlievo
charlievo

another excuses.  Valve make too much money from STEAM, they don't care about making games really.

ronison123
ronison123

i dont understand all the talk about a new game in the series not being as good as the first ones.. look at this list of games: half life, half life 2, counter strike, team fortress, portal, left 4 dead, dota 2. every one of them was highly innovative, and some of them are so good they advanced the whole gaming industry in theyre genre, and every other gaming company tries to copy their methods. so yeah, we're all disappointed about not hearing anything about this franchise for so long, but you have to understand that they dont care for sequals so much because sequals are not usually very innovative.. and thats what valve's all about!

hikaruai
hikaruai

Well spoken, I completely understand his point of view...

golemoy
golemoy

the only way HL3 will not be a disappointment, is it will make the same impact on gaming as HL1 and HL2 did.

I'm talking about physics, HL1 introduced some basic phsyics (pushing/pulling barrels) and HL2 was the first game to introduce advanced physics to gaming with source engine, that are pretty close to real life, but still not there. Hal Life 3 pretty much has to have realistic physics. Something like the Unreal Engine 4 showed, basicaly Source 2 has to top Unreal  (watch the nvidia titan Z presentation to understand what i mean). As for story and gameplay, i dont worry, i know it will deliver.

Blk_Mage_Ctype
Blk_Mage_Ctype

I'd hate to say it, but Valve is really beginning to disappoint me, and I'm beginning to wonder if they're losing their touch. I used to really love Valve because they seemed like one developer in a million who really listens to/cares for its fanbase and always kept their IPs alive and interesting, but now it seems like they're just another face in the crowd, ignoring their fanbase completely, and just trying to cash in on the latest trends.

evil_grudge
evil_grudge

I only hope that there will be HL3 some day. Gordon can you hear me, Gordon, go into the light, go into the light.

Trust me, my life is not complete without Half Life 3, HL2 one of the best Single Player games I've played.

soilworker651
soilworker651

It took me years and years of hoping, waiting, wanting, denying, and finally accepting that Half-Life is officially dead to Valve, and they care less about it than Gabe does his cholesterol. Best just hand it off to an indie company if we're ever to see the potential of a sequel within 20 years.

Meh, piss on it then.  I'm glad I've finally reached this point.  Ep. 2 was a bit of a shit ending to close the franchise off though. =(

bdrtfm
bdrtfm

Nobody is asking for half-life sequel after half-life sequel. At least nobody I know. All I'm asking for is 1 half-life sequel. Although, I doubt it would be as good as the originals. Not many games are these days. Kind of like food you ate as a kid just not tasting the same when you try it years later. Its never as good as you remember it.

charald
charald

Not finishing the story is like writing a book, leaving out the ending and flipping people off when they ask for one.  Now... I don't care for DOTA because it's not the type of games I play.   L4D are zombie games, and I despise that genre because it's getting so damn old. So the only stuff left is Portal, which I enjoyed.   Other than that, Valve doesn't really have anything besides HL that I enjoy.  So I guess there's not much business for me to do with them...  



so_hai
so_hai

It doesn't sound like they're capable of producing Half Life games anymore anyway. If sick/holiday time isn't tracked, then I suspect the project management dept. is somewhat crippled at Valve.

shreddyz
shreddyz

finally!! an adequate picture to put on my dart board.

RapidFirE53211
RapidFirE53211

No one is asking you to churn out Half-Life sequels, Gabe (not any real fans, anyway). Many of us HL fans are just disappointed that you have largely abandoned a franchise that was very entertaining and engaging and also happened to be the franchise that put your company on the map.

jadaski1
jadaski1

OMG, that pic of Gabe... It's like he's judging me, and found me wanting.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

TBH this boat left the dock a long time ago and it's never coming back. As others have said: Any HL3 that did come out would disappoint most people, for one reason or another, even if it was honestly a good game.

RedLegZeff
RedLegZeff

I'd still kind of like a half life game each decade or so. Adapt in making a cool new half life, please.

cws3e
cws3e

They never made HL2 Episode 3, and people are getting worked up about HL3.  Clearly it is not a priority to them so people so back off and start looking for other games to fill the void.

darthchronik77
darthchronik77

Its never coming because that company has moved on.

SillySkeleton
SillySkeleton

I came here for Half Life 3, not a spiel about staff being adaptable at Valve's studios. >:(

ImWiseGuy
ImWiseGuy

what a hell he was talking about? Is this really so hard to create a good Half-Life 3 game in about 6 years? Maybe 7. Maybe for PS4 and XBOX ONE? as a single player fan i will never understand those who a sinking they gaming ours into dota 2 like games. there will be never a better experience than a good solo story driven game. But it's only my opinion.

chippiez
chippiez

Gabe looks like a really fat woman.... who shops at WalMart.

chatphon
chatphon

i like Gabe with-beard version more than Gabe without-beard version.

Snakepond1
Snakepond1

I miss old school Valve. Yes, what they have done for PC is amazing. But, I miss those Valves games of yesterday. 

TwinStripeUK
TwinStripeUK

... well, apart from Half-Life,Half-Life Blue Shift, Half-Life Opposing Force,Half-Life Decay, Half-Life Counterstrike, Half-Life Team Fortress... and the Source versions of them... and Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2 Episode 1 and Half-Life Episode 2.... APART from those, they don't just churn out sequels and milk the same idea for a decade, oh no...


I used to rate this guy and now he just comes across as a complete nob - so glad that the Steam Box (which has already degraded into a huge, complicated mess before it's even launched) is going to fail miserably - it might teach him some humility...

berserker66666
berserker66666

Q: Why Valve doesn't churn out Half-Life sequel? 

A: Cause Gabe Newell can't pronounce "3"

hitomo
hitomo

not far away they will bring HL3 execlusivly for steamBox ... guess what happens then ... on a sidenote: you will never fear someone you dont respect ... Gabe is up to something

wyan_
wyan_

Why do they always use this mug shot of Newell looking like he just got nailed for a sex crime? Is it an inside joke or something?

Marz10
Marz10

With that kind of organizing no wonder they don't get anything done.

StHapns247
StHapns247

Hey Gabe, the longer you wait and the more bs you spew the bigger the Half-Life 3 joke becomes.

con47
con47

Square Enix learned how to count to 3 with Kingdom Hearts 3 now it's Valve's turn Gabe.

horosavinXX
horosavinXX

what the hell was this?! a long and complicated elaboration of history and evolution of gaming industry. dude, the question is simple: hl3 - if and when, period.

KiLLLeR150
KiLLLeR150

And no one's asking for you to " just [do] Half-Life sequel after Half-Life sequel". But you won't give us 1 fucking iota of ANYTHING regarding Half-Life. You guys are just addicted to making an infinite amount of money from TF2, Dota 2 and the Steam marketplace.

The_evil_Nemesi
The_evil_Nemesi

If you guys at Valve are unable to finish Half-Life 3 as a game, why not at least finish it as a novel or webisodes or any other form of media?


Then everyone will be happy

GuillermoX
GuillermoX

You must really hate him to be still using that picture every single time his name comes up

pyro1245
pyro1245

So you're out of ideas, basically?

sofalover
sofalover

I have a lot to thank Gabe for, years of premature ejaculation and all I had to do was imagine that fat face of his.

TheWatcher000
TheWatcher000

Gabe, I've been a fan of yours a long time, one of your biggest supporters, even when so many quietly got sick and tired of waiting for anything ever to happen with Half-Life, but even I am to the point of throwing my arms up and saying fuck it.


There is almost no more Mystique left for this legendary franchise, because this silly "will they, or won't they" game you have played with the public for the past 7 years has gone beyond tedious, it's just just stupid now.


I am beginning to think that the real reason that you guys don't deliver the rest of Gordon's story is that maybe you feel that you cannot produce anything that would even come close to the hype and expectations, and I understand that.  After all, Half Life is Valve's Legacy, it's what made you, and releasing a less than superior product could probably break you as well.  It's kind of like what Coppola was facing when he did Godfather III.  Trying to live up to Godfather and Godfather II was impossible, and at the end of the day, maybe the time had past when the resources and talent were there to MAKE it possible.  Maybe that's where you find yourself with Half Life 3.  Or maybe you just don't give a shit.  I don't know.


What I DO know is that you guys have always prided yourselves on being innovators and perfectionists.  Always looking to push the envelope and give us experiences that we've never had before, that were never possible until you delivered them.  And let's face it, everything that has occurred since we last left Gordon has been fantastic.  There is no questioning that.


But at the end of the day, none of it has ever come quite close to what made Valve who they are.  That special story that began in a creepy underground monorail 16 years ago, and captured our imaginations and never let go.  THAT is what everyone REALLY wants.  The end to the story.  If it can never be, I can accept it.  Many people won't, and that's their choice.  I would just like closure at this point.


Complete the journey, or don't.  Show us how it all ends, or leave it forever shrouded in mystery.


Just please, stop it with the tedious smoke and mirrors, and annoyingly overbearing "mystique."


Most of us have outgrown it.  


I would hope you have, too.

lilflipp
lilflipp

@Blk_Mage_Ctype If they wanted to cash in. They would've thrown a rushed out HL3 a long time ago. Be patient and wait. Go play other games.

dani_i89
dani_i89

@bdrtfm I don't know about that. HL2 was amazingly good. It still holds up to shooters produced today. Being Valve, and because they have had so much to time work on a sequel, I'd expect nothing less than near perfection.

styymy
styymy

@SillySkeleton The headline gave no allusions that the article would say anything about Half Life 3. It's clear that the article would be about Gabe saying why they don't churn out HL sequels. You couldn't get that out of a simple headline? 

Xenrathe
Xenrathe

@SillySkeleton Agreed. What is he talking about?


The notion that employees making half-life 3 somehow means the employees are less adaptable is a completely false dichotomy.


So we read between the lines: they're not making HL3. They're just not saying it because the mystery/hype is good publicity and admitting to not actively working on HL3 (even though that's obvious) would cause a popularity hit for Valve.

cratecruncher
cratecruncher

@chatphon I find his net worth about the only thing interesting about him.  His appearance frankly isn't that impressive

Zjarcal
Zjarcal

@KiLLLeR150 Well, an infinite amount of money is probably a veeeery addicting thing.

blitzinD
blitzinD

@TheWatcher000


"releasing a less than superior product could probably break you as well. "


I think Valve is well beyond one bad release breaking the company.


"THAT is what everyone REALLY wants. "


Seems the 65 million Steam users are happy with what Valve has been working on. Would Half-Life 3 sell 65 million units?


Waiting on pins and needles for what will be ANOTHER FPS, seems like a waste energy to me. If you really want to play a FPS there are plenty of other good ones to choose from in a saturated FPS gaming market... and maybe that saturated market is partially why Valve doesn't prioritise making Half-Life 3?

pr56
pr56

@blitzinD @TheWatcher000 Come on dude! @TheWatcher000 is talking about the story. Obviously there are a ton of FPS out there, but Gordon's story needs to be concluded (or simply rejected outright)

blitzinD
blitzinD

@TheWatcher000


No need to be snide my man. You are obviously much more passionate about Half-life than I will ever be, I will concede to your opinion about the matter on that point alone.

TheWatcher000
TheWatcher000

@blitzinD@pr56@TheWatcher000 

Well, @blitzinD, if you had really bothered to read what I wrote, that is exactly one of the points I made.

The points you made had validity, but I think you totally missed what I was trying to say.  Why don't you try reading it again.

As for 65 Million Steam users, I really don't see what you are driving at.  Steam is an online gaming service.  Half Life is a game.  Really not sure where you were going with that.


Now, I'm not any more sure of how many of those 65 Million Steam Users would purchase Half Life 3 than you are, but i have the sneakiest feeling it would be enough to make it MORE than worth their while.


And Half-Life isn't just any FPS.  There aren't any out there that even come close to Half-Life and Half-Life and Half-Life 2.  And The Point is, the fans want closure.  They want the end to the story.  Have you even played Half-Life?  Because if you had, this shouldn't be hard for you to understand.


The company needs to bring closure one way or the other.  Finish the story, or at least tell us it's not going to happen.

blitzinD
blitzinD

@pr56@blitzinD@TheWatcher000


I hear ya, but I just think it has almost become a no-win situation for them. It will likely never live up to hype and maybe they know it???