HALF LIFE 3 MIGHT NOT COME OUT, BUT DO WE REALLY NEED IT ANYWAY?
Half Life has arguably one of the most passionate fan bases known to gaming, and has been one of Valve’s most successful titles. Due to this, the call for Half Life 3 get’s stronger every year.
Sadly, that dream of Half Life 3 may remain just that, a dream.
That, however, doesn’t mean that Half Life 3 is NOT in development.
According to an anonymous source cited on The Know, reputable gaming news and rumours channel, Half Life 3 is still in development, and the script, story and game events are complete.
However, don’t get too excited, as there is a catch.
According to the very same source, a crew that consists of around 10 members is developing Half Life 3. The development team was big, official numbers have not been stated, however over time developers got moved to other projects that needed more attention such as Portal 2, DotA 2, Left 4 Dead 2.
The anonymous source also cited the backlash from Mass Effect 3. Similar to the Half Life fan base, the Mass Effect fan base is also very passionate, and with that, if any aspect of the game is unsatisfactory to the Half Life fans, they fear that the fans of the game may turn on the company’s banner franchise.
Theoretically it makes sense, doesn’t it?
Realistically speaking, any video game developing and publishing company putting out content always puts their reputation on the line, but having an entire series’ reputation on the line, plus the reputation of the company is a lot to put out there. It’s a gamble that may or may not work, and since the Half Life community base, much like the Mass Effect community, are very passionate. Discontent will echo loudly if Half Life 3 does not live up to the hype surrounding it.
Furthermore, it makes sense from an employee safety standpoint, since staff members of Mass Effect were individually targeted for hate messages, as stated by Muzyka:
“We listen and will respond to constructive criticism, but much as we will not tolerate individual attacks on our team members, we will not support or respond to destructive commentary.”” – sourced from Washington Post
These factors make Valve management unwilling to publish the game, and it makes sense to an extent. Half Life 3 could be a very risky and bold business move that could backfire if it doesn’t meet the expectations of those who demand the game on a frequent basis.
Valve genuinely believes that the Mass Effect scenario could well and truly apply to Half Life if the game is not, essentially, a perfect game. Consumers are very loud and make their voices heard when show disdain towards a product. Valve want to avoid as much negative press as possible, whilst keeping their consumers relatively happy.
However, we all know that Half Life was a game that sold well. The game sold so well, that it sold, according to conservative figures, 9.3 million units in retail. Half Life 2 sold approximately 9 million units, according to SteamSpy. Corresponding with this Half Life 2 sale data, Half Life 2 Episode 1 sold 5.6 million units, and Half Life 2 Episode 2 sold 5 million units.
Since sales did not move that much from Half Life to Half Life 2, it would be safe to assume that the sales would stay the same for Half Life 3, and considering the user generated enthusiasm behind the game that is almost mythical, it may sell more.
According to The Know, if Half Life 3 sold 12 million units at full retail price, Valve would earn $720 million in sales. This is assuming that games are sold at full retail price, which is an estimated value of approximately $60 USD. Whilst this is a great amount of money to make, in the grand scheme of things it isn’t much money at all.
Before you jump the gun, let’s see the rest of Valve’s income.
According to SuperData, Valve’s top three titles are DotA 2, Counter Strike Global Offensive and Team Fortress 2 had earned the company over $400 million in 2014. VentureBeat reports that DotA 2 earns Valve $18m USD a month, whilst on a side note League of Legends earns that same amount of money for Riot in 5 days.
On top of that $400m that Valve already earns, Valve takes 30% of all 3rd party Steam transactions. Valve never releases revenue data for Steam, which is understandable. These following figures are according to, once again, The Know’s resources.
The estimate of Steam’s earnings in 2014 is at least $1.5 billion in first and third party sales. Take 1.5B – 400m (1st party revenue), you have 1.1b of third party revenue remaining. Take Valve’s 30% cut of that 1.1b is equal to $330m. Add $400m from first party and $330m from third party, you get a total revenue amount of…
$730 million dollars.
That’s 75% of 1 billion dollars from two free to play games and one purchase to play game, as well as one publishing platform.
Valve is doing extremely well for a technically small, very independent company.
If we go back to the estimated sales figure of $720 million, undeniably it is a great deal of money, but not enough. It matches their yearly revenue, sure, however once a game sells, sales will eventually dwindle, making it a one off hit for profit. Or, the reverse could happen, with Steam’s refund system, consumers purchase Half Life 3 and get a refund because they might find something they don’t like, and Valve doesn’t earn nearly as much as $720 million.
Valve is a private company, there are no investors pressuring them either, if there were investors, Half Life 3 would be released already since investors like to see a return on their investments immediately.
There is no financial pressure, even based on the estimated sales; they still don’t need it since they’re almost assured a large chunk of money annually from all of the money that goes through Steam. As stated previously, it would be a potential hit and miss for a one off profit jump.
There is another reason, stated by the anonymous source from Valve:
“Sadly, most people are shitheads.”
From what was a time of positivity and leniency from gamers, has shifted to a loud proportion of gamers constantly being unsatisfied and hurling negativity at game developers.
The anonymous Valve source did say something else related to this, but it’s not safe for work so we’ll tweak it a little bit.
“If Half Life 3 came with free chocolate in every purchase, gamers would complain that the chocolate wasn’t caramel” – anonymous source moulded to be safe for work.
Now this makes sense as well, doesn’t it?
Gamers don’t realise it, but companies see it. If we were to take a step back and look at it from an objective standpoint, the game is so overhyped and gamers act so bitterly when they are disappointed, that it isn’t worth making the game for Valve at all.
The game is so overhyped that it will be impossible to develop a game that will match the level of hype. Consumers will inevitably be disappointed. By avoiding making the game, Valve is avoiding the inevitable if the game is released.
At the moment, Valve doesn’t see a need for it to be released. They don’t really see any financial gain at the present, maybe in the future if the revenue drops, they might need to release Half Life 3 and put more development into it, or when the hostile gaming environment dies down.
Valve’s revenue stream will be steady for a long time, so the community will be waiting a while, and the hostile environment will probably grow as games advance and improve over time, as technology and games improve, consumers will demand more and more, and become more unsatisfied if the game isn’t close to perfect every time.
If we are to look on the bright side, the project isn’t dead, there are 10 or so people working on it.
That’s a positive. Right? Right…
Now, do we really need Half Life 3? By we, I mean as a collective, everyone. This includes Valve.
Valve, from a business perspective, does not need Half Life 3. Valve has enough of a revenue stream as it is, and is currently under no financial pressure to release it, and they’re moving on from game development entirely. Valve, from a reputation standpoint also does not need Half Life 3. Since the game is overhyped, Valve will have to make the perfect game, which is theoretically and practically impossible, and by not publishing the game anytime soon, they are protecting one of their banner games and protecting their company name from being tarnished. They also face the risk of mass refunds via the refund system on Steam if the game is not up to the incredibly high standards placed by the community, and that is a very risky gamble to take for Valve. Finally, from a safety standpoint, the potential of negative press and mass consumer backlash is a risk not worth taking at the current stage. If consumer culture and attitude changed, then it might be a different story, however, that is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
From a logical standpoint that involves business, safety and reputation, there’s a lot on the line for Valve and at this stage, they don’t need Half Life 3 to be out anytime soon.
From a consumerist standpoint – consumers never need a game, they want a game. The want becomes so desperate that they consider it a need. It is still a want. No matter how we, as the gaming community justify it, at the end of the day, it’s still a want.
There needs to be a severe shift in attitude from the consumers, or a severe shift in Valve’s financial state, or a shift in it’s status from a private to public company to get Half Life 3 out anytime soon.
All gamers can do is sit and wait.
Wait for the game that may as well be a myth.
Article by Jonah Raj