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Gabe Newell comments on Valve's move from Half-Life to multiplayer games

Zia

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Oct 15, 2011
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I don't think he's commenting on a contemporary transition away from single-player, but rather how they initially dipped their toes into multiplayer waters via the absorption of successful mod makers pre-Steam.

Also, Clint Hocking and Doug Church have to be working on something immersive sim-y.
 

Harlock

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Jul 6, 2011
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Why spend a lot of work with a 10 hour long shooter game that will not meet the expectation no matter how good would be if you can spend the same work making a infinite playtime moba game.
 

The Return of

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Sounds good to me. I enjoy all their MP games a fuckton more than their SP. Never thought HL2 was all that good. Wonder what will happen to Portal though
 
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The people they are hiring are very self motivated. It's absolutely crucial that they are.

If that's the case - and if they have created a workplace that thrives on that - then more power to them. It's something that has to be maintained with vigilance, though, imo. That kind of paradigm is not going to perpetuate itself. It's just human nature. It sounds like Valve is not enforcing any kind of work ethic or anything, which is fine. I just have my doubts about a self-maintaining system like that. Considering Valve's creative output in the last three years, and the prevalence of DotA2 gaming in the office, I have my doubts.

Having said this, cultivating the talent that you have and allowing those people to thrive is paramount, absolutely.
 

Interfectum

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How did you read that statement?

Both statements read like he's talking about past changes and development strategies and how it's important to have multi-talented people, not Valve looking to the future or shunning single player gaming.

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 multi-player experiences. 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.

He's talking about when a group of people get together to make a game, the group will value one talent over another so it's best for every employee to have multiple talents instead of just one (ie the wheels on a desk, roll from one group to another to help out). Because you never know if the group will need a multiplayer developer or a single player level designer.
 

alexandros

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Jan 30, 2012
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Heh, I haven't given up on Valve, I just get a bit cranky whenever the topic of Half-Life and single player campaigns comes up. My immense enjoyment of Portal 2 without co-op is fuel on the fire.

I get where you're coming from, I really do. I'm a traditional single player gamer, I only dabble in multiplayer now and then. I want Half-Life 3 as much as anyone here if not even more, but I want it to live up to its legacy. Both previous titles redefined the entire shooter genre and influenced countless other games. I want something that groundbreaking again, not just a simple sequel to end the story. If it happens soon, fantastic. If not, I can wait until it does and if it never happens I'll move on. But I don't want Valve to make a sequel just for the sake of it.
 

shinobi602

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None taken, that's just what I've gleaned from various threads.
Ehh, I don't like to label games as such. I just buy and play games that I like dude. I'm currently loving Resogun and enjoying my time with Contrast, also looking forward to playing Don't Starve next week. The Walking Dead was one of my top games last year even. I don't care if something is "AAA" or whatever category it's put in. Just give me good games, I don't discriminate!
 
Both statements read like he's talking about past changes and development strategies, not Valve looking to the future.



He's talking about when a group of people get together to make a game, the group will value one talent over another so it's best for every employee to have multiple talents instead of just one. Because you never know if the group will need a multiplayer developer or a single player level designer.

While I don't totally disagree with you, I get a different read from the full article.

Basically the question beforehand is him answering that "things change very quickly in the video gameindustry so we don't give people titles that make them overly attached to what they do now".

This example then follows up talking about how consumers have moved toward multiplayer, so these days being good at Half-Life level design is no where nearly as useful as being good at making social multiplayer titles.

Since the person isn't "director of campaign level design", Gabe feels they're much less likely to argue against this move since it doesn't make their current job look irrelevant if Valve sits down and makes a social multiplayer game.

Or in other words he's saying being adaptable and either multi-talented or capable of being multi-talented is very useful, and gives Valve's shift toward social multiplayer over campaign games while retaining the same staff as an example of why.

He certainly never calls the level design capability a useless talent, as Valve has clearly made some campaign titles recently, just that the multiplayer abilities are notably more useful, which suggests where their emphasis is. They also suggest that emphasis is driven by their consumers, which looking at the Steam Stats page, suggests they've had success.
 

mattiewheels

And then the LORD David Bowie saith to his Son, Jonny Depp: 'Go, and spread my image amongst the cosmos. For every living thing is in anguish and only the LIGHT shall give them reprieve.'
Dec 1, 2004
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Really sad, they were one of my top devs during HL and HL2. They've pretty much slipped into irrelevancy to me with their new direction. I don't even want to think of other devs I love going this route (Bioware, Naughty Dog, Bethesda, etc). *shudder*
Technically, by ditching single player games they became more relevant than ever. I remember hearing that they were trying to figure out how to marry HL with their new strategy, it sounds like putting a square peg in a round hole though.
 

alexandros

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Jan 30, 2012
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Ehh, I don't like to label games as such. I just buy and play games that I like dude. I'm currently loving Resogun and enjoying my time with Contrast. The Walking Dead was one of my top games last year even. I don't care if something is "AAA" or whatever category it's put in. Just give me good games, I don't discriminate!

But you are a console gamer, so why do you care? I seriously doubt future Valve games will be released on console anyway.
 

Hindle

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Apr 7, 2012
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Considering just how good L4D turned out then I'm glad they're going in this direction. Even Portal 2s multiplayer was a blast.
 

DUFFMCWALIN

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Ehh, I don't like to label games as such. I just buy and play games that I like dude. I'm currently loving Resogun and enjoying my time with Contrast, also looking forward to playing Don't Starve next week. The Walking Dead was one of my top games last year even. I don't care if something is "AAA" or whatever category it's put in. Just give me good games, I don't discriminate!

Then you are missing out on so much on Steam.
 

Opiate

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Dec 4, 2007
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I think the important point being missed here is that Valve is suggesting that consumers are leading them in the direction they're going, rather than that they just don't care about Half Life and will ignore anyone who disagrees with them.

For whatever reason GAF seems to be a disproportionately single player focused community, but that preference seems to be an increasingly smaller proportion of gamers in general. Social and multiplayer gaming are booming -- Valve is saying that they're going where the consumers are leading them, rather than insisting they want to make whatever they want to make and if consumers don't like it, tough. Further, they're suggesting that this level of adaptability is rare, and that most companies find it challenging to adapt to new consumer needs because the companies grow attached to their projects and development styles.
 

Interfectum

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While I don't totally disagree with you, I get a different read from the full article.

I'm not really disagreeing with you either. Gabe was an avid WoW player before becoming addicted to Dota 2. He's also interested in how people interact with each other so I do think he skews all of his talks towards social gaming. But I believe his overall idea is to hire people with multiple skill sets that are able to adapt and evolve if need be. There is no doubt in my mind, based off the talent they currently employ, they could make an innovative single player campaign focused game. They could be working on one right now.
 

shinobi602

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But you are a console gamer, so why do you care? I seriously doubt future Valve games will be released on console anyway.
Really? L4D and Portal games were all released on consoles. Half-Life 2 and its episodes were as well. I don't see any reason why they'd skip out on releasing the third on XB1/PS4. Lots of money to be left on the table otherwise.
 
I'm not really disagreeing with you either. Gabe was an avid WoW player before becoming addicted to Dota 2. He's also interested in how people interact with each other so I do think he skews all of his talks towards social gaming. But I believe his overall idea is to hire people with multiple skill sets that are able to adapt and evolve if need be.

Oh absolutely. 100% agree there.
 

SummitAve

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Jul 19, 2012
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HL3 not confirmed.. ever.

There is literally nothing they can release HL3 wise that would justify the amount of time they may or may not have spent working on it. Naive expectations based soley on the previous titles are going to create a lot of dissapointment. It's the Chinese Democracy dilemma. They just need to continue creating new things.
 

Visualante2

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Oct 20, 2011
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That's way better. We've essentially crowd-sourced supervision of a lot of these decisions to our customers and it works way better than almost any other system we could design. They're rabid, they're passionate, and there are a lot of them.
Interesting point, wish other companies could take notice of this. Sick of the bullish response to fans coming from Reggie, EA, Microsoft et al.
 

Interfectum

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Interesting point, wish other companies could take notice of this. Sick of the bullish response to fans coming from Reggie, EA, Microsoft et al.

I love that he mentions Diretide. That must have sent ripples through all of Valve.
 

Hindle

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Apr 7, 2012
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I think the important point being missed here is that Valve is suggesting that consumers are leading them in the direction they're going, rather than that they just don't care about Half Life and will ignore anyone who disagrees with them.

For whatever reason GAF seems to be a disproportionately single player focused community, but that preference seems to be an increasingly smaller proportion of gamers in general. Social and multiplayer gaming are booming -- Valve is saying they're going where the consumers are leading them, rather than insisting they want to make whatever they want to make and if consumers don't like it, tough.

The current state of single player gaming is why I'm preferring experiences like L4D a lot more. I think the same goes for a lot of Valves fans.
 

Htown

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Feb 19, 2008
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How did you read that statement?

It's not Gabe coming out and saying "we're not going to do single player any more because that's not valuable." It's a response to questions about the structure of the company and how in his opinion you have to be able to not get bogged down in what someone's title is, or not just specialize in one thing.

He used, as an example, the fact that they had moved from single player experiences only to a batch of multiplayer games. If your title is Campaign Level Design Manager, and that's all you ever do, and get too deep into single player level design, you're not going to feel useful when the next batch of games is more multiplayer focused.

The entire point of the article, from a Valve structure perspective, is about the value of flexibility for the company and employees. I'm not sure why everyone is therefore taking that as a rigid proclamation that they're done with single player gaming. Seems like that's the opposite of the point.
 

ashecitism

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But you are a console gamer, so why do you care? I seriously doubt future Valve games will be released on console anyway.

L4D did really well on 360, I'm not sure they're going to ignore that. But before I found out it sold ~6mill I also thought they'd go full PC exlusive.
 

alexandros

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Jan 30, 2012
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My answer is below.

Really? L4D and Portal games were all released on consoles. Half-Life 2 and its episodes were as well. I don't see any reason why they'd skip out on releasing the third on XB1/PS4. Lots of money to be left on the table otherwise.

They're not exactly hurting for money and they have their own platform to push this time. My prediction is that all future Valve games will be Steam-only.
 

Opiate

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But you are a console gamer, so why do you care? I seriously doubt future Valve games will be released on console anyway.

Left 4 Dead will be on consoles; I can't imagine otherwise. So will Portal, if another is ever made.

After that I'm not sure we even know what they're up to. DotA2 and the growth of Steam are their primary known ongoing projects and I definitely agree those won't be on consoles.

They're not exactly hurting for money and they have their own platform to push this time. My prediction is that all future Valve games will be Steam-only.

They've shown an openness historically that belies this strategy. In fact, the interview in this thread is about adaptability and not getting locked in to a particular strategy; ignoring consoles and locking yourself in to the Steam box is the antithesis of that. I'm not saying you couldn't possibly be right, mind you. I just think the strategy you're suggesting is not how Valve has operated historically and is not compatible with the philosophy being espoused in the above interview.
 
It's not Gabe coming out and saying "we're not going to do single player any more because that's not valuable." It's a response to questions about the structure of the company and how in his opinion you have to be able to not get bogged down in what someone's title is, or not just specialize in one thing.

He used, as an example, the fact that they had moved from single player experiences only to a batch of multiplayer games. If your title is Campaign Level Design Manager, and that's all you ever do, and get too deep into single player level design, you're not going to feel useful when the next batch of games is more multiplayer focused.

The entire point of the article, from a Valve structure perspective, is about the value of flexibility for the company and employees. I'm not sure why everyone is therefore taking that as a rigid proclamation that they're done with single player gaming. Seems like that's the opposite of the point.
Right, that I agree is the overall focus.

It's just that I think it might also imply that the studio also is currently more focused on line, which given what they've been releasing, wouldn't be overly revelatory.

It's not actually impossible to do both however even if we take them 100% literally. You could make an entirely co-op Half-Life game with a large social multiplayer component to boot.
 

Cameron122

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Single player games are easy to go back to if they are capable of emergent happenings. All of the examples I have in my head are strategy games though :/ Maybe if Half-Life 3 was just one piece of a huge push for user generated content on the steam workshop. "Enjoyed the campaign and gameplay? Try making your own story or download others!"
 

Interfectum

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L4D did really well on 360, I'm not sure they're going to ignore that. But before I found out it sold ~6mill I also thought they'd go full PC exlusive.

This is what interests me the most going forward. I really think the day of Valve supporting consoles is almost over. It doesn't fit with their strategy anymore. It all depends on the bean counters telling Gabe how much money is being left on the table probably.
 

shinobi602

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They're not exactly hurting for money and they have their own platform to push this time. My prediction is that all future Valve games will be Steam-only.
For games like DOTA, sure, but you don't just leave profit to be made because you're 'not hurting for money'. They know releasing games on consoles can bring in a hefty sum, as evidenced by L4D and Portal. With the streamlined architecture of the new consoles, developing games across 3 platforms shouldn't be the obstacle it used to be. I can't come up with a logical reason to be Steam only for all their games..
 

chrominance

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The last Valve game I really cared about was Portal 2. At this point, I've written off Valve as a developer until they actually announce something I care about, which is probably exactly how they want it anyways (no lofty expectations that way). Left 4 Dead 3 and DOTA 2 aren't really my cup of tea, sadly.
 

alexandros

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Jan 30, 2012
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Left 4 Dead will be on consoles; I can't imagine otherwise. So will Portal, if another is ever made.

I disagree. Valve's main business is Steam and that business is now in direct competition with consoles. It makes no sense to provide your games for your competitors' platforms when they are keeping their games exclusive to lure gamers.
 

Atrophis

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Technically, by ditching single player games they became more relevant than ever. I remember hearing that they were trying to figure out how to marry HL with their new strategy, it sounds like putting a square peg in a round hole though.

They can easily make a multiplayer focused Half Life. Something along the lines of Destiny would work. You wouldn't be able to play as Gordon but if you get closure to the story, who cares?
 

SteveWinwood

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Aug 10, 2010
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I love that he mentions Diretide. That must have sent ripples through all of Valve.
It has had a way bigger effect than I would have ever thought and was at the end of the day mostly positive which I didn't expect at all.

I'm glad I was wrong.
Really? L4D and Portal games were all released on consoles. Half-Life 2 and its episodes were as well. I don't see any reason why they'd skip out on releasing the third on XB1/PS4. Lots of money to be left on the table otherwise.
Left 4 Dead will be. Anything else... they just have to deal with too much bullshit. I don't know why they bothered with cs go. The infrastructure isn't there to support their rampant patching and expanding.
 

brotkasten

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I think the important point being missed here is that Valve is suggesting that consumers are leading them in the direction they're going, rather than that they just don't care about Half Life and will ignore anyone who disagrees with them.

For whatever reason GAF seems to be a disproportionately single player focused community, but that preference seems to be an increasingly smaller proportion of gamers in general. Social and multiplayer gaming are booming -- Valve is saying they're going where the consumers are leading them, rather than insisting they want to make whatever they want to make and if consumers don't like it, tough.

I don't think anyone here really blames them for following the money and this wouldn't be such a big issue, if they haven't got some business to finish, which would be the story they started in Half-Life and Half-Life 2. It might even be a bit of a "How I Met Your Mother" syndrome for some here, where they just want Valve to finish the damn story and see everything other game they put out as filler.

I can only speak for me, but I think I'm at a point, where I'd like them to come up with the story and scenario and let another talented studio build the game. But now that Grief mentioned them ramping up the HL3 team (source?), I'm again too curious about that they came up with.
 

ashecitism

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Btw wasn't there an article with Gabe saying Portal 2 was there last full-blown SP campaign
and next time they're making SP+ ?
 
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Ummmmmmmmmmmmmm.. That's some old stuff and it's not really as worrying as you think.

From 2011: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uCBMD2tpM7oE-NTZCzKRToP31_PcF0uB_7c-bToh928/preview

Gabe Newell said:
Now, like I said, Team Fortress 2 is where we’re furthest along in terms of understanding those kinds of issues but whether it’s Portal or Half-Life or any of our other single-player games where you need to be able to do these things; regular updates, the partnership with your community, the cross-media generation – that’s just as applicable to those as it is to our multiplayer games. We’ve just gotten further down the road with our multi-player games but we need to do exactly the same kinds of things with our single-player games as well. I also think that over time you’ll see there are lots and lots of distinctions between single-player and multi-player experiences. Your single-player experiences are going to have to scale up to include you and your friends because there’s such a strong social component. Whatever’s fun by yourself, it’s probably going to be more fun if you can drag some of your friends along into it. I don’t think you can continue to have the super-simplified world and story-structures that multi-player games have and be able to get away with it. We need to combine the richness of the worlds and authored experiences of the single-player games and allow for more people to participate in that and that’s a big design challenge. Either way, you’re going to need to figure out how to update it really frequently, pull the audience into the participation and creation of it and then also figure out how to make movies and comics around that.

Everyone is doing it right now (singleplayer with a shared world etc), but Gabe has been pushing for it since 2011, maybe earlier.

He even explained that it's absolutely bullshit they won't make another singleplayer game.

http://kotaku.com/5799661/valve-turns-to-singleplayer+plus-not-no-more-singleplayer-says-chief

Gabe Newell said:
I think what we're trying to talk about is the fact is not that we're not thinking about single-player games..Portal 2 I think is a pretty good example of what we've learned over the years in terms of how to create those [single-player] experiences.

It's more that we think that we have to work harder in the future. That entertainment is inherently increased in value by having it be social, by letting you play with your friends, by recognizing that you're connected with other people.

Single-player is great, but we also have to recognize that you have friends and wanted to have that connected as well.

It's not about giving up on single-player at all. It's saying we actually think there are a bunch of features and capabilities that we need to add into our single-player games to recognize the socially connected gamer. Every gamer has instant messaging, every gamer has a Facebook account. If you pretend that that doesn't exist, you're ignoring the problems that you're taking on.

It's single-player plus, not ‘no more single-player.'
 

DedValve

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May 18, 2013
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Assuming VALVe empolyees do get to choose their projects, HL is dead. What highly motivated, exceptionally talented, creative dev/coder/artist/etc would willing choose to work on any fps? That ground has be trod over and over and over and over again.

And the idea of VALVe hiring a bunch of people and forcing them to work on HL3 goes against the fundamental premise of allowing people to choose their projects. So having a team that is run like any other team from EA or Activision making an fps would result in a pretty bog standard fps.

The same kind of people that makes l4d?

All of valve games are FPS's but right now they seemed more focused on their ecosystem rather than actually developing games.

...and I'm 100% fine with that (although I would love more portal, l4d, tf and half life from them).
 

zhorkat

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Jun 25, 2013
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I disagree. Valve's main business is Steam and that business is now in direct competition with consoles. It makes no sense to provide your games for your competitors' platforms when they are keeping their games exclusive to lure gamers.

Clearly having to download Steam in order to play Left 4 Dead 3 helps push Steam. The question is how much does it really help to convert console gamers, especially when they already have games like DOTA 2, and how much money would they be losing out on by not selling Left 4 Dead 3 on consoles.
 

Nzyme32

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But you are a console gamer, so why do you care? I seriously doubt future Valve games will be released on console anyway.

Hmm I reckon some Valve games will see a console release but as with last gen, those games will be a far poorer experience without the regular updates and community influenced modifications. That said, that could also change this gen if restrictions are reduced on updating
 

Grief.exe

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Ehh, I don't like to label games as such. I just buy and play games that I like dude. I'm currently loving Resogun and enjoying my time with Contrast, also looking forward to playing Don't Starve next week. The Walking Dead was one of my top games last year even. I don't care if something is "AAA" or whatever category it's put in. Just give me good games, I don't discriminate!

Don't Starve is one of my favorites from 2013, enjoy it. I haven't even played the new content yet since I picked it up Early Access and played it to completion then.

Hmm I reckon some Valve games will see a console release but as with last gen, those games will be a far poorer experience without the regular updates and community influenced modifications. That said, that could also change this gen if restrictions are reduced on updating

That might change as both Microsoft and Sony are dropping their cert fees. (Citation needed)
 

Hindle

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Apr 7, 2012
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Right, that I agree is the overall focus.

It's just that I think it might also imply that the studio also is currently more focused on line, which given what they've been releasing, wouldn't be overly revelatory.

It's not actually impossible to do both however even if we take them 100% literally. You could make an entirely co-op Half-Life game with a large social multiplayer component to boot.

They could apply what they learned with L4D to the next HL. Namely any squad Gordon works with are controlled by other players instead of AI.
 

liquidtmd

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Jun 10, 2012
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So in that quote, he basically implies that it previously was creatively 'live and let live' when a team wanted to branch off and do Steam while others worked on Half Life and now its

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 multi-player experiences.

As others have said, if this was an EA exec, this thread would be a bloodbath
 

alexandros

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Jan 30, 2012
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For games like DOTA, sure, but you don't just leave profit to be made because you're 'not hurting for money'. They know releasing games on consoles can bring in a hefty sum, as evidenced by L4D and Portal. With the streamlined architecture of the new consoles, developing games across 3 platforms shouldn't be the obstacle it used to be. I can't come up with a logical reason to be Steam only for all their games..

Every gamer that goes to consoles instead of Steam is a lost customer for Valve. Furthermore, the stronger these platforms are, the closer the whole industry moves towards closed platforms. If Steam is to keep growing and expand to new markets, console gamers must be provided with an incentive to switch platforms or at the very least use Steam as well. The best way to do that is with exclusive games. In my opinion they'd be dumb to release their games on consoles and if they are serious about pushing Steam to the living room they will have to get their hands dirty by withholding games from other platforms.
 

Interfectum

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So in that quote, he basically implies that it previously was creatively 'live and let live' when a team wanted to branch off and do Steam while others worked on Half Life and now its



As others have said, if this was an EA exec, this thread would be a bloodbath

You aren't reading the quote correctly.

And stop with the "durr if this were example A it would be example B." What are you trying to prove, that we would give Valve more slack than EA? Are you really confused as to why?
 

RoboPlato

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Oct 29, 2006
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My answer is below.



They're not exactly hurting for money and they have their own platform to push this time. My prediction is that all future Valve games will be Steam-only.
I see both sides of this and I always wonder why no interviewers have asked Valve about it.