This is one that I prefer to make short because at the time of writing this I am sure there are Valve Fan boys plotting my painful death.
I’ll get to the point quickly: I think Valve, as a game developing studio, is overrated.
Since the release of Half-Life 2 back in 2004, the gaming Industry has hailed Valve as one of the greatest game developers of all time–raving about how great the work they have done over the years, and there certainly was no shortage of praise after the “Orange Box” launched with both Half-life 2, Half Life Episode 1 & 2, Team Fortress 2 and, of course, the highly acclaimed Portal. On the heels of Chell’s long fall boots came Left 4 Dead 1 and 2; two of the most popular “Zombie Kill Fest” titles of all time. At their launch, these games were the best at the height of the industry. I feel that Portal 2 was a great way to keep them well known as a talent in this industry; however this business moves quickly and I don’t feel that they compare to the other groundbreaking titles we have today.
Gamers are so in love with all the work Valve has done in the last decade that they seem to have a protective aura that shields any negative criticism.
I feel that this is the area that the Valve fan train really gets its ‘Steam’ (tee hee hee). With Half Life being one of Valve’s first titles for PC, the game is surrounded with nostalgic praise and acclaim. Yet unsophisticated minds continue to imbue the game with romantic power and giving the game such labels as “greatest game of all time” and “setting the standard for all shooters” (thank Dr. Breen for this one). It was a fantastic game, but I refuse to believe it deserved “Game of the Decade” from Spike TV’s Video Game awards.
During its time, Half Life was a phenomenal shooter. It was a game that pushed your PC to its limits. Yet today, nearly a decade later, Valve has yet to release the final episode to polish off the Half Life 2 storyline. Take note that this was one of the first tastes of storyline-based downloadable content before it became an outrage in the gaming community. Did we mention that it was EA games that published the Orange Box?
The length of time and lack of delivery on this final piece of the puzzle has caused this final chapter to be deemed “vaporware”. I think it is almost an insult to gamers. The company doesn’t engage with new news or even concept art after three years and all we are greeted with is “We hate to make you wait, but we have no announcements regarding Mr. Freeman or his ongoing adventures at this time,” – Doug Lombardi
It goes without saying that the minds at Valve have some incredible talent and imagination.
They do belong in the circle of some of the best in our industry. However, until they really start to “show up” in the gaming world they will never take the title of greatest publisher in my eyes. Valve hasn’t taken enough risks, they haven’t experimented with enough content, they haven’t made enough titles and they haven’t been on enough platforms to ever be considered one of the greatest publishers.
Without Steam, Valve would struggle.
If other developers had 5-6 years of development time accompanied by a $40 Million dollar budget all focused on one title at a time, I am sure they could turn out the most incredible games of all time. That’s just not the reality we live in. We’ve seen strong developers make some of the most incredible titles of our lifetime with less time and less money to burn through and I think they should be more appreciated. The age gap between gamers who played Half Life 2 grows larger with every passing year they don’t produce new content. Eventually… people will stop caring. The day that Half Life 3 gets announced, people intend on being blown away… and if not? Valve’s developers will have to “Wake up and… smell the ashes.”