Monday, February 6, 2012

Is the Half-Life Franchise Forgotten?

I know what you are thinking, this guy is crazy and doesn't know what he is talking about. Just hear me out. I’m sure Valve is working on something related to Half-Life but have they left us in the dark for too long? The recent low turnout of player protests got me thinking about the franchise as a whole. Only 10k showed up out of 50k that signed up. This is for a game that as of 2008 has sold 6.5 million copies.  Is HL starting to be forgotten in the minds of gamers?

The last proper game was in 2004 when Valve released HL2. Since then they have released Episode One in 2006 and Episode Two in 2007. The episodes were great but were just extensions of the story and not an entirely new experience. Based off the limited sales data that Valve has released not all PC gamers who played HL2 also purchased the episodes. Console gamers were not interested in playing an old PC port and by extension did not play the episodes. Most console gamers purchased The Orange Box for Portal or TF2. Episode 1&2 was just part of a game they never played.

When Portal 2 was released for all 3 platforms at once it showed us that Valve finally realized the the value of the game consoles. Previous games were ported later and in some cases it was done poorly. It’s been noted many times in the industry that the real money for AAA titles is with the consoles. I’m not saying that PC gaming is dead but just a minority.

This brings me to my main point. I think the large mind share that HL once had for PC gamers has started to fade over time and is only hastened by the lack of updates from Valve. Even with Duke Nukem Forever and it’s long 10 year development cycle we knew it existed and was being worked on. Until the the protest reports showed up in my news stream I had almost forgotten about HL3.

If HL3 exists then it needs to have the mind share of the console gamer to make it financially viable and it has very little. Valve will need to start from almost zero and treat it like a new IP from a marketing standpoint. Maybe Valve has already figured this out and is re-inventing the franchise or just creating a whole new original IP.

Regardless of what the folks at Valve are planning, I’ll be surprised to see anything HL related this console generation.