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Steam slows Valve development, suggests Stardock CEO

Wednesday, 13th April 2011 15:56 GMT By Stace Harman

If you’re wondering where Half-Life 2 episode 3 is, Brad Wardell thinks he may have the answer for you. The Stardock founder and CEO recently told Industry Gamers that, with Steam, Valve may be a victim of its own success.

Speaking about Stardock’s recent sale of its digital distribution service Impulse, to US-based retail giant GameStop, Wardell commented:

“Yeah, we could have become a retailer and tried to compete in that space long-term, but there were two possibilities. One is that we’d lose out and become a permanent minor player – Impulse relative to Steam today I would argue is a minor player. Or two, we’d be successful and we’re basically just a 600-person retail digital distribution company where three-quarters of the staff are sales people and account managers. And when the winning scenario is not what your objective in life is, then it’s time to re-evaluate what you want to do.”

Drawing comparisons between Valve and Stardock, Wardell went on to say that despite Valve’s prominent position in Seattle where “you can get developers everywhere” he feels that Steam has had an impact on Valve’s development schedule.

“There’s not been a new Half-Life in a long time; a lot of people have complained about that,” he said. “They’ve have their own challenges getting new titles out the door, and a big part of that I’m sure is the same problems we’ve had. When one of your groups is so ridiculously profitable, every business instinct you have is to throw all your best people at it, because that’s what’s making the money. That’s just sound business. At the end of the day, again you have decide if that’s what you want to do.”

The Half-Life franchise began back in 1998 and, by the original game’s 10th birthday, had sold 20 million units. 6 years passed between Half-Life and it’s sequel, with episodes 1 and 2 launching within the 3 years of Half-Life 2′s arrival.

It has been almost four years since Episode 2′s release, with Valve remaining tight-lipped about when we can expect Episode 3.

Meanwhile, Valve’s Portal 2 arrives next week, Thursday April 21, or possibly even earlier.

Thanks, 1UP.

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27 Comments

  1. Lounds

    HL2 ep3 is taking the piss

    #1 3 years ago
  2. UuBuU

    Valve games with the exception of Team Fortress 2 are extremely overrated in my opinion.

    Steam is by far their greatest contribution to gaming, so i’d rather they focus on that than game development.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Edo

    There isn’t going to be another Half-Life game in our life time,so deal with it!

    #3 3 years ago
  4. life28

    I dont think their games are overrated. Half-Life is revolution game in idustry. Team Fortress is so popular game because there is special visual style, funny and there comming many updates, items and maps, all for free!

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Maximum Payne

    @2 Well i loved HL series and L4D 1/2.I never played TF2 and didn’t like portal because there is no action :P But I instal EP2 to play and i just couldn’t because those levels with Bugs are so boring, just love HL2 vanilla more.For HL3,Valve must invent wheel for third time.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Erthazus

    “Valve games with the exception of Team Fortress 2 are extremely overrated in my opinion.”

    Wow… Just wow.
    Maybe L4D series, but everything else they made is fantastic.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. OrbitMonkey

    Half Life 2 ep3 > Duke Nukem Forever

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Dralen

    There is nothing overrated about Valve games, their games are the definition of quality.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. DSB

    Wardell should really shut up about other peoples business. It doesn’t make you look good, especially when you’re trailing that company in the most awesome fashion, and you have a clear stake in saying things like that.

    No matter which way you look at it, Valve can afford to take however long they like on Half-Life 3, they’re in the Blizzard zone.

    Half-Life 2 was alright, but I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as the first one. I thought it got way more praise than it deserved, simply for being a Valve game. To me it felt like they’d kinda gone out of their way to add filler.

    Portal came close to a real Half-Life kind of moment for me though. I’m hoping the “full” game lives up to that.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Ireland Michael

    Valve isn’t a “victim of its own success.”

    They choose to take their time with their games, because they can afford that luxury, and because it means when the final product is finally released, we get the best product we can get. Numerous Valve games have been industry defining.

    You can guarantee that when Half Life 3 is finally released, its not only going to be a stellar game, but it’s going to sell like hot cakes too. It’s been proven countless times already that making people wait for a sequel actually helps heighten anticipation and excitement for the game, and give a title a huge boost in sales too.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. TVs Everywhere

    Seems to me like Wardell’s cherrypicking his argument when citing only Episode 3. He’s conveniently forgetting the fact that Team Fortress 2 had a tremendously long development cycle (far longer than Episode 3 so far, in fact), and the vast majority of that time Steam didn’t even exist. He’s also conveniently forgetting Portal 2, announced just last year, is getting released next week (bar any “surprises” that might move that release up a week), all in the middle of the Steam mania. Same thing for the Left 4 Dead series.

    Seems to me like Wardell doesn’t have much of an argument. Cite Episode 3 all you want, Valve has actually been getting everything else done in a reasonable amount of time, all despite the fact that they’re working on Steam as well. Nope, don’t buy it. I think he just wants to justify his decision to sell off Impulse to GS, but he doesn’t make that good an argument to be honest.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. YoungZer0

    @2: Have to agree. Most of their games are really overrated. Especially the Left4Dead Franchise. I still think these games are a joke.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Maximum Payne

    ^^ Left 4 Dead need to be played with at least 2 friend( not with some strangers) and then game shine.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. YoungZer0

    @13: No, it sucks. Had more fun with Killing Floor.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. DSB

    I don’t get the L4D hate.

    I was pretty disappointed in the sequel, I thought it handled a lot worse than the original, but I’ve spent many very intense hours playing L4D with friends.

    It’s not a complex or a milestone game, it’s just you, three friends, and a whole lot of zombies trying to stop you getting through a level. Simple, fun.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. someguy2

    I hate having to agree with O’Connor but the guy’s right. I find it funny how people complain when Valve take their time but when they release a game quickly a la Left 4 Dead 2 they go into a hissy fit.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. Phoenixblight

    @16 and @10

    Agreeing with you

    As Miyamoto has said “A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever.”

    #17 3 years ago
  18. AHA-Lambda

    uh…bullshit -_-

    yea i’m as mad as anyone else about no ep3 so far but come on? O_o

    Since steam has grown in the past few years we’ve had:

    Ep1
    Ep2
    TF2
    portal
    portal 2
    l4d
    l4d2
    alien swarm
    and next dota 2

    yeah i smell green envy from the ex-impulse prick -_-

    #18 3 years ago
  19. Ireland Michael

    @16 I apologise profusely for having to put you in such a morally conflicting situation.

    I hope you can recover from what is clearly an incredibly overwhelming emotional turmoil.

    #19 3 years ago
  20. SwiftRanger

    Steam is more than digital distribution: it’s also DRM, matchmaking, fast-patching, demo/trailer downloads, anti-cheating tech, marketing-through-free/paid-cross-game DLC, game support etc.. The fact that Valve is seriously lacking in their support department tells you enough that they can’t find the right folks for their service, let alone for their games.

    I’d say Wardell is being too discrete with his statement.

    That Left 4 Dead 2 came out so “soon” doesn’t mean anything: that game never furfilled the promises of Valve (the unification of L4D1 and 2) nor did its cast/atmosphere capture the magic of the first game, even though it’s much better in gameplay terms. I also find it pretty hilarious if you list all of Valve’s titles with the knowledge they’ve actually had to expand/enlist/headhunt loads of extra developers for them.

    #20 3 years ago
  21. DSB

    I’ve had no problems with Steam support at all. Even during massive sales, it’s taken less than 24 hours to get a reply.

    Their forum moderators are cunts, but that’s always going to be the case when you endow faceless users with that kind of power.

    And how is the fact that Valve has had to hire people to make their games somehow bad? Last time I checked, businesses don’t do too well without employees.

    If anything Valve is responsible for one of the greatest coups in gaming history, signing the guys from Old Man Murray.

    #21 3 years ago
  22. Phoenixblight

    Portal which was a game that was a project from College student gets bought from Valve and then the students were hired by Valve. Because of that fantastic lil game there is a full game that not only has sp that is worth the price but it has a different/separate part for Co Op. Nuff said. Tuesday can’t come soon enough.

    #22 3 years ago
  23. SwiftRanger

    “And how is the fact that Valve has had to hire people to make their games somehow bad? Last time I checked, businesses don’t do too well without employees.”

    They didn’t just hire people, they acquired several small studios over the years. It’s great what they do with it but it signals the fact that they’re having trouble coming up with things of their own and I am certain that the hurdles Steam presents for their own games is a cause of that. L4D (Turtle Rock), Portal (continuation of a student project), Alien Swarm (a revamped UT2k4 mod), DotA 2 (made by a creator of the original), … .

    #23 3 years ago
  24. Ireland Michael

    Hiring on temporary people and smaller companies is a common everyday practise in this industry. It is not a sign of anything.

    #24 3 years ago
  25. Alfakyn

    Let Valve take its time, you’ll see that it won’t be regrettable

    #25 3 years ago
  26. Freek

    Hiring and buying studios is not strange, no. But not having your main team putt out anything at all for years, during an episodic series that was supposed to shorten dev times leaving everybody wondering: “is half life still going?” is defintly strange.
    And Steams runnaway succes would be a verry plausible answer.

    #26 3 years ago
  27. DSB

    @23 I still fail to see how that’s in any way a bad thing. Who wouldn’t want the most talented people working for them?

    Your notion that that’s somehow an indication of Valves own ineptitude runs directly counter to the fact that all that talent genuinely wants to work for them.

    Blizzard essentially built their company the same way, buying the guys who were developing Diablo.

    I’m sure Steam is a major operation to undertake, and I’m sure it takes an incredible ammount of focus from the leadership to remain ahead, but it’s not as if everyone making a videogame suddenly becomes a business executive over night.

    It’s hardly something that affects the core developers. Except for the fact that they can waste more money than most.

    @26 It’s weird, sure, but I think peoples obsession with Episode 3 kinda hides the fact that the source engine wasn’t really the best platform going forward. It didn’t have the legs for it, and I’d personally guess that Valve are so intent on killing their darlings that that’s why Episode 3 was canned in favor of a new game – Which is essentailly the reality by now, right?

    #27 3 years ago

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