The Smartest And Dumbest Things Valve Did In 2012

Oh, Valve. If a company is doing this well, then you know there must be something incredibly sinister going on beneath the surface. I considered trying to infiltrate the shadowy ranks of Valve to uncover their origins (subterranean? Extraterrestrial? Cthulhoid?) but thought better of it for the sake of my health, and the fact that someone needs to feed my fish.

2012 was another solid year for the game-developers-turned-innovators. They released some games — though nothing as "big" as last year's Portal 2. They just began expansion to San Francisco, acquiring former Popcap and Diablo III devs in the process. They continued to refine their Steam service into something that is now almost improbably impressive. With each passing year it gains loads more users (six million concurrent at one point last month), and if Valve's designs on moving into your living room are to be believed, they could potentially shake up the three system party in a way we haven't seen since Sega was still in the biz. You get the games, and Gabe gets the guap.

Smartest Moves

Seeing The Big Picture This is how the console ends? Well, maybe not quite, but Valve is going to work on the one reductive but true complaint that console gamers level at the PC uber-race folks: "But, it's not on your TV." Well, with Big Picture mode, it's on your TV now, ya bastards. It might not be the long rumoured SteamBox, but if you're already a Steam user with a good machine, the transition to a living room experience is simple. The question of why it took so long to get here might be valid, but I'm too busy playing Steam games on my TV to notice.

Global Offensive's Path Valve is special because they're simultaneously unlike any other game company and yet exactly what you'd expect a game company to be. Should all software be open and modifiable to your liking? Sure! Should game creation be collaborative? Why not! Look at the way parts of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive found their way into the major release. What started as Valve's admiration for the most popular Counter-Strike: Source mods turned into an active collaboration with those modders and other Source players to create a game for the players and by the players, but curated by the genius' at Valve.

Dumbest Moves

The Obvious One Gabe's beard, duh. No, I'm just kidding, it's actually Half-Life 3. Not so funny anymore, is it? At this point the situation isn't even so much dumb as it is cruel. I know game development can take a long time. Look at Half-Life 2. But the fact that they repeatedly stated that HL2:E3 was coming within a reasonable distance of Episode 2 has, over the years, changed from a miscalculation to a debacle. For a company that is, by most accounts, extremely loyal to its fans, the continuing and complete radio silence on Half-Life just seems useless to me. It's unfair, dumb, and is morphing a beloved franchise into vapourware.

Greenlight Quibbles Steam Greenlight is, at its heart, a fine idea. It may have problems, but it's not Valve's responsibility to regulate stuff like Headup Games' exchanging free downloads of their game for Greenlight upvotes. And I commend Valve for adding a $US100 fee (which goes entirely to charity) for listing your game on Greenlight, which took care of a lot of the trolling and clutter. But one thing that does rub me the wrong way is Valve insisting that certain established Steam devs, like Wadjet Eye, go through Greenlight now as well. Considering that the games tend to get greenlit super quickly, it's not only a disrespectful but also a needless distraction from lesser known projects.

What do you think were Valve's best and worst decisions this year?

Key Releases

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive — August 21 Steam Greenlight — August 30 Big Picture — December 3 Dota 2 — Well, not officially but... we're all playing it.

For these Year In Review segments, we'll be taking a look at what major gaming companies did in 2012, with summaries of their biggest news and releases, best and worst decisions, and lists of the notable games they were a part of.


Comments

    I just thought Ep2 was so bad, that they decided to abandon the Half-Life name.

      Are you remotely serious?! Episode 2 was so tight that I thought it was way better than H-L2 and definitely much better than Episode 1!

        While I did like Episode 2, I felt that big chunk of the game spent crawling around the Antlion hive was a bit too long. It was far from bad though,

          Yah. I agree. It was pretty good, but I've actually only played through it once. I've tried to play through about 5 times, but every time I get stuck in the tunnels I end up getting bored and quitting.

          HL2 was awesome from start to finish though.

    Valve don't do anything dumb, they're geniuses, led by a genius. Half Life 3 is coming and when it does... It's going to be [email protected] epic.

      Yeah but how old are our grandkids going to be when it happens???

      It's just taking a looooooong time. Which after a while, makes people not care as much.

        With games like Duke Nukem, definitely, after a while I gave up caring and still haven't played it. But HL3!!!? It could come out twenty years from now and I'll still wet my pants when it's announced lol

          Yeah? Not me. I would respond with polite curiosity, just as I did with the duke and Diablo 3 and starcraft 2.

          You let a pot boil for too long, eventually all the water boils away and you wreck the pot...

          But i understand and respect your opinion.

      My dad says it best, when half-life 3/ half-life 2 episode 3/ half-life 3 episode 1 is released, most likely on the steam box, or whatever it will be called, there will be multiple orgasms world wide :P

    I want Pinball Arcade to be greenlit already.
    It's on Xbox, PSN, Apple Store, Android Market.

    There would be a lot of people buying it, but valve have stated it's a nice market.
    It's not like Train and Farm simulator isn't?

    In terms of Half Life 3 they have to be waiting for next gen console announcements so they can announce source engine 3 along with half life 3 that is unless they make it PC exclusive and just aren't ready to talk about it.

      They are PC devs primarily. Don't see what's to stop them making it now and then porting it to a console version of Source.

      Besides Gabe being a fat troll fuck who likes to shit on his fans desires.

        "Besides Gabe being a fat troll fuck who likes to shit on his fans desires."

        Wait what?

    Valve's dumbest moves seem to be relatively tame compared to MS, Sony, and Ninty.

    "It’s unfair, dumb, and is morphing a beloved franchise into vapourware." Sounds like butt-hurt rather than a real "dumb move".
    I find it hard to believe that the lack of info for HL3 has harmed Valve in any way at all. No one is boycotting them for not releasing it. They're not losing money because of it or anything (besides the obvious costs of spending a long time perfecting things). It doesn't hurt their public image (look at how long HL2 took to come out!). If we're talking about "dumb" moves then it really has to be something that negatively impacts the company (be it financial loss or loss of fan loyalty) and I don't think this does.
    When the game finally does drop it'll no doubt be just as awesome as everyone is expecting and no one will give a @#$% about any of these "delays".

    Steambox with its launch title : half life 3. They are way too smart not to launch a system with a killer ip.

    Not releasing an outdated game like HL3 is the smartest move by value

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