Everybody wants Half-Life 3, but this elaborate crowdfunding plot dreamed up by interns at marketing agency McKee Wallwork & Co is not how we're going to get it.
Marketing duo Chris Salem and Kyle Mazzei have launched an Indiegogo page entitled "We Want Half-Life 3," allegedly with the full support of their firm behind them. They have set up a flexible funding campaign for their scheme, so no matter how much of their $US150,000 — yes, $US150,000 — goal they reach, they will pocket it. Their goal? To remind Valve that legions of slavering fans still really wish they could play a new entry in the legendary scientist-shoots-aliens-to-death-with-physics first-person shooter series, something I... don't think Valve ever really forgot.
Fans kinda never shut up about it. Not on Steam, not on YouTube, not on Reddit — not really anywhere. And while Valve likes to button their lips so tight not even Gordon Freeman's crowbar could pry them open, they do see this stuff. So already the premise is flawed. The campaign's methods, however, are far, far worse. Is this a joke? Maybe it's a joke.
The short version is, they want to — and I quote — "engulf Valve employees' lives." Ummmm. At $US3,000 they will start a Google AdWord campaign that would target Valve staff with reminders that the community wants Half-Life 3. The mock-up, while likely tongue-in-cheek, is still kinda frightening.
But that's downright tame compared to Salem and Mazzei's other goals. At $US9,000 they will spring for a mobile billboard covered in Half-Life 3 propaganda so they can "besiege Valve HQ in Bellevue, Washington until their white flag is raised." Because nothing makes people say, "Yeah I'll totally do that thing you want" like incessantly prowling their property.
At $US45,000 they will — can this please be a joke — hire 15 Gabe Newell lookalikes to once again "besiege" Valve HQ in "We Want Half-Life 3" shirts. The final $US150,000 tier, meanwhile, might actually be a good idea if it were just a fun celebration and not part of... whatever this is. Salem and Mazzei want to throw a giant Half-Life-themed concert for fans and Valve employees. That, at least, would be kinda neat, but rarely does anything pair well with borderline-harassment. Also, the logistics (time/money needed, etc) for all of this seem dubious at best.
Speaking with VentureBeat, the pair claimed they're not actually trying to harass Valve, despite how all of this might sound. Salem explained their rationale:
"Obviously, lines like [engulf people's lives] is a little sensationalized to get people's attention. But we think we're doing everything in a good-hearted way. We aren't going to have people camped out in front of Valve headquarters for weeks at a time. It's just going to be a one-day thing."
"It's not like we're really going to stalk them. We're claiming to stalk them, but everything we're doing is in a very friendly manner."
"Friendly" or not, coordinated invasion of people's lives is rarely something anybody likes. So, you know, food for thought.
Nowhere, meanwhile, did Salem and Mazzei explain why they think this approach will work any better than thousands of other fan attempts to get Valve to release a new Half-Life. It's been nearly a decade since Half-Life 2: Episode 2, and by all accounts Gabe Newell and his band of merry (and likely very wealthy) brainiacs are in no mood to rush.
I very much doubt they have abandoned the video game series that put them on the map, but clearly they have got other concerns right now. Maybe it's because Steam and games like DOTA 2 are better for paying the bills, or maybe it's because they have tried to make Half-Life 3 and not been satisfied with the results. Either way, they have the luxury of time and resources, and they clearly have no intention of releasing Half-Life 3 (or whatever they end up calling it) until they're good and ready.
Half-Life is cool. Passionate fans are cool. I understand where Salem and Mazzei are coming from and what they're going for, but this all strikes me as misguided. As of writing the campaign had barely pulled in any money at all, so things aren't looking so hot for Operation: Besiege Besiege Besiege Something Half-Life Something Besiege.
And perhaps that's for the best. I've heard Valve HQ is built on top of the world's biggest (and only) ant lion farm, and their offices' ceilings are just those gross barnacle things, far as the eye can see. Also Gabe Newell is said to specially design a new knife any time they have an intruder. He only ever uses said knife once, because that's all he needs.
I've reached out to Valve for comment. I'll update this story if I hear anything back.