Ad Agency's Half-Life 3 Campaign Is A Terrible Idea

Ad Agency's Half-Life 3 Campaign Is A Terrible Idea

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.

Ad Agency's Half-Life 3 Campaign Is A Terrible Idea

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."

Mazzei added:

"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.


    So we pay other people to do the advertising that we've already done for 10 years in the hopes to make sure Valve don't forget there most important original IP... right.

      true, and besides, wouldn't it only cost like $100 and be more effective to simply print colored posters and stick them all over the pavement outside valves office as oppose to spending thousands driving a truck outside? you can tell these guys thought this through!

      Last edited 17/10/14 4:48 pm

      With $150,000 they'd be able to give each of Valve's ~300 employees $500. I think the bribery would work better....

    I've gone from hanging out for HL3, to getting really pissed that they don't make at least some statement about the frigging game, to really not giving a toss, to actively not wanting it any more.

    I was disappointed by HL2, I loved HL1 and was hoping HL3 would get back to the story driven, really smart AI tense experience with lots of WTF moments that made HL such a great experience.

    Now, I really just want HL to go away, the teasing from Gabe et. al. and the ongoing jokes and everythging just burned me out. It could be nothing but disappointing after all this time anyway, HL has turned into something so steeped in memory and expectation, that even a great game would seem a disappointment after all this time.

    So guys, leave people's money alone, throw $150,000 at some independant game company that might come up with a new great franchise.

      And I thought I was the only one who thought HL 1 was better than 2.

        NO, no there are plenty of us PC gamers that think that. We just don't care to talk anymore.

      You thought HL2 was disappointing?!?

      Good god you’ve got high standards!
      I can understand likening HL more, but HL2 brought more cool and interesting stuff to the single player FPS genre than any game since… well HL1 really.

      You can’t reinvent the wheel. HL1 was a great game but it’s story, AI, ect were better than they seemed because they were new. If HL2 had have stuck to that formula it would have been a much worse game that it was.

      Brilliant graphics, fantastic enemies (remember the first time you saw a strider!?), amazing physics and puzzles, the f*cking gravity gun! I understand you wanting it to be more like HL1 but it’s still a phenomenal title.

      There’s a reason they haven’t made a sequel still and that’s because it brought so much new to the table that the bar for what’s expected is ludicrously high now. If the second one can add so much so well and still be a disappointment to you then what the hell do they do for a 3rd game?

      Also HL1 had a shit ending. There, I said it.

        Yeah, I don't have really high standards, HL2 was just....boring.
        The enemies were faceless and hard to feel anything for.
        The AI was a step backwards really, the teamed squads in HL1 felt more like actual people making decisions, as was their radio chatter.
        HL1 reminds me a bit of Alien Isolation. You weren't overpowered, you were constantly wondering where to go and would often just sit quietly listening for clues before edging around that corner, or along that ventilation shaft.
        HL2 felt more like a by the numbers breathless sprint.
        Hi I'm sexy new companion character, let's team up!
        Oh, I have to leave immediately for a far flung destination, bye.
        Find a fast craft, speed through scenery for a tedious amount of time in the skiff thing, fighting samey creatures, hammer your way through some fights, and "Hi again, glad you made it'
        Oh I have to go, fight your way quickly to the next checkpoint.

        HL2 felt like a meaningless checkpoint runner, filled with cliched scenery. HL1 was a genuinely scary, exploration through interesting and amazing locations, with characters to care about and a mystery hanging over everything. The pace changed all the time, tension would build up, and you would hold your breath before gritting your teeth and peering out around that next corner.

        I didn't want HL2 to be just HL1 rehashed, I wanted a continuation with as high a level of immersion and an interesting story with pacing that just gripped you, and scared the shit out of you. With characters and enemies that seemed intelligent and real. Where you would count to three before making a decision at times, and have to live twitchily moment to moment others.

        I played both again recently, HL1 is by far the better experience, even now, HL2 is mostly forgettable. Great graphics, but dull.

          If there is a case against HL2, I think you’ve made a very good one.

          Personally I think the game was great and I disagree with you that the enemies were samey, but do agree that there isn’t a moment better than the first time you stumbled across a military checkpoint in HL1 and realised that the enemies were actively flanking your position.

          I do think that HL2 had more than it’s share of memorable moments though; defending the rooftop position against those crazy helicopter things, fighting trench to trench between two buildings while striders fought above, using the gravity gun and the physics traps to take down zombies as you negotiated Ravensholm (I think it’s called that)…. Those were some pretty epic gaming moments IMO. If you thought those moments were boring or samey then I’d hate to think what you’d say about 99% of other shooters on the market! If you compare those kinds of battles to the gameplay found in a COD, Borderlands or Destiny then you realise just how far ahead of it’s time HL2 was as far as dynamism.

          I certainly agree that if you like an Alien: Isolation style of FPS then HL1 is certainly the better game in that mould. As a SHOOTER though, HL2 is still the benchmark in that genre.

          I suppose it’s just down to what you want from your Half-life franchise.

      Lost me at disappointed by HL2.

        Ha! Love it. But I really was disappointed by HL2.

    holy shit i hope to god they make enough for the gabe newell lookalikes

    Wait, I remember seeing this south park episode!

    Really wish people would just stfu and let HL3 happen if it happens. Quit going on about it. It was kind of funny to begin with, but now it's hit tired meme territory. I want HL3 too, but just let it go.

    For their first stretch goal, they will stand at the developer's gate with an HL3 graphic and as the developer or their family walks past, the person will point to the graphic and raise a questioning eyebrow while sporting an eager, yet somehow creepy grin.

    Last edited 17/10/14 4:20 pm

    This... seems like a horrible idea for SO many reasons.

    Can you imagine if someone did this to try get a third date out of someone who hadn't ruled it out entirely but had politely ignored further advances (despite them being made ALL THE TIME to the point of being a fucking joke that they absolutely are not oblivious to)?

    Guys. Just let it go. If it's going to happen it'll happen on Valve's terms, not yours. Bullying someone into a game is not going to work, and even if it did, do you think you'll get what you want, or something forced and hollow?

    Last edited 17/10/14 4:21 pm

      "Can you imagine if someone did this to try get a third date out of someone who hadn't ruled it out entirely but had politely ignored further advances (despite them being made ALL THE TIME to the point of being a fucking joke that they absolutely are not oblivious to)?"

      This sounds like the perfect plot for a terrible "romantic comedy" that I would avoid watching at all costs :P

        I just threw up in my mouth a little.

        Wait. ...I think I've seen that movie. Didn't it feature Adam Sandler?
        Unless this is the plot behind pretty much any 70s-80s comedy featuring Bill Murray or Tom Hanks?

          Yeah I'm sure this does already exist, it's just one of the things I can thank my bad memory for that I can't remember what movie(s) it is!

    Hey everyone I am going to raise one millions dollars to remind fish to swim. I can't guarantee fish will keep swimming but if you give me money, I'll remind them. Like, as long as they check my twitter or something every now and then.

    At $300,000 they will kidnap Lisa Newell and not release her until a playable beta is released. The kidnapping will be done in a very friendly manner though.

    I was Gabe I’d mock up some ridiculous screenshots and announce it for August 2015, then I’d point people in the direction of these guys when it never shows up.

    While i think this is stupid its still better than 'making a potato salad'

    I don't think they're under any illusions as to whether this will make HL3 come any faster or not. They can't actually believe this is going to make an iota of difference.
    I think they just want to have some fun, and it just so happens that they can't afford to. They just want to have some fun and, you know, get their five minutes on the internet.

      They just want to have some fun and, you know, get their five minutes on the internet.

      There's pleanty of other ways to do this that don't involve being creepy stalkers, or causing HL3 to be delayed by another few years.

        I don't necessarily disagree with you. Harassing Valve about Half Life 3 has become a thing, and these people know they'll get attention for it. It was probably dreamt up over beers and likely isn't motivated by malice. It's annoying for Valve but essentially harmless.
        And like every other time someone's done something like this, it won't affect Half Life 3's development (or non-development) in any way, shape or form.

    The Half Life story is a bore - by todays standards of gaming narrative.
    I couldnt care what happens after Episode 2 now.

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