Valve is back in the news again for a presentation it recently gave about its new Dota-inspired card game Artifact and its plans for the future. In addition to explaining how the new game will work, CEO Gabe Newell said the company is definitely still making games, adding to a litany of past statements about what Valve is up to that don't really say much about what Valve is up to.
Gabe Newell speaks during Intel CEO Brian Krzanich's keynote address at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show. Photo: Ethan Miller (Getty Images)
"Artifact is the first of several games that are going to be coming from us," Newell told an audience at the event, according to PC Gamer. "So that's sort of good news. Hooray! Valve's going to start shipping games again." On the surface, this news seems like music to the ears of every longtime Valve fan pining for the days when the company was making things such as Portal and Half-Life 2. But what exactly does "shipping games" mean in Valve-speak? Are these expansions for existing games such as Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive? VR experiences such as Lab?
You see, there's a history of ambiguous things said by Valve that never lead anywhere tangible. Instead, they're just general enough, or point to things far enough over the horizon, that they can be interpreted by any number of people in any number of ways. Is Valve planning on a new Left 4 Dead or simply finalising Dota 2 in VR? It's impossible to tell.
Let's take a quick look back:
April 2011 - Geoff Keighley says Portal 2 is the end of an era for Valve in an episode of the Final Hours documentary series.
"Portal 2 will probably be Valve's last game with an isolated single-player experience. What this all means is something Newell is still trying to figure out."
February 2013 - J.J. Abrams says he's in talks with Valve on a new project.
"There's an idea we have for a game that we'd like to work with Valve on."
Newell adds they're discussing working on movies as well.
"We're super excited about that and we also want to talk about making movies, either a Portal movie or a Half-Life movie."
March 2015 - Newell tells Geoff Keighley on a podcast that Valve thinks of games as tools, and though it isn't currently developing Half-Life 3, it hasn't shut the door on that possibility.
"But you know if you want to do another Half-Life game and you want to ignore everything we've learned in shipping Portal 2 and in shipping all the updates on the multiplayer side, that seems like a bad choice. So we'll keep moving forward. But that doesn't necessarily always mean what people are worried that it might mean."
March 2016 - Valve's Jeep Barnett reiterates that the company is always working on new stuff in addition to VR games.
"We love games, and there's no reason we wouldn't want to make games."
October 2016 - At Steam Dev Days 2016, Valve's Greg Coomer promises big VR things at Steam Dev Days 2017.
"Although we're not going to treat Dev Days this year as the place or the time to make big product announcements related to the content that we have in development at Valve for virtual reality, I do think that once it becomes time to do that next year, nobody in this room is going to be disappointed"
January 2017 - In an AMA on Reddit, someone asks Newell whether Valve is still developing single-player games, to which he responds:
Also, on whether there's the possibility of a new game that takes place in the Half-Life or Portal universes:
And regarding those Abrams movies:
February 2017 - Newell tells a media roundtable that the company is working on big new VR games.
"When I say we're building three games, we're building three full games, not experiments."
September 2017 - Valve's Tom Giardino tweets that, actually, Steam Dev Days won't be a thing this year.
"Definitely not in 2017 and not very likely for 2018."
Adding in a subsequent tweet:
"Steam Dev Days is a business/development conference, not a venue we'd use to tell customers about a game."
March 2018 - Newell says Valve hasn't released a new game since Dota 2 (2013) because it's been working on SteamVR, but that's about to change.
"Artifact is the first of several games that are going to be coming from us. So that's sort of good news. Hooray! Valve's going to start shipping games again."
June 2024 - Newell appears on stage at the Sony E3 conference. "It's time," he says. "Time for Half-Life to come back."
The crowd goes loses its mind as teaser plays: The first Half-Life is getting ported to PlayStation 5. "Kept you waiting, huh?" he says.