After releasing Half-Life: Alyx, fans had one question: will Valve start shipping games again? According to co-founder Gabe Newell, the answer is absolutely.
Valve has been through a big 2020. That’s especially true for Gabe Newell, who has been stuck in New Zealand since mid-March thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Newell’s just been granted residency in principle, and he’s continuing down the citizenship path for the foreseeable future.
But one of the bigger structural changes in Valve is the appetite for new games. Not shipping them on Steam, but shipping their own games. The Half-Life: Alyx experience — which changed Valve’s no-management work approach and created a lot of cultural shifts within the company — has gotten Valve developers excited to work and release new projects, something Valve has stayed away from for years.
“We definitely have games in development that we’re going to be announcing — it’s fun to ship games,” Newell told TVNZ.
The reporter tried to press Newell on new projects, and while Newell wouldn’t confirm any specific projects, he said Alyx had a noticeable impact on the company.
“Alyx was great — to be back doing single-player games, that created a lot of momentum inside of the company to do more of that,” he said.
As for the possibility of Half-Life 3, Portal 3, and superstitions around the number 3?
“The nice thing is, by not answering those questions, I avoid the community coming up with new, equally-difficult-to-answer questions,” Newell said.
Still, it’s not too hard to ponder what the company might be working on. A lot of work has been done on the Source 2 engine, with Dota: Underlords and Half-Life: Alyx both making direct use of it. Dota 2 was the first game ported from the original Source engine, and there have been suspicions for at least two years that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will eventually get a Source 2 port.
CS:GO seems the most logical, especially with the game’s 10th anniversary coming up next year. It’d also be more logical than Valve actually releasing a new version of Counter-Strike, given CS:GO‘s enormous popularity. (The game’s average monthly player count has grown by almost 400,000 from April 2019 to now, regularly hitting over 1 million peak concurrent players since the coronavirus pandemic began.)
But it’s liable that other projects with no relationship to Valve’s existing IP will be in the works too. Valve famously bought studio Campo Santo, the makers of Firewatch, when they were working on In the Valley of the Gods. That project has since been cancelled, but the development talent still exists within the company. And having helped ship Half-Life: Alyx, it’s hard to imagine those developers wouldn’t want to continue flexing their storytelling muscles in another way.
I wouldn’t expect any announcements until later in the year, however. As was the case with Artifact, Valve often likes to make its waves when The International is on. Given the acceleration of the COVID vaccine and the ongoing security of Valve’s co-founder (and his growing faith) in New Zealand, we know there’s at least one country that could handle a Dota 2 bubble no problem.