Why Valve doesn't just keep making Half-Life sequels
In a recent Washington Post Interview, Gabe Newell has explained why Valve hasn't just kept releasing Half-Life sequels, even though this could have been financially successful for them.
"When we started out, we were a single-player video game company that could have been really successful just doing Half-Life sequel after Half-Life sequel," said Newell.
However, the company decided to move ahead with developing the Steam platform, as well as multiplayer games like Dota 2.
Part of the reason for this is Valve's unique organizational structure. At Valve, there are no official titles or positions, sick time isn't tracked, and employees are never tied to a single project forever. He explained how some Valve employees didn't think Steam was going to work, so they kept working on Half-Life 2 while other employees worked on Steam.
"So," Newell explained, "if somebody becomes the group manager of X, they're going to really resist it when X is not what you want to do in the next round of games. You don't want them to sort of burrow into that--you want them to recognize that being really good at Half-Life level design is not as nearly as valued as thinking of how to design social multi-player experiences. You've had them feel like they have an organization and title tied up to something when the key is to just continue to follow where the customers are leading."
Newell values adaptability. He likes it when Valve employees are able to specialize in more than one thing, because gaming trends change so quickly, and what is hot now can very quickly become obsolete.
Said Newell: "If you look at the requirements for just one piece, like art, from one generation of games to the next, it will change radically. You need people who are adaptable because the thing that makes you the best in the world in one generation of games is going to be totally useless in the next. So specialization in gaming is sort of the enemy of the future. We had to think about if we're going to be in a business that's changing that quickly, how do we avoid institutionalizing one set of production methods in such a way that we can't adapt to what's going to be coming next."
From the sound of things, it makes sense why the company would be working on more than just Half-Life. Hopefully, however, fans will eventually see a conclusion to the beloved series in a way that also satisfies the company's unique business structure.