Stardock Boss Thinks Steam Is Holding Back Half-Life

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Stardock Boss Thinks Steam Is Holding Back Half-Life

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Being a developer and a retailer is tricky, says the Stardock exec, and one of the two will inevitably suffer.

Selling off the Impulse digital distribution platform seems to have given Stardock CEO Brad Wardell more time to muse upon the state of the industry, or at least about Valve's role in it. He's already weighed in on Steam's chances against GameStop - Impulse's new owners - and now he's wondering how much becoming a retailer had hurt Valve as a developer.

Wardell said that there was a significant difference in Valve's output - that is to say, the games it developed internally - following the launch of Steam. He noted that there hadn't been a new Half-Life game in a while, and wondered if it might be because Valve's focus was elsewhere. "When one of your groups is so ridiculously profitable, every business instinct you have is to throw all your best people at it, because that's what's making the money."

He said that Stardock had found itself in a similar position with Impulse, but that the only way for Impulse to become a valid rival to Steam was to go all out and make become an online retailer. He said that that wasn't a direction that Stardock wanted to go. "When the winning scenario is not what your objective in life is, then it's time to re-evaluate what you want to do."

Wardell isn't wrong: It has been a long time since Valve released a new Half Life game, but it seems likely that Steam is just part of the equation and development on other games has to be taken into consideration. By specifying games developed internally by Valve, rather than games that were started elsewhere then brought into the Valve fold, like Left 4 Dead, Wardell does eliminate a few titles, but actually not that many. Work on games like Team Fortress 2 - which has received constant updates since its release - and Portal - the sequel to which is due out very soon - will have had an effect on the production of a new Half-Life, too.

Source: Industry Gamers

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And he just broke the #1 rule of maintaining a good reputation among the internet gaming community: Don't ever criticize Valve, unless you're working there.

OT: The man's got a point though, acting as both developer, publisher and retailer is sure to stress company resources a bit, and it doesn't seem too far-fetched saying that could contribute to Valve's very slow release cycles.

Arachon:
And he just broke the #1 rule of maintaining a good reputation among the internet gaming community: Don't ever criticize Valve, unless you're working there.

OT: The man's got a point though, acting as both developer, publisher and retailer is sure to stress company resources a bit, and it doesn't seem too far-fetched saying that could contribute to Valve's very slow release cycles.

Or if they haven't released a new HL game, which they haven't.

See!? even DEVELOPERS can cry "where's episode 3!!!!?"

I think they're focus HAS been elsewhere but I don't actually mind at all. is it REALLY such a bad thing?

Gee, a CEO heavily invested in a service that's trying to dethrone Steam is implying that Valve doesn't know how to handle things? Who would have guessed?

I'm one of those strange Valve fans that doesn't care for Half-Life, so it wouldn't bother me even if Brad Wardell's comments are true.

As long as the quality of Valve's games isn't in decline then I don't really care to be honest. I was annoyed as everyone else when I heard Portal 2 was getting a delay (and again the second time), but now it's almost here I don't care as long as it's as good as it looks.

meh, I'm not listening to anything he says after his "GameStop will beat Steam".

Also...I may be entirely wrong, but I read through the Portal 2 achievements...and

I've heard rumors about this already, and I really am starting to believe that Valve is withholding the Half Life games.

I'm not sure why he is why he is hitting on Valve but its about as affective as throwing pebbles at a castle wall. Let Valve take their time, they know that they have an incredibly large fanbase teetering on Half Life and they most certainly won't leave it standing in the dark. Let them take their time, besides it will probably come with a new game engine that will pale the Unreal Engine and the Crytek Engine. Patience is a virtue fool.

Ugh... I hate to get on the bad side of a bunch of fans here on The Escapists but Valve not putting every single employee that works on video games into Half-Life 3 as soon as possible is not the end of the world. There are honestly other games out there. (Plus I wouldn't buy Half-Life 3 anyway because I don't enjoy the series and preferred Portal by a factor too high to post without looking like I'm spamming the board.)

I have faith in the company and I enjoy the games that they make and distribute with a few exceptions but the fact they haven't focused all their energy into making one game when they've made several others is not evidence that Valve is losing their Midas touch.

Is there no limit to how low this guy will to insult a competitor. I used to respect Stardock, but this, selling Impulse to with Gamestop, saying idiotic things about Steam... what the hell, dude? I get he (used to) ran a competing service to Valve's own, but they sure haven't gone out of their way to badmouth anyone.

Half Life 1 release: 1998

Half Life 2 release: 2004

Thats 6 years. If anything, Steam is getting better at releasing games quicker.

Saying Valve witholds games is fucking ridiculous. Valve in fact works FASTER than MANY companies out there, and produces good products. Team fortress, portal games, not to mention handling the HUGE half life 2 mod community and steam. If anything, the fact they can release SOLID games so fast is suprising. This is no longer Half Life 2 : Episode 3.

This is gonna be Half Life 3. I have little doubts about it.

Really? Well they seem to be doing very well so far.

I wish he would stop attention whoring. Really. He sounds bitter in my book.

This seems like a weird way to speculate. Surely the people who develop games at Valve have little to nothing to do with distributing them. Likewise I'm assuming they have people employed specifically to work with Steam, so why would it have any impact on how fast they develop games?

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Biased jackass from rival company slams competition.
More at 11!

You see Mr Wardell, when developers care about their image, care about the products they are producing and care about the fans, they sometimes take a while. Make sure everything is a polished and perfect as they can get it.
Maybe you would know about that if your company had produced any games of worth.

Other than the guy obviously trying to get attention I would rather have Ep:3 delayed and have Steam than have Ep: 3 and no steam.

"Yes, if we ignore the development in l4d and l4d2 and tf2 and portal and portal2 and probably other games I've forgotten then clearly it is steam causing the long delay in hl(ep)3."

And if we ignore the tsunami that nuclear plant in japan fell down all on its own!
And if we ignore the fumes they put out cars are great for the environment!

We can do all sorts of silly things if we pick and choose the facts we use. I have *no idea* how the dev's time at valve is allocated. He might have a better idea than me, but I'm guessing no-one outside valve itself knows.

"When the winning scenario is not what your objective in life is, then it's time to re-evaluate what you want to do."

Well that pretty much sums up my year so far.

I don't really agree with his points in context though. They all are more-or-less true, but Valve seems to be picking up...steam...since Steam came about. Maybe not Half-Life specifically, but they've not exactly been slacking off on the support and quality of development.

I really don't think that the above was supposed to be an insult against Valve... mainly because it wasn't insulting in any way whatsoever...

But regardless, i love Stardock. They release amazing games and they did something even better. They got rid of the thing that was making them the most profit, because it got in the way of developing their games and software. Finally, proof that not every company in the universe is *purely* about money-making.

WHERE'S MY EPISODE 3 GABE !!

Although correct, he is a bit of a asshole about it. Seriously though, IIRC valve has a seperate portion of the company in charge of stream. That's how they work, dividing all their stuff between several teams.

It is a pretty weird comparison. What did Valve develop and release before Steam?
I can think of Half-Life (1), and a few mods such as Gunman Chronicles (co-developed with the mod author IIRC), Counterstrike Zero (again, an elevated mod), plain vanilla Counterstrike.
And Steam began as an update mechanism for Counterstrike, later being transformed to go along with Source (Half-Life 2, Counterstrike Source, and the lazy port Half-Life: Source).
After Steam, we have HL2 "Episode" One, "Episode" Two, Day of Defeat Source (elevated mods), Team Fortress 2, Portal, Left 4 Dead, soon Portal2, DOTA2 (and a couple of other elevated mods)... but with long gaps between releases.

So again, we have basically a one game developer (Half-Life) who have since "becoming" Steam released multiple games with a slow release ratio. How can we say with any certainty that Steam is holding HL2EP3 back? It might simply be Valve's lacksadaisical development cycle, or have more to do with that thus far each Half-Life game was a new engine (HL = GoldSrc, HL2 = Source, HL2EP1 = Source 2005 / HDR, HL2EP2 = Source 2008 / Orange Box), so maybe they're just waiting for the next Source to be stable, following the interim games DOTA2 and Portal 2.

Speaking as a Manowar fan who was only seen one new studio album in the 10 years since they launched their Magic Circle Music record label...

I think he may have a point.

Tzekelkan:
Is there no limit to how low this guy will to insult a competitor. I used to respect Stardock, but this, selling Impulse to with Gamestop, saying idiotic things about Steam... what the hell, dude? I get he (used to) ran a competing service to Valve's own, but they sure haven't gone out of their way to badmouth anyone.

What? How is that a low blow in any way? Valve's release schedule is already a standard industry joke, and he just wondered if there was a correlation between that and the fact that they were now running a retail service. Actually, I don't even think that counts as insult, really.

I mean, yeah he has motivation to say something like this, but these overreactions are getting crazy.

Absolutely. I've been saying this for a long time now: Valve is no longer a developer house. They're a publisher. That doesn't mean they can't make good games on their own, but, just like with developer teams of EA, Activision etc., you can't really have the cake and eat it.

But the guy is wrong in one thing - there wasn't a change after the launch of Steam. Valve have been doing this shit ever since release of the original HL. They immediately shifted focus towards being something more then a developer house.

There was their PowerPlay initiative (Steam predecessor), release of the original Team Fortress (an adapted Quake mod), hiring of Counter-Strike developers and releasing the mod as a retail game; the same with Day of Defeat.

Steam was jut another step in this direction.

Also, note how they shifted their aim towards multiplayer - L4D, TF2, now Portal 2. They know very well that multiplayer is what really sells. Not story-driven single-player games such as HL.

First of all, this is Valve. They don't release a game unless they feel it's ready, and deadlines and release dates can blow off with the wind.

Second, Valve knows that if they end the Half Life story on anything less than a superb note they'll get rampaged by rabid fanboys.

Third, Don't take it seriously when someone says their business rival should shoot their golden goose.

I never thought of it this way, but what if the next part to the story is acutally involved in portal 2? maybe thats why, if so then i dont mind waiting.

ps.I mean in regards to half life sequal of course

Ironic Pirate:

Tzekelkan:
Is there no limit to how low this guy will to insult a competitor. I used to respect Stardock, but this, selling Impulse to with Gamestop, saying idiotic things about Steam... what the hell, dude? I get he (used to) ran a competing service to Valve's own, but they sure haven't gone out of their way to badmouth anyone.

What? How is that a low blow in any way? Valve's release schedule is already a standard industry joke, and he just wondered if there was a correlation between that and the fact that they were now running a retail service. Actually, I don't even think that counts as insult, really.

I mean, yeah he has motivation to say something like this, but these overreactions are getting crazy.

I think it's mainly the fact he's badmouthing Valve for the very same thing his company is doing, but Valve is clearly winning in comparison on pretty much every level. I mean, Stardock's few notable games are Galactic Civilizations II and Sins of a Solar Empire, and the second was a third party game they assisted development with.

Valve have Half Life, Portal, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead, Counter Strike, Day of Defeat, and most of their library has received updates in the past (Those listed are still updated to this day with engine upgrades and tweaks, or in L4D and TF2's case still being updated with more content) using Steam as a method of receiving and applying these updates automatically.

Valve rakes in close to a billion a year off of Steam.

If anything it's only helping development by giving them the best possible set of resources they can buy, at least that is how I see it.

draythefingerless:
Half Life 1 release: 1998

Half Life 2 release: 2004

Thats 6 years. If anything, Steam is getting better at releasing games quicker.

THANK YOU. I've been waiting for somebody else to realise this.

Half-Life 3 is not the new DNF! It's been in development for just over the normal amount of time it takes to develop a game. I get that it was supposed to be episodic, but that doesn't make the 3 or so years it's taking completely unreasonable.

Also, I find it funny that everyone in this thread now hates the guy and is calling him a jerk. It seems to me that he's just making a level-headed observation about another company. I suppose it's possible you could interpret it as a criticism... I guess?

Are the people who work on Steam the same people who work on games? I bet not, there are probably two separate teams so unless Valve is strapped for cash (which doesn't seem to be the case) they shouldn't have any trouble having a fully operational Steam team and a fully operational developement team.

Bethesda is both a publisher (Bethesda Softworks) and a developer (Bethesda Game Studios) and one doesn't interfere with the other, in fact both seem to benefit from the arrangement quite a bit.

draythefingerless:
Half Life 1 release: 1998

Half Life 2 release: 2004

Thats 6 years. If anything, Steam is getting better at releasing games quicker.

Exactly.
Half Life 2 Episode 3 is not being held back because of Steam, Valve polishes every single one of their games till they're of highest quality. That's why a large number of games coming from Valve are great.

The only thing I dislike about Steam is the fact that you can't play any games if your internet connection is down.

Korak the Mad:
I've heard rumors about this already, and I really am starting to believe that Valve is withholding the Half Life games.

I know the time making HL is taking the piss but lets look at this from another angle. Would you rather wait for(given Valves general record) will probably be a decent to good quality game or would you rather they rape the franchise into stagnation CoD style? I am not saying I agree with the wait but looking at it from that angle I know which one I prefer.

OT: Valve has spent a lot of time doing free updates and map packs for their games over the years. Yes Steam will drain a certain amount of resources but I don't think Steam is the problem. Why would you have people on a dev team working on retail?

If your company is expanding to create a new revenue creating product, you should bring in new staff, and properly manage your distribution of staff on your projects. If you're pulling people from across projects, you're doing something wrong, and getting whiney at the company with the better hiring and project management policies doesn't help anyone.
Steam is a business system for dealing with the purchasing and distribution of software and media content over the internet, making use of a range of technologies, and VALVe advertises for people to fill steam positions with those skills. The employee profiles even mention the ones who work on steam.

To say that the operation of steam requires most of the attention of valves 250+ software engineers, artists, etc. is just silly.

While the management at my workplace does make some foolish decisions, it's the one to properly section project teams that scored me my job, and has greatly helped the productivity of those already there, because it allows them to focus on a single task, without running off to do other stuff every 5 minutes.

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