Valve boss Gabe Newell knows gamers are frustrated by the lack of news on the Half-Life front but says he doesn't want to make promises until he's ready to keep them.
Half-Life - the original - came out in 1998. Think about that for a second. There are high school students today who weren't born when Half-Life hit the shelves. Half-Life 2 came out in 2004, followed by two "episodic" releases in 2006 and 2007. Since then, nothing, not even a peep from Valve that any sort of continuation is in the works.
For most games that'd be the end of the story, as gamers would assume the series was dead and move on to other things. But Half-Life is not most games, which is how we end up with things like 13,000 people playing an eight year old shooter on a Saturday afternoon just to get Valve's attention. Yet Valve is well aware of the situation, according to Newell, and it's doing its best to keep everyone happy.
"We're acutely aware of how much we annoy our fans and it's pretty frustrating to us when we put them into that situation," he told Penny Arcade. "We try to go as fast as we can and we try to pick the things that we think are going to be most valuable to our customers and if there's some magic way we can get more work done in a day then we'd love to hear about it, but we recognize that it's been a long time whereas we have so many games that people really love - Counterstrike, Half-Life, Portal, Left 4 Dead, not a whole lot of Ricochet enthusiasts out there, and at the same time we want to be making sure that those games and those stories and those characters are moving forward while also making sure that we don't just get into terminal sequelitis."
"But we've always somehow, you know, part of the reason that we backed off talking so much about what was happening in the future is that when we've done that in the past, you know, with Half-Life 1 it was a year after we originally said it would be, Half-Life 2 basically if you go and read the forum posts apparently took us fifty or sixty years to get done so we're trying to be careful not to get people too excited and then have to go and disappoint them," he continued. "So we're sort of reacting in the other direction and saying 'Okay, well let's have things a little more baked before we start getting people all excited about it.'"
I think there's a bit of a disconnect between turning down the hype machine and going radio silent for half a decade, and that's really where the problem lies - not that we don't have Half-Life 3 (or Episode 3) in our hot little hands at this very moment, but that we don't even know if we ever will. On the other hand, we're still talking about it, which I suppose speaks well of Valve's ability to keep the conversation going while simultaneously staying out of it, so if the game is actually in development, I suppose kudos of some sort are in order.
As to whether or not Valve is currently at work on a new Half-Life title, Newell didn't say.