Kotaku Gallery: Half-Life 2: Episode Three

April/May, 2006
the world according to gabe

Valve's Gabe Newell reveals the future of Half-Life and tells us why episodic gaming is going to rule

Be honest now: how many single-player games have you played all the way through? Gabe Newell, the founder and managing director for Valve, is betting that it's fewer than it should be. And he has a solution: episodic gaming.

"I think it's going to be interesting to see how gamers respond," says Newell about Episode 1, the first in a planned series of serialized playable "episodes" that will continue the Half-Life storyline. Each stand-alone episode will be shorter than a full sized game, taking roughly four to six hours to complete, and will be available at the relatively low price of $19.99.

Newell confirmed to PC Gamer that Episodes 1 through 4 are currently slated. And while we couldn't pin him down to a release schedule, he says the plan is to be "pretty frequent" when unveiling new episodes—ideally six to eight months between releases.

Considering that it took five years to make Half-Life 2, how will Valve make this happen? By divvying up the work.

Inside Valve, two teams will be responsible for finishing Episodes 1-3, a triumvirate that Newell says will wrap up Half-Life 2's current story arc. Episodes 1 and 2 began development simultaneously by separate teams; when Episode 1 goes live, its team will shift gears to Episode 3. Episode 4 will have a stand-alone plot and is being developed outside of Valve.

Newell believes that episodic gaming will kick off a renaissance in PC gaming, allowing developers to create condensed, fun experiences that its customers will actually finish and do so without the comparatively large financial risk of making a full-sized game that may tank your company if it fails.

"In a way, fans are your venture capitalists," says Newell. Instead of relying on a publisher to bankroll a single big-budget epic, episodic games may allow developers to remain independent by using the profits from one chapter to make the next.

So, will there be a Half-Life 3? Newell says it depends on how well Episode 1 and its follow-ups sell. Preferring to continue the story of Half-Life episodically, he foresees using the format to branch out into other genres and take chances that Valve otherwise wouldn't take. (High on his wishlist? A third-person tactical game set in the Half-Life universe.)

What's more, developers can receive immediate feedback from fans that can influence the next installment—a dynamic that Newell finds essential. "What's it all about?" he ponders. "Getting developers closer to gamers."

Image courtesy of PC Gamer.

Kotaku Gallery: Half-Life 2: Episode Three

July 10, 2008

Image courtesy of GamesRadar.

Kotaku Gallery: Half-Life 2: Episode Three

July 10, 2008

Image courtesy of GamesRadar.

Kotaku Gallery: Half-Life 2: Episode Three

July 10, 2008

Image courtesy of Into the Pixel.

Kotaku Gallery: Half-Life 2: Episode Three

June 27, 2012

Image courtesy of ValveTime.

Kotaku Gallery: Half-Life 2: Episode Three

June 27, 2012

Image courtesy of ValveTime.

Kotaku Gallery: Half-Life 2: Episode Three

June 27, 2012

Image courtesy of ValveTime.

Kotaku Gallery: Half-Life 2: Episode Three

June 27, 2012

Image courtesy of ValveTime.

Kotaku Gallery: Half-Life 2: Episode Three

June 27, 2012

Image courtesy of ValveTime.

Kotaku Gallery: Half-Life 2: Episode Three

June 27, 2012

Image courtesy of ValveTime.

Kotaku Gallery: Half-Life 2: Episode Three

June 27, 2012

Image courtesy of ValveTime.

Kotaku Gallery: Half-Life 2: Episode Three

June 27, 2012

Image courtesy of ValveTime.

Kotaku Gallery: Half-Life 2: Episode Three

June 27, 2012

Image courtesy of ValveTime.