All The Times Valve Has Said Vague Things About Making Games In The Past Decade

Gabe Newell speaks during Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s keynote address at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show
Gabe Newell speaks during Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s keynote address at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show
Photo: Ethan Miller (Getty Images)

Valve is back in the news again for a presentation it recently gave about its new Dota-inspired card game Artifact and its plans for the future. In addition to explaining how the new game will work, CEO Gabe Newell said the company is definitely still making games, adding to a litany of past statements about what Valve is up to that don’t really say much about what Valve is up to.


Artifact is the first of several games that are going to be coming from us,” Newell told an audience at the event, according to PC Gamer. “So that’s sort of good news. Hooray! Valve’s going to start shipping games again.” On the surface, this news seems like music to the ears of every longtime Valve fan pining for the days when the company was making things like Portal and Half-Life 2. But what exactly does “shipping games” mean in Valve-speak? Are these expansions for existing games like Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive? VR experiences like Lab?

You see, there’s a history of ambiguous things said by Valve that never lead anywhere tangible. Instead, they’re just general enough, or point to things far enough over the horizon, that they can be interpreted by any number of people in any number of ways. Is Valve planning on a new Left 4 Dead or simply finalizing Dota 2 in VR? It’s impossible to tell.


Let’s take a quick look back:

April, 2011 - Geoff Keighley says Portal 2 is the end of an era for Valve in an episode of the Final Hours documentary series.

“Portal 2 will probably be Valve’s last game with an isolated single-player experience. What this all means is something Newell is still trying to figure out.”

February, 2013 - J.J. Abrams says he’s in talks with Valve on a new project.

“There’s an idea we have for a game that we’d like to work with Valve on.”

Newell adds they’re discussing working on movies as well.

“We’re super excited about that and we also want to talk about making movies, either a Portal movie or a Half-Life movie.”


March, 2015 - Newell tells Geoff Keighley on a podcast that Valve thinks of games as tools and though it’s not currently developing Half-Life 3, it hasn’t shut the door on that possibility.

“But you know if you want to do another Half-Life game and you want to ignore everything we’ve learned in shipping Portal 2 and in shipping all the updates on the multiplayer side, that seems like a bad choice. So we’ll keep moving forward. But that doesn’t necessarily always mean what people are worried that it might mean.”


March, 2016 - Valve’s Jeep Barnett reiterates that the company is always working on new stuff in addition to VR games.

“We love games, and there’s no reason we wouldn’t want to make games.”

October, 2016 - At Steam Dev Days 2016, Valve’s Greg Coomer promises big VR things at Steam Dev Days 2017.


“Although we’re not going to treat Dev Days this year as the place or the time to make big product announcements related to the content that we have in development at Valve for virtual reality, I do think that once it becomes time to do that next year, nobody in this room is going to be disappointed”

January, 2017 - In an AMA on Reddit, someone asks Newell whether Valve is still developing single-player games, to which he responds:


Also, on whether there’s the possibility of a new game that takes place in the Half-Life or Portal universes:


And regarding those Abrams movies:

“They’re coming.”

February, 2017 - Newell tells a media roundtable that the company is working on big new VR games.


“When I say we’re building three games, we’re building three full games, not experiments.”

September, 2017 - Valve’s Tom Giardino tweets that, actually, Steam Dev Days won’t be a thing this year.


“Definitely not in 2017 and not very likely for 2018.”

Adding in a subsequent tweet:

“Steam Dev Days is a business/development conference, not a venue we’d use to tell customers about a game.”


March, 2018 - Newell says Valve hasn’t released a new game since Dota 2 (2013) because it’s been working on SteamVR, but that’s about to change.

Artifact is the first of several games that are going to be coming from us. So that’s sort of good news. Hooray! Valve’s going to start shipping games again.”


June, 2024 - Newell appears on stage at the Sony E3 conference. “It’s time,” he says. “Time for Half-Life to come back.”

The crowd goes loses its mind as teaser plays: the first Half-Life is getting ported to PlayStation 5. “Kept you waiting, huh?” he says.

Kotaku staff writer. You can reach him at

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Valve used to be my favorite devs. I came home from high school every day to play Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2, or Portal. I remember when they teased Portal 2 and used indie games as a platform to do it - earning potatoes on your profile through doing weird, oddly specific things (like standing at an exact X, Y coordinate for 30 minutes in The Ball) and a password box would pop up in your browser. Then, when you entered the right key, GladOs would say something to you! If you got all of them, you received a golden potato on your profile. The more potatoes everyone got, the earlier Portal 2 was released. And anyone who participated got The Valve Complete Pack - all while making some indie games a huge talking point for weeks.

I would idolize them, study and admire their design tricks and philosophies. I emailed Gaben about my favorite parts of Half-Life 2 and how it helped me get through difficult times. I thought Steam and Valve were the brilliant future.

And, wow, they’ve just dropped the ball so hard.

The Steam client is a mess, it’s broken in so many ways and still has bugs I’ve seen 7 years ago. Their fun, exciting business ventures make headlines and are then quietly taken out back when nobody really wants them or Valve can’t maintain them. And Valve is honestly to blame for the loot box craze that’s permeating the game industry, and they continue to just piggyback on something so vile and exploitative that we need to discuss actual legislature to curb it.

They used to make me happy. I thought they were different. Now, I realize they’re just as bad as the other AAA devs, they’re just better at hiding it.