On October 10 2007, Valve didn’t just release a video game, they released three. All came in the one package, and it was called The Orange Box.
Included was a copy of Half-Life 2: Episode Two, a copy of Team Fortress 2 and a copy of Portal. Oh, and copies of Half-Life 2 and HL2: Episode One, in case you didn’t already have them. All in the one package, all making their debuts as part of that package, all of which sold for a standard price. So, you know, there was some value to be had.
It seems insane looking back on this from 2017. That Valve would be releasing standalone video games at all, let alone three of them at once. But it really happened, and it happened in October 2007, a high-water mark for the Valve people knew for making video games, instead of the Valve they know now for just selling and maintaining them. The most bizarre thing is that The Orange Box was literally a box, that you could buy in a store and hold in your hand!
What’s become of the Orange Box since then? For starters, let it never be forgotten that in addition to coming out on PC, it was also released on Xbox 360 and PS3, whose copies of Team Fortress 2 soon became sick jokes, left behind as the PC edition received improvement after improvement.
That PC edition, though, is still very much around. A decade after release, the game has had 624 updates, and at time of writing sits fifth on Steam’s most-played list. That’s an incredible achievement, even if the gloss is tarnished slightly by the fact TF2 has the massive advantage over its competitors of being on home turf when it comes to Steam.
Portal did OK I guess for a while there; its 2011 sequel won our Game of the Year, and while we haven’t seen a proper release since, we have revisited the Portal universe as part of a tech demo for VR hardware.
As for Half-Life, well...we never did get that Episode 3. At least one we could play, anyway.
If for whatever you’ve never played some/any of these games and want to try them out, you can still buy The Orange Box on Steam, though these days it’s obviously just a digital bundle instead of a physical product.
Though if you ever happen to find a console version lying around, the Xbox 360 version will now run on an Xbox One.