Valve Explains Its Erratic Release Schedule

Logan Westbrook

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Feb 21, 2008
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Valve Explains Its Erratic Release Schedule

Each game has different needs, says Valve's head of marketing, which is why the studio's release schedule is all over the place.

The idea of "Valve Time" - a playful dig at the delays that seemingly plague Valve releases - is so persistent that it has its own page on the community development wiki [http://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Valve_Time]. But Valve doesn't want people to think that these delays are because the studio doesn't have a plan; rather, they're because it doesn't tend to use the same plan twice.

Speaking to Xbox World 360 [http://www.computerandvideogames.com/sites/xboxworld/] magazine, Valve's VP of marketing, Doug Lombardi, acknowledged that the company's release schedule looked chaotic from the outside, with some sequels taking six years to make, and others barely a year, not to mention episodic content that is currently three years overdue and seemingly in no danger of appearing any time soon. Lombardi insisted that Valve wasn't "schizophrenic," however, and instead claimed that the studio tailored its approach to the specific needs of each game.

To be fair to Valve, in the six year gap between the original Half-Life and its sequel, Valve put out Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat and Team Fortress Classic, after absorbing the mod teams that conceived them. Similarly, during the extended wait for Half-Life 2: Episode 3, Valve has put out two Left 4 Dead games, and will release a sequel to Portal. Of course, none of this changes the fact that it's impossible to predict with any accuracy when a Valve game will come out.

As long as there aren't any more delays, Portal 2 [http://www.amazon.com/Portal-2-Xbox-360/dp/B002I0J9M0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1294158298&sr=8-1 ] comes out for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 on April 20th. As for Half-Life 2: Episode 3, it looks like it will be done when it's done, and there's not a lot of point in speculating about when that might be.

Source: via CVG [http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=281426?cid=OTC-RSS&attr=CVG-News-RSS]



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Wakefield

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Darn, I was hoping for a better understanding of when Episode 3 was coming out.

I know you make a lot of games Valve. A lot of excellent games, but damn I'm sad now.
 

Monshroud

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Jul 29, 2009
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To be honest, and as much as I hate to say it, I prefer Valve's way of doing things. Over the past few years we have seen more and more games that aren't quite polished or for that matter completed. Not saying that Valve games don't have any bugs, but they tend to be of a much higher quality then some other studios.

I read recently HL2:EP3 should be out around July. . . of 2015...
 

mjc0961

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Nov 30, 2009
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Logan Westbrook said:
As for Half-Life 2: Episode 3, it looks like it will be done when it's done, and there's not a lot of point in speculating about when that might be.
I'd say at the same time Duke Nukem Forever, but then I remembered that someone is actually making that game now. :(
 

Woodsey

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It'll be done when it's done has always worked for Valve, so that's how it will stay.

Other studios seem to need a limit so you don't get games that feel like they've had stuff cut or missing (Alan Wake, Mafia 2).

Oh, and in response to everyone who will undoubtedly compare Episode 3 to DNF, one's not even been officially announced whilst the other was announced, re-announced, delayed, re-announced, delayed, delayed, died, revived, and now soon-to-be-released (again) over 12 years.

It's been 3 years since Episode 2. Learn to count.
 

KEM10

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As was said earlier, I'd rather they take their time than just push out a game and super patch it after the public has it.
 

antidonkey

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Valve is one of the few developers that can tell publishers to piss off and take their sweet time making a game as perfect as it can be before launch. Yes it's annoying but I'd rather have a very polished game with delays than a half-assed rushed effort that needs tons of patching.
 

theComposer

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I was hoping for a better explanation than that. I don't doubt that they're working hard to make the best games possible, but "we never use the same plan twice" just doesn't make me feel better about waiting another 2 months for Portal 2.
 

Something Amyss

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mjc0961 said:
Logan Westbrook said:
As for Half-Life 2: Episode 3, it looks like it will be done when it's done, and there's not a lot of point in speculating about when that might be.
I'd say at the same time Duke Nukem Forever, but then I remembered that someone is actually making that game now. :(
For now, anyway. It's not like this'd be the first time DNF was being released "for real, this time."
 

Woodsey

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antidonkey said:
Valve is one of the few developers that can tell publishers to piss off and take their sweet time making a game as perfect as it can be before launch. Yes it's annoying but I'd rather have a very polished game with delays than a half-assed rushed effort that needs tons of patching.
Valve are an independent studio.
 

Evilsanta

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No no no. That is all wrong. It's because Valve awesomeness distorts the very fabric of time and space.

OT: I guees that makes sense but still...I wish they could be a little faster.
 

RobCoxxy

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I'd rather have my games companies working on a franchise's next game until it's done than spewing out a sequel like clockwork.
 

solidstatemind

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The only problem I ever had with their release schedule was that, if they were going to promise Episodic content, they needed to be sure that they lived up to that promise, because you are abusing the consumer by releasing a story piecemeal and then leaving them hanging for the final piece for years.

I mean, really: honestly, who remembers the events of HL2:E2 except for the climactic finale? I don't. Of course, we see this sometimes in other areas of entertainment as well: Book series that never get finished, bands that take forever to get back into the studio (I'M LOOKING AT YOU, TOOL!), TV shows that get lopped off in the middle of a season. (firefly), so I guess it shouldn't be unexpected in the games industry as well.

I guess the resentment I feel is based on the fact that if Valve really wanted to move it along, they have the resources to hire the personnel to get it done; after all, it's not like they're locked in a dispute with a publisher or something that actively prevents them from doing it.
 

Logan Westbrook

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Feb 21, 2008
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Wakefield said:
Darn, I was hoping for a better understanding of when Episode 3 was coming out.

I know you make a lot of games Valve. A lot of excellent games, but damn I'm sad now.
Need Valve time explained? Just ask the Doctor.
<youtube=vY_Ry8J_jdw>
So it's already come out, we just haven't gotten to it yet!
 

Woe Is You

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Woodsey said:
Valve are an independent studio.
Being an independent studio doesn't mean you can't have a publisher, though. It just means no publisher owns your studio.
 

Woodsey

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Woe Is You said:
Woodsey said:
Valve are an independent studio.
Being an independent studio doesn't mean you can't have a publisher, though.
True, but the only people they have publish for them are EA partners, who basically just take a cut for the distribution and have no more involvement than that.

And they only signed them on to distribute retail copies of Portal 2 very recently as well, so they never have anyone breathing down their necks to begin with.
 

Doclector

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KEM10 said:
As was said earlier, I'd rather they take their time than just push out a game and super patch it after the public has it.
Me too, but this explanation still doesn't truly explain why valve can take so long at something, and where the hell episode 3 is. Sometimes, I just wonder why valve give estimated release dates at all, seeming as they are so often delayed. Why not just give out a release date when you know when it will be out for sure?
 

MGlBlaze

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This really just confirms what I already figured, but it's nice to see an article about it anyway. I think most people make fun of Valve's release scedule, but I wasn't sure how many people were being serious about it.
 

Jumplion

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I wouldn't mind the delay's and erratic schedule of VALVe's games if they didn't constantly do that to release dates they already announced.

They announce a time-frame for a release date for Portal 2. Then they set the release date. Then they delay the game to another time-frame of a release date. Then they set the release date again. Then they delay it again. Over and over again for their games, DLC, updates, what have you. It's pathetic to but it bluntly.

I'm all for taking your time to make the game as good as it can be, but it get's annoying when they tease us over and over and over again only to delay the game again. Hey VALVe? Have you ever heard of "it's done when it's done"?