With Half-Life 2, Valve introduced episode content with the idea that they could avoid long waits for gamers in between development cycles. It was an epic fail in that regard or perhaps not, knowing Valve takes their time with their games to get them right.
Half-Life 2 hit the PC in 2004, the Xbox in 2005 and the current gen consoles two years later, but Half-Life: Episode One didn't release until 2006, followed by Half: Life 2: Episode 2 a year and a half later in the fall of 2007. As for Half-Life 2: Episode 3, it's been three and a half years and counting...
With Portal 2 debuting to love and success from fans and critics alike, and hints here and there about Half-Life popping up, we expect it won't be too long before we hear about the return of the Half-Life franchise. When it does, it's quite possible it will drop the "episode" and simply continue as Half-Life 3, as we've long suspected to be the case.
Valve co-founder Gabe Newell spoke about their intentions with episode content, explaining that they're done with the "episodes phase," moving on to more frequent and consistent content updates.
"We went through the episodes phase, and now we're going towards shorter and even shorter cycles... With episodes, I think we accelerated the model and shortened development cycles with it. If you look at Team Fortress 2, that's what we now think is the best model for what we've been doing. Our updates and release model keeps on getting shorter and shorter."
"Left 4 Dead 2 is starting to approach the TF2 cycle. Portal 2? We'll have to see how much our customers want us to push in that direction. In general, our approach to our customers is, every day, to ask what we can do for them."
Frequent updates and DLC seem be the plan going forward for Valve. Team Fortress is frequently and consistently updated and that care to the game is reflected in the community, and fans couldn't be more excited about the upcoming free Portal 2 DLC.
When you combine this news with Newell's explanation that Valve is moving away from true single player content and more into including a "social" aspect (co-op?), it's clear that Valve is both listening to their fans and following what makes the best gaming experiences possible.
There's a reason Valve has the fanbase it does and why their Steam service is incredibly successful. If they are able to bring out more quality content and updates in a quicker fashion and better support Half-Life 3 upon release, all the power to them. We look forward to it.
While fans waited for Valve to continue the adventures of Gordon Freeman, we instead got pair of Left 4 Dead titles, two Portals and Team Fortress 2 which have all earned large fan bases of their own. Don't be surprised if Half-Life 3 makes a surprise appearance at E3!
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Source: The Escapist