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Is the sequel to Valve's zombie shooter hinting to a new direction their taking?
Published on June 22, 2009 By bl00gername In PC Gaming

  Recently, there's been a controversy surrounding a popular online game's annouced sequel, which has been brewing around in gaming sites and forum communities alike.  This controversy is regarding the recent annoucement by Valve Software, the makers of games like Half life and game mods such as CounterStrike and Team Fortress 2, of a planned sequel to last year's popular title Left 4 Dead.  Regardless of your opinion in this argument, this controversy is interesting not only because of its relation to this particular game, but to it's possible indication of the direction game companies like Valve might be taking in the future.

Announced at E3, Left4Dead 2 will featured five new campaign, brand new characters and weapons, and many other yet unannouced features when it's released late 2009.  The annoucement came as a surprise, not only because of a lack of rumours about it, but because of Valve's past records on sequels.  Having required 6 years before releasing the sequel to Half Life, and almost a decade to ship the much anticipated sequel to Team Fortress, Valve is known for their long development cycles, and longer periods of time in between games and their sequels.  That's why when they suddenly announced a sequel for one of their games, which will come almost a year after the original game shipped, everyone was caught off guard.  The surprise quickly gave way to controversy, nonetheless, as many questioned Valve's motives for such an early sequel.  Rumors, speculations and all sort of arguments began to invade online gaming boards, including Steam's very own, where every side of the controversy poured in.  Both arguing Valve's need to continually produce and ship titles to continue to stay in business and those citing greed and Valve's departure to fully supporting their exisiting products before shipping new ones. 

 The controversy didn't stop at forums threads, sparked its very own community group called Left4Dead2 Boycott on Steam's boards.  Composed of mostly owners of the original game, this group crafted a manifesto, where they explain their reasons for not buying the new game when it's released, and calling for others to do the same.  In their manifesto, they mention that the new game will divide the community into two, those who buy the new game and those who are still playing the old one.  They are also worried about Valve's so far unfullfilled promises they made about the original game, such as releasing more content for the campaigns, as well as the final version of the SDK.  With the new game in the works, they say, Valve's resources and efforts will be focused on the sequel, leaving the original game as a lesser priority. According to them, if the old game is made compatible with the new content, then there wouldnt be any incentive to buyt the new game, so the new game and its features won't be backwards compatible.  And since the old game won't work in the new game's servers, will it be treated with the same amount of updates and patching as the new one will? 

The controversy reached Valve, and they themselves have responded, somewhat, in the comments by Left4Dead's main writer Chet Faliszek, in an interview he made recently.  He argues that all the new ideas for features and new content for Left4Dead they wanted to put together were too big for simple for a simple update of patch, and required a full brand new standalone sequel to be implemented.  This nonehtless, gives way to many speculations of whether this new features will make it to the sequel's ship date.  Many of those who bought the original game now believe paid for a half-finished product, under the promises by Valve that many updates and additional content would be added to it. As these updates havent yet arrived and with the sequel in full speed ahead, many are thinking they paid to beta test a protoype of a game, whose real final version will come late '09. 

There's many uncertainty regarding why the need for a full sequel as well.  Valve hasn't detailed all the reasons for this.  Many are believing they are less related to technical constrains of the original game's capabilities and more about finances.  This bears a liking with the explanations Microsoft gave for their decision to make the next release of DirectX, DX10, not compatible with Windows XP.  Why the need to make a new game? Some players ask themselves, why can't Valve adopt an update model similar to the one from another of their popular games, Team Fortress 2.  Being a similarly online team-based game like Left 4 Dead, TF2 now has a system of frequent updates, both for the game's executable itself as well as for its content.  The updates are the form of new items, weapons and upgrades for the many different player characters in the game, in a MMO-like upgrade system.  Why can't Valve implement a similar system for Left4Dead?  Such a system would be ideal as a way to deliver the much touted upgrades. 

As the release date approaches, and as Valve remains unclear about the reasons for the need to shell out the old plastic again for Left4Dead, the controversy will be guaranteed to continue.  And most likely it won't contibute to  Valve's own digital download system Steam's already diminished popularity among a big part of their customer base, specially the one based in European countries.  And the questioning will continue.  Will all the so-called brand new features, which required a complete new sequel, make it to the final release?  If that's not the case, will they be implemented in future updates, like it was in the case of the old game?  This controversy also extends beyond this particular game, and into Valve's very own future business model.  Will this sequel signal a change in Valve's direction, hinting to a more frequent churning out of sequels to their products, before fullfilling all the updates and bug fixes to their existing products before the new ones are on virtual shelves everywhere? Only time will tell.


Comments (Page 1)
on Jun 22, 2009

First day purchase for me, can't wait.

on Jun 22, 2009

Haree78


First day purchase for me, can't wait.

 

agreed, I got L4D for half price on steam... people are just pissed because they feel like they are entitled to free shit.

on Jun 22, 2009

Wavering. Still disappointed though.

on Jun 22, 2009

The major concern I have with L4D2 is that the sequel will ship with all 4 of the original campaigns - making the original product redundent in every way. I recently purchased L4D, and so my position is a little different from those who purchased the game at release. My understanding, as seems to be the majority of the community, was that L4D was going to be expanded upon with free updates and possibly DLC, which seemed like a perfect fit for me. I've purchased several games off of Steam, mostly indy or older titles, and throwing some money on DLC is something I'd happily do. Now, it seems, their ideas to expand in free updates and DLC has resulted in them creating an entirely new game, and resulted in them charging more for it. I can understand needing to sell products to stay in business, however Valve isn't exactly a small, independant developer with a single key franchise - they're the developers of the most popullar multiplayer titles in the world. I'll be seriously reconsidering my purcahse of games from Steam thanks to this move - I don't like the idea of supporting this kind of business model. Left 4 Dead is a multiplayer title - not Madden. We don't need a new release with minor upgrades every year.

on Jun 22, 2009

Most the people I know say they feel uneffected by the announcement. 

They all informed me they got their full monies worth of enjoyment out of the first one, regardless of promises or whatnot, and plan on ignoring these groups so as not to spoil the experience for themselves.

on Jun 22, 2009

For me, I would like Valve to finish Half Life 2, possibly release a new engine, can't imagine that they are planning on hanging on to the Source engine forever...

But, I will probably buy L4D2, I hope they add a new game mode though.

on Jun 22, 2009

ahh double post!

on Jun 22, 2009

I'll pick it up in the bargain bin for $10, which is what I clearly should have done with L4D ("we'll support it for years" my eye). Lesson learned.

on Jun 22, 2009

people are just pissed because they feel like they are entitled to free shit.

 

Stupid consumers, always companies to follow through on the content they promised to provide. Why can't they be smart like you and bend over and take it like they should?

on Jun 22, 2009

Stupid consumers, always companies to follow through on the content they promised to provide. Why can't they be smart like you and bend over and take it like they should?

Your brain doesn't seem to be functioning properly, they have already said they are still working on L4D.  Bend over and take it?  It's one of the best purchases I ever made, I took nothing but a superb product from them and have enjoyed it for countless hours since.  But boo hoo I should be crying I don't get more free stuff!

Most the people I know say they feel uneffected by the announcement. 

They all informed me they got their full monies worth of enjoyment out of the first one, regardless of promises or whatnot, and plan on ignoring these groups so as not to spoil the experience for themselves.

This.

on Jun 22, 2009

I'm still unclear as to why people are so upset. Valve has stated that they don't intend to interrupt the support cycle for the original product while the sequel is in production. People knew what they were buying when they bought it.

Vinraith said:

Vinraith

people are just pissed because they feel like they are entitled to free shit.
 

Stupid consumers, always companies to follow through on the content they promised to provide. Why can't they be smart like you and bend over and take it like they should?

Can you explain what content Valve promised that isn't being delivered? I understood that the original game basically contained everything that consumers were told it would contain.

Unless there is some aspect of this controversy I simply don't understand, it seems as though people are just worried that the original will be ignored in lieu of the sequel, but Valve also has a pretty long history of having extended support life for all of its products.

The major concern I have with L4D2 is that the sequel will ship with all 4 of the original campaigns - making the original product redundent in every way.

The article I just read on IGN said that Valve is considering  including the original campaigns in the new game, not that it's set in stone. It also indicated, as I stated above, that Valve is committed to supporting the original with free updates and enhancements.

This entire controversy strikes me as really odd, like someone buying Mass Effect and then complaining when (s)he finds out that Bioware is making two sequels.

I'm tired of zombies always trying to eat my brains anyway.

on Jun 22, 2009

Yes, but the problem is that the game shipped in a half finished state, and Valve promised more updates, as well as content for it, without mentioning the final SDK. Now, will they actually keep their promises? It's a big question with the new game on the way.  The final SDK is ready, but does that mean that Valve will now rely on the community to come up with the extra content they promised they would make themselves now?

on Jun 22, 2009

I bought L4D just before they annoucned L4D 2, that's why I am annoyed, I wouldn't have wasted money on L4D if 6 months later a much better verison was coming.

on Jun 22, 2009

zndkwin
Yes, but the problem is that the game shipped in a half finished state, and Valve promised more updates, as well as content for it, without mentioning the final SDK. Now, will they actually keep their promises? It's a big question with the new game on the way.  The final SDK is ready, but does that mean that Valve will now rely on the community to come up with the extra content they promised they would make themselves now?

What do you mean, "half-finished"? The reviews I read indicated that it worked fine and it won much critical praise from reviewers.

Moreover, why would the release of an SDK necessarily impact Valve's own updates? Aren't SDKs available for several other Source engine games? Valve continues to regularly update Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2. What am I missing?

This is the most negative review of the original on Metacritic: http://nzgamer.com/pc/reviews/815/left-4-dead.html and it's not that harsh. Because the game isn't very long, does that somehow inherently signify that it is unfinished?

 

on Jun 22, 2009

I prefer and play more Killing Floor than L4D tbh...so I probably wont be getting L4D2.

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