The Valve Corporation is one of the most acclaimed game studios of all time. From their debut title, Half-Life, each of their games has pushed the boundaries of gaming in storytelling, visuals, and mechanics. However, even a company as prestigious as Valve is prone to a few blunders. Gabe Newell himself said, “We can be right, and we can be wrong – we make mistakes.”
Still, there’s no sense in crying over every mistake. Certain risks have to be made when a company’s on the bleeding edge. After all, they’ve experiments to run and research to be done.
10 The Xen Section Drags The Original Half-Life Down
Just when most of the lingering plot threads are wrapping up, and players are ready for the credits to roll, the original Half-Life tasks them with exploring the hostile alien world of Xen. The result is one of the most grueling and frustrating sections gamers can complete in a first-person shooter.
The limited ammunition, un-intuitive boss fights, and trial-and-error platforming all culminate in a difficult section for all the wrong reasons. Even Gabe Newell voiced his regrets over the area in a Reddit AMA. It’s no wonder why Black Mesa excised this part entirely.
9 The Dreamcast Port Of Half Life Never Came To Fruition
Valve certainly turned the heads of several PC gamers when Half-Life hit store shelves. With a benchmark title such as this, it’s hard to think it could ever transition to a console a year after release. However, Captivation Digital Laboratories aimed to do just that with assistance from publisher Sierra and original developer Valve.
The port would have boasted upgraded visuals and online play through SegaNet. However, after a multitude of delays, the port was eventually canned. After the cancelation, Gearbox’s intended exclusive expansion, known as Blue Shift, found its way onto other platforms.
8 One Unused Half-Life Enemy Was Really Tasteless
In the original Half-Life, Gordon Freeman confronted many strange and disturbing creatures from the world of Xen. However, many of these proposed hostiles got cut from the final product. A couple of them were based on drawings from software developer Ken Birdwell’s 12-year-old brother Ted.
One of the proposed creatures, Mr. Friendly, was created to provoke homophobic reactions from their intended target audience of 14-year-old boys. This and the enemy’s main method of attack was entirely tasteless. For these reasons, it’s a blessing in disguise that this monster remained in Xen.
7 Steam’s Store Page Has Had Little To No Quality Control
Despite Steam’s popularity, Stephanie Sterling criticized Valve for not bringing quality control to the distribution service. Several of Sterling’s videos sought to shed light on numerous low-quality titles which featured an excessive use of asset flips and even bigoted content.
Greenlight was intended to solve this problem, requiring developers to pay a $100 entry fee and allowing users to choose which titles could be sold in the store. However, this was criticized for giving developers too much of a barrier for entry, and the low number of approved titles.
6 The PlayStation 3 Port Of The Orange Box Is The Worst Version
While Valve handled the ports of The Orange Box for Windows and the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 version was delegated to EA’s UK division. Despite Gabe Newell’s optimism that the final product would please PS3 owners, the final product remains the absolute worst way to play these classic titles.
Fluctuating frame rates, long loading times, connection issues, and more plague these masterpieces. While the quality of the included games remains intact, players would do themselves a massive disservice by experiencing them through this version. It’s no wonder why Valve would handle the PS3 ports of their following titles internally.
5 Steam’s Customer Service Is Abysmal
Steam remains one of the most prolific digital distribution services in gaming. From its introduction through Half-Life 2 in 2004, Steam has reliably made it easy for players to get their hands on new and classic titles for years. It’s also been a boon to independent developers trying to get their foot in the industry.
However, if there’s one area where the service falls woefully short, it’s customer service. Complaints of lack of communication, frustrating glitches, and tickets that never get responded to have been made by users for almost two decades.
4 Gabe Newell Regards Artifact As A Disappointment
Artifact was a collectible card title that was tied to the lore of Dota 2. Fan reception to its announcement was considerably cold, with its trailer receiving an inordinate amount of dislikes. When the game launched, it was heavily criticized for its free-to-play model. Two months later, things hadn’t improved as the player base dropped from 60,000 to 1,500.
This eventually dropped to only 101 players in 2019. In light of these dwindling numbers, Mike Stubbs of Eurogamer deemed the game “a mess.” Even Gabe Newell voiced his regrets over the game, calling it a “giant disappointment.“
3 Steam Machine Was Dead On Arrival
The Steam Machine was the company’s big foray into the hardware industry. Conceived out of the company’s frustration with the operating systems from Microsoft and Apple, it was a prebuilt PC that ran SteamOS. Ideally, it would have provided PC and console players the best of both worlds.
Unfortunately, the Steam Machine was a massive financial flop upon its release, selling fewer than a million units within its first seven months on the market. Valve designer Greg Coomer claims that the failure of the Steam Machines inspired them to form the boxes they wanted to tick before launching the Steam Deck.
2 Half-Life 3 Is The Most Infamous Example Of Vaporware
Despite the massive success of Half-Life 2 and its episodic content, the third entry has remained MIA for years. Andrew Reiner of GameInformer reached out to several members of Valve to get some info as to what happened to Half-Life 3. Unfortunately, almost all of them were steadfast in their refusal to comment, with one responding, “You’re hunting for unicorns, Reiner.”
The most fans would get was a VR prequel title that retconned the events of Episode 2. To this day, Gordon Freeman’s third numerical chapter has remained one of the most infamous examples of vaporware in video game history.
1 Hunt Down The Freeman Shows How Little Valve Cares About Its Legacy
There is no greater demonstration of Valve’s laissez-faire attitude towards Steam releases than the abysmal fan game Hunt Down The Freeman. Developed by Berkan Denizyaran, the game is centered around Mitchel Shepherd – one of the soldiers tasked with taking down Gordon Freeman in the original Half-Life. After getting crow bared by the aforementioned scientist, Mitchel goes on a quest for vengeance.
The game is a poorly designed and buggy mess with atrociously written and acted source filmmaker cutscenes. From top to bottom, it’s an absolute embarrassment to one of Valve’s most hallowed franchises, yet it’s readily available for purchase on its distribution service.
NEXT: 5 Ways The Orange Box Games Still Hold Up (& 5 Ways They Don’t)
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