Valve co-founder Gabe Newell says there are very good reasons why there's been no news about Half-Life 2: Episode 3 recently, but he can't actually tell anyone what they are.
Lost amid all the kerfuffle surrounding the announcement of Left 4 Dead 2 is the fact that more than a year and a half has passed since the release of Half-Life 2: Episode 2 and yet Episode 3 doesn't even have a release date. Most companies put out games episodically in order to shorten the delay between releases and keep the fans interested, but that doesn't seem to be Valve's plan: In the time between the November 2004 release of Half-Life 2 and today, the studio has managed to release precisely two follow-up episodes.
There are good reasons for that, according to Valve Managing Director Gabe Newell. Unfortunately, if he told you what they are, he'd have to kill you. "I get a ton of email everyday saying 'Why aren't you talking about Episode 3?'" he said in an interview with G4. "And there are very good reasons why we're not talking about Episode 3, which I can't talk about yet."
He recognizes that not everyone is happy with the long delays between releases, however, even though he said Valve is happy with its development processes and schedule. "I think there's frustration there and I'm not somehow going to say that that's not legitimate or length isn't a concern, or regularity," he continued. "The speed with which these updates are coming out, people say, 'Hey, gee, these episodes are supposed to be shorter and you take 25 years to ship each one.' So, I don't wanna somehow dismiss those [concerns]."
Still, there appears to be a significant gulf between not wanting to dismiss gamers concerns and actually addressing them. When asked point-blank if he thought more information about Episode 3 would be available by the end of the year, Newell had this to say:
"Just so you know, the thing to me, that feels right, is the rhythm that Robin [Walker, Software Developer/Designer] and his team are operating with. It's like watching the reaction of that community, watching their ability to respond, looking at the quality of the work they're getting with the length of those development cycles. They're having a great time. And I think it shows on the other side, right? I mean, they were just giggling so hard when they were changing the buttons in the movies to say 'leak video.' Do you remember the big screen with all the buttons? And they were like, we have to put 'leaks video' into that thing before we release it. They were just like cackling away. What should have been like, pretty demoralizing and stressful was for them, 'Oh, this is no big deal.' So, yeah, people get the idea."
Thanks for clearing that up, Gabe.