Things haven’t been the same since. The doctors say my addiction to Team Fortress 2 (and by extension, my addiction to hats) may never be cured.
5 years ago, on the 10th of October 2007, Valve released The Orange Box, a $50 game compilation containing 5 of Valve’s biggest releases: Half-Life 2; Half-Life 2: Episode One; Half-Life 2: Episode Two; Portal 1; and Team Fortress 2 (the PC version actually contained the now free-to-play Peggle Extreme, as well). It made a pretty big splash due to several reasons:
For the price of a single game, it contained 5 games, that could have been reasonably priced at nearly full-price each.
It was the best way to get a hold of Valve’s three newest games: Episode Two; Portal; and the long-awaited Team Fortress 2. Given the deeply-set connection between all of Valve’s game communities and fanbases, most people bought the whole Orange Box.
It was the first simultaneous multi-platform game release for Valve, as well as the first game they ever developed and released on a PlayStation game system.
And 5 years on, it’s certainly gone rather well. Team Fortress 2 has since become a free-to-play title (and I’d reckon it single-handedly made free-to-play and microtransaction gaming viable and fair, within the Western gaming ecosystem), and is now doing better than ever. Portal was a smash hit, which spawned more inane, memetic in-jokes than you could shake a stick at (but of course, those jokes are so out there it’s hard to call them in-jokes at all). Both and its sequel are regarded as some of the greatest games ever made, so that’s quite nice as well.
As for Half-Life… well, it goes without saying that this past half-decade has simply passed by without bringing us a single solid word on how and when the next installment of the Half-Life series will arrive on our collective doorstep. If I were a betting man, I’d be betting on another year of absolute radio silence, at most. While it can be incredibly hard to tell at times, I’m sure it’s just as difficult for Valve themselves.
But let’s put whatever Valve is or isn’t doing with what is arguably their greatest franchise aside for a moment. It’s been a pretty nice 5 years of non-stop class-based action gaming goodness, as well as a cool 5 years of revolutionary mind-bending puzzle-solving. And while the jury is still out on whether or not the Half-Life Episodes were a good thing, I think we can safely say releasing The Orange Box remains one of the greatest things Valve has ever done. I like to think of its release as the end of Valve’s “second era”, which began with the release of Half-Life 2 in November of 2004 – we’re still in this third era, by the way, and lord only knows when it’ll end.
In any case, let us now celebrate… by watching the hilariously abstract “commercial” Valve planned on releasing as part of the Orange Box’s marketing lead-up.
Thanks to Lilgreenman, for helping me conclusively determine that the Orange Box was not released on the 9th of October.