I hope you would agree that I am a HUGE Valve fan. I have devoted the majority of my free time over the last 15 years to promoting maps and mods made for their games.
I love the games themselves and think Valve do incredible work.
I also feel that how they have treated their fans since the release of Half-Life 2: Episode Two is wrong. Of course, I’m not the first to say it and no doubt won’t be the last, but that doesn’t make it less true.
Now, this opinion piece is not complaining that Valve are taking years to finish a game – I can live with that, it’s about Customer Service.
It’s been often quoted that Gabe Newell said something like “nobody remembers late but they never forget bad”. I can’t find the real quote but if that is what he thinks, he is wrong. Not about the “bad” but about people not remembering late.
We all remember the fiasco with the 2003 Half-Life 2 leak and the delay that caused. I’m not blaming or complaining, just reminding.
I fully respect Valve’s right to take as long as they want to make their games, what I am complaining about is the fact they won’t even say if they are or are not making a game.
All we have are years of silence!
Speculation: Will there ever be another Half-Life game? Image by Ivan Bakula
Ignoring your users is terrible customer service. I don’t care about the marketing and promotional arguments involved regarding acknowledging the game, I just want a fair and honest answer.
For an organization that prides itself on being in touch with its users, this is the worst thing they can do.
This all got me thinking about consumer choice.
Back in the 1980’s, British Caledonian (a UK regional airline) had a tagline that said “We never forget you have a choice”. I think that is a fantastic tagline. Recognizing that users/players/customers etc. have choices and can choose other services or products is very important.
It’s part of why competition can be good for the consumer.
But we don’t have that with creative products. I can buy a toaster in any number of retail outlets and from any number of manufacturers. Same for hundreds of other products and services.
I can’t with games, movies etc. If I want to watch a new Star Trek movie I have to wait for Paramount to make one.
Sure I can watch other movies made by other studios, but that’s missing the point.
There’s nobody at fault here, it’s just the way things are.
I accept that there is a lot of fan created content, especially for games but also for books and movies, but that is not the same.
By not being able to get something from anywhere else that puts more pressure on the company or person developing it.
I’m not saying that Valve HAVE to make a new game, I’m saying that they have a duty to understand the emotional connection people have to these creations and treat us fairly.
I am sure people will “forgive” them once the game is released, but why should we have to. We shouldn’t have to forgive anything.
How hard is it to say “Yes, we are working on Half-Life 3 and no, we won’t be talking about it until we are ready.” or “No, we have no plans to continue the series, sorry.”
Waiting for a sequel: Half-Life 2: Episode Two Ending
Of course, there will always be fans complaining about some aspect of their favourite IP and no doubt I will get some hate mail calling me a “fanboi”, but this is about common decency.
My strong feelings might have something to do with the fact that I hate it when somebody ignores me.
In general, I feel any form of protest is both futile and immature, but how else can fans express their dissatisfaction? Let’s do what they do to us: ignore them.
This piece is not about starting a protest, it’s about venting my anger at being treated badly.
Customer Service used to be called Customer Care, but that second word seems inappropriate in this case.
If you cared, would you say nothing?