A Definitive Look at Valve

Introduction

I suppose I should warn you beforehand that this writeup will be atrociously long. Now, for an explanation. I’ve perhaps gained a reputation around here for my dislike of Valve, a video game developer famous for a number of games that are among some of the leading figures on sales for the PC market. In fact, I’m even willing to concede that Valve’s Steam perhaps encompasses half of the PC market. Which probably makes you wonder: Why do I hate good games? And to answer that loaded question, I suppose I first have to take a deep inspection on Valve as a whole, because no true retort that is sure to melt the faces of Valve fans should be without a load of research. So let’s start from the beginning as to why Valve is such a “great” company, shall we?


In the beginning…
Valve was born in 1996 as a limited liability company from two former Microsoft employees, Gabe Newell and Michael Harrington, inspired by Michael Abrash, another former Microsoft employee who also left to pursue a career at id Software to work on Quake. Being veteran Microsoft employees, Newell and Harrington had no trouble acquiring the licensing rights for the Quake engine, which they quickly work to modify into the beginning of the GoldSrc engine, the precursor to the famous Source engine. In 1997 they release a couple of low-notoriety titles, after which they then come to the conclusion to focus on the beginning ideas behind the famous title Half-Life. In early 1998, they acquired TF Software PTY Ltd., the makers of the Team Fortress mod behind the Quake engine, in the hopes to develop Team Fortress 2. Later that year that announcement is dwarfed by the launch of Half-Life, the golden flagship title of the company.

Half-Life, which was originally thought to not be a title that would stack up with “the rest,” even some going as far as to call it a Doom clone, took away numerous Game of the Year awards from numerous publications. Funnily enough the media buzz of dubiously dubbing FPS games Doom clones diminished because of Half-Life. Complex in its own right, Half-Life’s true shining success came from the wonderfully-designed environments and enemy flavors. Doom had the chainsaw, Quake had the axe, but Half-Life has the crowbar.

Of course what was probably the most defining quality to Valve’s Half-Life was the introduction to coherent voice acting and the start of an esoteric plot, before of which was rarely found in an FPS, and if it was, it was hardly called a story at all (most of which appeared in the manuals to most FPS games). Of course, there were a few holes in the plot, like how exactly an MIT graduate in theoretical physics magically became proficient enough with firearms to tackle on Marine Special Forces, but such things were overlooked when the entire scope was presented. However, Half-Life suffered under a terrible case of how to finish under the final act, and with the game avoiding traditional boss fights for just about the entire game, we are treated to an alien nutsack boss and an esoteric ending with the G-Man. Despite that, Half-Life went gold and earned Valve a seat on top of the gaming ladder.

However, despite the great success Valve met with Half-Life, it was now facing one of the greatest challenges any company is met with once they release a stellar product; how do you follow up on such a great act without completely bombing? And so they decided to continue on with the idea of producing Team Fortress 2 by releasing some nice screenies in 1999 of the development so far, showing off a more modern look than the original cartoony approach that Team Fortress is. However, people were still skeptical of the newcomer being able to pull off anything other than another Half-Life game, so Valve instead decided to show off the goods by remaking the classic Team Fortress, dubbing it as Team Fortress Classic.


A classic remake of a classic

Before Counter-Strike 1.6, the most played online game was not Quake, it was not Doom, and, heck, it wasn’t even Starcraft–it was Team Fortress Classic. While perhaps not all that well-remembered considering its age, Team Fortress Classic was THE multiplayer game to play a decade ago. While MMOs were just starting to take their baby steps in 1999, Team Fortress Classic was quickly bomb-rushing its way past other online games. And what exactly was so damn great about Team Fortress Classic? I mean, Capture the Flag wasn’t a new gametype born into FPS games because of it (Quake was the first to do so, by the way). No, the real appeal to TFC was that it was one of the first FPS games with a multiplayer team component that actually required put-in teamwork effort in order to win a round within a game.

With the introduction to different class archetypes to pick, one could effectively counter the enemy in each and every single way–and vice versa, of course. The defining element within each game, however, was how tactics played out that turned the tide of battle and allowed someone to steal the bacon. In fact, TFC was so teamwork-focused that a lot do not remember the heydays of the VIP maps, where one side had a Civilian and body guards and needed to guide him through the level safely before the opposing team of assassins could take him out. The game required such precise teamwork that it was largely a pick-up game unfavored because of its nature to not allow fast-based action gameplay in order to win the game. However, when games could support up to 32 players, it mattered little about the score of things–it was more about dicking around with a large group of players in a round of bloody madness.

And so Valve, once again, proved that they were no one-hit wonder at all, but rather they were quite keen on producing quality games, even if Team Fortress Classic was a remake and a title put out to show that Valve had what it takes to make the sequel itself. But even before the detractors could come up with an argument against the quality aspect of Valve, another multiplayer title game was on its way in the works of the modding community, and we would all soon learn of the coming of the most played FPS multiplayer game of all time.


Not a typical day at the office
Two months following the release of TFC, two modders released a beta version of the very simple Half-Life mod known as Counter-Strike. Addictive in its gameplay nature of a team-based game, it too was the free-to-play craze in 1999. And while Gearbox Software was gracing us with Half-Life sequel Opposing Force, people were still more focused on TFC and this Half-Life mod that was building quite a momentous force within the community. In 2000 Valve took notice of this community mod and hired the game modders to work for Valve and, subsequently, add Counter-Strike as a Valve title. At this point it becomes apparent that Valve’s main source of success is coming from hiring talent who has already done the hardest part of the job–conceptualizing an idea and making it work.

Counter-Strike 1.0 is released in late 2000 and quickly it becomes the most popular FPS title world-wide. The game features two opposing teams, the terrorists and the counter-terrorists, with two gametypes offered being an objective where terrorists plant a bomb and the counter-terrorists must defuse said bomb, or the other being terrorists holding hostages and having to eliminate all counter-terrorists to win the round, while counter-terrorists must either eliminate all terrorists or rescue the hostages. The game also came with its own type of balance–instead of picking a class you picked your equipment at the start of every round with a limit of cash flow based on the performances you make in each round within the game. The more cash you have the better equipment you can buy.

And so Counter-Strike became an addictive and successful hit. But, like with most huge successes, the community surrounding it can be quite vicious and down-right demeaning. And, unfortunately, Counter-Strike is notoriously known for its terrible community of assholes. This, ladies and gentlemen, is where the common practice of cheating became rampant and common, where speedhacks, wallhacks, and aimbots were born and attributed to Counter-Strike. And keep in mind this was in the days before Steam, so there was no VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat).

Despite its terrible community, Counter-Strike continued to be a success–so much that it too can be attributed to the father of competitive gaming, where tournaments (tourneys) between players were hosted and held for prize contest money (and, of course, bragging rights). And even with the launch of Steam in 2003, which saw the game transition into Counter-Strike Source with graphical and gameplay updates and was hailed by the community as a terrible move, the game still remains popular today, with the non-Steam version still leading the world today as the most-played online FPS game. However, with this community-mod-started game on the rise, there was yet another Half-Life mod in the works by the community.


And those caissons go rolling along
With Valve now on the rebound with the failure of Blue Shift, and the announcement of the dreaded Steam, Valve looks yet again to its community for new ideas. This time, rather with going with the modern shooter approach, they enter the theater of World War II with the community mod Day of Defeat. Combining aspects from previous games like TFC and Counter-Strike is what actually turned Day of Defeat into a quality game when presenting the ability to pick a class of soldier between the two sides of the Axis and the Allies. Game modes included the typical Capture the Flag, except with the concept involving capture points instead of the traditional carrying of the flag back to the base; destroy target, which could have involved planting bombs on trucks and defending such a point until the bomb itself goes off; capture target, such as capturing buildings; and capture item, such as retrieving a dossier from the enemy’s base and bringing them back to your own.

However, despite the quality of Day of Defeat, the game never truly garnered the population and community as TFC or CS did, and is perhaps best known for the game that no one remembers Valve actually developing and launching. The game was further bumped into quality when it came into Day of Defeat Source, but, sadly, was the same time when Valve stopped updating the game as well. Despite that, the game retains a healthy community and is quite possibly one of the best multiplayer FPS games still out on the market. And honestly, I’m not just saying that for show–Day of Defeat is a game that I praise Valve for, despite that it was released during the craze of a bunch of other developers getting into the World War II theater of games.


So after the launch of Day of Defeat, Valve is faced with the dilemma of its longevity, with detractors, once again, stating that Valve cannot produce a quality sequel to Half-Life, or that Team Fortress 2 will never see the light of day. Those naysayers were largely hushed when Valve introduced the mother of all sequels, Half-Life 2, in May 2003. And there was much rejoicing! But, furthermore, there was much anticipation.


Steaming pile of shit
And so here we all were in May 2003, psyched that the announcement of Half-Life 2’s launch was mere months away. That is until Valve decided to develop a side project that has becoming lovingly known in the community as Valve Time, and it becomes an industry standard on their part to delay a product for, really, no reason at all other than for the community to make a joke about it.  With the launch of Steam and its true and terrible effect known to all it should have come to no surprise to Valve that when they announced in the same month that the game would be delayed that people would be furious.

The setback is blamed on Axel Gembe, a German hacker that stole parts of Half-Life 2’s source code and then reportedly distributed it across the Net. Gabe Newell apologized to players, promising the game would launch next year, but still made no moves to address the terribad Steam client, which requires you to download all Steam and Valve products on said client online. Many scratch their heads as to why they must go online in order to play single player games. The trials and tribulations of the players were silenced, however, when the sympathy for the hacking overshadowed the cries against Steam.

In the following year, then-independent developer Turtle Rock Studios releases Counter-Strike: Condition Zero. With it being considered an insult to the Counter-Strike community (it only included a couple of maps and bots), and with people believing that Half-Life 2 wouldn’t be out until mid 2005, Valve was trying to please the angry mob by giving them all a taste of the highly-famed Source engine–the end-all engine that would bring in prop physics and what we all take highly granted today. The title that first gets the “special treatment” is Counter-Strike. This, however, backfires when players learn that Source games will require Steam to run, and a vocal minority decree to never purchase a Valve product ever again. However, before the rest of the masses follow suit in the hate, the long-awaited sequel to the game surprisingly launches on November 16, 2004.


Wake up, Mr. Freeman…
Bricks were shat. All complaints against Valve and Steam were hurriedly silenced by the dropping of the H-bomb on the world. Half-Life 2, finally in the hands of the fans, was revered like baby Jesus. It was here. Finally. With the launch being mere days after Halo 2’s launch, 2004 was hailed as the Year of the Sequels, and rightfully so. First borns were sold, orgasms were had, and many bought the farm.

The question, however, is how did Half-Life 2 truly stack up as a sequel? And the answer many pose is apparently in its impressive sales and many, many positive reviews–so many that it earned itself as the highest rated game in the Guinness World Book of Records. Was it the Source engine physics that made the gravity gun the selling point? Was it the impressive scenery? Was it the huge and expansive levels? Was it the storyline? Apparently to many, it was all of the above.

And while I am sure that you are expecting me to blast away Half-Life 2, you will find that I actually enjoyed the game to a thorough extent, minus the lack of a coherent plot or many wall bangers included within it. Truthfully Half-Life 2 is a fun game to pick up and play, mindlessly driving your airboat down the canals or your gokart up the Gold Coast while killing crap is enough to appease the masses, and to my primeval senses I am pleased on that front. But did the game tantalize my senses and satisfy my palpable palate for a good story? No, it did not. I’m a firm believer that stories should tell stories, not have the reader make the stories up their selves when left with little to work with.


The criticism against Half-Life 2 was far outweighed by the continued opponents of Steam as the distribution service came with its fair share of problems. From personal experience I can say one of the worst features of Steam is its Offline Mode, which allows you to play Steam games offline. The only trouble is you first must be online in order to play in Offline Mode. Sort of defeats the whole point of being offline, now doesn’t it? And so those with not-so-great connection rates, or those who have to pay by the bandwidth, or those who have to suffer under not having a connection at all, do not have access to the games that they rightfully bought. And so Steam, to this day, is hated by the many that are forced to use it in order to play some of their favorite games and mods–some of which aren’t even Valve products.

A turn in the wrong direction
So in the aftershock of Half-Life 2’s launch, we are all treated to the future plans of Valve’s production. Rather than make a true sequel to Half-Life 2, Valve announced that it would produce episodic content as the extent to new content for Half-Life. This is perhaps where the seed of skepticism as a long-time fan of Valve was first planted for me. I mean, it’s not like Valve employees are poor or anything like that. And it seems that if they are ever short of hands they just hire people in the community who have already conceptualized an idea. So why exactly were we subjected to this “episodic content”? “It’s easier for us.” The cynic in me responds, “You mean easier for your wallets.”

And so Episode 1 debuted in 2006, much to my cynical belief that it wouldn’t be up to snuff. It wasn’t. And I can’t wonder why my fellow connoisseurs who enjoy the taste of good quality do not seem to agree either. I mean, at launch the game was marketed at full price and what was new about it? I mean, besides the two-hour level content and the zombine? No new weapons, the graphics, animations, and sounds are all reused, and there are a couple of parts in the game that play out like a bad horror movie. What exactly was appealing about this “episode”? In turn, I relate it much like to the expansion pack of F.E.A.R.–something so terrible that the developers should just pretend like it never happened. Of course, the only trouble is that, as I said, for some strange reason, people were pleased with this two-hour rehash of run-and-gun gameplay.

And despite Lost Coast and Episode 1 showing off HDR, we, the community, were beginning to get that lean and hungry look upon us. And before the mob could mobilize, would you know it, the community had finally found a way to amuse themselves with the semi-help of Valve with Source SDK. Thus entered the days of self-entertainment amongst the Steam community, with popular source mods like Dystopia, Empire, Eternal Silence, Fortress Forever, Zombie Master, and Zombie Panic! Source to keep us thoroughly entertained. However, none compared to the popularity and complexity as the greatest time waster of all time: Garry’s Mod.


Amusing ourselves in the wait
Garry’s Mod was first released in 2005 in the wake of Source SDK becoming a modder’s dream. In this case, the dream we are talking about is Garry Newman’s dream. The first beta version not offering much to do, Garry’s Mod picked up increasing popularity as a sandbox editor. Several versions later when stability and Half-Life 2 was supported for it, Garry’s Mod began to gather an impressive community of mingebags people that all enjoyed the creative outlet behind Garry’s Mod.

Of course, in true Valve fashion, it didn’t take long for them to catch wind of this and bring Garry Newman and his team on board, and so Gmod9 was the last free version of Gmod before Gmod10 was distributed on Steam for $10. Following its success, Gmod now supports many other Source games to fool around with–whether to pose for screenshots or to build rediculous constructions, Gmod still proves that the Steam community can entertain itself for hours without the direct help of Valve.

However, not even Gmod could truly satisfy our waiting hearts. There were still others like me who were hoping that Episode 2 would be the redeemer in Valve’s episodic content plan when they announced that it would be bundled with the long-awaited Team Fortress 2 and a new contender known as Portal, born out of Narbacular Drop, a game developed by DigiPen students that were also hired by Valve in pre-production.


The box that became a turncoat
It was known as the Black Box first. The nice bundled deal of Episode 2, Portal, and TF2, and it was going to retail for $30. This was the original plan, despite what a lot of people like to conveniently forget. At this point in time, the Black Box was shaping up to be a pretty sweet deal. Anyone who already owned HL2 and HL2EP1 was happy of the production planning behind the deal package. Of course, that all changed in mid 2007. At the last minute, Valve changed the product planning and decided to include in the bundle HL2 and HL2EP1. Now called the Orange Box, it’s retail value changed to $50 ($60 at some retailers).

Of course the real trouble to this is that Valve didn’t even offer the Black Box as a second option. There was no other option. And I know what people are going to say. “There were other options! You could buy them individually on Steam!” Individually on Steam, TF2, Portal, and EP2 were all originally priced $30 each. So what really happened here is that Valve was leaving people who already owned HL2 and HL2EP1 the only choice of buying the Orange Box and getting duplicates of the games they own. This was an extremely intelligent (and extremely greedy) market tactic. You, of course, then give the two games you already own to someone who doesn’t, who then, in turn, decides to buy the Orange Box to get EP2 and other goodies, who then in turn gives those two copies to another person who doesn’t have them and…ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

So right from the get-go I was already displeased with the lack of product options, as should have any other person who was actually purchasing the product with their own money. This was effectively the straw that broke the camel’s back for me, and, to this day, I have still not purchased the Orange Box. I have, however, foolishly purchased one of the products in it, and it was just further proof to me that it was a good idea that I never purchased it in the long run.


Now you’re thinking with portals!
After being coaxed by a few friends that Portal was worth the $30 price tag at the time, I foolishly bought it, hoping that it was worth what it was actually priced at. Already the game had received a huge following behind it, and with it followed an even larger number of annoying memes. Of course, Halo had the same effect as well, so I went into the game as a skeptic.

I was greeted with the familiar effect that is in most Valve games that try to take a stab at a story (Half-Life being that only other game), which was a complete mystery. But I quickly stopped trying to think of the plot behind a game that was being hailed as a puzzle game and decided to roll with it. Immediately I was having lots of fun with the puzzles. I was under the impression that the weapons never made the game, but in Portal that proves otherwise. After doing the obligatory dicking around with the portal gun, I made my way through the game.

Unfortunately that journey only lasted about two hours with a rather anti-climatic ending. In fact, I understand that people are even challenging one another on how quickly they can beat the game (15:38 is the fastest I’ve found). I don’t know about you, but I really didn’t pay $30 just to preview a tech demo. In the end, Portal ended up being little more than a Popcap puzzle game with very fancy graphics and a terrible stab in the dark at yet another esoteric plot.

Of course I know I am one of the very few to even utter such a thing about a game that is being treated as the messiah, but Portal is a mediocre game at best, and is even more insulting at its stand-alone price tag when it first came out. I heard it was once priced at about $5 during a Steam holiday weekend where prices went down, and that was probably the first time the game was priced appropriately for the content found within. However, it seemed that I was fated to also play yet another game from the Orange Box, and this time I didn’t pay for it. And no, I didn’t pirate it either.


The gang’s all here
I was completely skeptical of the first details of the modern TF2. When I saw the screenshots I couldn’t help but wonder if Valve had partnered up with Disney. And, of course, my reaction was pretty much the same for any hardcore TFC vet who had been waiting for ten years and expecting to see the old gritty Team Fortress we all remember and love. So after being so put off by Portal, my interest further plummeted in even wanting to think about buying the game because I’d probably just be pissed off of it from that aspect alone.

So I held a vendetta against the game, and it was really quite an unfair one. I perhaps brought it up once or twice in a conversation, but then I stopped talking about it altogether. It has been met with much success and even more memes have stemmed out of it than Portal, so I figure if people like it then I will leave them to their own devices. However, Valve has given me the opportunity to play the game a number of times through the free weekend play times they run every now and then, and so I got to get a taste of TF2 without paying a dime.


The taste was actually satisfying. As I played the game I realized that the cartoony look to TF2 is what gave the game its niche and appeal, because there was certainly nothing Disney about the body parts that were flying through the air, gibifying in old and fond memories of TFC. However, I was rather let down when finding that there were only six maps to chose from, which is half the maps we had to choose from TFC. But Valve kept to their promises of giving the game regular updates and now there are a great number of maps that they’ve put out in addition to the additional gameplay that they have added as well.

In fact, if I didn’t already own about four other multiplayer-centric Valve games, I’d probably be the proud owner of TF2. But that’s just the thing. I feel like I already have enough on my plate already. And TF2 isn’t very groundbreaking for me to go rush out and buy the game either. I mean, is it fun? Yes. Is it funny? Yes. Does it have a nice community? Yes. But my problem is that I just have an overload of multiplayer-only games from Valve–so much that it makes me wish that they would do something other than just create multiplayer Source mods and slap price tags on it.

[Note: I will not be talking about EP2 as I have not played it and, most likely, never will]

I hate zombies
So if I echoed my same sentiments for TF2, then you’ll probably wonder why I bought Left 4 Dead, yet another multiplayer-only game developed first by Turtle Rock Studios until they too were bought out by Valve and brought on board (Is there any game besides Half-Life that Valve hasn’t bought from someone else?). Well, it mostly had to do with the people who recommended me it, who were swearing that it was a great game and well worth the $50 price tag. I had already read the reviews about the lack of content in the game, so I still criticized from afar until I was challenged to put my money where my mouth is (these days I’m told in order for you to have an opinion on something you first must waste money on it, afterwards the same detractors will tell you that you shouldn’t have bought it in the first place when you make your complaints after said purchase). So I waited when they had a sale on it for $30 and bought the game.

As you can tell from my review on the game, you can see that I found it to be less than mediocre. Apparently I am wrong to assume that the words “campaign” actually mean that you should expect a real single player experience (like, say, as you would find in Halo). At launch, the game had its fair share of bugs and was also missing two of the levels found in the campaign aspect of the game. Valve also made the same promise they did for TF2; that the game would receive continual support and that players should expect new maps, new weapons, new enemies, and other new features. There was also a promise that the SDK for the game would come out in the next month of the launch, so I figured even if it was bad that the players would fix the game regardless.


Eventually, in about April, I found myself caring less about the lack of a storyline in L4D and started to care more about how mindlessly fun blowing out a zombie’s brain with a shotgun was actually rather soothing and enjoyable. Dare I say that I actually began to like the game after the last two maps in single player were finally brought over to versus (I still think survival mode is garbage, however). And so I was anticipating what sort of goodies Valve had in store for the updates that they had promised to give. And I mean, hey, when has Valve gone back on a promise?


Valve breaks their promise
E3 brought in the announcement of Left 4 Dead 2. At first when I heard the word “sequel” uttered, I was skeptical. How much could have Valve changed in order to garner a sequel, a year no less after the original launch (which goes against all previous standards behind Valve Time)? And the answer was that they pretty much slapped a sticker with the number two on it at the end of the name and called it a sequel.

At least this time around I’m not alone in echoing this sentiment. Actually, there’s about 36,200 of us who echo that same sentiment. After watching the gameplay videos and hearing about the “new” features, I couldn’t help but wonder who Valve was trying to fool by releasing the same game twice. At most these new features in L4D2 garner a DLC update; other features just sound plain dumb. Oh yeah, fire ammo. Because it’s not easy enough to kill Special Infected and the Tank already. And then daylight. Now you’ll be able to see Special Infected from a mile away.

I remember Valve saying something funny about having standards and caring what the community has to say. And in case you have forgotten, this is what the community is saying now, and not just a “group of whiners” as Adam Sessler puts it (who he himself bashed on L4D2 at the E3 Preshow, but apparently had a change of heart). It’s the very fact that the integrity of Valve is now under question as the common practice of “community first” is taking a thorough backseat for the first time in the 11 years of their operation. Because, really, selling Left 4 Dead all over again for $50 is not putting the community first, it’s putting your wallets first.


On the horizon
Now with Valve’s new production ideals being set into motion after dismissing the L4D2 boycott, one can only wonder about the future integrity about the company on a whole. You see, as I’ve tactfully demonstrated in the article on a whole, Valve has accomplished quite a lot in their near 11 years of operation, including producing a lot of quality games (with the exception of one or two). But this L4D2 approach isn’t like Valve at all and it is for that reason that I have arrived to the conclusion to no longer expect greatness from Valve.

When I look at the company on a whole I may see hard working individuals who want to do nothing more than produce a quality game, but it’s hard to see that when most of the decisions they have been making have been placing the market first. And before you cry out to defend Valve, saying that they need to eat too, I would love to take this moment to point out that Valve employees are far from dirt poor–in fact they are doing quite well for their selves. They could probably stop producing games for ten years and still be bringing in enough revenue from old titles and Steam to pay the bills and the pay checks.

So Valve has certainly established their selves as a giant in the industry, still remaining as both a developer and a publisher of their own games, and they’ve done it with great monetary success. So why the siphoning of the quality? Why the holiday five-pack? Where’s the beef? I mean, in the time that it will take them to release Episode 3 (which hasn’t even been mentioned still) they could’ve released a full sequel to Half-Life 3 with new graphics, new sounds, and new art. But instead they chose to sell us Half-Life 3’s story in episodic content, and so we’ve had to deal with Half-Life 2.4, Half-Life 2.6, and Half-Life 2.8. And the only apparent difference I can see in the choice of doing that was purely from a marketing aspect.


Afterword
Has Valve conceded to the typical stereotype of a money-grubbing corporation? Has Valve sealed their doom with the production plan of L4D2? Does Valve care about the community any more? Will Valve ever stop swooping up community mods and stop calling them their own? Can Valve actually write an ending to the Half-Life saga without drawing it out for another ten years?

All the questions to the above I can answer with the same answer: I don’t know. As much as I am taken for a “Valve hater,” the truth is that I don’t want Valve to become a bad company. That’s what it’s like to actually be a fan of someone; you care so much that you worry about the integrity about their actions instead of blindly following them and handing them your cash. All the money in the world couldn’t keep a can of turd polish afloat in an ocean of criticism. So I speak out. And so do others.

But we’re even criticized for that. Criticized because we are being told that we do not hold the right as a fan, as a consumer, and as a loyal customer to question the integrity of a company who is making some new moves in the wrong direction. In reality what the blind followers are seeing here is that, as the years progress, consumers are getting smarter. They are now questioning the way things work. And, in reality, that is how things should be, and you shouldn’t fault someone for exercising some of the most basic rights a human being has, especially if you dare to even say that you support those rights. If you supported them then you’d write coherent arguments against the detractors rather than bringing up frivolous and terrible rebuttals like, “love it or leave it,” or, “you’re just whining because you feel like you’re entitled,” or something even more demeaning than that.

We all get heated about the subject. I should know; I have dished out my fair share of harsh words. But the reality is the questions both sides are posing to one another are ones that won’t be answered until calamity actually falls from the sky. And afterwards there can be a fair share of bitterness as the “I told you so’s” cajole the detractors, who then in turn blame them, or vice versa, but the real question that we should be asking our selves is whether future companies will learn from the repeated blunderous mistakes that other companies have made in the past–reputable and established companies, just like Valve, who crumbled because something went wrong. But I’ll be the first to say that if Valve does fall out from its well-established spot, it won’t be because of money troubles–it’ll be because they didn’t put the community first.

Originally written: May 2009

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About Agamemnon
Started blogging back in 2007 amidst that whole Hellgate: London fiasco on a blog known as flagshipped.com. Eventually moved on to do my own thing in December 2008 at gameriot.com and started Caveat Emptor there. Wrote there for six months, gained some notoriety, and then left. Now I'm back.

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