For the better part of a decade, PC gamers have been speculating whether or not Half-Life 3 will actually come out. The first two games were wildly successful while two Half-Life mods, Counter-Strike and Team Fortress, also went on to become best-selling PC games. Valve employees have not confirmed or denied anything about Half-Life 3, and the information blackout surrounding the long-awaited game has spawned numerous memes. Many of the memes involve conspiracies around the number 3 and/or referencing Valve CEO Gabe Newell and his fear of the number 3 (ironically, Newell’s own birthday is November 3).
Despite all the reports regarding the game, it has finally appeared in Steam’s own database. The inclusion of the game in the database, however, doesn’t mean that the game is actually coming out anytime soon. “While this information comes straight from Valve and many of these kinds of leaks turned out to be real in the past, it is important to note that third-party Steam developers can create and name their own apps/packages,” the company said in a blog post. Given that those who develop games for the Steam platform can name apps/packages whatever they want, it could lend credence to the inclusion of Half-Life 3 as a prank.
Gamers have been fooled before—in 2013, an alleged Half-Life 3 trademark was filed in Europe, only to be removed a few days later. Valve and Newell himself have dodged numerous inquiries as to whether or not the game was actually in development for over a decade. Despite Newell being aware of fan demand for Half-Life 3, it seems that his (and by extension, Valve’s) intentions are elsewhere at the moment.
“We are also going to build on what we learned, and we have learned a lot. We aren’t going to go all retro because there are too many interesting things that have been learned. The only reason we would go back and do a ‘super classic’ kind of product is if a whole bunch of people internally at Valve said they wanted to do it, and had a reasonable explanation for why it was,” Newell said on a March 2015 podcast.
Game developers who are huge fans of Valve have even released a game called Gabe Newell Simulator, where one can play as Gabe Newell and “release” Half-Life 3. “You can impersonate Gabe and help him in his fight against other companies and make the decision to release Half Life 3 or not, and this will have drastic consequences in the whole universe! Explore the different rooms and corridors of Valve Corporation (many inspired by real ones), the secret lab and…their space station!” said Antoine Renna, the developer of the game.
While the leak hasn’t really revealed any new information about Half-Life 3, some other titles of interest also popped up in the database, such as three Final Fantasy games (VI, X, X-2 HD) and a Guilty Gear installment, which shows Steam’s commitment to bringing console games onto the PC. However, Half-Life 3 still remains shrouded in mystery, at least for as long as Valve wants it to be.