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Undead Animosity

I’m going to be honest. I don’t have clue why the fuss over Left 4 Dead 2 just simply refuses to go away.

“OMG! Valve is releasing a sequel in only a year! They’re the devil!!!”

People, you do realize this is Valve we’re talking about here, right? The company that has made some of the greatest gaming experiences of all time? The people who brought us the Half-Life series, Counter Strike, Team Fortress, the original Left 4 Dead, Portal, and more?

The company that can basically do no gaming wrong?

Well, aside from the Half-Life episodes, but that’s another argument....

It’s as if Valve has earned itself not a single ounce of trust. It’s as if years and years of delivering some of the best games on the market have earned it nothing but suspicion and hatred.

I don’t get it.

Sure it’s unorthodox for them, but shouldn’t that be why we should accept it? Or at least not revile it?

Valve is one of the only companies around that doesn’t do this on a regular basis; that doesn’t exploit its customers for all they’re worth just because they have a couple of new map ideas and want to squeeze a whole sequel out of them.

Left 4 Dead 2, from all reports I’ve heard, is going to be a solid, complete package far beyond anything we would have gotten through DLC chunks and most assuredly quicker than we would have gotten it through little DLC bits.

That’s perhaps the most baffling thing. The people complaining about this the loudest are obviously fans of Left 4 Dead. I just don’t see what the negative is here.

In just a year, for just the price of one measly new game, the same price these gamers are likely willing to pay many times throughout a single year for new experiences, they’re getting more content in a sequel than was present in the entirety of the original Left 4 Dead.

How is that bad?

Do you think we would have gotten that much content in just a year otherwise? Probably not. Do you think that it would have pulled together into such a nice whole otherwise? Probably not.

Do you have any idea how much Xbox 360 owners would have been gouged for that content? Probably a pretty good chunk of that $60 price for far less content is my guess.

But again, that’s a somewhat different argument....

I’m not saying I don’t understand at all where that animosity comes from. I was just as angry as anybody else when I first saw the Left 4 Dead 2 trailer. I understand it’s unusual for Valve, that it would be easy to interpret this as money grabbing, or even a stab in the back to fans if you want to get melodramatic about it. Valve is not playing by their usual rules and I guess that scares some people a great deal.

If there’s a Left 4 Dead 3 in November 2010, then I’ll most certainly be joining the boycott list just as quickly as anyone else.

In the meantime, I’m getting a whole lot of Left 4 Dead in a relatively short time frame in a more cohesive, satisfying package than random DLC chunks. Not to mention the fact that not only are they still supporting the first game, but they’re promising continued DLC for the second as well.

To me, that’s awesome.

I think we should give Valve a little credit here. I’ve had some of the most fun I’ve ever had while playing a video game while playing games with the Valve logo on them. I’m going to give them a little bit of slack before I start decrying them for being money-grubbing bureaucrats with dollar signs plastered onto their eyeballs. I think they’ve earned a little more of my trust than that.

I know some people are seeing this whole situation and screaming, “Worst case scenario! Best developer ever goes rogue! Begins craving lots of money really fast! Starts whoring out its precious franchises!” But Left 4 Dead 2 is pretty damn good as far as worst case scenarios go.

After only a year, you pay the price of one full game and you get more game than what you bought with your $60 a year ago.

Oh drat. I’m getting more content than the first time and I’m getting it quicker than I expected to.

How dare they.

Look, Left 4 Dead 2, from every interview I’ve read about it, is a project of love if I’ve ever heard of one. Just like all of Valve’s other projects, come to think of it. The only reason Valve is doing this, the only reason Valve is going against their norms, is because they loved the original so much that they wanted to make a lot more of it than they could through little DLC packs.

I respect that. They love what they’re doing and they want to do more. They wanted to explore more ideas and share them with their fans, gamers they thought would stand behind them and appreciate what they were being given.

I think that’s great. I wish more developers would do that. If you’re going to make a sequel, at least be passionate about it; at least be excited about it.

This is the kind of sequel I’m enthused about. This is the kind of sequel I can stand behind and firmly say I don’t mind paying for.

Ultimately, whether or not Left 4 Dead 2 is going to go over well with fans is something we’ll only be able to tell in November when the final game is released. Even I am holding back my final judgment until I actually have a chance to play the game.

I’m remaining hopeful, but despite my optimism, I still don’t know whether the full $60 package is going to feel like it deserves a full $60 package. I certainly hope so, the interviews lead me to believe so, but I’ll only be able to tell when I play for myself.

But it still saddens me that a company as passionate and talented and creative as Valve gained so much animosity from its supposed “fans” the very second it decided to do something slightly different. A move that, were it to come from any other company in the gaming industry, would be recognized not as a traitorous move, but as business as normal.

Where’s the love, people?

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Reader Comments (2)

Man, I'm really excited for L4D2. I recently picked up the first game and was blown away with how much fun I had.

Good post boss.

August 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLuke

I appreciate the compliment. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one actually looking forward to this game.

August 20, 2009 | Registered CommenterBrendan T. Smith

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