In a recent documentary uploaded to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Half-Life, Gabe Newell – the President of Valve – took centre-stage to talk about his legacy. He cast his mind back to the late nineties, and spoke at length about the development of Half-Life, stressing that the game was delayed considerably despite the publisher potentially dropping funding. That was because he and his team refused to ship something that was a ‘quick knock-off, cash-grab, stupid’ game.
Based on his experiences, it’s easy to see why Newell believes that game delays are perfectly acceptable.
Push It Back, Make It Better
These days, it seems every game has a delay worked into the development cycle somewhere. In some cases, we can be waiting years for a game that’s pushed back over and over again. In the late 1990s, Gabe Newell’s team delayed Half-Life by a year to perfect it – and it became one of the most influential games of all time.
Here’s the full documentary for Half-Life’s anniversary (thanks to PCGamer for sharing):
Speaking on that topic, Newell shared a message that perfectly highlights his thoughts on delaying any game that’s in development:
Late is just for a little while. Suck is forever. We could to force this thing out the door, but that’s not the company we want to be. That’s not the people we want to be. That’s not the relationship we want to have with our customers.
Developers walk a fine line with an ever-demanding audience these days. There’s a rough balance to be struck between launching something that’s not perfect and taking too long to develop something that just might be. Either way, it’s a rock-and-a-hard-place argument for developers, and despite their best efforts, delays are often inevitable.
Gabe Newell says they’re okay, though – and he’s got more legs in the business than most.