Gabe Newell Is Heading Down Under

Map copyright Google. Please don't sue me Google.

It’s official – Gabe Newell is heading for Australia. If you missed the story of how 19 year old L4D modder Joe W-A ended up raising $3000 (US) to fly Gabe Newell and Erik Johnson out to see his L4D map in order to convince Newell to stop boycotting it… Er, you need to go read this and this. Now Valve have confirmed that they’ll be heading to Oz next week, and less official sources are stating that of course they’re paying their own way so the money goes straight to charity.

Because clearly $3000 wasn’t going to buy one first class ticket in one direction.

Gabe Newell had this to say of the malarkey:

“The power of the gaming community and their ability to rally around a cause – be it serious or fun in nature – is amazing. In 2003, the community helped the FBI and European law enforcement officials find the people who stole the Half-Life 2 source code. This year, the community is putting me on a plane to the other side of the world to meet Joe W-A and see his MOD. It’s going to be a fun trip.”

Valve have created an interesting position for themselves. Unquestionably one of the most responsive and engaged developers, their relationship with their audience has created both a lot of love, and in turn a lot of hate. Expectations of the team are so astronomically high that when they fall short of customer’s extreme standards the backlash is enormous. The L4D2 boycotting debacle was the result of people feeling let down (legitimately or otherwise), but of course let down from expectations they’d not even pause to imagine of any other developer. Some (and clearly not all) who feel short-changed or unfairly treated by the existence of L4D2 (even after the release of free L4D1 DLC Crash Course) are now looking at anything the company does as a reason to announce more contempt for them. As was the case in response to this story. A number claimed, indeed in comments on this site, that Joe W-A’s campaign was cynical marketing on the part of Valve. What really happened was Newell sent two private joking emails to a regular correspondent, and literally nothing more. The rest happened without Valve’s involvement, encouraged by gaming websites like us who were delighted by the adorable story. The result, of course, was fantastic positive coverage for Valve, who once more came out of this situation looking friendly and extremely good natured. Which of course made a few people more angry.

I think, since I’m editorialising so heavily, that this is truly reflective of at least part of Valve. The response to this story should surely be one of realising, “Oh, Valve really are like that.” Rather than searching for a reason why this only proves how evil they must really be. Clearly they’re a large company, with strengths and flaws, and not a big cuddly stuffed penguin for us all to coo over. When it comes to releasing games their behind-the-scenes antics are irrelevant – the games are judged on their own merits and nothing else. It happens that so far they’ve failed to make a bad game (you may not like one of their games – I’m not enormously partial to TF2 – but I’d have to be madder than a sock full of Nesquik to argue it was anything less than brilliant). Oh, apart from Ricochet. I’m told.

Of course, now Valve are using this as fantastic PR. I’m writing this story because the trip was officially confirmed by a press release sent by the company. It begins, “Valve, creators of best-selling game franchises (such as Half-Life and Counter-Strike) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), today announced its studio co-founder and president, Gabe Newell, will be visiting Australia next week.” But hell, who wouldn’t? It occurred organically and without their creation, and it would be insane not to take advantage of it. A month before they release their new game. (Which means Gabe and Erik are skiving off right in the middle of crunch, the cheeky buggers.)

Clearly people angry about the perceived lack of free L4D1 content and/or the existence of L4D2 will remain angry. People who don’t care will carry on not caring. And those looking forward to the new game will still be looking forward to the new game. But in the end, the owner of the company is flying to the other side of the world to visit some teenager to look at his Left 4 Dead map, and that’s still fucking awesome.


  1. Steve says:

    Is it too much to hope that someone meets them at the airport dressed as the sniper? (minus actual rifle, of course, I don’t think that airport security would look too kindly on that)

    • pierec says:

      Jarate, then?

    • Railick says:

      Just so you know, everyone in Australlia is dressed like the sniper 24/7 so unless he actually got a rifle to go along with with his outfit no one would even notice.

    • Railick says:

      How dare you John Walker! Ricochet is AWESOME! I used to play that all day long every day for years. It takes time and some serious skill to be good at that game and I got very good ! I really wish they’d release a source version of that
      (also What ever happened to the teleporter from UT, I think that was just as cool as the Portal gun, the ability to launch a teleporting disc any where you want then teleport inside someone who is standing on it is brilliant and needs to be used more often)
      <edit> This wasn't suposed to be a reply to the above post it was suposed to be a reply to the whole thing, sorry :P <edit>

      Baron Shatteredstone “What kind of elf shoots down a bird anyway?!”

    • Funky Badger says:

      Rallick is actually correct. Well, at least about the Northern Territory.

    • KP says:

      If I were Gabe N I would be very concerned if meet at the airport by a man dressed as the sniper holding jarate and smiling. Heads up!

  2. Dr_Ham says:

    Well played valve, well played.

  3. Larington says:


  4. pkt-zer0 says:

    Hah, this is awesome.

    They're still bastards for the broken promises regarding L4D's post-release support, mind.

  5. Nimic says:

    You’re such a Valve fanboy.

    Join the club.

  6. abhishek says:

    It’s confirmed that they paid for their own tickets. Joe donated ~3100$ to charity yesterday and posted it on his blog.

    It’s also worth noting that they aren’t exactly ‘visiting some teenager’s house’. They are flying Joe from Brisbane to Sydney where they will meet up with him and check out his campaign.

    I also thought the whole press release idea wasn’t very smart. Or, at the very least, they could have tried not to take PR advantage of it as obviously and blatantly as they did. If it were up to me, I would have worded the press release very differently.

    • Funky Badger says:

      Do you do the press releases for your own company as well?

    • abhishek says:

      I don’t, no. What I meant was, I would have left this whole thing as a community affair instead of making it an ‘official’ sounding press release/advertising fluff piece. In simpler terms, I would have left it as an blog update instead of a Steam news release.

  7. Tei says:

    While he is there, maybe he can meet some politicians? or he is too small a celebrity for that? shit… we need some people to talk with politicians (these that don’t ask for a brive to accept talk) and explain one or two things to then.


    Internet. Our good Oz guys need good internet. And good internet is not the internet of USA. The internet of USA suck because is a big country, and is expensive, and because theres zero inversion there on that.


    Second. Stupid censorship. Games like any other human medium shows violence and sex and other stuff. Games don’t need more censorship than books. There are books for childrens, and there are books for old people. Banning L4D was stupid.

    Since he will be unable to meet a politician, he will only meet a modder. I ask for this:

    A BIG HUG.

    We modders need hugs too.

    • Poindexter says:


    • abhishek says:

      I actually think that they might have that idea as well. I’m guessing they will be talking to people about the L4D2 ban… where is your censor board located?

    • Zerotime says:

      Australia’s censorship “board” is a guy named Michael Atkinson who lives in 1976.

    • drewski says:

      Australia’s Classification Board resides in Canberra, and has no power to introduce R18+ ratings for games. That power resides with the government, who are based in Canberra at a Federal level, and in each state capital at a state level. In the case of an R rating for games, the problem is Michael Atkinson, who resides in Adelaide, South Australia, so unless Valve fly him out to Sydney or fly to Adelaide, I suspect they’re not going to have much to do with him.

      L4D2 was denied classification because it’s content doesn’t, in the opinion of the Classifications Board, fit the restrictions of the MA15+ category.

  8. Jesse says:

    You’re seeing what you want to see.

  9. Fazer says:

    Let’s have a go at it!

  10. Vinraith says:

    “and less official sources are stating that of course they’re paying their own way so the money goes straight to charity.”

    This seems obvious, but I’m a little surprised they didn’t put it in the official announcement.

    • Legionary says:

      They’re getting flack for announcing it via press release at all, imagine how much more they’d be getting if they said they’d pay their own way and have the donations made to charity.

  11. Bagalot says:

    This isn’t to say whether Valve is an awesome company or not (because I really think they are awesome), but this is sort of a forced PR move. Once this kid made the joke public, started a fundraiser to get the money, and got game news sites talking about the situation, Valve would have to be downright mad not to take the trip. If they hadn’t accepted the trip, the audience would be up in arms in all factions about how Valve has become just another heartless company who ignores its fans. To be quite honest, companies don’t have hearts in the first place. Just smart (or sometimes dumb) PR.

    • Railick says:

      Companies may not have hearts but the people that run them and work for them most certainly do. For example Fed Ex may not have a heart since it isn’t a person, but the people that run it have done a great deal of good for their community for example flying a little terminal girl with cancer home by air ambulance so she could be with her family when she passed. Or Pixar giving the little girl and advanced copy of Up! so she could watch it before she died. These are things that companies do because their owners/employees have a heart. Yes, it is good PR, but that doesn’t make the things they do any less good.

    • Bagalot says:

      The people that work in companies do have hearts, I agree. I however disagree that those decisions were made out of the goodness of individual employees hearts entirely. There are a million terribly sad charity cases that they could have done the same thing for, but they choose single, high profile examples to prove what a good company they are. Companies sponsor and donate to charities every year, not because the company just feels like throwing money to a good cause, but because it’s good publicity and good advertising, and happens to make the employees feel warm and fuzzy inside too. I personally think it’s great that companies can find profitable reasons to take part in these activities, because if they didn’t they largely wouldn’t happen.

      The fact that Gabe is flying out a month before a major release is near-proof that this is a forced PR move. It would be fiscally irresponsible for a founder and president of a company to just step out for a trip across the ocean during a major crunch period unless it was important business. However, if that trip can drum up a little more press for the company, and therefore its upcoming title, now there’s a fiscal benefit to partaking in the activity.

      But nonetheless, this sets Valve apart as a great company, because most companies would ignore or wave off the invite. Valve has very progressive, proactive PR.

    • Railick says:

      In the Fedex case it was only because someone in the little girls family knew someone in Fedex to call, it was not a high profile case (It became such AFTER however) The same for the little girl and Pixar , it wasn’t high profile until AFTER it happened , as far as they knew ahead of time no one would have ever known about it.

    • Bagalot says:

      It doesn’t matter whether it was before or afterwards that it was made high profile, it’s that it was the company’s goal to make it high profile, because it doesn’t care what nice things it can do unless it can toot its own horn about it. That’s the way the corporate world works. And I know I sound terribly cynical saying that, but that’s what enough business and marketing classes will do to you. There’s no charity, just opportunities to look good.

      That’s beside my point, however. My point is meant in regards to Valve. The move was in all likelihood made to to keep up their image as a gamer-friendly company, because to wave off the invite would certainly indicate otherwise, no matter how good to reason for not doing it. Smart move on their part, and I love their business model. Keep up the good work.

    • sinister agent says:

      I’m pretty sure everyone could find comparable examples of nice things they’ve done at work out of kindness or honesty. If one of those things happened to get the attention of a local paper or a blog, does that mean it was suddenly a PR move?

      Companies will take advantage of such opportunities, sure, but it’s individual people who create them, and the ratio of genuine decency to indifferent PR spotting is enormous.

    • Gap Gen says:

      “There’s no charity, just opportunities to look good.” – All charity is done to look or feel good. Either that, or it’s for reasons of self-interest, like donating to a medical charity for a condition someone you know has. If you want to be cynical about it, you can be cynical about pretty much everything. The Up screening, etc, were all acts of kindness, regardless of the PR gained from it. It’s not like someone in a PR department sat with a spreadsheet calculating the number of acts of kindness they’d need to mandate to make this year’s figures when Gabe & Erik agreed to go to Australia.

    • MacBeth says:

      Large companies generally do have a budget specifically set aside for ‘good deeds’ that they can squeeze good PR from. If you want a company to e.g. sponsor your team to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro then if they have money left in that ‘corporate responsibility’ budget then they might assign it to your good cause.

      However I don’t really see Valve acting that way in this case. I R fanboi though.

    • Tyshalle says:

      Man, you guys are some cynical mofos.

      All charity is done to look or feel good? Really? REALLY? You’re seriously going to downplay all charity work to inherently selfish motivations?


    • Gap Gen says:

      MacBeth: Well, true, there is CSR, but like you say I doubt this was an intentional exercise in that.

      Tyshalle: Well, why do you donate to charity, if it doesn’t make you feel good about what you’re doing? I agree that it’s perhaps cynical, but the point I wanted to make was that you can make cynical arguments about every act of kindness that benefits the person who does it. I don’t think someone who donates to charity is a cynical person intent on manipulating their image, but charity donations and fundraisers aren’t *entirely* about masochism in the name of others.

    • Gutter says:

      @MacBeth : All companies have a “good deed” fund because the government give them tax incentives for it. Yes, it looks good, but they usually do it for their books, which is why most donation occur near the end of the business year.

      That being said, the government give tax rebate on good will for a reason. Large companies would be stupid not to take advantage of this… Don’t be so cynical.

      This being said, Joe W-A is giving the money to charity, not Valve.

    • Funky Badger says:

      Bagalot – there’s a big difference between a publically listed company and a privately owned one. For a publically listed company, you’d be right, and that duty can be legally enforced on the officers of the company. For a private company, it can’t.

  12. TheSombreroKid says:

    you’d have to be a special kind of bitter to not find this situation interesting and witty.

    • Whiskey Jak says:

      Yeah.. well, the Internet is sadly full of that. Some people will never be happy, or will act like they’re never happy.

      Me? I’m part of the bunch that don’t really care either way, I’m just glad that a charity got to receive the money.

  13. Vinraith says:

    On an unrelated note, this is the 11th RPS post today. That’s an unusually high posting volume, and I approve heartily. The more RPS, the better!

  14. lumpi says:

    “Some who feel short-changed or unfairly treated by the existence of L4D2, even after the release of free L4D1 DLC Crash Course, are now looking at anything the company does as a reason to announce more contempt for them.”

    Uhm,… “some” like both ice cream and the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, I’m sure. Correlation is a bitch.

    I’m really tired of being lectured how being disappointed with Valve’s drop in continued support for L4D would be ungrateful. I don’t know how it was meant exactly, but this piece feels unnecessarily personal.

    I agree with anything in the article. That Valve are still awesome, that it’s beyond cool that Gabe travels to Australia to see some guy’s L4D campaign, that they still have better support for their games than pretty much any other company out there… Why am I treated like a douchebag for my criticizing.of L4D’s surprisingly slow support, a drop in Valve-awesomeness unmatched in their 10+ years history?

    This could have been a fun post, but with all the unneeded defense of Valve enclosing an otherwise positive announcement, it became a pain to read.

    If you really want to defend Valve, drop the boycotter-boycotting-meta-bash-bashing. This doesn’t have to be more than an unfortunate slip. I’m still confident that Valve will announce something amazing again in 2010. An epic “Episode 3”? Portal 2? Bring it on!

  15. Dinger says:

    Rock on. I was thinking the “charity route” myself, for the same reason. Anyone who’s hopped a pond will heartily endorse the reasonableness of paying at least a J-fare if you can convince someone to pay it. These guys scared up enough for a Y-class ticket, and we’ll respect that, since that’s what Valve probably paid to bring out the L4D2 protest leaders. But, seriously, they were happy for the attention, and they probably didn’t have to fly 18 hours. You get less confused flying over the dateline when you’re riding up front, and I can’t fault ’em. Besides, if they’re using the event for PR purposes — which this article leads me to believe — then the fans should not have to pay at all.

    Look folks, I can only repeat hearsay about Valve. But I do enjoy two degrees of separation, as do most gamers, I suspect. These folks have a philosophy that works, and they put out product, and support that wins people over.

    Yet, L4D poses a problem. It’s not TF2. People run TF2 servers forever. Dartt supervises the ever-beneficial RPS TF2 server, for example. But L4D? We all love L4D, but it’s something that occurs far more rarely. You can justify TF2 content based on the fact that people will buy the game, and the servers available are sufficient to support it. But look at L4D: this latest DLC not only cooked off Valve’s DL servers, it saturated the available ded servers. In short, everyone loves L4D, but more as an episodic event than a lasting passion. That requires a completely different infrastructure that’s not in place. I look at it and wonder, “maybe a new game will drive people to buy servers”. It’s all complicated.

    • Monchberter says:

      This is interesting. My clan ran an 8 man L4D server and paid a premium for a very good server which ended up top rated. Problem was no member of the community that effectively donated to pay for it (we run TF2 too) was able to play on it as it was always full of dedicated 4 man teams. So we ditched it as it was of no benefit to our actual. community.

      I am currently considering L4D and L4D2 again for my community, but we just can’t seem to justify the expense.

    • MacBeth says:

      We ditched our L4D server too as it was not practical to actually play on it ourselves… silly matchmaking system… not that it stopped us loving L4D though.

    • DarkNoghri says:

      L4D’s server situation is odd. When it was released, the server situation was the main reason that my clan didn’t open up a division. You can run servers, but there’s not a really easy way to play on them. Even if you are able to play on them, if you play with groups of friends, you won’t have many new people to try and recruit. It’s also hard to admin groups of servers with constantly revolving lobbies.

      That said, it is possible to run a server where, for the most part, it is only friends using it. And that method is (was? I keep hearing vague things about problems with the new patch) sv_search_key. You can set it up so that your for lobbies to get on your server, they need the same search key as the server has.

      One of my TF2 clan members had had a L4D server for months now that I admin/mod/setup, and the only time we can’t get on it is if one of our personal friends is on it.

      But seriously, the whole server situation shouldn’t be this much of a problem. Let the lobby leader pick a server from the server browser, and input a password if needed. Bam, done. Let a ninth slot be used for admin purposes without needing to run a mod.

  16. Torgen says:

    I shouldn’t laugh at the mentally disturbed…..

    hahahaha! (points) You’re screwed up.

  17. Bhazor says:

    While this is cute and all I would rather be playing Episode 3 right now. Just saying.

    • Dominic White says:

      Well, I’m sure they’re going to be utterly paralyzed as a company while their boss is out of town for a few days.

      As someone in the last L4D thread pointed out, the game is about 90% the product of Turtle Rock, 10% Valve. Valve basically came in during the tweaking, testing and balancing phase. It was never going to be a big game, and the fact that there was going to be any support came more from Valve having bought up the studio than anything Turtle Rock could have offered.

      So, yeah. L4D2 is a proper Valve game. Looks to be longer, more polished, more varied. They definitely have different feels about them.

    • Wisq says:

      Re: 90% Turtle Rock, 10% Valve,

      Everything makes a lot more sense that way. I was never part of the “boycott L4D2” crowd, since I felt they were doing a pretty good job supporting L4D1 as is, but this puts it all into perspective. The fact that they’ve done so much to support a third-party game they basically adopted is already amazing. Now they just want to make the real thing.

    • Monchberter says:

      Thanks Dominic White. You just quoted my speculation. But it’s sound speculation. :D

    • Fuzzdad says:

      Well…they actually worked with Turtle Rock for a long time (over a year) before the announcement went out about bringing them legally in the fold. I visited Valve HQ three years ago and saw them working on it then. TR had a great concept…but it took Valve resources and genuine game-making prowess to turn what was a concept around a simple theme of Zombie AI in a co-op environment into a real release.

  18. Vinraith says:

    Careful John, statements like this:

    “The L4D2 boycotting debacle was the result of people feeling let down, but of course let down from expectations they’d not even pause to imagine of any other developer.”

    leave you out in the tall grass. Those expectations were born of specific statements made by Valve. I think people very much DO expect most developers to keep their promises regarding post release content (see discussions of Empire Total War regarding multiplayer co-op and “the most modable TW yet”). The backlash against Valve has been more energetic than is typical, in large part because they’d built up such a pool of good will that it was particularly surprising when they welched on their promised updates, but it’s not like most of this reaction is coming from people having unreasonable expectations.

    • Nick says:

      Yeah, watch out John. Watch out.

    • Vinraith says:

      How deranged do you have to be to read that as a threat?

    • John Walker says:

      I sleep with one eye open. And the other one with a painted ping pong ball over it to look like it’s open.

    • Vinraith says:

      Yikes, that must be some nasty dry eye.

    • Vinraith says:

      Seriously, though, the next time Valve promises post release support for something, are YOU going to believe them?

    • Springy says:

      Eee! He’s asking ME!

    • Vinraith says:

      It’s a sincere question, I’m uncertain why it doesn’t deserve a sincere answer.

      That’s what this all comes down to after all, those of us that are upset with Valve feel they violated our trust. They made promises, they didn’t keep them. In the future if they make promises again, we won’t be able to believe them, and that’s really kind of depressing for a game company that we were quite fond of.

      So, again, if Valve says they’re going to support L4D2 “like TF2” with new campaigns, characters, weapons etc, will you believe them? If they announce Portal 2 and guarantee new levels post-release, will that affect your purchase decision? In short, didn’t they violate your trust too?

  19. mbp says:

    I am surprised no one has mentioned the fact that L4D 2 is effectively banned in Australia because it was refused classification. I wonder if Gabe is going to try and meet a politician or two while he is there.

  20. Pantsman says:

    They’ll probably pass the cost of the flight on to consumers in the price of L4D2.

    Haha! Just kidding. Valve is great!

  21. Legendary Teeth says:

    The hilarious part is that really, if they had just called it an expansion rather than L4D2 then everybody would have been happy. Who doesn’t like expansions?

    • Jad says:

      The cynical answer to that is that consoles don’t like ’em, because the expansion idea doesn’t really work on consoles. Games aren’t installed, so you can’t determine if the user has the original game, and you can’t share resources. Everything that comes out on disc for a console is a separate game.

      So the world is moving towards everything being either 1) full-length sequels or 2) DLC that is by definition, shorter than traditional expansions (10-20% of the content of the original game rather than 30-40%), and cheaper than traditional expansions ($5-10 rather than $20-30).

      L4D2 clearly (to me at least) is not a $10 DLC kind of thing. Valve could have released each campaign separately as DLC for $5-10, but I’m glad they didn’t take that route. They also could have released the whole thing for free, but I also can see why they didn’t do that — its a year’s worth of work for a whole team just given away.

      Some are arguing that L4D2 does not have enough content for a full-length sequel. I can see their argument, although I cannot fully agree with it. On paper, L4D1 seemed small for a full game, but I got over 60 hours of gameplay out of it. L4D2 has at least 20% more content than the original, which doesn’t sound very “expansiony” to me.

    • drewski says:

      Jad – isn’t that why the expandalone was invented?

  22. kyrieee says:

    “You’re seeing what you want to see.”

    As opposed to you in that comment? lol

  23. DK says:

    “since I’m editorialising so heavily”
    You can say that again – you should put some kind of note at the top because this piece really abandons all journalistic integrity in some places. It’s not the least bit objective.

    • Vinraith says:

      Writing an opinion piece “abandons all journalistic integrity” now? That’s bad news for, well, basically all journalists everywhere.

    • Wisq says:

      Good god. RPS having an opinion? Unheard of.

      If I just wanted a copy of the straight up press release, I would have read it off my Steam announcements RSS feed.

      … Oh wait, I did. Then I immediately switched to my RPS feed to see what they had to say about it.

    • John Walker says:


    • Jad says:

      John Walker was a menace to society. Thank you, RPS Robot, for taking care of this tragic situation so efficiently and objectively.

    • Earl_of_Josh says:

      But John Walker is past the third trimester Robot, NNNNOOOOOOoooOOOooOOOoooo!

    • Johnny Law says:

      That’s so cute. :-)

    • Gap Gen says:

      I actually like articles that are a little subjective and speculate, as long as they are honest about it. Insights that may not be the objective truth are still valuable, if done properly.

    • sana says:

      If every third RPS article didn’t make fun of players complaining about developer moves because of reasons similar to “LOL ANGRY INTERNET MAN FUNNY TO ME XD” in one way or another, I’m sure nobody would mind a bit of subjectivity.

    • Alec Meer says:

      And if some commentors won’t so prone to ridiculous exaggerations like that, it’d be much easier to be consistently sympathetic to their complaints.

    • sana says:

      Good to know that hyperbole is a free card for somebody to ignore an argument!

    • Alec Meer says:

      When it’s accusatory, untrue hyperbole – yes it is. Make your point without the daggers next time and maybe it’ll have a positive effect.

    • sana says:

      There have been plenty of posts expressing similar opinions without any daggers attached, e.g. lumpi’s comment about “boycotter-boycotting-meta-bash-bashing”. A reaction remains to be seen. After witnessing weeks of memetic Diablo 3 Angry Internet Man condescension that later turned into L4D2 hater-hate, there is not much left to draw attention to the matter other than sharp remarks. Commenters do have a hang to latch on every angry-man joke in sight…

  24. LewieP says:

    My theory is still that if they are impressed with his campaign he will be offered a job.

    Good show Valve.

    • abhishek says:

      If it’s good enough, they might. However I think it’s more likely that they would include it in an official update to the game (like they do for TF2 community maps). At the very least, the guy is going to get feedback from guys who are the arguably the best in the business.

    • Earl_of_Josh says:

      You know, I can’t help but wonder what happens if they get down there and realize the map totally sucks. Then again the guy obviously has a real love, and serious dedication to the game, or else this situation probably would have never happened. And, I suppose having some of the best game designers in the world giving you some tips probably won’t hurt either :-P

  25. pepper says:

    Had a chuckle when i saw the PR release in my mailbox, in my mind i envisioned the valve guys standing behind a 19″ screen in a small room having a chat with a aussie about the game.

    • subedii says:

      Actually they’re meeting him in Sydney somewhere. Joe’s bringing his campaign with him.

  26. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I still haven’t played a single Valve game, and I continue to be amazed at the adoration they receive here. But I’m sure they make fine games.

  27. Stupoider says:

    Well, I don’t know what you’ve been smoking but from what I’ve seen Valve treats it’s community a helluva lot better than other companies do. :)

  28. Aaron W says:

    I have to say, I’m rather impressed with Newell’s involvement with the community. The amazing thing about gaming still technically being a baby industry is that you have semi-grassroots moments like this.

  29. Calabi says:

    Good for Valve.

    I think the problem is that Valve dont have all these heavy marketting people whom calculate every move, carefully and EVILLY. It means they just do what they want to do, or think is right, sometimes they make mistakes(percieved by the masses). I like that though.

  30. Nick says:

    It must be a very depressing world that you live in.

  31. Nick says:

    It’s really great this has turned out how we hoped/thought it would. Yay Valve again.

  32. Dominic White says:

    The amazing thing here is that a bunch of money got given to charity, and a multi-million-dollar studio are flying their company heads out to Australia to check out a fans mod, and people are STILL COMPLAINING.

    I’m half-convinced at this point that Valve could adopt a thousand orphan puppies, and there’s still be that guy at the back grumbling about how they should have adopted kittens instead, and how puppies were just a cynical corporate move.

  33. jonfitt says:

    Can John confirm or deny that his ambivalence towards TF2 is due to bad experiences with using the Medigun?

    How can anyone not love TF2? It’s like Bill and Ted’s music, one day it will end all war and unite the planet. (Just as soon as the Engineer update is out).

  34. yutt says:

    I partition this all mentally as so: I maintain enormous respect for Valve; the TF2, Portal, and HalfLife teams, lead by the benevolent Gabe Newell. While, on the other hand, feel nothing but contempt for the powerful evil entities, lead by the PR demon-lord Doug Lombardi, that I refer to as Turtle Rock.

    I am working on establishing a formal religion based on this theology.

  35. kyrieee says:

    I remember when people didn’t talk shit about eachother in the comment section of this site

    Wonder what ever happened to that

  36. Shalrath says:

    “A month before they release their new game. (Which means Gabe and Erik are skiving off right in the middle of crunch, the cheeky buggers.)”

    Oh man, what a dream world that must be – Two months of crunch, right at the end of a project? I love that idea ;)

  37. Gorgeras says:

    Valve are the best games company in the world, but implying that actually following through with what they said rather than spending those resources on a sequel that makes Left4Dead redundant is “the customers extreme standards” just impresses on me that journalists are not capable of criticising them. For all anyone who hasn’t played a Valve game knows, their last four games could be awful because they certainly can’t trust anything a reviewer has said. Only a games writer prepared to get daggers out on the best and brightest are worth listening to.

    To date, I have not seen a single writer accurately represent the Boycott position, resist selectively quoting Boycott articles or even ask Valve about the ridiculous excuses and narrative they’ve given.

    • Gutter says:

      The boycotter’s position is moot.

      It really is.

    • Gorgeras says:

      Not when someone attempts to criticise it. Then it’s their responsibility to make sure they are representing what they are criticising, accurately.

  38. Wounder says:

    It would be funny to have the trappings of a usability study in place for wherever they look at it. Cameras, folks standing behind them with notebooks asking “why did you do that?”, etc. etc.

    Of course, it might seem like they had been lured into a bizzare, gamer version of the movie Hostel (set in TERRIFYING Australia, no less!) at that point. I’d pay to see that before Hostel, anyway.

  39. gulag says:

    Valve are doing a sequel to Left 4 Dead? Cool!

  40. Lambchops says:

    Yay – a satisfacotry end to an enjoyable soty. Plus all the money is being given to charidee.

    Everyone’s a winner!

    Except John of course; for he has no journalistic integrity left to give!

  41. Ted says:

    Let’s be serious here. There is no “L4D2 boycotting debacle.” L4D has never fallen out the top ten best selling games on Steam, and it’s #1 at the moment. L4D2 will without any doubt spend years in the Steam best seller list and many, many weeks at #1. The number of people whining because they expect unlimited free updates and non-stop play until the end of time for a single $30 payment are a tiny, tiny part of Valve’s customer base.

  42. yutt says:

    @ Gorgeras

    I’ve gone down this road here before, but that is in a large part because Valve has made best-buds of the most critical and honest gaming critics.

    It’s harder to criticize someone you like and know is a good person, but someone needs to.

  43. yutt says:

    “L4D has never fallen out the top ten best selling games on Steam”

    And Michael Jordan jerseys are the most popular item sold at Chicago Bulls’ stadium store. Forgive me if I don’t find this piece of data particularly insightful.

    • Geoff says:

      You don’t find sales statistics relevant in determining the significance of a boycott?

  44. invisiblejesus says:

    @yutt and Goraras: Games journalism isn’t that much different from conventional news journalism, in that reporting only on the absolutely most extreme and nutty aspect of a situation generates more excitement than taking a step back and reporting on what’s actually happening. I think it’s probably as simple as that. Granted, I tend to expect better from RPS, but I suppose even really good media outlets make the wrong call sometimes. It would be nice, though, not to have everyone who’s taken issue with the handling of L4D and L4D2 be lumped in with the trolls and crazy people.

  45. Railick says:

    What a horrible comment thread lol. John I think you're going to have to start ninja posting L4D updates with something diffrent above the jump then once you load the post it will be all about L4d (Perchance above the post will be about a new my little ponies game coming out using the source engine I don't know)

    • Geoff says:

      It would never work. Everyone knows My Little Pony is best suited to the Unreal Tournament 3 engine.

  46. MD says:

    Why does he write MOD! It’s not an acronym! No wonder that ridiculous linguistic tic is so widespread, if Gabe himself does it. GAahhhh never buying a Valve (oh sorry, VALVe) game again

    • MD says:

      It’s like every time people get to the word ‘mod’ they’re so excited, or enraged, or perhaps just really confused, that they can’t help shouting. “Hey man, what are you up to?”-“Oh nothing much, just working on my MOD!!” -“Oh you’re making a MOD!!!! eh, what’s it about?” -“Well, my MOD!!!!! features zombies actually, and realistic military hardware”-Oh nice, you don’t see that in many MOD!!!!!s these days, awesome, I will be sure to play your MOD! when it is released”

    • Gutter says:

      You got off your meds again?

      Not an insult, but what the heck are you trying to say?

    • MD says:

      That ‘mod’ is short for ‘modification’, so there’s no reason to write it in CAPITAL LETTERS as if it were an acronym.

    • MD says:

      And that people do this ALL the FRIGGING time, but they can hardly be blamed if Valve’s head honcho started/perpetuates it. Maybe I should write Gabe a furious letter so he can prove how much he REALLY cares about the community.

    • futage says:

      If you’re being this pedantic you may as well go the whole hog and insist on “mod.”.

    • MD says:

      Nah, plenty of abbreviations become words in their own right, and putting a dot at the end is unnecessarily awkward. This isn’t a prescriptivist quest arguing for absolute compliance with every grammatical ‘rule’ ever devised. It’s just that there’s no logical reason to capitalise ‘MOD’ , and it reads awkwardly while taking more, rather than less, effort to type. So people are making a specific effort to write the word in a way that makes absolutely no sense, and can ruin the flow of almost any sentence.

  47. shadewind says:

    Don’t people have better things to do than to think about whether Valve really are good people or not… or having “expectations” on the “objectivity” of RPS articles?

    • yutt says:

      Don’t you have better things to do than wonder whether people have better things to do than the things they are doing?

    • Geoff says:

      yutt makes an excellent point here.

  48. yutt says:

    Actually I appreciate that the RPS writers have at least not been mocking those who are disappointed in Valve. A good portion of gaming news sites have turned the entire “boycott” scenario into an opportunity to criticize those who dare to not bow in idol worship.

    Honestly Valve has been more understanding and responsive to the criticism than most of the gaming press. What kind of backward situation is that?

    Anyway, I am digressing from the article topic, which is that Gabe Newell factually awesome.

    • Geoff says:

      “an opportunity to criticize those who dare to not bow in idol worship.”

      Ah yes, you plucky iconoclasts, speaking truth to power and saying “I demand more entertainment content for my $30! You promised!” With such daring altruism, the boycotters are the real heroes here. What scandal that these corrupt so-called “journalists” are all in league with their corporate masters, whom they clearly worship.

      If you’re ever curious, it might actually be your way over the top rhetoric that prompts the mockery, not some ever-present character deficiency in those who disagree with you. This is what differentiates “someone with a legitimate grievance” from “Angry Internet Man”

    • DarkNoghri says:

      I see nothing over the top about what he just said. Or are you referring to the boycott as a whole?

      @yutt, totally off topic, but is that Skull Man?

    • Geoff says:


      I believe both yutt and I were referring to the boycott, which he describes as “daring to not bow in idol worship”. The journalistic stance on the situation I’ve seen consists of:
      1. Valve released a game, which taken on its own merits or compared to other developers’ games, is a good value and well supported.
      2. A bunch of guys are angry that it hasn’t received quite as much free support as they expected (as Valve told them to expect?), and have freaked out and declared a boycott of the sequel.

      To characterize that assessment as “bowing in idol worship” seems a tad heavy handed on the rhetoric to me, and is likely what earned the AIM badge for boycotters.

    • DarkNoghri says:

      Fair enough.
      As to your number 1, almost every review for L4D I remember reading said that it was short on content, but that Valve would almost surely be adding to that in the time to come. We’ve thus far gotten 3 new maps and gamemode update. As for bugfixes and balance changes, those have been in short supply. So the problem is really whether you believe number 1 or not.
      The reason I think it almost merits the phrase “bowing in idol worship” is that every time someone brings up these points, he’s told either to shut up, that Valve needs to make money, or that he got his 300 hours worth of the game out of it anyway (yes, there are counter-arguments to these). No one actually listens to the criticism, it’s just shot down out of hand. I’ve definitely seen stuff that blasted the boycotters as being spoiled brats, but never actually counters their problems with the support thus far.
      But I see where that could be construed as over the top.

  49. Gutter says:

    Clinical disregard? Are you still raving about L4D2? And did you even notice that this is a story about a video game exec flying half around the world to meet with a nobody?

  50. invisiblejesus says:

    @yutt: I’ll have to take your word on that, I don’t usually read other PC gaming sites. Fair point, though I honestly do think this article did edge a bit closer to troll-baiting than I’d like in it’s mentions of the boycott. Maybe the comment threads on L4D2 have rendered me a bit over-sensitized.

    @Railick: Funny, that sounds like a pretty good idea to me. It’d be nice to have a reasonable comment thread about L4D2. Whatever you think about the “issues” surrounding the game, it seems pretty clear that it’s a lightning rod for crazies and trolls.