Edge - March 2020
English | 134 pages | PDF
We’ve been feeling a little nostalgic of late – the natural consequence, we suppose, of an era coming to an end. Flicking through old issues of Edge, we stumble across E244’s Manifesto, in which representatives from the Nordic territories’ development community discussed the pressing issues of the day. Valve’s staff handbook had recently leaked, detailing the Half-Life maker’s unique structure: it had no traditional hierarchy or even job titles, with desks on wheels so staff could move between projects as they liked. We asked the room for their thoughts. David Polfeldt, head of Ubisoft Massive, offered this: “I believe creativity needs boundaries. The Valve thing is a very expensive way to make people creative – by having a lot of people doing more or less what they want. Eventually you’ll get something really creative from that, but I’m not sure it’s the most efficient way.” An insightful comment back in 2013, it’s been further flattered by time. Since that day in Malmö, Polfeldt’s studio has announced, made and shipped two games in The Division series, moved to new offices, opened a secondary studio in Stockholm and won the licence to James Cameron’s Avatar. This month, 13 years on from Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Valve finally releases a new game in the series that made it famous. To focus solely on Half-Life is to ignore everything else Valve represents. Originally merely a brilliant game developer, the Valve of today is also shopkeeper of the industry’s biggest download store, owner of some of the most popular games on the planet, and has moved from software to services into hardware, making the most powerful VR headset available. As such this isn’t merely an issue about Half-Life: Alyx. It’s also a chance to check in on one of the most secretive companies in the industry, to talk not only about its new VR game but the headset around which it is built, the platform through which it will be sold, and the games and initiatives whose success have helped fund it. And yes, to get Gabe Newell on tape, because it’s been far too long. The story begins on p60.