DocSeuss said to me the other day something along the lines of "Valve hasn't made a good game since Left 4 Dead" and I was all ready to dispute him and then I realized. He's right.
I love Valve, I do. I'm not a member of the PC gaming master race or anything but pretty much the only games I play on my PC are DOTA 2, and FF14. FF14 being a rather new entry. Prior to DOTA 2 I played the everloving daylights out of L4D. As anyone who attended the gamenight knows, I was overly excited about being able to play L4D maps in L4D2. So why do I agree with Doc?
Valve's Sequels just aren't as good.
This is true for every numbered game from them that I can think of*. Half Life 2? I really wasn't impressed. I know this may not be popular opinion and yes, it was released prior to L4D but it was sort of the beginning of this seed of doubt. The game played very much like a well made FPS. Was it fun? Sure. Was it as groundbreaking as HL was? Not really. Did the game start to feel like a chore for me? Yes. Yes it did. Around Ravenholm I started to realize, I've killed a lot of things and I'm not entirely sure what's going on or why. Episode 2 felt like Half life 2: In a Cave edition. Again, wasn't impressed. I liked the character design. I liked the level layout, however linear it may have been. I just felt like, if you slapped the name "Shoot All Aliens" on the cover of this game I'd be just as happy.
Left 4 Dead 2? I was one of those idiots who signed the "NO L4D2" petition. They released a sequel a year after they released the original. NO WAY! I said. I, of course, like everyone else, ended up buying it. I probably shouldn't have. The characters were bland. The levels were not exciting. The new infected felt like they could have been DLC instead of a standalone game. The only nice thing was the inclusion of melee weapons but other than that I should have stuck to my guns. There was nothing in this game to entice someone who had played L4D.
Portal 2? I won't go into how Valve really has no creative talent it's own and instead goes around gobbling up interesting ideas. I think there's merit to this approach as you still need an eye for talent. But Portal 2 was lazy. Yes, it had amazing quotes. Yes, I love Cave Johnson and grenade lemons are hilarious. But where the original Portal had inventive puzzles involving portals. Portal 2 traded that in for a "where is the only place you can put a portal in this map?" approach. Most of the puzzles I figured out by walking around for a long time and making note of all the places I could put a portal. Towards the end there is goopy stuff you can use and that breaks it up a little bit but it's too little too late.
The Problem with Hats.
At first I said, "Who cares! Hats! Let people buy them!" And I still think that way.
But yesterday I saw an in game DOTA 2 item....for 35$. It's outrageous. Even LoL, a game I criticize for nickel diming everyone, never charged that much for a skin (that I know of). Announcers. Great idea, but 8$? Valve's gone off the deep end with their in game item pricing. I guess if they can get away with it, fine. But I always had this idea that Valve was in it for the gamers. That they truly loved their fanbase and did things to go the extra mile for them.
Exploiting your fanbase like that, does not give me that warm fuzzy feeling. It doesn't say to me, "Hey we're fellow gamers making games for you, our loyal fanbase!" It speaks volumes to the "We want all your money and we're trying to be subtle about it but this is about as subtle as a brick to the face" mentality that has slowly seeped its way into Valve's business model. Trading Cards, Hats, Dota 2 is a veritable gold mine of in game items (costumes, announcers, wards, courier skins, etc).
Why Vilify Origin?
Which leads me to wonder, why did everyone hate on Origin? It seemed there was this Steam underdog mentality for whatever reason. How was Origin any different than Steam? Steam is out to milk you for your lunch money. Origin is out to do the same. It's the gun or the knife. Either way you're dead.
So, in closing, I guess this is my Dear John letter to Valve. I don't feel like we're friends anymore Valve. You've become too controlling. My mamma was right, you're a gold digger. You're no good. We can still be friends, but I'm not lending you any more of my money.
*DOTA 2 isn't really a sequel.