Let me get this straight: Valve Software promises to follow up its absolutely and terrifyingly awesome zombie FPS Left 4 Dead with a sequel a year after the original, with new characters, new zombies, new bosses, better AI direction, new and more maps, and a whole slew of new guns and melee weapons… and some people want to boycott the thing, apparently because they feel that all of that doesn’t actually warrant a full release price. What they’d really like is for Valve to release it for free, and barring that, maybe at an expansion pack price.
Screw that, you appallingly cheap bastards. Valve knocked the ball right out of the park with L4D — I haven’t played a game as much, or with as much enjoyment, since Unreal Tournament 2004. Now they’re offering me a new, full, hopefully even better game in that same universe just a few months from now? Sweet zombie Jesus, sign me up. $50 is not nearly too much to pay for a game I know I’m going to waste precious working hours spend lots of time playing obsessively after my work day is done. Hell, on a per-hour basis, I’ll be paying pennies, if that.
More than that, Valve has earned my trust, because a) they have never once put out a crappy game and b) have never been cheap with their content: There may have been better a gameplay value than The Orange Box, which bundled Half-Life 2 and both its expansions, Team Fortress 2 and the little jewel of a game-changer known as Portal, but if there has been, I’m hard-pressed to name it off the top of my head. Valve regularly updates and expands their games as well; it’s difficult to bitch about them being stingy in that regard, unless your sense of entitlement is so monstrously large you couldn’t fit it into the Black Mesa test chamber.
All of which is why when Valve says, “You know what? We’re releasing Left 4 Dead 2 as a full game, because we’ve invested that much time in it and it’s just that good,” I believe them. They haven’t lied to me before, and they’ve had plenty of opportunities to do that, and to steal my money from me. Hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t expect it will happen now.
Now, realize I’m saying this not entirely impartially: I know several people at Valve, and they’ve had me out to their shop to look around and chat with the crew there. But this in itself gives me an opportunity to point out how much I think these guys have earned my money: Before Valve had me out, they offered to comp me their entire line of games. I told them “no.” First, I already owned most of their games anyway. Second, the ones I didn’t yet own, I wanted to pay them for. Because I figured they were going to be worth it, and I wanted to show that fact. Yes, I suppose I could have just baked them “thank you” cookies or something, but I thought maybe pitching in to help pay for their salaries might be more appropriate.
So, hell no, I won’t be boycotting Valve for having the sheer unmitigated gall to look at the work they’ve done on this upcoming game and decide it merits a full release, and a full release price. As far as I can see, given their past games, and their past business practices, they wouldn’t say it’s worth me spending that much money unless it was. So I’ll be putting my money down, and happily so. And then I’m gonna get me some undead. Because, dude: Cost of Left 4 Dead 2: $50. Going after cajun zombies with a chainsaw and a frying pan: Priceless.