I’d Like a Really Massive Order of Entitlement With a Side of BRAAAAAINS

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.

65 thoughts on “I’d Like a Really Massive Order of Entitlement With a Side of BRAAAAAINS

  1. I hadn’t heard of L4D until boingboing mentioned they were coming out with “part 2″. Everyone seems to be raving fanboys for it, though. Could it really be that good? Hm.

    (googling)

    Ah, damn it, it’s not on PS3.

  2. But John, George RR Martin hasn’t finished writing ASOIAF, and Pat Rothfuss is late on his new books, and and valve entitlement want free pirate nerd not fair!!!

    …this seems to me to be the coherence level of this boycott.

  3. So they are going to not buy something until someone agrees to give it to them for free?

    Doesn’t seem like the most effective plan…

  4. Agreed on all counts. I’ve been playing Left 4 Dead less than a week now; I’ve barely scratched the surface of the game…and I’d happily shell out $50 for a sequel. It’s just that good.

    Buncha entitlement-happy, whining ingrates…

  5. Left 4 Dead captured the whole zombie “feel” better than any other thing I have watched or seen. To me, Valve is to video games as Pixar is to movies–they care about their product and have actually not made as much money as possible because of wanting to only put their best work forward. I agree completely: if they tell me it’s worth it, I’d be a dumb ass to not believe them.

  6. I have to say, now that Braid is cross-platform, this is the one game that makes me regret not having an XBox.

  7. I don’t play video games, but my husband does, and he RAVES about Valve. I might even get him to buy this one. Cuz it’s *Zombies*!

  8. That is pretty whiny, though after spending four years playing WoW I’m pretty used to the appalling levels of entitlement from a certain percentage of the gaming population.

    I do have to say though, I hadn’t heard of Left 4 Dead before and the name made me giggle. It reminded me a bit much of a certain line of car porn movies. 2 Fast 2 Live : Left 4 Dead!

  9. Steve Burnap:

    Braid is indeed awesome (though I would very much miss Mass Effect as well if I didn’t have an Xbox).

  10. The other thing I like about Valve (beyond the general level of quality) is that they manage to be successful without resorting to the big busted bimbos that seem to be de rigueur in most games.

  11. Clearly, shelling out full hardcover price for OMW entitled me to all the follow-ups for free, or at least a greatly reduced rate.

    I mean, they’re like expansion packs, right?

  12. I would like to suggest that in future instances of awesome swag proffered, accept the merch in order to give it away to your loyal Whatever readers in the form of a contest of wit, where you shall be the judge.. it would be much fun and teh coolest.

  13. I can kind of understand where these guys are coming from though. I remember back when Lucasarts had announced Star Wars: Battlefront II, and everything that had been promised for the first one was just completely scrapped the next day. Felt as if the company was just more interested in making another easy $50 than actually creating a meaningful gaming community. And if memory serves me, the second game sold like hotcakes initialy, but the vast majority of players quit less than a year later. (Mostly due to how poorly the sequel was made.)

    Team Fortress 2 is a fantastic example of what Valve is capable of. They’ve managed to keep it alive and kicking more than two years after it was released, and not just because it’s such a fantastic game. They’ve been steadily churning out new maps and class updates ever since late 2007, which in turn has resulted in steady sales ever since. I’m just worried that L4D won’t have a chance to age and shine as well as their past titles have.

    Still, it is Valve we’re talking about here. Even if this happens to be their first screw-up, I’d still think of them with the same level of utter worship that I reserve only for God, Nintendo, and Wendy’s chicken samiches.

    Now… where in the heck is my third installment of Half-Life 2…

  14. Boycott L4D 2? That’s crazy talk. I was stoked when I heard that there would be a sequel coming out this year.

    Left for Dead and Valve are both very good. The first time I played L4D and I hit one of those car alarms, the zombie horde that came rushing at me freaked me out. I’d never been freaked out by a video game before that.

    I could understand a boycott against Activision for it’s mistreatment of the Guitar Hero games (Thank God Harmonix made Rock Band) and their lawsuit over Brutal Legend.

  15. Man, I am so glad to hear someone else say this.

    Another point of interest: no one’s going around forcing people to buy games on release day. If you don’t want to spend $50.00 on L4D2, well, okay. Don’t. Wait a month or two, watch out for deals, and get it for cheaper.

  16. So…I’m confused. They are saying they love the original game so much that one year later, they haven’t actually finished it…because they are “savoring” it or something? But now that a new release has come out, their enjoyment of the previous release has been spoiled forever, and …

    okay, no, still lost.

    I really would like to play the game, but there’s no way I can play such a game in a house with a ten-year-old, on a game system owned by the ten-year-old, and not allow the ten-year-old to play it. And I can clearly see that it is not the right game for him.

    Sad.

  17. @13, Eddie: The Mars Effect is also available on PC! (I don’t remember when and why I started calling it that. I guess it’s an inside joke and I’m the only one in on it…)

    additionally, I’ve located Valve’s official response to the L4D2 (who was R2D2’s roommate at college, btw. not many people know that):

    now if you’ll excuse me, spy’s sappin’ mah sentry!

  18. *to the boycott. To the L4D2 boycott. Got too distracted by the lame R2-D2 joke to complete that thought.

  19. John,

    You periodically see similar entitlement from WoW players. Blizzard puts out regular content revisions and has done 2 major expansions on the original WoW and some people still get annoyed at paying monthly for it ($15). But if you play even a modest amount it’s like L4D… pennies an hour. Some people just believe they should get everything for free – but of course THEY are entitled to a really nice wage. And a big house. And…

  20. Valve is right up there in the tops of video/computer game companies. The Half Life series is just about the best first person perspective game ever made. I got more than my money’s worth from the Orange box, and I haven’t once touched TF2. The only companies who’ve given me that kind of return on my gaming dollar were Bioware with the Baldur’s Gate series, and Bungie, with Myth and Myth II.

    Which is to say that yes, I will be buying Left 4 Dead 2 when it is released. Although the first game was best savored as a cooperative experience, and my schedule doesn’t allow me too much online play these days, it was still a very good single player game. If I get six to eight hours of multiplayer out of it, I figure I’m ahead of the game.

  21. Although I don’t agree with the boycott, I do see where they’re coming from. Valve promised more maps and more content for L4D after it was initially released and so far, although TF2 has seen quite a few updates since November, L4D has seen one. A lot of the people who bought L4D did so expecting about the same amount of extra content as TF2 has received. The announced sequel looks a lot like what fans originally thought they were going to get for free, because it looks a lot like what TF2 has received for free. Hence, the sense of entitlement.
    Not that I agree, since nothing that’s worth anything is ever nor should ever be free. And I will gladly shell out cash for L4D 2 because it’s Valve, and Valve has proved itself to be amazing.
    What’s really amusing, though, are those who are complaining because it’s too soon. I think those’re the fans whose brains just can’t handle Valve breaking out of Valve Time.
    Of course, then there are those of us who really just want Ep3, but, well, when Valve’s on a roll, who’re we to complain?

  22. PJ:

    I know Mass Effect is on PC, but my purpose in buying an xbox was to not shell out 2k on a kickass games machine until Windows 7 is released. Thus, my current computer would run Mass Effect like a bad stop-motion animation show. Hurrah for standardised hardware platforms…

  23. I paid $18 Canadian for the Orange Box a couple of weeks back when I finally got my PS3. Holy crap, just Portal would have been worth $18. Or $25. Throw in all the other stuff… Maybe these guys should consider sending another $30 or $40 to Valve to top up their Orange Box payments before they start whining about the cost of another brand new game. Right there with Robert at #25, and just pissed now that the L4D games aren’t made for PS3.

  24. I won’t be buying L4D2, but not because of some boycott nonsense.

    I’m just not really a multiplayer gamer. I bought L4D thinking the amazing setting would be enough to distract me from the disdain I have for the online gaming community at large, but it wasn’t. It remains, and I say this with as little malice intended as possible, one of the biggest wastes of my money to date.

    So I think I have a good reason to not be excited for L4D2.

  25. I bought Left 4 Dead, and probably won’t be buying Left 4 Dead 2. Not because of some boycott, or a feeling of entitlement, but because Left 4 Dead felt, to me, half-finished.
    Am I the only person who got bored with the meagre selection of maps after a few plays through? Don’t even get me started on the versus mode – only 2 playable campaigns?
    So I don’t really want to spend ¬£40 on the finished product, which looks stunning I’ll have to admit, after already losing the same amount for what appears to be the beta-release.
    Left 4 Dead was my biggest gaming disapointment of last year, so I’m not eager to jump back in, and have lost more than a little faith in Valve because of it.

  26. Ben:

    I agree that a good portion of the online gaming community is aptly described by this Penny Arcade Strip. (Warning: language)

    However, there are gems in the online gaming community— the L4D servers I play on (and the affiliated Team Fortress 2 servers) are populated by people just as likely to break out into showtunes as they are to warn you of upcoming Boomers, Hunters, and the ever so horribly timed Tank.

    I can’t speak to the online community for game consoles, having never owned one beyond my long-dead Atari 2600— but I’ve had a great deal of fun and made several good friends thanks to the multiplayer component of Valve’s game portfolio.

  27. Am I the only one who wants to simplify “Left 4 Dead 2″ into “Left 8 Dead”?

    Anyway, the only Valve game I really played was Portal (which was indeed fantastic), because I’ve never really been into FPSs. And apparently L4D is basically a multiplayer game, and I’m also with Ben on the merits of online games.

  28. I’ve got a modest proposal for the entitlement junkies: Let the people who are expected to work for nothing feed, house clothe and educate their children on your credit card.

  29. I bet a feature in the new one is going to allow Gabe Newell to secretly assume the role of the AI Director.

    Director be praised, and may he bless us with molotovs, and tier 2 weapons!

  30. Yeah, what the hell’s wrong with these people? This isn’t like music, where people like me… Er, um… like some dudes I know… are ripping CD’s and rereleasing them on the Internet. That’s theft.

    This is a video game. It’s totally different. Totally.

    Next they’ll be telling us it’s wrong to download free movies from anywhere but the studio-approved sites. THE NERVE!

  31. How’s L4D compare to Dead Rising? That was my first zombie game. I was very excited when it first came out, and I lay into zombies with a vengance. Yea verily, did the heads go bouncing let and right. And the things you can do with a lawnmower….

    But then, the sparkle wore off. And you’re just a lonely man with a camera and a golf club, in a mall full of zombies. There really is a limit to how many zombies one can take.

    So, is L4D differnet? Or just continuing a theme? I won’t deny others find zombie slaying more fun than I…I just want to know if it’s worth my own time.

  32. Ben (@31), if I had to play L4D with the general online population I wouldn’t like it nearly as much. For me it really shines when you play with cool people online.

    Unfortunately we know that most people playing online are there to prove how big of a snapperhead they can be. If you search around online you can find various communities that cater to getting fairly mature people together to play. I always play online with people from http://www.agerocks.com. If it weren’t for the people from that community, I would have stopped playing L4D months ago.

  33. The Left 4 Dead 2 boycott just indicates that there are a lot of people who love Valve’s games enough to be jilted. Valve is excellent at cultivating their relationship with their player-base, but they do mismanage that relationship from time to time. I’ve been playing this game since beta and tracking all the news about it since the summer so let me provide a little context.

    As part of the promotion of the first game, they reported on all the existing features but also hinted strongly at some features to be added after the initial release. These included new weapons, new maps, and new forms of boss infected. Nothing has been heard about any of these upgrades until now, so people that have been paying attention are taking Valve’s cheery announcement that they’re coming as part of a second title as an insult to their intelligence.

    Two of the maps in the first release were also unplayable in Versus Mode upon release, and Valve took forever getting them up to code. This is a big deal for people who got seriously into the game and found only half the game content to be playable in the most competitive game mode.

    It’s not so much the full price of the second game that people are taking issue with, it’s the broken promises of the first. People that don’t have the self-awareness to realize that they have come to expect more from Valve than from any other game developer (for good reason) will naturally have a tantrum. I think that Valve, for their part, has come to terms with this.

  34. Dude, you were in my building and didn’t stop by? (I’m on the sixth floor of the building Valve is in.) I’m saddened.

    The fact that you’d never heard of me in March of last year is no excuse.

  35. You all have way too much time on your hands! I’m changing careers – I’ve signed up for Science Fiction Writers School so I too can spend COUNTLESS hours playing games while earning millions!!

  36. Sure Valve has been great about games, but partially because Steam lets them take out the used games sales market – so their games are effectively a lot more expensive. Fine.

    But promising additional content, knowing that a lot of people were thinking the original L4D was a bit too short, and were buying in reliance of that content – then ditching it all – is a bit shady. It is a break of trust and just plain dishonest.

    It is not too much to expect promises to be kept. If they had all these great ideas, well that is wonderful. They should have saved them up.

  37. I’ll take it on good faith that if Valve says they’re releasing a new game insatead of an expansion pack, it’s a new game and worth the new game price.

    The Orange Box was one of the best values Valve released, and I don’t have nearly as much time as I wish I had to play, so I haven’t finished all of the single player games yet, and Portal is a challenge everytime.

    Valve has also been very good about releasing editors so user-generated content can be quickly made, another good thing.

    I’ll be out of the country for 2010, but once I get back I’ll be buying a better PC to game on, and by then L4d and L4D II will probably be released as a bundle with added content.

  38. PS3 owners, don’t worry. EA will likely shell out the money to port the game to PS3 for you. They handled the port to 360, after all, since Valve didn’t want to.

    (Valve already has some publishing arrangements with them, EA is who makes and distributes the retail packaging for Orange Box and Left for Dead)

    It’ll just be a little bit longer, but you’ll get your version too. Valve might be snooty enough to ignore 20+ million userbase because a console is harder to develop for (and it is significantly harder to develop for PS3) but EA certainly will not ignore it.

  39. Valve is teh awesome, a good friend of mine is working on L4D2.
    TF2 has had a lot of content come out without it being TF3, but that doesn’t mean they have to do the same thing for ALL their games.

    (And I triple-agree with anyone who mentioned the good deal that the Orange Box was…it was on sale for $10 US a month or so ago, would have been more than worth it for just Portal.)

  40. Hey Neal and Kelly, thanks for the hot tips re: gaming communities meant for the over-12 set.

    I’d never thought about it before, but now it seems clear that of COURSE such places exist.

  41. Well – where i come from (humble upbringings, -earn your way) – played UT for 5 years.. migrated to UT2004.. – got suckered into LAME-Land UT3..with its LAME Map chooser/voting system.. and its ENDLESS Array of.. muted colours.. (reminded me of the never-ending nite scenes from Bladerunner movie..with its lack of details – so that the graphics could be faster) – I was delighted to jump onboard with L4D – great game, loads of fun.. AND THERE WAS A PROMISE OF MORE MAPS – unfortunately.. “Survivor mode was to L4D as SUICIDE is to Fighting for your LIFE .. duhhh – its pointless and disappointing to say the least -did i mention pointless .. oh yeah. .i did, wanted to make sure i made that point” – YES we are spoiled in UT world with hundreds of maps.. 80-90% of which im sure are “home-grown” – developed by other enthusiastic users/players – but Valve could have easily.. released another “short” movie (which is just as good as the game) and 4 new maps.. for free as a way of saying.. THANK YOU LOYAL L4D Fans.. – OH..and here is $20 OFF the NEW version too -but only for L4D owners :) – without alienating us by asking us to BUY MORE! SURE bring out L4D2 as an entirely separate entity – and ask us to pay for it..thats fine..im sure it will be a good game.. but don’t leave us stone cold with only 4 maps. (Survivor mode DOES NOT COUNT) – If we give them the right to do this to us this time.. then it will happen again and again.. and when your playing.. L4D v211b – you will THEN realize at 50$ a pop.. you just sunk your retirement funds or lil Johnnies College Tuition into game playing.. AND AS MUCH AS YOU HATE WoW-for letting you RENT another full-time job..(err.oh umm..was WoW supposed to be a fun game?) it will only be when they come out with Release 212 of L4D that you realize your “fees” over those past 20 years for L4D re-releases are nothing SHORT of “renting” the game.. see.. again – i iterate.. I bought a house so i wouldnt have to rent, i BUY my games so i dont have to rent them.. PRIDE is part of the ownership package.. “USED” is part of the rental world – heaven forbid some exec at VALVE EVER consider 60 day memberships to use L4D – or L4D2, or L4D3..(etc) .. that would be the day i Unplug my PC and retire..

  42. @Brian – I’m with you. It’s a GREAT game as far as it goes, but it needed three more maps. I was hoping the recent Downloadable content update would include more than just the one new survivor mode mini-map.

    Half-life, by contrast has always been a HUGE game. It takes hours to get though the first one or Half-life 2, and there’s lots to explore.

  43. When you (or anyone) gets me agitated the first thing to go.. is.. my grammatical accuracy… and yes.. i have been asked on a couple occassions.. “do you take a breath between sentences?”

    There.. is that better.. (remember jimmimc -calm.. in through the nose..exhale out through the mouth.. calm.. ahhh )

    My Rant is small.. just give us a few more L4D (v1) maps.. .. :) give me a discount on V2.. don’t make me pay full price like the late bloomers (i said BLOOMERs not Boomers) – who just NOW are jumping on the band wagon.. reward US for our LOYALTY..

    …inhale.. .. holding… ahhhh (exhale) ..there we go :)

  44. Peter Jackson didn’t give us a discount for the 2nd or 3rd LOTR movies after the first ‘loyal’ fans went to see Fellowship of the Ring.

    LFD2 will feature plenty of new content that extends the story and the gameplay. If you’re a PC gamer, this is A Good Thing. Step up and be counted, my friends.

  45. Writers Blogs: Because they use their word-boy powers to say what you’re thinking with more elegance and ability than you could in a reasonable timeframe.

    Anyone who thinks $50 for a game is a lot of money should try spending an evening in a bar, let alone a restaurant, then run the cost/benefit per hour of fun from there. Plus, games don’t give you hangovers – you just occasionally peer around doorways before circle-strafing through them. We all do that… right?

  46. I’ve seen video (I’ve never actually played L4D) of people playing L4D on TF2 maps. 2fort looks really creepy in L4D. So then why not just make maps and import it into the game, you know, like people have been doing since Quake?

  47. L4D is a great game, but I think it’s really a technical demonstration masquerading as a game.

    The first Half Life was an amazing game. It showed us what Valve could do with storytelling elements inside a FPS. But the game wasn’t really finished – the story didn’t have a great ending and the gameplay was a little limited, which we all realized as soon as Half Life 2 showed up. L4D is the same thing, which is not bad at all, considering Half Life 2 is considered one the best games ever made.

    I think L4D, while a great game, is really a beta test of the features, gameplay, and style of L4D2, which will be the game L4D should have been. I can’t wait!

  48. Kevin S @59

    It’s been my general observation that the people who honk loudest about wanting Free Stuff are also the least willing to put in effort to have things of their own – such as pulling 2fort into Hammer and setting some spawn locations, ammo points, hero closets et al.

    Again, general observation.

    Hitting up the neighbourhood 3D-savvy chap and then calling him a douchebag for not doing these things for them for free also seems to be a recurring, stabby-making theme. Like I have nothing better to do with my time. End of minirant.

  49. It seems a bit silly to complain about being “ripped off” for a game that you are spending a massive amount of time on. Seems to me the rip-off is the game you buy for $60 and end up playing for a couple of hours because it sucks, not the game that you play evening after evening for months.

  50. See also “Why are they making us keep paying for the iPhone contracts we signed, when the new one comes out we should all get discounted upgrades!”

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