A lot of people are happy that a sequel to Left 4 Dead has been announced, a lot of people are upset or even angry however and I really can’t blame them.
The people saying they deserve free content are of course wrong, Valve owe them nothing of the sort. I do however believe that some of them do have a point. They paid anywhere between £20 and £35 (depending on where they got it and when) for Left 4 Dead and have now been told that it was the price for one years play. “But you can continue to play Left 4 Dead after the sequel comes out” I hear you say, not entirely true. Look at what happened when Epic released a direct (and improved) replacement for Unreal Tournament 2003 one year later, everyone moved to Unreal Tournament 2004, and servers for 2003 became empty and lonely places. A sequel with this few changes, mainly things that were promised in the release of the original, will move most of the playerbase away from the original game, leaving only the bots to play with. Some people are saying “Valve will continue to support the first game”, but that really doesn’t mater if there is no one playing it any more. Perhaps Valve intend to turn it into a yearly franchise? Well there is a reason why I don’t buy multiplayer games published by Activision, they don’t bloody last. Everyone moves on to the inevitable sequel and your game becomes worthless. If I wanted to pay a subscription for my on-line gaming then I would buy a bloody XBox, I don’t need the latest mindless sequel to have fun in an on-line game, I just need other players to still be on it. I know multiplayer games have a limited lifespan, (you can’t find many servers for Death Match Classic any more, UT2004 is almost unplayable on-line) but to limit it to one year like this is frigging ridiculous.
In my opinion Valve should release this as an expansion pack. They should port the new AI and director to the first one (for free) and then allow them to play against owners of expansion pack (and original) on the old campaigns only. Doing it as an expansion pack like this is the only way they will not kill the player base of the first game. If they do release a strait sequel you can bet that a lot of people won’t buy it for fear of Left 4 Dead 3 the following autumn.
Part of me hopes that this announcement is a joke, and there are a few oddities that point to that being the case. I don’t mind paying for an update like this and I don’t think I have been ripped off with the content I have got for my initial purchase, but to make a sequel of a multiplayer game so soon, before the first has really had a chance to build up a proper community, will kill off the old game within a week or so of the sequels release.
It will be interesting to see how long Left 4 Dead stays at the top of the Steam best-sellers list now it has clearly been Left 2 Die.
Valve’s Erik Johnson has made a statement regarding the community upset over L4D2.
We do have risks in that we don’t want to split the two camps, we don’t want a Left 4 Dead 1 group and a Left 4 Dead 2 group, that’s a problem that we need to figure out.
If they do work out how to do it (and in my opinion the only way is to release this as an expansion that requires the original) then I will take back what I have said. Until then however I remain disappointed with the news that they thought that L4D was so bad that they needed to start on a sequel right away. If they were that unhappy with it why did they charge £35 for it?
Their splitting of the official forums hasn’t helped either.