Campo Santo co-founder (and now Valve employee) Jake Rodkin confirms the status of In the Valley of the Gods.
We all like to joke about Valve’s development strategy, about how it just doesn’t make games anymore. (And how it just can’t bring itself to make the third game in a trilogy.)
Where the developer and publisher once used to produce experiences like Half-Life and Left 4 Dead, it now functions as a two-pronged money-making machine, churning out cash hand over fist from its Steam storefront and its esports service games, like Dota 2 and CS: GO.
Indications were that this modus operandi might be changing when Valve bought Campo Santo, the independent studio behind the brilliant Firewatch, one of our games of the last decade.
“Why would Valve buy the Campo crew if they weren’t wanting to make single-player games?” We all wondered, idly.
Then it appeared our prayers were answered – sort of – when Valve announced Half-Life: Alyx. No, it’s not Half-Life 3. And yes, it is VR-only. But it is a new Half-Life game, which is something we didn’t really believe was possible. And with a bunch of the former Campo Santo developers tweeting excitedly about Alyx’s announcement, it seemed clear that their first-person adventure chops were being utilised on the new game.
But the monkey’s paw demands a terrible price. And as the finger curled, and Half-Life: Alyx was delivered into the world, the cost was paid elsewhere.
In a statement to Polygon, Campo Santo co-founder Jake Rodkin confirmed that the team’s next game, In the Valley of the Gods, is now on hold. The game was originally slated for a 2019 release window, which – given we only have a few weeks left in the year – was looking unlikely. Hence the statement, we presume.
“To fans looking forward to In the Valley of Gods, it’s probably clear that the optimistic “2019” at the end of the announcement trailer isn’t going to be accurate. In the end, Valve Time makes fools of us all. But yes, developers from the former Campo Santo team have joined other projects at Valve, including Half-Life: Alyx. As you can imagine, our experience in the first-person adventure genre is pretty relevant. You hear a lot about how at Valve you can work on what you want. It turns out that’s true, and there’s a lot of work available. As we integrated ourselves into Valve it became clear there was a lot of valuable work to be done on Half-Life: Alyx. Some of us starting lending a hand, and have since become full-time on the project as it approaches launch. Similarly, some ex-Campos are working on Dota Underlords, some are on Steam, and so on. So to answer your question as of today, In the Valley of Gods development is on hold—but it certainly feels like a project people can and may return to. And when that happens, we’ll find an exciting way to let fans know.” – Jake Rodkin, Valve Software
In the Valley of the Gods isn’t completely dead, then. There’s still a chance it will be completed. It’s a game many of us were looking forward to, and it will be such a shame if it isn’t, but the important thing is that the former Campo Santo team are enjoying their work at Valve.
Who among us would have passed up an opportunity to work on the next Half-Life game? But maybe when they’re done, and in the inevitable 12-year gap before Valve deigns to make another one, the Campo crew will get the chance to finish In the Valley of the Gods.