Last November, Valve Software blew away gamers once again with the release of its zombie-themed first-person shooter, Left 4 Dead. For the uninitiated, Valve is infamous for the Half-Life franchise, releasing the initial installment on the PC back in 1998. The game utilized a highly modified version of id Software's original Quake engine, and brought a new level of cinematic detail to the FPS genre. Half-Life 2, released in 2004, used the company's in-house Source engine, and re-affirmed that Valve Software was still a first-class developer after six years of remaining silent.
After spending most of its development years working on the Half-Life, Counter-Strike, and Team Fortress titles, Valve thus acquired the new Left 4 Dead IP from Turtle Rock Studios in January 2008; it immediately became a huge success when released the following November. Valve took fans by surprise last week at E3 by announcing a sequel to the hit zombie FPS, Left 4 Dead 2, set to hit retail outlets in November 2009, just one year after the original title's release. Normally sequels bring joy and happiness to fans yearning for more, however this particular announcement left many fans thoroughly disgusted.
In fact, over 21,000 gamers have now joined the L4D2 Boycott (NO-L4D2) Steam group, a gathering of individuals who have pledged to do just what the title states: boycott the upcoming sequel. The biggest fear, it seems, is that Valve will discontinue L4D content updates that was originally promised to consumers, rendering L4D prematurely obsolete. The group clearly requests that Valve honor its commitment to periodic content, that the new "sequel" be released as free content instead, and that L4D owners be given discounts for L4D2 should it be released as premium content.
"The release of Left 4 Dead 2 as a stand-alone sequel will split the communities and decrease the quality of multiplayer gaming," the site states. "The announced content of Left 4 Dead 2 does not warrant a stand-alone, full-priced sequel and should instead become updates (free or otherwise) for Left 4 Dead." Of course, it's possible that Valve plans to address existing L4D copies by providing a premium pack that will add the improvements and content provided in the retail version of L4D2. In other words, Valve may supply consumers with two options: upgrade the existing version by purchasing a premium pack, or buy the new stand-alone game.
According to this screenshot, Valve's apparent answer to the L4D2 boycott is to distribute threats of banishment or to delete forum posts altogether. However, it's understandable why Valve would want to keep some form of "positive" order in its forums. On the other hand, fans have every right to be concerned in regards to L4D2 and how it will affect the original title. Keep in mind that development on L4D began in mid-2005, and hit retail shelves three years later. In the case of L4D2, only one "development year" has passed. Naturally, fans are going to question the overall quality.
"Left 4 Dead 2 is a larger game and will be supported with even more consumer and retail advertising programs than the original," said Doug Lombardi, VP of marketing at Valve. We asked Doug about the overall development process in regards to the IP and expanding the L4D story across multiple sequels, however we have not received a response.