Valve cools boycott heat with studio tour

Valve cools boycott heat with studio tour

By Rob Crossley

September 10th 2009 at 5:53PM

Note to devs: Simple studio tour will kill the delusion of 'Evil Corporate Empires'

Two influential protesters calling for a boycott on Valve’s upcoming Left 4 Dead 2 have calmed their outrage, after being invited to a studio tour at Valve’s Washington HQ.

The move has, however intentional, redirected outrage onto the boycott’s two ringleaders – ‘Walking_Target’ and ‘Agent of Chaos’ – for being visibly placated from the expenses-paid studio tour.

In June, the Half-Life developer found itself on the receiving end of a 25,000-member strong online petition criticising its decision to develop Left 4 Dead 2 shortly after releasing the original game.

The Left 4 Dead 2 Boycott Group fervently states that the upcoming sequel “does not warrant a stand-alone, full-priced sequel and should instead become updates (free or otherwise) for Left 4 Dead.”

This was followed by a reasoned, but ultimately ineffective, response by Valve co-founder Gabe Newell, who pledged that the studio would continue to support the original game with updates.

The boycott group’s member list now stands above 41,000. However, the protest group had not envisaged Valve’s ace-in-the-hole.

Last week Valve invited both ‘Walking_Target’ and ‘Agent of Chaos’ to its Washington studio to get a sneak preview of Left 4 Dead 2.

Following the trip, both boycott leaders’ immediate response has been positive of the game.

“Rather than trying to explain everything via email, [Valve] invited us out to their offices in Bellevue, Washington,” said Mr 'Target'.

“That alone speaks of a developer that really does care about its fanbase. So, after making arrangements and booking the time off of our jobs, we flew down for a day to take a quick tour and talk with the guys at Valve.”

Mr Target continued to praise the very game he previously criticised the mere existence of.

“As for L4D2, things seemed balanced and 'tight' and did not feel like a rushed job,” he wrote on the boycotter’s webpage.

“While we were visiting their offices we personally witnessed what can only be called a small army of artists, coders, mappers hard at work, which explains the rapid transformations in artwork that we've all seen.

“What we can say with confidence is that the quality of gameplay in Left 4 Dead 2 is not in question; and it will only get better.”

Followers of the group made immediate ‘sell-out’ criticisms of the ringleader’s sudden sympathy towards Valve.

"You guys are sellouts, this group is worthless,” said group member ‘7G>Gaz’. “It's not about what's in L4D2, it's what's left out of L4D. You failed to call them on that."

Another member provided this rhetorical question to the pair: “Isn’t this the part where you step away from the mic to sell out?”

Walking_Target responded to the initial batch of criticisms by admitting he was “fully aware” of how the situation looks.

The sudden swing in attitude places emphasis on the internet-fed era of game enthusiasts.

Much to the studio’s delight, no doubt, Valve’s move raises a bigger question beyond that of Left 4 Dead 2.

If a studio allows game fans to witness the level of passion, dedication, spirit and community found in its offices; is that enough to break the us-versus-them mentality that permeates through the multitude of message boards?

Valve's newest play against its protestors suggests so.