Another day, another rumor about the future of the Half-Life series. It's all feeling a little bit tired at this point isn't it? But as we scramble in the darkness of an information-less void like a blind man still we reach for what little light we can find, and it's so tempting to read into rumors whenever they appear.
But this latest one seems like the weakest of them all. Coming from not just a second but a third hand report from websites which have attempted to lead us astray before (via BreatheCast and Parent Herald), this rumor originated in that wretched hive of scum and villainy known as Reddit (we kid, we love Reddit really. No we do.).
So, let's break this one down.
According to the "report", a Reddit user opened up the leak of the century when they posted on the popular messaging board site about a confirmed release date for the long awaited and all hope being lost upon Half-Life 3.
This (unspecified) user claimed their info to be legitimate (don't they all) and wrote "[Half Life 3] may release this year, the biggest factor that I've heard is marketability". The report also claims that the user was able to provide evidence to moderators backing up their claims.
Unfortunately for us (and all too conveniently) the thread in question has now been archived and deleted. Hmm. According to Parent Herald a representative from Valve came along and asked the Reddit mods to remove the forum, and they obliged.
Okay so, does this maybe lend credence to the rumor? Unlikely, as this is all speculation at the moment and nothing has been confirmed about the particulars of the conversation or why the thread was shut down. A statement from Reddit claimed "the whole thing was likely a hoax", which does seem like the most likely option here.
It wouldn't be entirely unlike Valve to pull the rug out from under us with a surprise 2016 release date, but comments coming from the company over the past few years (it's been more than eight years since Half-Life 2 remember) haven't exactly filled us with hope.
According to Counter Strike co-creator Minh Le, Valve is currently focusing their development on the next instalment in the Left 4 Dead series - Left 4 Dead 3 - and while he also claims to have seen some concept art for Half-Life 3, that's not exactly huge news given that there's been bits of that floating around the net for years (though how much of it is genuine remains to be seen).
And in an interview last year the billion-dollar Valve CEO Gabe Newell was again asked the million-dollar question regarding Half-Life 3, and his response was less than optimistic:
"The only reason we'd go back and do like a super classic kind of product is if a whole bunch of people just internally at Valve said they wanted to do it and had a reasonable explanation for why.
But you know if you want to do another Half-Life game and you want to ignore everything we've learned in shipping Portal 2 and in shipping all the updates on the multiplayer side, that seems like a bad choice. So we'll keep moving forward. But that doesn't necessarily always mean what people are worried that it might mean."
So, okay, again he didn't deny that Half-Life 3 will ever see the light of day, but he doesn't sound particularly enthused about it either, right?
It's been widely speculated that the reason there's little news on the Half-Life 3 side is because Valve are too busy making huge profits from their Steam service, DOTA 2 micro-transactions and other popular franchises; Left 4 Dead, Portal, Counter-Strike, Team Fortress etc.
This is a feeling that Newell's comments regarding Portal 2 and multi-player updates certainly seem to chime with, making it less likely that we'll ever see Half-Life 3 clawing through to the light of day.
The debacle has been on-going for eight long years, and it currently looks like fans of the series aren't ever going to get a conclusion to the story of Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance. So we've called it, we've drawn a line in the sand and said that it's probably never going to to happen and we're just going to have to make our peace with that. And if it does? Then we'll be all the more excited by it. But for now? We're not holding our breath.