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Why Valve Won't Do Threequels, According To Portal's Writer

Valve, the developer behind PC gaming platform Steam and video games including "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive," has never published a trilogy. Popular YouTube channel Did You Know Gaming interviewed Valve writer Erik Wolpaw about why. Wolpaw has worked on multiple Valve games, including both "Portal" games and the "Half-Life" expansions. When asked about why Valve never published trilogies, he said, "I don't know."

"It's almost like the numbering system works against us because we made Half-Life 2, then sorta made a 3, but it was an episode," he continued. "So maybe that was just the luck of the draw."

"Half-Life," multiple parts of "Half-Life 2," and multiple spinoffs exist. "Half-Life 2" also has a "Half-Life 2: Episode One" and "Episode Two." Some fans consider "Half-Life Alyx," the VR game based on the series, a threequel just because it's the first full-length "Half-Life" game after 2 and considered the "comeback" of the series.

Wolpaw reiterated that he didn't think Valve was deliberately barring trilogies at all. The lack of trilogies was just a coincidence from the staff just getting "sucked into" other stuff — perhaps other projects they were more interested in. "Some day, hopefully, there will be a 3 of something," he said.

He did have a theory about why Valve has avoided trilogies so far, though. Here's what Wolpaw told Did You Know Gaming.

Why Valve hasn't made any trilogies

Wolpaw suspects that developers' main motivation for creating a sequel is finding "errors" in their first game of a new IP. Once these developers review their work, they think up new ideas and find ways to improve that would work in a sequel. They then channel that drive into the second game. 

So Wolpaw bases his theory on the assumption that developers are less motivated to work on a third game if they already fulfilled their need to improve with a second game. The same developers might be satisfied enough with their improvements that they don't feel the need to contribute to threequel.

This isn't necessarily the case for every Valve developer, though. Wolpaw wants a "Portal" sequel. He revealed that he and writer Jay Pinkerton already have an idea for what to do for "Portal 3," even if all the details haven't been finalized. 

"Jay and I have an idea that we think is pretty awesome," he said. "We don't have a script or any details worked out, but we have sort of a starting point that we like a ton."