Valve writer explains why Portal 3 isn’t happening anytime soon
Fans have been crying out for Portal 3 for the longest time and a recent podcast with Erik Wolpaw, a writer on the first two games, has given an insight into what he believes is taking Valve so long.
It’s a long-running joke in the gaming community at this point that Valve seem unable to count to three, as all their leading franchises seem to stop at two games.
Half-Life 2 is awaiting a fully-fledged sequel, Team Fortress 2 seems destined to stay at two games, and even Left 4 Dead 2 fans have been left frustrated. But one of Valve’s most popular franchises has had fans demanding a sequel for years – namely, Portal 3.
2011’s Portal 2 was a monumental success in terms of sales, critical reception, and fan adoration. 12 years later, and we seem no closer to getting a trilogy. During an appearance on the My Perfect Console podcast with Simon Parkin, Erik Wolpaw discussed his thoughts on why Valve haven’t commissioned a sequel to the two games he previously worked on as a writer.
“Valve is not a giant company, people sometimes think it is”
“In a flat structure like Valve, there is an opportunity cost to doing anything. Whatever is going on at Valve right now requires the dedication and participation of the people working on it,” Wolpaw said.
“To some extent, I would like to make a Portal 3, but I understand – other than the fact that I’m largely joking when I say it just to give Valve some cr*p – to really go out and advocate something like that could be destructive, just in the sense that you don’t want to cause some internal strife.”
Wolpaw explained that the smaller nature of Valve, despite the amount of success they’ve found, makes it difficult to commit to new projects and sequels.
“Valve is not a giant company, I think people sometimes think it is because of the outsized influence of Steam, but it’s not really that many people, so it takes manpower to keep Dota going, it takes manpower to keep CS:GO going and the freeform nature of Valve means there are simply a lot of experiments that simply fail.”
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Wolpaw also stated that the Steam platform has been instrumental in helping many game creators and smaller companies get their games and studios off the ground: “If I had to choose between Valve’s games and Steam, which I believe is the most democratizing technology that ever came out to allow people to create games and get them in front of people — I guess I would choose Steam.”
With Valve raking in billions each year and dividing a smaller workforce up on maintaining the Steam storefront, providing updates and refinements to existing titles, and even making the odd new title such as Half-Life: Alyx or Counter-Strike 2 – time constraints became a factor.
Wolpaw then discusses how he thinks the overarching view of Valve slowing down is incorrect and squarely places the blame on Valve’s shoulders for releasing too much content in a short period of time.
“When I started in 2004, to the release of Portal  in March of 2011, Valve released a cr*pload of games in that time: Episode 1, Episode 2, Portal, Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead 1, Left 4 Dead 2, and Portal 2, plus updates to a bunch of those games and DLCs – that was a busy time.”
If figures are to be believed, Valve are making $54 million a month just from CS:GO cases. Not only that, but the Steam Deck is also going to require a large workforce to help maintain it and even work on a second console.
It remains to be seen if all this will ever leave Valve enough time or even motivation to want to make Portal 3, or any other game with a three in the title, so fans will just have to keep their fingers crossed.