Half-Life 2

Valve trademarks 'Half-Life 3,' Internet goes bananas

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Valve, the genre-bending game developer that gave us the Half-Life and Portal series, made much ado last week about a new console, controller and operating system, but fans of the company didn’t get the one thing they’ve been waiting for since 2005: Half-Life 3.

But, after nearly a decade of rumors started and debunked, one of the most anticipated games of all time may finally be coming.

The Internet is buzzing today as Valve appears to have filed a trademark request for the name Half-Life 3 with the European Union. This rather mundane government form has jolted new life into the hopes of Half-Life fans everywhere.

"You can't trademark things just in case," writes Reddit user prabab on a thread analyzing—and overanalyzing —the implications of this move. "This is a pretty big deal from a legal point of view. If you're registering a trademark you have to use it in the near future or you'll lose it."

The excitement of these fans comes as no surprise. Since it was first announced in 2007, around the release of Half-Life 2: Episode 2 (the most recent episodic title in the series), the game has lingered in development hell. During the intervening six years (nine if you count the time from Half-Life 2), rumors have swirled and the company has had time to develop a massively successful spin-off series that expands on the Half-Life universe. But still, there has not been a proper third chapter in the main story.

The trademark in question has all the signs of a new Half-Life game. Not only in name and company, but the trademark itself covers "computer game software; electronic game software; downloadable computer game software via a global computer network and wireless devices; [and] video game software."

There have, of course, been false promises before, pushing Half-Life 3 closer and closer into Duke Nukem Forever territory, but the trademark news was further validated when Valve's bug tracker briefly went public last night, and Half-Life 3 was among the titles listed. 

However, experts who've monitored the game company's progress for years urged caution when it comes to gamers getting their hopes up. Kyle Orland at Ars Technica points out that the bug tracker hint could just be a holdover from when the game was actually in development. He also said the lack of a U.S. trademark filing is odd.

"I know, I know, I shouldn't get my hopes up before Valve actually announces something," Orland writes. "And there's no US trademark on file yet, and that is a little odd. Now that you mention it, Valve never actually trademarked Half-Life 2 in Europe... though it did renew the registration for plain old Half-Life in 2005."

Still, with Valve in the midst of planning a new game system, Half-Life 3 does seem like the perfect launch title to help move the hardware off the shelves. And all this news is sending some fans' expectations soaring.

Screengrab via Valve