Valve Is Giving Away the Half-Life Games for Free

Screenshot from the first Half-Life game.

Screenshot from the first Half-Life game. (Image credit: Valve)

Valve shocked everyone in November by announcing the release of a new Half-Life game that takes place in virtual reality (VR). Yesterday, it announced that it wants to celebrate the upcoming Half-Life: Alyx by making the other entries in the long-running series free-to-play on Steam.

It's been a while since Valve released a Half-Life game (or updated any of its non-competitive series, for that matter, but that's a complaint for another time). The first game debuted in 1998, then Half-Life 2 was released in 2004, followed by Half-Life 2: Episode One and Half-Life 2: Episode Two in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Then... nothing.

Valve finally broke its silence in November with Half-Life: Alyx and plans to make the game free for people who own a Valve Index VR headset. Everyone else can purchase the game via Steam in March.

The preceding Half-Life titles were immensely popular on release, and Valve often discounts them during its Steam sales, too. But Valve making all Half-Life games free could still help drum up enthusiasm for Half-Life: Alyx. 

Let's put it this way: people born in 2007 are now 13 years old. Even people years older might not have bought the Half-Life games; it's not like anyone expected the series to be relevant again after it went untouched for over a decade. Now those whippersnappers can see for themselves what all the hype is about.

Just don't wait too long to add the games to your Steam library. Valve said the Half-Life series would only be free-to-play until Half-Life: Alyx debuts in March. That means there's no time like the present to learn why many gamers haven't shut up about the possibility (or unlikeliness) of Valve releasing Half-Life 3 for the last 13 years.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • NightHawkRMX
    Rrrr. I bought half-life 2 late last year. I should get a refund.
  • ThatMouse
    Free to play until March is not the same as giving away.
  • jimmysmitty
    ; it's not like anyone expected the series to be relevant again after it went untouched for over a decade

    The interesting thing is plenty of people, even myself, have been saying that VALVe was holding off as they like to use Half Life as a showcase of new ideas. Half Life was proof that you could run the Quake engine on Windows 95 and be a popular game. Half Life 2 was all about the physics and facial animations (that to this day are still fantastic). Episode one was showing off their new AI for Alyx and Episode 2 is massive on the upgraded physics, hence the collapsing train bridge in the beginning.

    Most games are built around those ideas for VALVe. Its not really a big surprise they are launching a VR main title to really show off a full fledged VR game.