Will There Be A Portal 3?
Given the trajectory Valve has taken in recent years, chances seem slim that the company will turn the Portal series into a franchise.
Valve’s Portal was originally released in 2007 to critical acclaim. The game was ostensibly set in the Half-Life universe and following the adventures of Chell, a woman forced to undergo a variety of tests at the discretion of GLaDOS, a malicious AI that controls the Aperture Science Enrichment Center. The first-person puzzle-platform game was such a hit amid consumers that it lead to a sequel, Portal 2, which released four years later in 2011. But now that it’s been almost a decade since the second Portal debuted, many wonder if Portal 3 will ever see the light of day. Unfortunately, given the trajectory Valve has taken in recent years, the likelihood of this series being turned into a trilogy is bleak.
Portal 2 ended on a relatively happy note, so it doesn’t feel as though the franchise needs a third game in order to tie up loose ends. GLaDOS, everyone’s favorite passive-aggressive AI, ends up releasing Chell, appeasing gamers in the process. But of course, there’s still a lot to work with in the Portal universe, so it would be easy enough for the developers to think of a new captivating storyline for a third installment.
However, it appears as though Valve has no interest in creating a third Portal game, and for various reasons. For one, the company infamously stops its franchises with the second sequel. Valve’s other big successes such as Dota, Half-Life, and Left4Dead have only ever seen a second installment, despite having strong fan bases that would love to see another game. This may seem surprising, especially considering how much of a profit Valve stood to gain from turning any of these series into a trilogy, Portal included. But it appears the company has shifted away from large, single-player games over the years (Half-Life Alyx notwithstanding) further explaining why a Portal 3 is unlikely at this point.
Why Valve Refuses To Turn Portal Into A Trilogy
Valve has admitted that they’ve increasingly lost interest in single-player games, even though they know there could’ve been a lot of money in taking the alternative route. “We were a single-player video game company that could have been really successful just doing Half-Life sequel after Half-Life sequel,” Gabe Newell, founder of Valve, told the Washington Post in 2014. “But we collectively said let’s try to make multiplayer games even though there’s never been a commercial successful multi-player game.” Rather, Valve has begun to largely focus on digital platform Steam as well as creative various VR demos, leaving their classic franchises in the dust, at least for now.
In fact, it appears as though Valve was never planning on making a second Portal in the first place. Valve writer Erik Wolpaw has previously said the sequel happened primarily because many of the employees at Valve wanted to work on the project. “The bottom line was Portal 1 was made by a team of students that we picked up from DigiPen who had made a small demo game called Narbacular Drop,” he explained, Gamasutra reports. “So that left like 150 people at Valve who didn’t get to work on Portal, but who loved Portal. After we shipped The Orange Box, that left a bunch of people wanted to work on a Portal game.”
Although Valve has a precedence of allowing its team to work on projects they’re passionate about – hence how Portal 2 came into fruition – many of the employees who worked on the original and sequel are no longer with Valve. Kim Swift, the mastermind behind Narbacular Drop, which eventually became Portal, left the company in 2009 to pursue a job with Electronic Arts. Erik Wolpaw and his co-writer Chet Faliszek have both said goodbye to Valve for other projects (though Wolpaw later returned to Valve). Similarly, Doug Wood, who worked on design and animation for Portal 2, as well as Josh Weier, Portal 2’s project leader, have both left the company. Not only does this suggest that the Valve team likely isn’t as interested in pursuing Valve 3, since many of the original collaborators have left, but it also means Portal 3 would be wildly different from its predecessors if it actually happened, a move that likely wouldn’t sit well with fans.
As of now, unfortunately, the chances appears slim that Valve may create another Portal sequel and turn the franchise into a trilogy. At the very least, however, there exist a plethora of fan-made Portal levels thanks to Portal 2’s level editor, launched in 2011, as well as a variety of unofficial Portal mods and fan games. So, even if Valve isn’t committed to creating a Portal 3, at least the franchise is staying alive and active thanks to the commitment of its dedicated fan base.