The game’s high price (50$) doesn’t help its modest content’s cause, but I do believe that these money are a sort of trust investment. Valve hasn’t given up on any of their titles so far, and it’s one of the few game companies that interact directly with the gaming community, without compromising their standards or the quality of their games.
The „Dude, Where’s My Thumb?” picture contest, Gabe Newell’s attitude when it comes to feedback („Mail me!”) and various anthologies and special packages that include Left 4 Dead are more than marketing tricks. Furthermore, the producers talked about and player L4D with the buyers on the 22nd of November, which denotes a direct and personal implication on their part in the feedback process.
In my opinion, that goes to show how any game studio should act – and understand that the production process doesn’t stop at launch. I can only hope that in a few months, additions brought to L4D would justify the fat price tag.
What makes Left 4 Dead an internet phenomenon that’s worth buying, beyond the objective qualities that we can point out, is its property of being, as I call it, „visually quotable”. You have utterly no idea, unless you’ve already played it, how many funny, morbid and interesting things can happen in just one hour of playing.
Remember telling various friends about all sorts of spectacular or quirky events that you were part of in some video game? „And X was camping behind this crane, right? Y and Z go right by him. He’d put explosives just in front of them and was getting ready to press the red button, right? That was just before W, who was crouched on some crates, somewhere above, takes out his detonator and blows the other three players to smithereens. Tee hee.”
Just bits and tales about unimportant stuff, that only make sense to the people involved. To them, they’re interesting enough that they get to spend hours on end narrating funny random happenings.
So Left 4 Dead is basically the „Royale with Cheese” of this year’s multiplayer shooters. Just that the french fries next to it aren’t covered in mayo, but blood.
„I’ve seen ‘em do it, man. They fuckin’ drown ‘em in that shit.”