Valve has made the Half-Life series free to play leading up to the launch of its latest game
In order for new players to get up to speed on the lore, setting, and story of Half-Life, Valve announced that it's allowing anyone who has downloaded the Steam PC gaming platform access to every previously released game in the Half-Life franchise until the launch of Half-Life: Alyx, the first new entry to the series in well over a decade.
The announcement was made via a news post on Steam alongside a post on Valve's Twitter. Valve gave the following rationale behind the decision to allow everyone to use Steam to play through every released Half-Life game for free:
"Half-Life: Alyx is set before the events of Half-Life 2 and the episodes, but the games share characters and story elements. The Half-Life: Alyx team believes that the best way to enjoy the new game is to play through the old ones, especially Half-Life 2 and the episodes, so we want to make that as easy as possible."
In addition to this free play period, Valve is promoting Half-Life with a Reddit "ask me anything" thread hosted by members of Alyx's development team. On top of development insights and tidbits around the game, the developers discuss how the 2nd version of the Source engine includes several from-the-ground-up upgrades that integrate technologies that emerged following the release of the original Source engine back in June of 2004, such as virtual reality and geometry building and texturing techniques.
Half-Life: Alyx is scheduled to release in March. It will only be playable using a virtual reality handset that supports Steam VR, Once it releases, the promotion to play the Half-Life series for free will no longer be available. Every game in the franchise can be found on Steam's dedicated Half-Life franchise page, as well as the Half-Life Complete bundle.