Valve has made a lot of money off the zombie craze, and Left 4 Dead continues to pull more than its fair share of weight with the developer/publisher. According to their staff, the franchise has sold 12 million copies of its games so far.
In fact, Valve writer Chet Faliszek tells VG24/7 that the series’ success is mostly due to the internet’s word-of-mouth, although a fair share of marketing always goes into it:
Telling people a game is great will sell one extra copy. Letting people play the game – Left 4 Dead is a good example – is much better. All of our pre-release stuff is designed to just let people play it. We just let the game speak for itself because the internet has made this thing where, you can’t pull the wool over people’s eyes any more. They’re going to know you’re hyping.
But when a game does really well at pre-release, they’re going to know that you’re not just talking a bunch of PR crap. I mean, the Left 4 Dead series has now sold over 12 million copies. That’s amazingly cool, and that wasn’t because I was out there like, ‘Oh my god! This game is amazing! Buy it!’ Seeing Counter-Strike be the number one PSN title was awesome, and you know it’s just because of people reacting to the game.
Although Valve is primarily a PC-gaming focused company, the Left 4 Dead series has actually fared extremely well with the Xbox 360 crowd, selling about 6 million physical copies.
Of course, digital sales for PC are much harder to track than retail sales, and there’s always the issue of piracy cramping down on the number of active players. Regardless, the franchise is still hale and healthy, and Left 4 Dead 3 is all but certain to happen—Valve just needs to decide on a date and console generation.