Looks like it might not be time for Mr. Freeman to wake up after all.
Earlier this week, we reported that Valve had filed a trademark for Half-Life 3 with the Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union, as evidenced by an entry on their database. Now, that entry has disappeared, calling into question whether the filing was indeed made on behalf of Valve or was instead a hoax perpetrated by a third-party.
The removal was first spotted by ValveTime, who note that the trademark filing was still under examination when it caught the attention of NeoGAF users. In light of its removal, one possible conclusion is that someone at Valve saw the online reaction to the listing, quickly realized it was not their doing, and contacted officials to get it pulled.
A quick examination of the EU’s online trademark application process shows that anyone could, at least theoretically, quite easily submit an application using the name of any company and representative that’s already in the database. That might explain how a fake filing could appear to use genuine contact info for both Valve and Casalonga et Associes, the Spanish law firm that’s aided the developer on some of their prior European trademarks.
The only real stumbling block for any potential hoax would be the 900 Euro filing fee—though it’s easy to imagine that a prankster with deep pockets might have thought stirring up a frenzy on the Internet would be worth it.
Even if this trademark application was indeed a hoax, that’s doesn’t mean that Half-Life 3 isn’t coming at some point down the line. Numerous leaks of Valve’s internal project tracker have confirmed that the game is still in active development, but it may not be as close to an official reveal as this trademark filing led many to believe.
Another curious development? The database now lists a new trademark application from Valve, filed on Wednesday, October 2nd. This one’s for Portal 3—a game which hasn’t been referenced in any of those leaks. The likely conclusion is that this is a similar hoax from the same person or persons responsible for the first, but there’s no way of knowing for certain.
One thing’s for sure, though: Until Valve comes forward with any official statement on their future projects, it might be best to take everything you hear with a grain of salt.