There's an ad for Half-Life. It features the number '3' in the ad. This ad is currently running at GamesCom in Cologne, Germany. The Half-Life ad with the number '3' in it is actually about Valve's game. However... the ad is only tangentially related to Half-Life and it actually has nothing whatsoever to do with Half-Life 3.
According to Polygon, the ad is for two German gaming websites, Giga Games and Spieletipps. The ad itself is a banner hanging down on the front of the convention center, sitting next to Titanfall 2's ad. The German ad translates to...
Polygon is labeling the ad as a "troll" post, given that it's saying that three of the editors working at Giga Games and Spieletipps worked at publications where they were able to play the original Half-Life back when it first released. When you think about it, it's enough to give you a chuckle and at the same time, enough to make you grimace in anger.
For those of you who don't entirely keep track of Half-Life news, the series has been engaged in a long-running meme about the third game. At one point people took Half-Life 3 seriously... that it was a game that was actually coming following the Half-Life 2: Episode Two cliffhanger from nine years ago; but several years after not receiving any follow-up, reality began to set in.
Memes began popping up about the mythical nature of Half-Life 3. Images with the alien guy started spreading with the tagline "I still believe" scribbled across it. Gamers began losing hope, trolling began increasing, and the whole mythological nature of Half-Life 3 took on a legendary status all its own.
What Giga Games and Spieltepps did with the ad for GamesCom this year is nothing short of brilliant. While gamers will first see the ad and get excited, there's that sinking reality that it's a game likely never to come out.
On the bright side, the two gaming outlets that ran the ad will be on hand at this year's GamesCom, so it will be possible to see something tangible out of the experience. Of course, that's not going to satiate that empty pit in your stomach from knowing that Half-Life 3 is no closer to being a reality.
And before thinking that Valve would be angered at this sort of thing, keep in mind that they've had their fair share of trolling going on as well, constantly teasing and tantalizing gamers with the possibility of something new only to never deliver.
At this point, the meme-hype for Half-Life 3 is beyond the roof. The trolling has reached historic levels. It would be impossible for a real Half-Life 3 to ever exist because it could never out-live the meta-culture that has spawned around the fact that the game doesn't (and likely never will) exist.
Props to Giga Games and Spieletipps for taking trolling to the next level by using a meme to help put their websites on the radar. I'm sure trolls the world around are saluting in respect while the rest of the gaming community are expressing a salute of another, less savory nature.