Yea that's true but they would make so much money on Portal 3 and Half Life 3 even if they were poorly made... I feel like poorly made third games would easily generate more profit than the steam machines and steam os and such.
That's the problem. Why try and make a game that they know will hurt their rep and not live up to the hype?
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Can you match my resolve? If so then you will succeed. - Monty Oum
It's not an inability on Valve's front in not being able to get out the third installment of their titles out, but more to do with their structure.
As opposed to other companies where a dedicated team works on a project until its completion, Valve operates on a more liberal framework where employees are free to drift between projects and commit to them as much as they feel necessary or until they believe they've committed all they could. There rarely seems to be any set dates and the team on that project can change, evolve, and shift if not out-right disappear. In all likelihood they have Half Life 3 somewhere or Half Life 2 episode 3, but it's been put on ice while the rest of the company works on something else.
Valve employees act as their own managers, and Gaben more than likely has very little say in what happens. He can probably use his influence as one of the bigger names (pun unintended) to direct employees but it's not obliging them to commit to something until the bitter end.
If they are working on it, then we can speculate that they don't think it's up to par or they're trying to implement something where the technology isn't worked out. It's hard to say because it's all speculation.
You may return to your regularly schedule plebbit memeing.