“Last year, Black Mesa was one of the first Steam games to be Greenlit by you, our amazing fans,” wrote Carlos Montero, project lead of the Black Mesa team. “We've had quite a year since then, with a lot happening internally that we haven't been able to talk about... until now. Black Mesa has been given the opportunity to be sold as a retail product on Steam!”
The team spent the past year porting their revisioned version of Half Life to a full version of the Steam Engine and soon it will be available to buy through Steam. With new features.
“We never developed Black Mesa with money in mind,” Montero explains in the announcement on their forums. “Our team is made up of average, hardworking people, and no one joined the team to make money. For us, Black Mesa is purely a labor of love. We believe this philosophy has significantly contributed to the overall quality and feel of the game.
“Our decision to sell Black Mesa rests on two key points. One is we believe we can make the game even better by having full access to the Source engine. This lets us tackle and fix limitations instead of working around them. The second is because frankly, our team could really use the financial help.”
The free version isn’t being forgotten. In fact, “shortly after the Steam release there will be a completely new free version of the game”. Plus, the team are releasing the Black Mesa maps and some of their assets to be used freely by the modding community.
Black Mesa will also be available to purchase through the Steam store. There’s no work on price but Montero says it will be “relatively low”. Apparently, this paid for version will ”include features that the free version simply can not have.” Montero doesn’t say what these will be. Likely it’s things that require a registered Steam account so maybe that’s achievements and trading cards. Hopefully there will be more than that. However, Montero says that buying the game at this point is “more about supporting the team and our efforts than anything else”. You can, of course, be the judge of that.
Xen, unfortunately, is not nearly ready. The past year’s been spent “porting the game to a new engine and fixing hundreds of bugs.” And, when these folk say “To be totally honest however, Xen is still a ways off” they likely mean it. They’ve been working on Black Mesa for years now. Years and years.
The team are planning some “interesting additions” for the Steam version of Black Mesa which they’ll be announcing but they’re keeping hush about what exactly those will be.
It sounds as though Valve have given the team a free pass to sell their version of Half Life. It's exceptionally rare to see a developer allow their fans to sell something tied to their IP, particularly something as famous as Half Life.