Half-Life is a science fiction first-person shooter video game developed by Valve Software, the company’s debut product and the first in the Half-Life series. First released by Sierra Studios on November 19, 1998, the game was also released for the PlayStation 2 on November 14, 2001. In Half-Life, players assume the role of Dr Gordon Freeman, a recently graduated theoretical physicist who must fight his way out of a secret underground research facility, whose research and experiments into teleportation technology have gone disastrously wrong.
Valve, set up by former Microsoft employees, had difficulty finding a publisher for the game, with many believing that it was "too ambitious" a project. Sierra On-Line eventually signed the game after expressing interest in making a 3D action game. The game had its first major public appearance at the 1997 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Designed for Windows, the game uses a heavily modified version of the Quake engine called GoldSrc.
On its release, critics hailed its overall presentation and numerous scripted sequences, and it won over 50 PC Game of the Year awards. Its gameplay influenced first-person shooters for years to come, and it has since been regarded as one of the greatest games of all time. As of November 16, 2004, Half-Life has sold eight million copies. As of July 14, 2006, the Half-Life franchise has sold over 20 million units. Half-Life was followed by the 2004 sequel Half-Life 2, which also received critical acclaim. Half-Life, its cultural impact, community mods and sequels has spawned a large fanbase and cult following, especially in PC gaming.