Chet Faliszek, a former Valve who worked on games such as Portal 2, Left 4 Dead, and Half-Life, revealed in an interview with YouTube channel Kiwi Talkz (via VG247) that Valve president Gabe Newell didn’t want to have zombies in Left 4 Dead.
Faliszek explains that one night over dinner, Newell was asking him what his zombie game was about. Because most zombie movies address some social issues, Newell went on to say how “Night of The Living Dead is about racism, Dawn of The Dead is about consumerism.” Faliszek explained that Left 4 Dead was about working together, and “it’s a reflection of the game.”
Newell didn’t want to do a zombie game because it was “cheesy.” This was before shows like The Walking Dead aired, when zombies were considered a niche category that lacked broad appeal.
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Source: Game Spot Mashup