Well I actually dont have any idea about actualities. That inside knowledge about HL3 were news to me. For me it just makes sense if you have a small (compared to games nowadays) studio and at the same time some of the leading people start up a huge digital distribution service, maybe the studio and game development is put on the backburner or becomes secondary or would even be abolished. And it is easy to say "just outsource" or create a big studio (I could be wrong but I am guessing they had competent people but nothing scalewise like big current studios, as time ticked away and the landscape changed). Do you know the economy and risks involved? I dont, there is no saying they might need to open a lot of doors to "not rest on their Steam money" as you say.
To me Valve have done a lot of things very well and I think it has a lot to do with management and leadership in the company. CS:GO (which I know intimately, every patch note up to 3-4 years ago, it is managed by very thoughtful people), DOTA 2, minor but important L4D, Garrys mod, and TF2. If I had kids I would be happy those games existed (in addition to Minecraft and in fact Fortnite, which reminds me a lot of TF2 in many ways). I dont care for any of those latter games at the same time, personally. But I like that they are polar opposites of low brow tude culture like CoD and such crap, and colorful and creative, or good co-op (in L4D).
So you can dwell on what they have done wrong or consider they have governed many things very well, and that's precious.
Look at 2K and Rockstar Games and how they have handled GTA Online (which is the governing side of things and how you respect your playerbase how you directly handle things), and I think objectively RDR2 is kinda ****e in a lot of ways and not reaching its potential. It is not easy to make games.
I have a hunch people that actually know, would agree, but maybe as in what you are adressing, there is stagnation and some careful reviewing and renewal might be in order without throwing out the baby with the bathwater. And some opining here is making the case that everything is cynical and they made big catastrophy, or what it sounds like. I dont think they ditched all of their gaming franchises in the first place. Following up singleplayer games is a bit different as well.
And I mean also with this cardgame. They involve the frickin' creator of MTG. They are mainly governing games and times have changed so they dont churn out those main titles anymore. It really makes sense for them to try something like that, there is potential for mobile use (I dont like "mobile gaming" but lets face it, everyone is using mobile devices today, tablets and phones. No more no less.).
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