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Valve to turn game publishing on it's head!
September 4th 2003, 00:41 CEST by Neale

Over on the Halflife2.net forums, Gabe Newell has indicated Valve's plans for distribution of Half-Life 2 and their other products. It's interesting stuff...

Gabe Newell has said the following:

Here's my current thinking: Some people want to buy Half-Life 2 in a store. Right now we have three SKUs planned at three price points. One will have single-player only and not play MODs and we think of that as the mass market SKU (sold mainly at the Costcos and Walmarts of the world). The second is our traditional single-player plus multiplayer SKU that runs MODs and is sold at places like EBX. The third is the collector's edition SKU with lots of cool bonus stuff for people who like cool bonus stuff.

In the Steam world, some people will want to buy it once, like the middle SKU above. Other people will want to buy the game on subscription (e.g. $9.95/month). The good news for the "buy it once" crowd is, well, they only have to pay once. The bad news is that when we come out with new content (expansion products, TF 2, and presumably other games) then they have to pay separately for those. We're pretty sure that the $9.95 guys are going to get the better value, as we've been pretty good over the years at generating a lot of content.

Now nobody has done this before, so we're scratching our heads and massaging the plans to make sure we've got the best set of options. We've had some feedback that we should sell the top SKU (single-player only no MODs) on Steam, and my reaction has been "yeah, right, for the three people in the world who have a broadband connection, are sophisticated enough to purchase software over the Internet, but DON'T want to play MODs and multiplayer". Some people have said "I want a subscription, but I think the box and the manual are cool, so what about sending me those" and I think that's pretty interesting and we're trying to figure out what to do for them (needless to say Sierra isn't exactly jumping for joy at the idea of selling us boxes so people don't buy Half-Life 2 in stores).


He then followed up with this clarification:

Vivendi owns Sierra. Sierra is the publisher.

The various SKUs will be available at the other stores. It's just how we think of them (we think of the lowest price one as the "Walmart" SKU even though Walmart will probably be the biggest single seller of all three SKUs given their volume).

TF2 isn't a MOD, correct. However the subscription will be for anything we make. So when TF2 ships, the subscribers get it as part of their subscription.

We've been talking with retailers about the retail SKUs for a long time. Steam pricing was what I was trying to explain. Steam options seemed to require an explanation of the retail SKUs.
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#30 by Mank
2003-09-04 02:36:29
The main thing everyone seems to be overlooking here is the ease at which content is acquired over Steam. I've been using steam now for the past 2 months, and I always leave it running in my system tray. I've been able to play thru HL1 again, and download all of the videos and other Mods without so much as a single distraction to my normal bandwidth or computer resources. If Steam can run this smoothly and still be able to put the content on my computer, it's going to be great...However..

...I do have a concern about Steam tho: The question of exclusivity, as in, will Steam make certain content available to those who pay the monthly subscription first, and/or will everyone who uses Steam be able to purchase and download new content before people can buy it at the local EB store?  I just dont see Steam being worth the effort in the long run unless it offers some kind of advantage other than online delivery, especially for the subscription model that Gabe mentioned. There is always going to be the hardcore segment who absolutely have to have something before everyone else does.

"A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep."
#31 by Dethstryk
2003-09-04 03:08:33
jemartin@tcainternet.com
I don't think Valve is dumb enough to do some of the things a few of you are concerned with. It's just being poorly worded at this point; it's no different than the "OMG IT WON'T MAKE 9-30!!!"

Holy shit, the 30th is this month.

sunny days have funny ways of quieting the roar
#32 by jjohnsen
2003-09-04 03:35:54
http://www.johnsenclan.com
For a while there were rumors it was getting pushed back, then others said it was still sep 30th.  Have they officially come up with a date yet?  I mean if Max Payne is coming October 15th, they probably don't want to move HL2 back unless it is past that.
#33 by Your Friend
2003-09-04 03:46:13
Rockstar is releasing the GTA3 & GTA3: VC double pack on Xbox...  Cool beans...  Here's hoping it will look like the PC version (or better) but play (controller-wise) like the PS2 version.

Coupled with KOTOR, Otogi, the fabulous Xbox version of SC2 and the forthcoming releases of Halo 2, Ninja Gaiden, True Crime, etc the xbox could be edging into the GameCube's spot as my favorite console.

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me."
#34 by G-Man
2003-09-04 04:21:51
I said all of this in an earlier thread (the HL2 vanilla sub-thread) when I was digging around in Steam's configuration files. The Steam service has the functionality to support titles offered by third party developers. At best this will let the mod-world transform into a true independent game industry wiith a built-in market (essentially one-upping Garage Games' business model). At worst it will be a crippled (by lack of developer support and titles) Yahoo Games on Demand service or Govojo, Gamefly, Veegeez, RentZero, NumbThumb, RedOctane, NextRental, Get Any Game, GameLender, Angel Gamer etc.
#35 by Matt Perkins
2003-09-04 04:22:51
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
#33

I agree completely.  I've even been holding off on starting up VC again so I can I get the xbox version love the graphisc update they almost assuredly did.

"I'm an extreme programmer. I don't plan anything when I code."- Lord Nekrull
#36 by Darkseid-D
2003-09-04 05:25:18
rogerboal@hotmail.com
Steam also has a 'friends' client much like msn messenger for locating your friends in games, you can page people to invite them to play via a buddy list (something akin to MS's XBOX live system). This operates when youre logged into steam, but not necessarily in game, handy for playing with specific people / clans / PCers.

as for single player, they must have added that after I tried to launch it, interesting, perhaps a clever move letting people play updated content, certainly not a money loser since the games been out so long.

Do not go gently into that good night.
Old age should burn and rage at the close of day.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
#37 by None-1a
2003-09-04 05:58:56
Actually HL has been available since way back when the beta started (in fact I ran through the HL SP game shortly after it started). So either something is screwed up and it's not displaying every thing or you're blind.
#38 by Dethstryk
2003-09-04 07:30:56
jemartin@tcainternet.com
I guess I'm going to go ahead and install Steam in preparation. Oh, and get a pre-order for a boxed copy in.

sunny days have funny ways of quieting the roar
#39 by "DEATH KiLLER iNTERNATiONAL (iNTERGALACTiC DiViSiON"
2003-09-04 07:45:23
fuck
#40 by KookieMonsta
2003-09-04 07:52:00
I'm just curious.  Is the Steam client downloading from certain Valve servers or is it a P2P program that allows downloading from other Steam clients?  If it is P2P, there's little wonder you can max out your down stream bandwith.

Speaking as a non-US resident, I wonder if Valve will offer different subscription rates to different countries.  In case you didn't know, geniune PC games in Asian countries cost a lot less than the US versions.  For instance, when HL was first introduced the price in US was $USD50 (I'm guessing) but I got it in Singapore for $S50 (about $27).  

Assuming the box price for HL2 Singapore version is still $S50, will I be able to get a subscription for cheaper than $USD9.99?
#41 by Bailey
2003-09-04 08:14:00
I'll just be acquiring the SP version in my usual fashion, but if the engine rocks and runs nicely, I'll be buying the MP retail version. Whatever you all might say about Counterstrike, the first six beta phases rocked, as did DoD, TFC, and one or two other mods I forget. Valve makes a damn fine engine, even if they themselves couldn't make MP for shit.

Too straight for #planetcrap.
#42 by Bailey
2003-09-04 08:14:17
Oh, Action HL was alright. No Action Quake 2, however.

Too straight for #planetcrap.
#43 by Bailey
2003-09-04 08:16:32
Kookie

North Americans publishers are more or less resigned to the rampany piracy in Asia, (though they'd never admit to it, the prices tell the real story) so you'll always find lower costs there for games, particularly those which require online keys, as that's the sole point of enticement for any given Asian consumer.

Too straight for #planetcrap.
#44 by Darkseid-D
2003-09-04 08:19:52
rogerboal@hotmail.com
Steam as it stands now is due to come out of beta and I believe I read that theres a new client due, one that will require cd keys to activate various games, the user logins will remain available however, if my poor memory doesnt betray me

Do not go gently into that good night.
Old age should burn and rage at the close of day.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
#45 by Squeaky
2003-09-04 08:21:17
#41 Bailey
I'll just be acquiring the SP version in my usual fashion, but if the engine rocks and runs nicely, I'll be buying the MP retail version. Whatever you all might say about Counterstrike, the first six beta phases rocked

If by first six beta phases rocked, you meant first first four beta phases rocked, then I agree.

I'm a closet metrosexual.
DVDs
#46 by Bailey
2003-09-04 08:24:20
I'll clarify that I loved it until they fagged up the MP5.

Too straight for #planetcrap.
#47 by lwf
2003-09-04 10:11:20
It was good until they added explosives. Beta 3.2 was the best shit, ever.

Nothing was broken and nothin was hurt but I really probably shoulda been at work,
But if my free time was gone would you promise me this, will you please bury me with it
#48 by BobJustBob
2003-09-04 11:48:59
I tried to play some Half-Life multiplayer once. I can't remember if it was a mod or not, but it was back on my 56k so it didn't go well and I never repeated the experience.

Voices tell me I'm the shit.
<Whisp> BJB is a troll. <Whisp> Troll I say!
#49 by BobJustBob
2003-09-04 11:52:01
I have a similar story about an MMORPG, but my cable modem experience with those types of games tells me that it didn't really affect the performance at all.

Voices tell me I'm the shit.
<Whisp> BJB is a troll. <Whisp> Troll I say!
#50 by Sgt Hulka
2003-09-04 14:27:07
It will be interesting to see if Steam takes off, but I wouldn't bet on it myself.  I think it's for a hardcore audience only, and that is a very small niche market of gaming, but then again, it might do so well that all the other companies latch onto it and put it in their future games.  

Personally, I don't like being confined to a company like that.  If I want a patch, I want to go to three hundred web sites to grab it from, not be reliant on Steam.  IMHO.

Doomed! the Movie - Videogames Turn Deadly...
#51 by mrbloo
2003-09-04 15:45:16
mrbloo2000@hotmail.com
The new version of Day of Defeat rocks pretty hard.  Probably the best mod for HL out there, IMHO.  I like CS as well, and I don't have any problems with the changes in each beta.  It just seems to have stagnated now with very little new content being added while they work on the SP version.  I wouldn't play either of them on the Internet though, which seems like it saves me a world of frustration.

The Steam subscription idea sounds interesting, but anybody who shells out $10 a month on the off-chance that they'll get TF2 in the first year is nuts.

#52 by Darkseid-D
2003-09-04 17:55:47
rogerboal@hotmail.com
Requiring steam for internet play is quite possibly a brilliant move, theyve already had the auth servers for key checking after all. Now they can incorporate security checks on the client before they get to the server, they can also stream patches out quietly in the background to large numbers of players and at a specific time or date let it go live, bang youve got an already patched number of players.

Sitting in fileplanet queues waiting for a patch, or having to download this client or that client, wading through 15 pages of ads and popups to get a patch or update for your game from the common paths. Or a game that does all the work for you , quite possibly invisibly to you.

Extra 'clan' support, being able to upload your decals to a central server and have them available and locked to `your` use across the world?

Needing new items for a map youre working on and being able to hit up the 'warehouse' for the primitives / skinned item and placing it in your map already predefined. Uploading that nifty looking model you just made and having it available in a central warehouse with a property tag on it (visible in the editor)

Inbuilt voice comms for your games thats surprisingly good quality and that can be used via the buddy list, hey just like people across the country are using xbox/live kits in place of long distance phone calls.

Information feedback, Valve can enumerate scores of machines at once and identify problem patterns like 'corruption happening on p4 1.5's with radeon cards, similarity is driver tk421, leave the person with the problem a buddy message on how to update their drivers.

Sounds too good to be true?  Most of the framework is already in steam as it stands, its sitting on a very PHAT bandwidth pipe (I suspect a fee is just to pay for that, no more) and Valve have demonstrated what they can do in the past.

If you think it sounds kinda big brotherish, just remember the two 'owners' / senior management at Valve are ex Microsoft management.

Do not go gently into that good night.
Old age should burn and rage at the close of day.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
#53 by "Anonymous"
2003-09-04 18:11:43
#52 -

Anything that sends data back is going to be a problem. Charging to get access to steam and then collecting "valuable" demographic information (ie. system specs) is going to butt heads with the privacy crowd.

Also, wading through pages of adds and bullshit isn't an inherent problem of patches, it's an inherent problem of dumbass web-wankers and content companies that don't want to host this shit themselves.

Also, if I buy HL2 in the store and need patches, do I have to get on steam?
#54 by None-1a
2003-09-04 18:26:08
From what's been said in the past CD keys can be used to access the game via steam (it'll act just like it would if you bought the game over steam rather then getting the subscription). I'd also assume all of the server browser and IM features will be free, mostly because they'd act as a rather good way to get people using it.
#55 by Neale
2003-09-04 18:34:03
neale@pimurho.co.uk www.pimurho.co.uk
Steam's "phat pipes" are provided by third parties, usually in return for a couple of free subscriptions :)

You can't derail this train of idiocy, Shadarr. Not even with a big fat cow of logic on the tracks. - Bailey
#56 by Bailey
2003-09-04 18:34:27
Lord knows nothing would get me playing MP faster than receiving instant messages containing the deepest innermost thoughts and musings of cYbAkIllA666<<CLAN HELLFUCKER>>.

Too straight for #planetcrap.
#57 by Shadarr
2003-09-04 19:06:54
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
Hulka,

I haven't used Steam, but the download software that came with Galactic Civilizations was a joy to use.  More rewarding than the actual game, in fact.
#58 by Phayyde
2003-09-04 19:24:48
Requiring steam for internet play...

Wait I'm confused again.  Is Steam REQUIRED for Inet multiplay?  What if I already know the IP address of my buds server, can't I just type that in and connect?

And if it's REQUIRED for Inet multiplay, whattaboutta LAN?  Surely they couldn't...

Beat to fit, paint to match.
#59 by Your Friend
2003-09-04 19:38:11

Requiring steam for internet play is quite possibly a brilliant move


They AREN'T requiring Steam for Internet play.  Jesus Fucktard Christ!  Steam has nothing to do with Half-Life 2 online multiplayer play except as a delivery mechanism for the content if you don't want to buy it in the store!

And Steam was architected for quick content download, not game related network traffic.  The difference between what you want for each of those (bandwidth for downloading vs fast latency for in-game) is so different that I doubt Stream would be any good for handling the in-game communications.

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me."
#60 by Gabe
2003-09-04 19:43:43
http://www.dartpublishing.com
The Steam client includes IM and server browsing. It's not just a content delivery platform. I think the friend list was even integrated somewhat into the Half-Life front end.
#61 by G-Man
2003-09-04 19:43:54
Steam is all things to all men.
#62 by Your Friend
2003-09-04 19:49:05

The Steam client includes IM and server browsing.


True, but neither of these functions need the sort of quick latency the in-game networking needs.  IM and server browsing could be piggy-backed on anything, even http.  Anyway the important point is Steam is absolutely not going to be required to play Half-Life 2 online.  The other point is, Valve really needs to control its information flow better in the future because they have tons of fanbois running around with their heads cut off thinking Steam is the only way to play Half-Life 2 online.  I mean, in an ideal world it is really the fanbois fault for not being able to read, but Valve should still probably know better.

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me."
#63 by G-Man
2003-09-04 19:51:58
Uh to be fair, part of that belief stems from the fact that Steam is required to play the latest version of CS online. So a required Steam account isn't exactly unprecedented.
#64 by Gabe
2003-09-04 19:56:03
http://www.dartpublishing.com
Your Friend

I don't understand why you make the leap that requiring Steam to play online would mean that Steam is somehow the networking infrastructure for the game. Having to authenticate with a master server to play Q3A online doesn't mean the network traffic for the game itself is going through the master server.
#65 by Your Friend
2003-09-04 20:01:27
Gabe,

 A number of people have made it sound as if Half-Life 2 will require Steam for any and all network function and that this would prohibit LAN play and other forms of play that were available for Half Life 2.  My purpose in pointing out that Steam itself would make a crappy link layer for the in-game functionality is to demonstrate that it would be silly for Valve to use Steam for everything, as some people (based on posts even here) seem to think is the case.

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me."
#66 by Phayyde
2003-09-04 20:09:55
YF:  You sound less than confident.  The question remains unanswered.   I'll ask again.  To what extent is Steam required for Internet and LAN multiplay?    And will these services require recurring payment?

I want answers, YF, although your conjecture is a nice gesture.

Beat to fit, paint to match.
#67 by None-1a
2003-09-04 20:26:54
I'm thinking based on steam's current feature list it'll be 'required' in the same since Q3 or UT's in game browsers are required for online play (ie it'll just be the default method). Also remember steam isn't just the subscription service, a single game can be bought for a one time fee. From what has been said in the past steam can use CD keys to allow access that's exactly the same as buying a single game over the service (so no recurring payments to use the server browser/IM/patch service with a store bought copy of HL2*).

*Which makes a lot of since from a business stand point. Steam's main purpose is as a content delivery system and as close as anyone is going to currently get to a 100% profit on sales. Lets people use the single game related features just might get them to use the system once another hot game is released.
#68 by LPMiller
2003-09-04 20:28:52
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
My understanding is that Steam will be required before having children, or buying your first home.

I believe I can fly......urk.
#69 by Your Friend
2003-09-04 20:30:08
I give up.  As far as I know you need Steam to play not only the multiplayer game but the single player game as well.  And from what I hear you can't use Steam outside of the US, so no Half-Life 2 for you Canucks.  And also it collects tons of personal information that Valve is planning on selling to spammers.

Valve is truly evil!

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me."
#70 by Gunp01nt
2003-09-04 20:31:07
supersimon33@hotmail.com
Tell me about it, last night I went on a date with a girl, and she asked me if I had a Steam subscription. when I said I didn't, she walked out of the restaurant and left me to pay the bill.

"Sorry LP, I had to go to a lunch meeting and was unable to keep it real."
-Shadarr
#71 by Your Friend
2003-09-04 20:36:25
But in a way you can hardly blame her, if pictures got out of here with a non-Steam-subscriber, Valve would surely cancel her subscription and not refund her money, so she wouldn't be able to play Half-Life 2...And what kind of life is that?  Not a good one... not a good one...

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me."
#72 by Your Friend
2003-09-04 20:36:37
er, here/her

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me."
#73 by Warren Marshall
2003-09-04 20:43:14
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
#70 Gunp01nt
Tell me about it, last night I went on a date with a girl, and she asked me if I had a Steam subscription. when I said I didn't, she walked out of the restaurant and left me to pay the bill.

Sounds like a resounding success based on your past track record.

Respawn Games
Open your mind, let the beatings begin.
#74 by Gunp01nt
2003-09-04 20:44:27
supersimon33@hotmail.com
at least my date only cost me dinner. yours had to be paid by the hour.

(ok sorry, that joke's getting old but I can't think of a wittier retort at the moment)

"Sorry LP, I had to go to a lunch meeting and was unable to keep it real."
-Shadarr
#75 by Shadarr
2003-09-04 20:44:57
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
You guys make it sound negative.  $10 a month gets you so much pussy you won't even have time to play Half Life.
#76 by Phayyde
2003-09-04 20:47:28
What is Steam?

As a stem tames meats,
a mesa tastes a tea set.
Same as Mets teams' steam.

Beat to fit, paint to match.
#77 by G-Man
2003-09-04 20:56:12
See. That is a metrosexual.
#78 by Warren Marshall
2003-09-04 21:00:58
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
#74 Gunp01nt
at least my date only cost me dinner. yours had to be paid by the hour.

(ok sorry, that joke's getting old but I can't think of a wittier retort at the moment)

At least we can be sure mine was female.

ZING MOTHERFUCKER!!!

Respawn Games
Open your mind, let the beatings begin.
#79 by CheesyPoof
2003-09-04 21:02:18
I tried out steam yesterday and played TFC for the first time in years.  I guess it works OK, but there were only a dozen and a half servers in the browser; I figured there should have been more.  This makes me wonder if they will segregate steam players vs. boxed players.  There also donít seem to be many maps downloaded, but Iíll chalk that up to it being a beta.

Anyway by default the game has audio turned on and some fucktards in the game were talking about this.  It was quite inane but that all seemed to believe that a subscription was required to play HL2 online so Valve would have been better served by shutting the fuck up until they knew what they wanted to say and had a FAQ prepared ahead of time to address everyones concern.
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