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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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#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.
#80 by bago
2003-09-04 21:07:03
manga_Rando@hotmail.com
Steam... HL LIVE

#81 by JMCDaveL
2003-09-04 21:43:43
DOWN WITH SEGREGATION!

WE SHALL OVERCOME!

--jmc
#82 by Gunp01nt
2003-09-04 21:56:35
supersimon33@hotmail.com
Warren:
At least we can be sure mine was female.

ZING MOTHERFUCKER!!!


Ouch, that hurt.

(beware the sarchasm)

"Sorry LP, I had to go to a lunch meeting and was unable to keep it real."
-Shadarr
#83 by Warren Marshall
2003-09-04 22:06:31
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
#82 Gunp01nt
Warren:
At least we can be sure mine was female.

ZING MOTHERFUCKER!!!


Ouch, that hurt.

(beware the sarchasm)

Get your own material.

Respawn Games
Open your mind, let the beatings begin.
#84 by Your Friend
2003-09-04 22:28:06
I thought Warren's comment was pretty zingy, cuz man that chick in that picture was, you know, kinda mannish.

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me."
#85 by yotsuya
2003-09-04 22:31:36
I didn't know Steffi Graf went to LAN parties...

Oh, and remember, fanbois, Warren Marshall had the exclusive here first:

From Wednesday's PA:

I remembered keen Penny Arcade readers having praised an e-mail client called The Bat! last time I was having some kind of mail crisis, and I will admit to having been charmed by the notion - I liked the idea of a tough, non-nonsense bat in charge of my correspondence, and the exclamation point seemed to imply festivity.


Maybe Lexx should include a "!" at the end of his mod to make it more... festive.

"YES!!  You see people, THAT'S why he's the Vice-President of A/V Services here at Respawn Games.  Yotsuya ALWAYS unleashes the fucking fury!" - Warren Marshall
#86 by Ashiran
2003-09-04 22:45:37
Are you people bashing dutch girls again?

AND DON'T ADD A SMILEY AFTER EVERY GODDAMN THING YOU SAY!
#87 by bago
2003-09-04 22:47:54
manga_Rando@hotmail.com
As opposed to banging?

#88 by Darkseid-D
2003-09-04 22:57:37
rogerboal@hotmail.com
Steam will more than likely be required for INTERNET play, lan play will be unaffected, just like you can play HL DM online now and it talks to the auth server and on a lan it doesnt.

Half Life  / CS / TFC / DOD / NS can all use the engines in built server browser, you can manually add ips to it presently, or use 3rd party apps such as All Seeing Eye or Gamespy to locate and launch your game in a connection to a selected server.  Half Life 2 will duplicate this ability via steam

Steam is required to play the latest version of counter strike, the steam servers for CS 1.6 are not `community` servers as there IS no community version 1.6 and no server 1.6 (closed system).  1.6 also works quite happily over the lan (even with 2 machines using the same account details), and you can add in some bots to play against.


Is this information difficult to grasp?

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.
#89 by Your Friend
2003-09-05 00:56:56
From what I understand, Steam is required to acquire CS1.6, not to play it (even on the Internet)*....   just like you can aquire HL2 online, but only through Steam.  None of this aquiring online stuff matters for people buying the multiplayer version of HL2 in a box, though I suppose it is possible they'll need to start a free Steam account to aquire future patches.

*(Of course I could be wrong, I don't play CS.. I'm working with second hand information)

In any case, I don't really care one way or another because like I said I have no interest in playing Half-Life 2 multiplayer, so I'll just be buying the single player game in a box.   That way I don't have to worry about the evil deathrays that Valve is surely sending through the Stream protocol.  And also, HL multiplayer, CS, TF, etc all suck, so I don't see why they'd buck the trend with HL2.

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me."
#90 by G-Man
2003-09-05 00:58:37
Hey I just bought a Dell PowerEdge 400SC server (P4 3.2ghz 800FSB) using this deal for $548 shipped (after $100 rebate). Pretty good bargain in case any of you are looking to upgrade.
#91 by OmegaFoRCe
2003-09-05 01:39:44
#90 by G-Man
Hey I just bought a Dell PowerEdge 400SC server (P4 3.2ghz 800FSB) using this deal for $548 shipped (after $100 rebate). Pretty good bargain in case any of you are looking to upgrade.


Yeah passwird is a great resource for online rebates. www.gotapex.com is another excellent source for rebates and discounted merchandise.

#92 by Jamiekin
2003-09-05 01:56:24
Valve lies make baby Jesus cry!!\"

I have a crocodile down my pants.
#93 by Shadarr
2003-09-05 01:57:23
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
Whenever I go to Dell I'm always disappointed by their "deals".  But according to a my girlfriend's stepdad, Vancouver has the cheapest hardware prices in the country, so maybe that's why Dell always looks like a ripoff compared to NCIX.com or the two-man operation in Victoria where I get my stuff.  Are the local shops more expensive than Dell in middle Amerca?
#94 by Shadarr
2003-09-05 02:00:54
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
So there you have it.  "It will definitely come out on the 30th September" actually means sometime in Novermber.


Nobody cares about jolly old England.  If it's on the shelves at Walmart Sept 30, nothing else matters.
#95 by Your Friend
2003-09-05 02:03:43

Valve lies make baby Jesus cry!!\"


That's the UK... Who cares what happens in the UK?



Whenever I go to Dell I'm always disappointed by their "deals".  


Actually the deal GMan posted is a pretty good one -- one thing to note though is that the AGP slot on Dell servers is officially unsupported (since the machine is meant to be used as a server for which the integrated PCI video is enough).  From reports I've heard of people who bought the model he bought, the AGP slot works fine once you get external drivers from Intel, but you very likely will need extra cooling on your videocard because while the AGP slot works, and standard cards fit the dimensions of the case, the case isn't designed to support modern hot-running cards very well (almost no ventilation in the AGP area).

But, as mentioned on passwird, good luck finding a new P4 3.2/800 by itself for less than the price of that entire Dell system.

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me."
#96 by Jamiekin
2003-09-05 02:10:34
I'm calling shenaningans on Valve unless they release HL2 everywhere on Sept. 30.... including Tonga and the Easter Islands..

I have a crocodile down my pants.
#97 by "DEATH KILLER INTERNATIONAL (INTERGALACTIC DIVISION"
2003-09-05 02:13:37
Good luck if you need support on it, G-Man.  Dell's support has really gone downhill in recent years.  It's at the point where'd I'd classify it as the absolute worst customer/tech support I've received from any company, ever.  And I'm a former Dell fanboy, too.

My last machine was an XPS T450, and while it had a few issues, Dell was fucking awesome when it came to addressing them.  Email support usually responded the same day, I hardly ever waited on hold when calling them, and they even replaced a defective hard-drive on Christmas eve for me.

I bought their new XPS gaming rig last month and getting support on it has been an absolute fucking nightmare.  Email support responds in 7 to 9 days, only to tell you they can't help and you'll need to call.  Then you wait on hold for an hour or two, only to be told they can't help and will need to transfer you to a different department, and this is where you get a rep that can barely speak english and has no idea what he's talking about.

"Hello, thanks for calling Dell.  This is Shindra... Uhh, I mean Shelly.  How can I help?"  Someone actually said that to me.  I'm beginning to think they're just grabbing random people off the streets of Calcutta and offering them call-centre jobs.

The only reason I went with Dell over building my own or going with a cheaper brand was because of previous experiences with them.  I tried to return the entire thing for a refund after getting nowhere for nearly a month, but by the time I managed to speak to someone who could do this for me, I'd had it for 32 days.  You have 30 days to get a refund.  I'm currently trying to get a manager to accept the return since it wasn't my fault I've had it for so long, but it doesn't look like one is ever going to call me back.  

Their forums are full of stories like mine.  I probably should have read them before making my purchase.

/me high-fives Charles Bronson
#98 by ProStyle
2003-09-05 02:14:04
http://prostyle.deviantart.com
Actually if you don't have an active internet connection you can't play 1.6 or other Steam titles on LAN.

I'm like a quote out of context...
#99 by bago
2003-09-05 02:14:15
manga_Rando@hotmail.com
I'm calling curmudgeons.

#100 by Jamiekin
2003-09-05 02:18:32
You can't do that.

I have a crocodile down my pants.
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