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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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#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.
#101 by Shadarr
2003-09-05 02:22:49
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
I think the thing that always gets me with Dell is that I never want the stock system.  Somewhere like NCIX you're paying the real component costs when you customize, whereas with Dell if you change anything the cost goes up disproportionately.  For example, going from 80Gb to 120Gb hard drive is $80 more at Dell, and about $40 at NCIX.  Same thing with RAM.  A 512 stick costs about $30 more than a 256, but at Dell you're basically paying for 2 256 sticks.
#102 by Your Friend
2003-09-05 02:31:31
I read an article not too long ago that the tech support call center industry in India is falling apart and has huge turnover because the hours suck (time difference) and it is viewed as a very low status job by other Indians.

So maybe Dell is suffering from that.

"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me."
#103 by jjohnsen
2003-09-05 02:35:58
http://www.johnsenclan.com
I know that MSN's support sure sucks, and as far as I can tell everyone I've talked to has an Indian accent.
#104 by jjohnsen
2003-09-05 02:38:48
http://www.johnsenclan.com
Shadarr I noticed that too.  My last computer was a Gateway and I saved about $300 by purchasing my extra ram and a larger hard drive from a local place after they shipped me my system.
#105 by Jamiekin
2003-09-05 02:43:19
They probably need that extra two months for the UK to translate all the "American English" to English English..

Gordon: "You got a fag on you?"

I have a crocodile down my pants.
#106 by yotsuya
2003-09-05 03:14:15
Does Gordon get to take a break for tea in the UK version?

"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
#107 by "DEATH KILLER INTERNATIONAL (INTERGALACTIC DIVISION"
2003-09-05 03:17:46
Shadarr

Somewhere like NCIX you're paying the real component costs when you customize, whereas with Dell if you change anything the cost goes up disproportionately.


Is NCIX a good company to deal with?  I see quite a few of their advertisements in various computer mags here in Toronto , but I 've always been cautious about doing business with out-of-province companies.  If something doesn't work right, you have few options for resolving the issue with them on the other side of the country.

/me high-fives whichever high-profile celebrity has died since Charles Bronson
#108 by Mank
2003-09-05 03:52:46
It's not an official site, but this individual has a ton of information that has been pulled from various places.
Here's one Question and Answer regarding Steam and online play:

Q: If I buy the game at a store, do I still sign up for a Steam account so that I can play online? Is Steam the launcher for the retail game and the Steam purchased game?

A: Steam is the backend for Half-Life 2. It does a bunch of different things, like acting as the launcher, authentication, Friends, updating, and so on. One thing it does is that it also allows you to purchase things. If you buy Half-Life 2 in a store, it has Steam in it. If you buy Half-Life 2 via Steam, well, then it obviously has Steam in it. Your "steam account" is basically a method of tracking your digital rights. If you buy Half-Life 2 in a store, it will ask you to create a login id and a password. That way if you go to a friend's house, you can play Half-Life 2 there, even if you don't have your CD/DVD with you. Think of the CD as an alternative to your Internet connection for filling up your local cache.


So there you have it, some guy on the web said so....heh

"A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep."
#109 by LPMiller
2003-09-05 05:16:50
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
#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.



Passwird actually got that deal from us - most of the dell deals get posted on our site first, or on a bunch of of the bigger deal sites like ours at the same time. This is a particularly good deal, and while yeah, the agp is 'unsupported', I know 2 of our guys actually have 'em and have no troubles with 'em.

I will agree on the support though. It's not what it once was, but it's still shades better then other companies.

Now, do not even get me started on the shitty Dell X300 laptops. Pieces of garbarge.

I believe I can fly......urk.
#110 by LPMiller
2003-09-05 05:22:28
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
read an article not too long ago that the tech support call center industry in India is falling apart and has huge turnover because the hours suck (time difference) and it is viewed as a very low status job by other Indians.


I suspect a lot of that will fall by the way side as people just get tired of dealing with folks obviously in other countries, who don't give a shit what your problem is. All this moving overseas to offer tech support or run call centers is just going to be a PR nightmare for every company that does it in the long run. I mean, I don't have to try and talk to the guy who built my car in mexico, but god forbid I have to talk to someone in timbuktu when it comes to fixing my PC.

I believe I can fly......urk.
#111 by G-Man
2003-09-05 05:35:41
Yeah I know passwird and other sites like it, just repeat the same deals mentioned elsewhere. But so does Bluesnews et al. I like having a site act as the shit filter for me, since I can't be bothered to comb through uninteresting deals (to me) on a daily basis to find the few gems worth paying notice to.
#112 by WeeMadArthur
2003-09-05 06:10:32
smarteyman@interia.pl
#92 Jamiekin


Remember where you read this first!!!
#113 by Bailey
2003-09-05 07:04:24
Warren

Get your own material.

lexx could take lessons in irony from you, my friend.

jjohnsen

I know that MSN's support sure sucks, and as far as I can tell everyone I've talked to has an Indian accent.

By Ganeesha's many arms, I swear it is a lie!

Too straight for #planetcrap.
#114 by Foodbunny
2003-09-05 07:16:24
foodbunny@attbi.com http://www.foodbunny.com
Eh, the late rumor has been circling around since E3.

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