Friday, October 01, 2004

Half-Life 2: The Weird gets Weirder

Here's the headline of an article I saw on Computer and Video Games today ( VIVENDI DELIBERATES OVER HALF-LIFE 2 RELEASE CANDIDATE.

Here's more:
Informing us within the last hour that "Last week we received a Half-Life 2 release candidate from Valve, and in its current state Half-Life 2 is brilliant and looks astonishing," a Vivendi spokesperson went on to talk about the current status of the game, saying: "Vivendi Universal Games is in the midst of determining whether Half-Life 2 meets the gameplay standard of the company and more importantly the devoted Half-Life fanbase."

"This is standard for every game and it is particularly important for Half-Life 2 given its technical depth," the spokesperson added, before telling us that "We [Vivendi] are hopeful that we can communicate a ship date very soon."

What? So the people at Valve, who created the Half-Life franchise, are not the ones who determine whether game meets the 'standards of its fanbase?' That's the biggest load of crap I've ever seen in my life. Listen, Vivendi, I don't know what kind of dope you're smoking, but if you tell Valve that the game doesn't meet the standards of its fanbase, you're going to get a non-verbal answer consisting of one finger up in the air.

Don't congratulate yourself, Vivendi management types. It's not the index finger.

This is turning into one of the most bitter relationships I've ever seen in the gaming industry. I don't know who's right and who's wrong here, or even if that could be reasonably determined, but I do know that playing it out in public like this is very poor form.

I think the clearest analysis that can be made is that Vivendi is pissed off about Steam. That's no surprise. What is a surprise, though, is Vivendi's idiotic response. The way to have the number of copies downloaded via Steam kept to an absolute minimum is to get the game manufactured as quickly as possible. The longer they wait, the more time it gives people to investigate Steam and see it as a viable option to buying a boxed copy.

Way to go, Vivendi. You both fear Steam and give it traction.

The other possible scenario, of course, is that the 'gold candidate' is in piss-poor shape and Vivendi doesn't want to ship it. It's possible that Valve had a contractual obligation to deliver a gold candidate by a certain date, and if it wasn't completed on time they would face substantial financial penalties. So they basically wrapped up what they had, called it gold, and lobbed it over the wall. At this point, the entire story has gotten so weird that it wouldn't surprise me at all.

Nothing would.

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