Thursday, October 28, 2004

Holy Crap: Another Half-Life 2 Post

Sorry. It's just that this game and the distribution mechanism are going to have a singular effect on PC gaming, and I keep thinking of little oddities that make me wonder what's going on. As in Why is Vivendi doing such a crappy job promoting this game? Because they are--they're doing an absolutely HORRIBLE job. Besides some print magazine ads, I see almost nothing.

So here's what we know:
1. Vivendi claims in the lawsuit that Valve severely understated the potential of Steam as a distribution mechanism.
2. Valve offered Counterstrike: Source as a candy cane for anyone who ordered Half-Life 2 via Steam.
3. Vivendi is doing almost nothing to promote the game--print ads, but no in-store displays or any of the other collateral that is standard for game marketing.

Here's the piece of information we really don't have: what is Vivendi's cut for a retail box versus a purchase via Steam? I've been told that it's the same, but if it is, Vivendi's lack of promotion is completely baffling.

Actually, it's baffling if Vivendi is the one doing it. Another possibility is that the gaming chains are pissed about Steam and aren't going to do anything in-store to promote the game. That would seem like a definite possibility. So either Vivendi has jumped ship on the game because of their relationship with Valve, or gaming chains have refused to work with Vivendi in promoting the game.

I can never remember a game that has had such strange twists and turns in the course of its development and release, and it's particularly strange in light of how excellent the game appears to be. Usually, these kinds of things happen to bad games, not great ones, but I fully expect Half-Life 2 to be great.

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