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Valve versus Sierra

Valve vs. Vivendi Universal dogfight heats up in US District Court on GameSpot (thanks Democritus) reveals some details of a behind-the-scenes legal battle between Valve and Sierra (now part of VU Games) over Half-Life and Half-Life 2 that's been brewing for several years now. The article picks through details of a recent court filing by Valve that reveals the current state of the litigation, which has its next court date on October 8, though an actual trial is not scheduled until March 21, 2005. Included are disputes over what role Steam is to take in the game's distribution and who actually holds rights to the Half-Life intellectual property. Here's a segment that summarizes some of this:

In court filings, Sierra/VUG says that the current distribution of Half-Life 2 via Steam exceeds the scope of the current software publishing agreement between the two parties. It is apparently seeking the court's assistance in compelling Valve not to use Steam as an avenue of distribution.

On Friday, when asked if Valve was remained intent on making Half-Life 2 available to gamers via Steam, regardless of what was determined on October 8, Lombardi replied, "Yes."

Interestingly, and in spite of the ongoing legal dispute, Sierra/VUG still wants to work with Valve in the future and is asking the court via filings to force Valve to work with it on whatever is next in the development pipeline. It asks the court, in filings, "for a declaration that Sierra and VUG have the right to a fourth engine license pursuant to the terms of...the 2001 Agreement."

According to Lombardi, "We're going to meet the obligations of our current agreement."

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157 Replies. 8 pages. Viewing page 3.
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117. Re: Release the game already Sep 20, 2004, 22:40 Beaner
 
Kick em in the arse Valve. I hate Vivendi with passion.

 
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116. Re: Just read the article and... Sep 20, 2004, 22:02 Tumbler
 
Parkes 100 v Kartes
Katz v Danny Dare, Inc.

Could you cite some more specific case information? Perhaps the court the trials were held in and what the 2 parties argued? And mabye a case number? I did several searches via google and some case database sites and came up empty. Do you have case numbers?

This comment was edited on Sep 20, 22:02.
 
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115. Re: Archiving from Steam Sep 20, 2004, 21:31 JoeV2-MCM
 
Okay, based on what I've read here and on the Steam forums here is a list of the steps I think a person needs to perform to pay 'n play HL2 (on Day #1) using Steam and end up with a backup archive of the game. Feel free to tear my list apart.

1) Download Steam
2) Install Steam
3) Purchase HL2
4) Download HL2 via Steam
5) Install HL2
6) Backup SteamApps folder to CD/DVD
7) [Delete HL2 files from SteamApps folder *see below*]
8) Play HL2

* Step 7: This is the step I thought might raise some eyebrows. I know the SteamApps folder contains the installation data and is functionally equivalent to install CDs so the obvious conclusion is the game gets installed to a different location, right? Basically, that means HL2 is on the HDD twice, right? Yes, HDD are cheap but do I really want/need to have data for a game I already have installed still lying around on my drive. Anybody? I know. I should probably go post this on the Steam Users Forum.

"Worry is only anxiety over something that may never happen." -V2
 
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114. Re: Just read the article and... Sep 20, 2004, 21:30 Beamer
 
Contracts are fairly easy to breach if you have a good lawyer, and I imagine Valve does.
Do you have an example to back this up with? This sounds like wishful thinking. Money is the easiest way to break out of a contract. You pay the other person enough and he'll walk away happy. You don't and he'll take what you owe him. ]

Parkes 100 v Kartes
Katz v Danny Dare, Inc.

It takes a good lawyer to write an airtight contract. And a better lawyer can poke holes the size of a minivan through it. Especially on something subjective, such as whether or not something was de-emphasized.

 
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113. Re: regarding steam.. Sep 20, 2004, 20:51 Muscular Beaver
 
LOL, you wouldnt believe me if... nm.
Youre not getting the point that Steam is a standalone program, do you? You HAVE to start it before playing, you have to deal with its idiotic design before you can play and you have to end it after playing (if you even bother). Tell me why Blizzard or any other honorable developer should do something like that? Since Diablo 1 there hasnt been one big change. Autopatching is a nice feature. I never said it sucks in Steam... but it shouldnt happen while youre in a game.
On the other hand if you look closely (not that I really expect you do or did, judged by your biased posts) you will notice that Valve already screwed with their customers with shutting down WON while still thousands of people were playing over it and versions that were only playable over it. And still you want to look at the forums how many people dislike Steam and yet they dont change even the worst issues. The normal intelligent person should learn from something like that even if he/she wasnt affected by it. Why shouldnt they do something like that again? Valves support never has been the best. Remember all the bugs in TFC? They are still present. Besides if you look closely at a traffic log (if you know what that is) you will notice Steam always contacts Valve quite a lot from time to time, while in a game or if it just sits in the taskbar "doing nothing". That is bandwidth hogging. People hate it when Windows does something like that, get cracks, firewalls, tweaks etc just to block those accesses, but if Steam does it, its okay. Alright!
Even if it doesnt bother you that some applications contact their developers all the time, you might want to sum them all up. If you dont have a T1 or similar, it will screw you sooner or later. For me that autoupdate of my AntiVirus software is too much already. If it does that while I play online and fight someone right then I will lose in that case for sure. Thats why I set it up to not bother me while playing.
Steam also uses CPU power frequently if you watch your taskmanager a bit. When a process uses CPU power while you play demanding games, there will be short slowdowns in the game. Sometimes very noticeable and sometimes not. I have used programs that needed less than 1 MB and still slowed my systems down noticeably. I dont care about 3MB, I have a lot of processes running, but most of them dont use CPU power frequently without a reason, and if they do they will be shut down before I play such a game or completely uninstalled if not replaceable or necessary. I was talking about all developers having the same kind of shit as online platform, and I guess all together would be a little more than 3MB, dont you think, Mr. Scottsman?
I can already taste your answer to this... mmmmhhh "But MMORPGS... and others can add spyware too". Youre pretty predictable.
But please go on, it helps my ego quite a bit.

________
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112. Re: Sierra sucks Sep 20, 2004, 20:43 WebDemon
 
"To keep the retailers happy. If they charged less, EB/Gamestop/Best Buy/Circuit City/whoever sells games would lose a whole lot of sales. Charge the same price, however, and Steam becomes just another method of distribution with no clear advantage over going to Gamestop and buying the game in person."

All it will take is for one dev release a major title via online distribution and the final sales numbers will speak for themselves. Yes the price to DL HL2 WILL probably be too high if no the same as retail. That was probably an attempt to head something like what's happening off. A case like this is going to make a lot of devs look into their distribution contracts in the future and should Valve win, this might be the touching off point for Online distribution. Personally if I had a choice between $49.95 at retail and $29.95 online, guess what I'm going to pick. The prices used are just as an example but you can see where this is going. This, like the RIAA, is an attempt to maintain their hand in the cookie jar, or better still, slow things down enough so that they can play catch up and figure out a way to gouge consumers in this new medium. Hence we have 99 cent music downloads which are still laughable because you'd be paying about the same to DL a whole album as you would pay retail. This is going to be a long, ugly fight. I wouldn't expect to see HL2 until this is all resolved.

 
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111. Re: Archiving from Steam Sep 20, 2004, 20:39 JoeV2-MCM
 
Thanks for information, alnya. I went to the official Steam site and performed a couple of searches ('archiving' and 'backup') within their users forums and the most relevant threads are linked below. Of course, this doesn't produce an install CD/DVD but it does alleviate the hassle of having to download all the game content again. Oh, and in case it isn't glaringly obvious, this isn't a feature supplied by Steam but must be performed outside the app on your own.

http://steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?s=ad0158f83168090cf7c71a96870c9147&threadid=96060&highlight=archiving

http://steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?s=ad0158f83168090cf7c71a96870c9147&threadid=131644&highlight=backup

http://steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?s=ad0158f83168090cf7c71a96870c9147&threadid=131598&highlight=backup



"Worry is only anxiety over something that may never happen." -V2
 
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110. Re: Archiving from Steam Sep 20, 2004, 20:28 noman
 
That's right. The steam files can be backed up and used after a system format or reinstall. If anything, they are more convenient than having to put a CD in drive every time you try to start a game (or to find and download a no-CD patch that actually works)

Other things that need to be repeated since some people continue to come up with idiotic concerns about Steam that have no basis in reality..
a) Steam doesn't use your upstream bandwidth to serve downloads for other users.
b) You don't have to be online to start singleplayer or LAN games (even when you have downloaded the game and don't have a retail copy)
c) You can set autoupdates off on a per-game basis.
d) The most recent Valve game (CS:CZ) doesn't even require Steam, until one wants to update the game. Beyond that point, offline mode in single player and LAN multiplay still works fine.

In future, Valve may go back on all these options and they may add a secret functionality that formats a users hard disk (but not before first uploading the entire "My Documents" folder to Steam servers) but that's a different debate.

This comment was edited on Sep 20, 20:29.
 
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109. Not Good Sep 20, 2004, 20:16 alnya
 
This whole situation just doesn't feel right. I'm as anxious for HL2 as anyone, but the only reason I can think that Vivendi waited for the Release Candidate to be delivered was so they could ensure that the game was done before they dropped this suit.
It's been said before (depending on how many conspiracy theories you believe) that one of the main reasons HL2 was delayed so much was because when Steam dropped last September it was a huge mess and they needed the realease of Condition Zero to test how Steam would perform with a significant drop.
Now, if I were Vivendi and saw this happen I`d be a little pissed.
So, it seems like they've waited till HL2 was done, then dropped this lawsuit - which kind of seems like cutting your nose to spite your face.
I mean, Vivendi aren't having the best year so far, and need HL2 to keep the shareholders happy. Valve aren't having the best year either, and really have to release it before all their PR staff quit in a blaze of mismanaged carnage (which is not to say they haven't already).
All of this wrangling though just seems to be the worst sort of business - albeit at an epic scale - lots of "this is mine and that's yours."
I really, really hope this doesn't get stuck in litigation for months and months, especially when I, like so many others, have 2.5 GB of HL2 on my machine - poised; promising so much...

 
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108. Archiving from Steam Sep 20, 2004, 20:08 alnya
 
I believe you can archive your Steam Installed Games by burning the contents of the SteamApps folder from your Steam Install Directory.

 
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107. Re: regarding steam.. Sep 20, 2004, 20:01 Undead Scottsman
 
ol, I knew you would use the Battlenet as argument, even though it lacks heavily as such.
Battlenet is part of EVERY Blizzard game and not a program you need to start first before you can play any Blizzard game or download games with, etc. It is just like those ingame server browsers (which are most of the time MUCH more efficient than Steam).

And what exactly does being a part of the program or not have to do with what you were arguing about before?

Easy Conclusion:
Valve can do with Steam what they want, include spyware or make it even more unefficient (is that possible?) and people will still love them and buy their crap.

Blizzard can include spyware all they want in their games on cd's; through battle.net updates or downloadable patches. Additionally, they can make b.net 1000 times more inefficient to their hearts content; and if you want to play online, you're stuck with it..

Patches you download from B.net are the same as patches you download from Steam. You HAVE to have them in order to play online, and you don't REALLY know what's in them.. Blizzard could add spyware and crap just as easily as Valve. So I again ask "How is this any different than Blizzard Entertainment? Or Bungie? Or id Software? Or any other big developer with a fanbase?"

Ultimatly, it's not Hell, Valve could have screwed us over at any time before Steam was even a glimmer in their eye. It seriously must suck to not only be a chicken little, but to be a LATE chicken little to boot.

Oh, and I don't know about you, but if Steam is sucking up your resouces bad enough to affect gameplay; you're PROBABLY not going to be able to run vary many modern day games anyway. Then again, I dunno.. I guess 3mb loss of ram could seriously affect your HL2 experiance.. I'd just hate to see how badly it would run before that.

Sincerely,
Jeremy Dunn

 
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106. No subject Sep 20, 2004, 19:59 Old_Geezer
 
I refuse to play Halflife 2 just because they suggested the mandatory use of steam, and I couldn't care less if they decide to change their minds. As far as I'm concerned Valve sucks and their games be damned. I liken Steam to that CoolSearch toolbar/virus that the asshole creators insist is for our benefit.

I don't like Windows accessing the net for whatever "helpful" reasons, I disable autoupdates, and yet that bloated pig of an OS still triggers ZoneAlarm more times than I can count. Creating a ton of firewall rules for a new windows XP installation is now just a regular part of installing the OS. I will NOT tollerate that shit for a stinkin game.

Those self-important jackasses must be suffering from a god-complex, and as far as I'm concerned, anyone who pays for a copy of half-life 2 only to relenquish their privacy or any control over their own machines/games to Valve is as much a part of the problem as the ever increasing sleazoids in the software industry. If ever a game cried out to be pirated, it's this one, and I hope enough of it happens to put those control freaks out of business forever.

I am SICK AND TIRED of being punished for the acts of pirates when I spend my hard-earned godamn money on a game...especially when NONE of their counterpiracy measures EVER work. NONE! Wnen will these freaking idiots learn that? I have never bought a *popular* game that somebody at work didn't brag about downloading for free. Even Doom3! I pay for all my games, and feel ripped off enough when I have to wait for patches like a good beta-tester (though I must admit Doom3 was flawless), but to be told my money aint good enough, and that they want access to my freakin hard drive?!!

Screw you Valve, and screw anyone who supports them and is too dumb to see the sleazy precedent Valve wants to set for the rest of the software developers who may follow suit.

That's my rant, sorry if it's already been said, but the more it gets said, hopefully the more people will realize that supporting Valve is just plain wrong. And I really don't want to hear the company line from any valve fanboys... I'll regard you with the same sneering disdain that I reserve for the assholes who insist pop-up windows are really a good thing, and that combined with cookies can direct the "right kind" of advertising to your desktop to "better serve you". Pfft! When it comes to things like Steam, CoolSearch, Cookies, etc... I automatically assume the company line is bullshit if not outright lies.

I don't care if they don't spy, I don't care if it hogs resources, I don't give a rat's ass what it does or does not do...I will not buy a game and be told I have to install another piece of superfluous software that is not the game in order to play the game. That is the marketing genius of complete assholes at work.

I can update my own games Valve, and I don't need you converting my game machine into a Valve machine...so take your HL2 and shove it right up your friggin @sses.

Geezer

 
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105. Re: regarding steam.. Sep 20, 2004, 19:47 Muscular Beaver
 
but anything that makes gaming more difficult will be smacked down hard

Steam is a good example I guess, huh?
Imagine every developer will release such a "useful" tool. Then we will have to start a different program everytime before we want to play a game online from each developer. Oh yeah I can imagine how much easier that will be and with all those little programms in the taskbar that will NEVER EVER use any bandwidth or system resources.
Steam already sucks for DSL users who have a very limited upstream and get their ping screwed up every time when they upload something at 3kb or so. I dont even want to mention dial up users. But I guess they are used to bad pings anyway.


________
I don't like arguing. Why can't we all just get along instead of fighting and arguing?
This comment was edited on Sep 20, 19:51.
 
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Oh that is so lame... You will PAY for your use of inappropriate dialogue!
- Mojo Jojo
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104. Re: regarding steam.. Sep 20, 2004, 19:40 Muscular Beaver
 
lol, I knew you would use the Battlenet as argument, even though it lacks heavily as such.
Battlenet is part of EVERY Blizzard game and not a program you need to start first before you can play any Blizzard game or download games with, etc. It is just like those ingame server browsers (which are most of the time MUCH more efficient than Steam).
Any other smart arguments? How about Windows Update?

________
I don't like arguing. Why can't we all just get along instead of fighting and arguing?
 
Avatar 12928
 
Oh that is so lame... You will PAY for your use of inappropriate dialogue!
- Mojo Jojo
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103. Re: regarding steam.. Sep 20, 2004, 19:32 Undead Scottsman
 
I cant remember that Blizzard, id or any other software developer has yet delivered such a platform and are FORCING their customers to play over it.

Uhh, Battle.net anyone? You HAVE to play over Battle.net if you want to play online.. Period.

Sincerely,
Jeremy Dunn

 
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102. Re: regarding steam.. Sep 20, 2004, 19:31 MMORPGHoD
 
Right, I did read that if you install HL2 from a CD and play SP only, it won't require STEAM. However, once you use STEAM (which I assume will be needed to get any patch) it will require STEAM from then on.

I have no doubt that if they ever did try to do something sneaky, someone would find out. I personally have no fear of that. I'm just stating the concerns that are out there. Gamers will take improvements.. but anything that makes gaming more difficult will be smacked down hard.


This comment was edited on Sep 20, 19:35.
 
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101. Re: Just read the article and... Sep 20, 2004, 19:27 Tumbler
 
Contracts are fairly easy to breach if you have a good lawyer, and I imagine Valve does.

Do you have an example to back this up with? This sounds like wishful thinking. Money is the easiest way to break out of a contract. You pay the other person enough and he'll walk away happy. You don't and he'll take what you owe him.

When you're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars nothing is "fairly easy".

As mentioned, this is the way of the future for many companies. When they're big enough it makes sense to distribute themselves. They can charge less and profit more. Of course, they can't charge less yet, but the day will come. Publishers will still be needed to fund smaller games, but they'll do online distro, too.

This has little to do with the future, this is about Valve trying to cut Sierra out of the profits they agreed to share with them earlier.

As for the future of distrobution and it being better that way, none of that is relevant. Valve made and agreement and is apparently not going to live up to the terms. Considering that valve has Itellectual rights per that agreement I'd say they are treading on thin ice, if they are found in breach of that contract that gives the intellectual rights back to sierra, then they may lose control of half-life all together.

 
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100. Re: regarding steam.. Sep 20, 2004, 19:25 Muscular Beaver
 
I was talking purely about Steam, smartassy scottsman.
I cant remember that Blizzard, id or any other software developer has yet delivered such a platform and are FORCING their customers to play over it. And even if they do sometime, I am pretty sure they will develop a program that is much more efficient and simpler (quicker) to use, more like those normal server browsers "click and play", not "click 10 times, wait 30 secs and then be rejected by the selected server because the game browser sucks so bad".


________
I don't like arguing. Why can't we all just get along instead of fighting and arguing?
This comment was edited on Sep 20, 19:27.
 
Avatar 12928
 
Oh that is so lame... You will PAY for your use of inappropriate dialogue!
- Mojo Jojo
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99. Re: regarding steam.. Sep 20, 2004, 19:23 Cutedge
 
HL2 will be unique in that a WON server was never required when you're not playing a multiplayer game. STEAM is required. Again, Doom 3 doesn't require a central server to play single player, ever.

You can get CS:CZ in a store and install it. It makes a seperate installation that isn't Steam. It doesn't require Steam to run. It doesn't connect to the internet at all. To play online, you have to install the game into Steam, which takes the resources of that single player version and can either leave them (as they are now just duplicate) or can delete them. If you leave them, both versions work (although the single player is unpatched).

It is safe to assume HL2 will work the same way. Therefore, you CAN play HL2 single player if you're so damn worried about magical elves stealing your porn off your harddrive through Steam.

The fact of the matter is, most things people think about Steam are total misrepresentations. It doesn't get file names and store them in a GCF, that's because it sets a file that is a certain size and doesn't zero it out (hence old data can be in it, but will be overwritten). It can start in "offline" mode for LAN play. Etc, etc, etc.

Also remember, since you people keep bringing up Blizzard and Battle.net, that Blizzard got sued for having battle.net get the user's email out of outlook express (or something to that extent) when someone tried to use an invalid or pirated CD Key. They lost. You guys keep saying "oh blizzard this and that and look now valve is eviiiiil" but Blizzard is in fact the one who has already gotten busted for breaking into someone's privacy.

 
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98. Re: regarding steam.. Sep 20, 2004, 19:16 Undead Scottsman
 
Easy Conclusion:
Valve can do with Steam what they want, include spyware or make it even more unefficient (is that possible?) and people will still love them and buy their crap.
Easy Retort:
How is this any different than Blizzard Entertainment? Or Bungie? Or id Software? Or any other big developer with a fanbase?

Shit, it must suck to have to run around all paranoid like because some company that had financial success has the possibility of DOING SOMETHING NAUGHTY!!! OH NO!!!

Sincerely,
Jeremy Dunn

 
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157 Replies. 8 pages. Viewing page 3.
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