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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 4.
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97. Re: No subject Sep 20, 2004, 19:16 glimmerman
 
I'd expect a lawsuit ATI vs Valve. ATI's deal was with them, not VUG.

Lombardi, time to get the vaseline out. Its going to be a long drawn-out ride.
 
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96. Re: No subject Sep 20, 2004, 19:12 Cutedge
 
Ok, here's the best thing out of all of this.

Most ATI users have half-life 2 coming to them through Steam. Sierra wants to stop Steam distribution. Therefore, you can soon expect a lawsuit of ATI vs Sierra. Watch, it's gonna happen, because otherwise ATI is going to have a hell of a time keeping it's vouchers in play and dodging lawsuits against them.

 
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95. Re: regarding steam.. Sep 20, 2004, 19:12 MMORPGHoD
 
My post was in reponse to the question, why do people dislike STEAM? I knew those reasons and I also have heard your counter reasons before.

a. Steam gives you complete control over what games to patch. Except for patching itself, that is.

b. "Theoretically" ANY program you install on your machine can do this. Next?


"Because else does" isn't a good enough reason for everyone. Most single player FPS games do not go out on the net when launched. Doom 3 doesn't do this for single player. Anyone running ZoneAlarm would know. It fairly easy to find out what programs "do this" and what programs do not, even for people that aren't PC savvy. You just read up about it on the internet.

I'm personally not looking for exact patching information, but would expect basic status of what it's doing at any given time.. patching, authorizing, contacting xxx.xx.xx.xx, etc and I would also personally turn off STEAM after playing. There is also such a thing as bad patches, which is why I'd also turn off the auto-update feature (just as I do with WinXP). However, there are very paranoid people out there. This is the internet, after all.

d. Not true. I have a friend who plays CS:CZ on a P3600 with 128MB RAM and a GF2MX at 90+ fps. If you know anything about computers(I'm a software developer and hardware architecture designer), then you'll know that every computer is different. Just because a computer has the exact same hardware as another, doesn't mean they'll run the same. Unfortunately, there's too many variables and the biggest is usually software. Drivers, OS, Spyware, AV Scanners, etc. So to say that Steam doesn't play on low to mid end computers is simply a lie by generalizing.

Every PC runs differently, but how many frames per second does STEAM take away from the game? Some gamers are tweak crazy and make changes just to get a few extra FPS.

a. Without Steam you had WON servers. If they were down, you couldn't play. As long as you want to keep piracy and cheating down, you need central servers. Yes. IF they go down, you can't play. Oh well. EVERY major MP game is like that, today (Tribes 2, COD, BF1942, SOF2, etc.) So, Steam is not unique in this area.

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.

b. So, I had a LAN party at my apartment, one night, and my internet was down. We could still play CS:CZ, locally. You don't need internet access to play SP and LAN games.

Good. It would be useful to educate users on how a temporary "license" to play single player is obtained and if an initial connection at some previous time was required to obtain it.

You will have to get used to Steam because this will definitely be the way games will be published more and more.

See, that's where you're wrong. This may work out very well for everyone or it may not. If it becomes an annoyance, people will find a way around it.

Any bets on how long it takes the pirates to create a STEAM free version?


This comment was edited on Sep 20, 19:13.
 
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94. Re: regarding steam.. Sep 20, 2004, 19:10 Muscular Beaver
 
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. This has been discussed alot of times in other forums and they all came to the same conclusion. You, my friend, are the perfect example of those mentioned Valve-Zombies, actually youre worse since you try to defend that crap.

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93. No subject Sep 20, 2004, 19:09 space captain
 
i may have no rights to it according to US law, but so what? who says I agree with US law?? you may bow down to your govt as a godhead, but i sure as hell dont

irregardless, i was just making a point and i really dont have any intention of pirating HL2.... but Im not PAYING FOR A FUCKING DOWNLOAD EITHER - especially when the cost is the same as a retail box... show me the ethics on that shit, huh?

i have no doubt that money (which makes the world go around) is the sole concern of all the countless dupes out there - but it actually ranks pretty low on my list of priorities... unfortunately, one of the top ones; "survival", seems to require it at times

but i dont respect the dupes in the least

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92. Re: No subject Sep 20, 2004, 18:53 Sty
 
Screw 'em both. Here's to hoping Rainier vomits soon.

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91. No subject Sep 20, 2004, 18:28 Hump
 
89 comments and not a single crass remark on Gabe Newell's love handles.

theres hope for this place yet.

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90. Re: Valve vs Sierra Sep 20, 2004, 18:27 Rilus
 
On Friday, when asked if Space Captain remained intent on making Half-Life 2 available to gamers via Bit Torrent, regardless of what was determined on October 8, he replied, "Yes."

fuck ethics - we can all play this game!!! yay

No no... Valve, so far, still has the online distribution rights to HL2. This has nothing to do with ethics and all to do with the law. You, Captain, have no rights over it, whatsoever.


Not that I'm doubting the enevitibilty of this statement, but how long before you think we'll see the first Steam clone?

Sincerely,
Jeremy Dunn

I expect to see it from Blizzard, within the next two years. Those are some creative, resourceful, and relatively wealthy(compared to other developer houses) SOBs.

This comment was edited on Sep 20, 18:31.
 
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89. Valve vs Sierra Sep 20, 2004, 18:21 Rilus
 
One thing most people have failed to understand is that Valve has NOT breached its contract with VUG. What is in question is whether or not Valve underplayed the importance of Steam when they asked for the online distribution rights from VUG. If it is decided that they did, in fact, hide some imformation about Steam from VUG in BAD FAITH, then, it could be argued that the contract is not valid to begin with and they'll rescind the online distribution rights as well as the IP rights to HL.

 
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88. Re: regarding steam.. Sep 20, 2004, 17:54 Undead Scottsman
 
You will have to get used to Steam because this will definitely be the way games will be published more and more.
Not that I'm doubting the enevitibilty of this statement, but how long before you think we'll see the first Steam clone?

Sincerely,
Jeremy Dunn

 
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87. No subject Sep 20, 2004, 17:52 space captain
 
On Friday, when asked if Space Captain remained intent on making Half-Life 2 available to gamers via Bit Torrent, regardless of what was determined on October 8, he replied, "Yes."

fuck ethics - we can all play this game!!! yay



__________________________________________________
"put it in a bottle, throw it out to sea... I dont trust nobody who dont trust me...
I'd rather run with Ramsey, swim in quicksand... shit by a tree, fuckin live off the land..."
 
______________________________________________
"When the bomb drops it'll be a bank holiday
Everybody happy in their tents and caravans
Everybody happy in their ignorance and apathy
No one realizes until the television breaks down..."

- SUBHUMANS
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86. Re: regarding steam.. Sep 20, 2004, 17:50 Rilus
 
This is a very delayed reply to HarbingerOfDeath's comments about Steam:
Some of the concerns of STEAM are:

1. Not having control of what goes on - not seeing exactly what STEAM is doing to your files makes some users uneasy.

a. Being able to patch your game at your own leisure is sometimes necessary if there are side effects of the patch (losing save games for one).

b. Theoretically it may be possible to not only download files, but also upload files.. using your PC and bandwidth as a file server.

c. Spyware

d. Performance hit - Is a mid to low end PC going to take a significant performance hit in a single or multiplayer game with STEAM running in the background?

Pretty much EVERY piece of software out there does things without explicitly informing you of what is going on. So, I don't know why Steam has to tell you step by step what it is doing.

a. Steam gives you complete control over what games to patch. Except for patching itself, that is.

b. "Theoretically" ANY program you install on your machine can do this. Next?

c. See b.

d. Not true. I have a friend who plays CS:CZ on a P3600 with 128MB RAM and a GF2MX at 90+ fps. If you know anything about computers(I'm a software developer and hardware architecture designer), then you'll know that every computer is different. Just because a computer has the exact same hardware as another, doesn't mean they'll run the same. Unfortunately, there's too many variables and the biggest is usually software. Drivers, OS, Spyware, AV Scanners, etc. So to say that Steam doesn't play on low to mid end computers is simply a lie by generalizing.

OK. To sum up concern number one, you're afraid Steam may harm your computer. It is a valid concern, but if you trust the developer and publisher (namely, Valve) then it shouldn't be a big deal. I mean, I'm sure you wouldn't worry about installing Photoshop because it MAY have spyware or it MAY use your computer to upload files.
There's no logical valid reason not to trust Valve, so far.

2. Your PC requiring Valve's servers much in the same way a MMOG requires servers could be a problem.

a. Look at WoW and SWG. They had problems recently due to a tornado hitting their server farm. WoW testers were not able to log in this weekend. Imagine not being able to play your favorite single player FPS because of this.

b. Situations where local internet is temporarily not available

c. LAN games - will they happen with HL2?

d. If a million people send an authorization request at the same time (release day.. whenever that is), will STEAM be able to handle it?

a. Without Steam you had WON servers. If they were down, you couldn't play. As long as you want to keep piracy and cheating down, you need central servers. Yes. IF they go down, you can't play. Oh well. EVERY major MP game is like that, today (Tribes 2, COD, BF1942, SOF2, etc.) So, Steam is not unique in this area.

b. So, I had a LAN party at my apartment, one night, and my internet was down. We could still play CS:CZ, locally. You don't need internet access to play SP and LAN games.

c. See b.

d. I don't know. I hope so, but then again, this technology is new and it'll take some time to perfect it.

Steam has all the advantages and disadvantages of any remotely-distributed-centrally-controlled-network client =P. The possibilities of it doing something mean to your computer are as low as any other product from another major publisher. And, simply put: You will have to get used to Steam because this will definitely be the way games will be published more and more.

 
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85. Fuck Sierra Sep 20, 2004, 17:39 Creston
 
While Valve isn't very high on my favorite developer's list right now, Sierra needs to shut the fuck up and kiss Valve's ass for making them such a ridiculous load of money in the past, what, five years.

And then trying to get the court to FORCE Valve to continue working with them, you've got to be fucking kidding me. I hope Valve wins this, doesn't owe Sierra a dime, and then MAYBE it (Sierra) will finally die the wretched death it's been deserving for many, many years now.

Creston


 
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84. Re: Just read the article and... Sep 20, 2004, 17:32 Beamer
 
Contracts are fairly easy to breach if you have a good lawyer, and I imagine Valve does.


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.


Someone also mentioned battle.net - it's entirely different and very cheap for Blizzard. All battle.net is is a chat service, essentially. Very little bandwith is used. When you play a game you're direct connected to whoever is hosting the game - someone else's computer, not battle.net. All blizzard does is host the chats and matchmaking as well as store basic statistics.

 
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83. Just read the article and... Sep 20, 2004, 17:28 Tumbler
 
came across this:

"Beginning in 1999, following the success of its first game, Valve began to threaten Sierra that it would halt or slow development of the remaining games it was obligated to develop unless Sierra relinquished certain rights under the 1997 agreements. Sierra eventually capitulated to these demands and, relying on misrepresentations by Valve, entered into a new software publishing agreement (SPA) with Valve in 2001.

That doesn't come as much of a surprise but it does make it really hard to respect Valve. I'd say it's pretty safe to say development of this game has been heavily dependent on how ready steam was to distrubute it.

As I see it,way back in 97 Valve said Sierra could market, distribute, and publish HL and several other titles. (I'm assuming to include sequels). After the success of their first game Valve was emboldened to make Sierra give them a better deal or never see a sequel come out for their flagship game. Sierra said "ok, but we still get ot distribute it right?" Valve says "yes". Valve then turns around and creates steam, aimed at distrubuting the game completely outside of the Sierra company.

Valve should be in breach of contract if they sell HL2 to the general public via steam. If they provide it to all the ATI video card buyers I don't think they will have a problem. But providing it via steam is the same as letting someone else publish it and distribute it at the same time. Profits will be cut significantly. I don't see a problem with them doing this with other games outside the half life franchise but in this case I think Vivendia has a right to their share of profits. If selling the game on steam sends the same dollars back to sierra/vivendi I'm sure this wouldn't be a problem.

As for that internet cafe complaint, Valve should be compensated the same as any other sale of their software.

 
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82. Re: No subject Sep 20, 2004, 16:52 jm0ris0n
 
I think sierra's whole problem with steam is they get no profits whatsoever from it.

If I pay 1 million to publish a game, and then allow the developer to distribute the game online, I want some of the developer's steam revenue !

Steam is a good idea as long as vivendi is recouped some of the game revenues !

Vivendi, we want Garbiel Knight 4 !

 
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81. Re: No subject Sep 20, 2004, 16:36 MrShoop
 
Vivendi is in terrible shape financially. They can't afford to not ship Half Life 2 this year. In fact, the whole lawsuit smakcs of desperation by a dying corporation. Sierra was shut down earlier this year. Blizzard and Half Life are the only valuable assets left. This was a company that was second only 2 EA for a while after the early megers of Sierra (Papyrus, Dynamix, Impressions, Berkeley) with Davidson/Knowledge Adventure/Blizzard. They have run those companies into the ground. They aren't even top 10 in marketshare now.

 
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80. No subject Sep 20, 2004, 16:35 Tanto Edge
 
LOL!

Well ofcourse Sierra is interested in maintaining relations with Valve!
Hoyle doesn't sell as well as Half-Life.

 
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79. Re: No subject Sep 20, 2004, 16:25 D4rkKnight
 
So is VU going to hold back release for this court decision? Whats stopping them from doing that?

 
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78. No subject Sep 20, 2004, 16:14 B M
 
Valve is worse than M$.  
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157 Replies. 8 pages. Viewing page 4.
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