#1 - What do those without an internet connection do? i.e. those that live in BFE, or those with gaming rigs who perhaps go online at work or don't hook that particular machine to the net. Is there a phone or offline activation like Norton AV? If so we all know how long that took to pirate...
People keep bring this up and it has been answered thousands of times (here and elsewhere). But I'm going to bite and reitterate the situation.
Those without an internet connection can do one of the following: Set up a free internet trial with AOL or whatever, go to a friends house and use their internet (then use offline mode), or get their friend to log into their accout, and give them the "offline" mode file via disk or whatever. Honestly, people needed an internet connection to register Windows XP (and Doom 3 required Windows XP) so I don't really see the big deal.
#2 - HL is cheaper in stores than on Steam! This makes no sense, and if I didn't have a free copy of this game coming from building someone's computer and stealing their HL2 coupon back then I would not buy this game on principle. There supposedly are no publishing costs unless the lawsuit with VU made Valve pay them, but no materials, no publsher costs, no distributers, and the collector's edition can be had for $10 less in store than on steam. Am I alone when I say what the fock? Ridiculous, not to mention you don't have a disk, nor manual, nor even get the game early. What a joke. Just like CSS, so don't use that as an excuse.
First of all, Vivendi would not allow them to sell it for less on Steam, as that would breach their contract. Secondly, content servers aren't cheap and Valve's set some pretty large servers up to support the HL/HL 2 community. Go look at the status page's list of servers and you'll notice how many there are. This isn't a subscription based system, these servers need to be supported by that $50 you pay for HL 2.
CD's and Manuals barely even register on that $50 you pay, anyway. It's all dev costs and publisher costs. A CD to a replicator the size of VU costs well under a dime...
I eat pasta!