anyone think they have enough pipe for when HL2 comes out and everything goes through them
This is a very important question, and to be honest, I rather doubt it. Half Life 2 will probably be one of the biggest game sales of all time, and what's Valve going to do if 10.000 people decide to download it via Steam all at the same time? (Ie, 1.4 nanoseconds after it becomes available)
Send it to them at 0.2k/s?
For the HL2 movies that have been released, Steam has used preloading, and I bet they are going to do the same thing with HL2, most people who buy HL2 the second its released through steam, will probably "pre-order" it, so when HL2 is released, its already on their harddrive as a cache file, it only needs to be activated on release day. so while it may take som hours to DL you will barely notice it. Still I agree the will need ALOT of bandwith for the content servers, and they do have some, as you can see here:
Steam is free.
I guess I wasn't clear.
How much will it cost to acquire/use steam IF you do not have a half-life/cs/dod cd-key
Well Steam is a small free program, but it wont be much fun on its own, except you can use it to DL halflife 2 movies.
So to play HL etc via steam you have to pay the excact amount the guy at the retailer says he needs to give you a copy of either HL, CS, DOD or any other valve game with a valid CD-key. in my country , the cheapest Ive seen is around 10$ or so for a best-buy HL copy.. I doubt it, but valve might sell you a "cd-key" via steam. If the price is to high simply buy a best-buy HL.
To sum it up, Steam is and always will be free, the games played via steam will probably always cost money to buy or subscribe to. I dont think its possible to buy a "HL1" subscription, all those games will more likely be a bonus to subscribers of future valve games (HL2, TF2, CS2,"DoD2" etc)at 9,95$ month.