Vivendi was really hyping the game. But can you blame them? This was going to be a major cash cow. They're the ones that committed to Sept 2003, not Valve
Yeah, someone has a short memory all right:
As if to set us up for more shocks, Valve was quick to hit us with this little doozy: Half-Life 2 is on track for a worldwide release on September 30 of this year.
-- Gamespot, Half-Life 2 Preview, 08 May 2003
Valve [has] drawn a line in the sand and announced a ship date of September 30, 2003.
-- GameSpy, "Half-Life 2: The Very First Look", 08 May 2003
The Valve folks have decided to keep shocking even more when the date of September 30th was given as the shipping date.
-- Shacknews, Half-Life 2 Preview, 08 May 2003
Valve would be showing off scenes of actual gameplay from the upcoming shooter, which the company states will ship on September 30 of this year.
-- Gamespot, Half-Life 2 Impressions, 14 May 2003
"Can Valve make its announced September 30 release date?" [Valve Software's Erik] Johnson is still sticking by that date following our demo so unless something goes wrong we should experience a one-of-a-kind game.
-- HomeLAN Fed, Half-Life 2 Impressions, 17 May 2003
[Gabe Newell's] next comment stunned me. "So we're in the unusual situation of announcing the product at E3 this year and then shipping it on September 30." That's September 2003 right? "That's right."
-- Computer And Video Games, Half-Life 2 Preview, 28 May 2003
HomeLAN - Many people have said [...] they still don't think Valve will make its September 30 release date. Can you [tell us] whether it will indeed make that date?
Gabe Newell - The date's still September 30th.
-- HomeLAN Fed, Half-Life 2 Interview, 08 June 2003