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 7.
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37.
 
I'm Buying Both
Sep 20, 2004, 13:10
37.
I'm Buying Both Sep 20, 2004, 13:10
Sep 20, 2004, 13:10
 
I'm getting the boxed version (special edition) and I'll probably be getting a Steam 'subscription' for $10 per month. Reason being, I like Valve, I trust Valve, and I enjoy the games they make. I like their single player games, I play their multiplayer games... I've played various HL mods for nearly five years now, longer than five years if you count the fact that the Team Fortress guys went to work at Valve.

I'm a Valve fanboy, I admit. Steam has never broken for me. Their games have never failed me. They have given me 5 years of fun for a single purchase of $45 dollars, by constantly updating and improving their game so it remains playable and popular.

This is my way of paying them back... buying the SE and the subscription. I trust them to continue to make me happy in the future as well.

Ancient
Avatar 15062
36.
 
Re: Reminisant of...
Sep 20, 2004, 13:10
36.
Re: Reminisant of... Sep 20, 2004, 13:10
Sep 20, 2004, 13:10
 
Many people here have posted thoughts along the lines of "I want an actual box, CD/DVD, etc" and will buy the game via the regular old brick and mortar retail channel.

I'm one of those brick-n-mortar guys not so much because I like the idea of having an actual CD--though admittedly it is a big reason--but because I don't want to have to install Steam for all the typical reasons listed. However, given this latest news, if Steam were to provide some way to burn HL2 (and all their other games) to CD after downloading it would go a long way in convincing me (and potentially many others) to purchase Valve products over Steam. I've been following the threads on HL2 and Steam for a bit now so if the ability to burn a game to CD is available in Steam please let me know. Having a CD and knowing you don't have to spend the time downloading the game again after your HD crashes is worth the peace of mind, in my opinion.

"Worry is only anxiety over something that may never happen." -V2
35.
 
No internet connection?
Sep 20, 2004, 13:05
35.
No internet connection? Sep 20, 2004, 13:05
Sep 20, 2004, 13:05
 
Wow, you are truly one in a million.

You'll soon find out, the world has and will even more so leave you behind. Everything will require an internet connection soon, as it almost already does.

What are you, posting this message to a local BBS to go over Fidonet onto Bluesnews?... I didn't know Bluesnews had a Fidonet link... Cool!

Fire up the 9600 baud modem.

34.
 
Re: LOL
Sep 20, 2004, 13:04
34.
Re: LOL Sep 20, 2004, 13:04
Sep 20, 2004, 13:04
 
Depends on the profit margin and where they would be willing to cut their losses and/or profit at

snafu

Opinions are like A**holes, everybody has one and they usually stink
(all except mine of course)
Eye 4N Eye

Opinions are like A**holes, everybody has one and they usually stink
(all except mine of course)
33.
 
Re: LOL
Sep 20, 2004, 12:57
33.
Re: LOL Sep 20, 2004, 12:57
Sep 20, 2004, 12:57
 
Sure, if the game is never released, nobody profits. But, what if Valve wanted to hold off release for a few more months until the court case was settled (assuming things did not go well at the Oct hearing)? They would stand to make more profit if STEAM was allowed upon release, instead of 5 months after the fact.
This comment was edited on Sep 20, 12:58.
32.
 
Re: LOL
Sep 20, 2004, 12:52
32.
Re: LOL Sep 20, 2004, 12:52
Sep 20, 2004, 12:52
 
The next thing I'm expecting to see is VUG seeking an injunction against Valve to prohibit them from releasing HL2 over Steam until they settle this in court. If we see HL2 before 2005, I'll be very surprised.

Its in both parties interest to at least get the CD/DVD version out the door, or noboby profits

snafu

Opinions are like A**holes, everybody has one and they usually stink
(all except mine of course)
Eye 4N Eye

Opinions are like A**holes, everybody has one and they usually stink
(all except mine of course)
31.
 
Re: Release the game already
Sep 20, 2004, 12:52
31.
Re: Release the game already Sep 20, 2004, 12:52
Sep 20, 2004, 12:52
 
Just get Half-Life2 out the door. I don't care if I have to download, buy a CDROM or interpret smoke signals, just make it available.

Yeah, I don't care about downloading it. As long as I can pick it up at the store I'll be happy. I hope you didn't download all of those encrypted HL2 files and not be able to use 'em, Ray.

Valve needs to find a new publisher next time.

This space is available for rent
30.
 
MP3.com anyone?
Sep 20, 2004, 12:51
30.
MP3.com anyone? Sep 20, 2004, 12:51
Sep 20, 2004, 12:51
 
Not Sierra, Vivendi Universal...

Anyone remember how they strung up and GUTTED mp3.com?
http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/11/21/14616/561

Vivendi is the Internet Antichrist

29.
 
Money, Ownership, and Distribution
Sep 20, 2004, 12:50
29.
Money, Ownership, and Distribution Sep 20, 2004, 12:50
Sep 20, 2004, 12:50
 
I find it somewhat hilarious that some people here are siding with the publisher (or at least seem to be). I'm assuming it is more a factor of they want the game without having to use Steam. That's cool. As long as Valve provides this somehow, then I'm assuming you would be happy. Heck if you want updates/patches for the game, you can even go to one of the CD Burning services (think GameSpot has one) and just get your updates burnt and shipped to you (at cost though) or just get them off a friend. There are ways of getting and playing games without having an internet connection.

Still I think the more important issue here is ownership. Assuming Valve hasn't broken their contract with Sierra (no idea where you can find these details), then they should have the right to utilize Steam as their own alternative distribution method and make money from it. In otherwords, they sweated making the game, therefore, shouldn't they be making the profits from it. Yes, Sierra gets distribution rights for physical CD's but Valve should still be able to still make money from their Steam distribution system. I mean this is a long time coming so I can't see how Valve wouldn't have worded their agreement with Sierra appropriatedly to take this in account.

Finally, the main reason that other developers can't take the same path as Valve is because they don't have the money to make the game in the first place (whereas Valve apparently does have their own piggy bank). These other developers need publishers to fund them to help them produce the game and publish it. However, if Valve's system works for them, I can't see why they wouldn't over time (with it being fully tested and proven) that they would offer the same service (or license to use the technology) to other game developers so that they could benefit more directly from their games as well. Of course, I can't see publishers allowing developers to go this path especially if the publisher is footing the bill for the development of the game. However, who knows what the future holds for game development funding.

Still all said and done, if Sierra forced ownership of the game via the courts and didn't allow Valve to utilize steam as an alternative distribution method and more importantly if Sierra screwed Valve with regards to future HL franchise products, well I'd be immediately boycotting Sierra as quick as you can say Gordie. I'm sure people would think I'm nuts but hell I've had enough with greedy corps, thank you very much. The Internet has the opportunity to change a lot of things and I for one am glad it is allowing creative individuals more control and ownership of their creations.

28.
 
Re: LOL
Sep 20, 2004, 12:48
28.
Re: LOL Sep 20, 2004, 12:48
Sep 20, 2004, 12:48
 
The next thing I'm expecting to see is VUG seeking an injunction against Valve to prohibit them from releasing HL2 over Steam until they settle this in court. If we see HL2 before 2005, I'll be very surprised.

27.
 
Re: LOL
Sep 20, 2004, 12:39
27.
Re: LOL Sep 20, 2004, 12:39
Sep 20, 2004, 12:39
 
Sierra must die!!! Evil!

26.
 
LOL
Sep 20, 2004, 12:37
26.
LOL Sep 20, 2004, 12:37
Sep 20, 2004, 12:37
 
Ahahah
though an actual trial is not scheduled until March 21, 2005

If this hearing on the 8th doesn't go their way they could be legally unable to offer HL2 via steam until March 21, 2005.

In response to people comments that putting publishers out of business and giving the dev companies all the money, there is one huge problem with that. Money. Publishers invest into those game companies a healthy amount of change and make it possible to produce these games. Who is going to pay for the development of a game that takes 4 years? Or 2 years for that matter. Big companies like ID, or valve in this case might, but without publishers, many games won't get made.

Internet distrubution of games may have some very positive effects, faster releases of games, more profits for the development studio's, possibly lower prices, but if that means that there are less profits to go around who will invest in these companies?

Investors (aka publishers in this case) are required for this process to work. Have to look at the good with the bad.

Of course, looking at an industry similar to this, like the music industry, that is ruled by large corporations that publish music for artists and get huge amounts of money for doing it, and in turn make the artists filthy rich by gouging the public, I'm all for getting rid of that system. $20 for a .05 cent cd with music on it is disgusting. Not to mention the cost of concerts....

25.
 
Re: Reminisant of...
Sep 20, 2004, 12:36
25.
Re: Reminisant of... Sep 20, 2004, 12:36
Sep 20, 2004, 12:36
 
Good job I wasn't really looking forward to HL2.

So now we have:
Duke Nukem (takes) Forever
Half (a)life(time) 2

Which will come first and more importantly which will look the more dated of the 2 by the time they hit the shelves.


24.
 
Re: Reminisant of...
Sep 20, 2004, 12:28
24.
Re: Reminisant of... Sep 20, 2004, 12:28
Sep 20, 2004, 12:28
 
When the record industry has to start suing 11 year old girls and publishers want to litigate to force devs into an agreement on their next game it should be a sign that they've become obsolete.

I would say they are still important. Many people here have posted thoughts along the lines of "I want an actual box, CD/DVD, etc" and will buy the game via the regular old brick and mortar retail channel. Just like the recording industry, the publishers have to rethink their gameplan. They are not the only fish in the sea now.

I don't recall Valve ever saying what the initial price point would be for HL2 via Steam but I'm guessing it will be the same amount as the retail boxed version.

Sierra is trying to avoid being known as the company that let the golden goose get away.

After reading the article it seems that some of Sierra's arguements are weak. Isn't there a thing called due dilligence? Was Valve supposed to lay all their cards on the negotiating table? Hell, many of the people around here saw the writing on the wall when Steam was first rolled out. Why didn't Sierra?

On top of their other mis-steps, re-negotiating their deal with Valve seems like a dumb idea as well.

What is really interesting to me is the IP issue. Wonder where that will go?

October is not that far away...

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23.
 
Re: what next
Sep 20, 2004, 12:20
23.
Re: what next Sep 20, 2004, 12:20
Sep 20, 2004, 12:20
 
Yes I know several people who are actually considering not buying the game at all simply because Steam is more useless crap that has to run in the background on your PC, and who knows what else it does to your computer. One friend still doesn't even use WinRAR for cryin out loud.. he HATES the idea of HAVING to have steam in order to play HL. Also yes poeple who's gaming machine isn't online or who don't have an internet connection are screwed.

I saw this comming. I mean did they think VU was gonna just sit there and let valve go around them with steam? No multi-billion dolor corporation worth it's salt is gonna let even a dime slip through their fingers without a hell of a fight. This battle could very well go on for years.

Avatar 17499
22.
 
Re: regarding steam..
Sep 20, 2004, 12:20
22.
Re: regarding steam.. Sep 20, 2004, 12:20
Sep 20, 2004, 12:20
 
In theory though, Steam seems like a good idea, to cut the evil publisher out of the loop. I'm sick of crappy games, dumbed down to appeal to the widest audience, and publishers who refuse to take any risks on anything new or not part of an established IP. Maybe Steam will bring back a golden age of PC gaming (queue Bambi music)

This is such a naive mindset, the only way this would work is if games were free to develop. Current trends in the industry make this quite the opposite, as tech requires more and more development manpower and time to produce a game for your enjoyment.

SOMEONE's got to pay to make a game. If not a publisher, then private funding. And it's a guarantee that whoever pays for the game, is going to call the shots and enforce their vision of what it should or shouldn't be. There are only a handful of companies who have the financial independance to develop a game on their terms and completely seperate from outside contributions, and they are making basically the same game that made them money in the first place.

What this issue boils down to is that Valve signed a multi-title aggreement with Sierra. This is a contract, Valve producing steam so they can distrubite HL2 or any future game that is also contracted with Sierra is a breech of that contract. Of course Sierra wants to hold on to HL2, that's why they signed the publishing agreement with Valve in the first place. Of course Valve wants to release the game independantly from Sierra, more money for them. The courts will sort it out and the game will be shipped into everyone's greedy little mitts.

Sierra has had very little input (thank god) into Half Life 2, indeed Valve has had very little contact with Sierra about anything to do with the game. When it debuted at E3 2 years ago, Sierra was informed a week before the show that Valve was going to show something. This year's E3 was Valve's on doing as well...they brought in their booth and did their own thing. Blizzard seems to have a similar deal...they do their own thing and Sierra just publishes the game.

21.
 
Re: regarding steam..
Sep 20, 2004, 12:15
21.
Re: regarding steam.. Sep 20, 2004, 12:15
Sep 20, 2004, 12:15
 
1. Not having control of what goes on - not seeing exactly what STEAM is doing to your files makes some users uneasy.
- but lets face it...running an exe patch file doesnt exactly tell you what files are being updated either

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).

- you can set games in steam to not auto update, and then force them to update when you want them to

b. Theoretically it may be possible to not only download files, but also upload files.. using your PC and bandwidth as a file server.
- and if they did this without our knowledge, that would be illegal


Imagine not being able to play your favorite single player FPS because of this.
- You can set steam to offline mode. when in this mode a connection is not necesary. LAN games can be played and SP can be played without an internet connection, once it is placed in offline mode.

c. LAN games - will they happen with HL2?
- they happen with every other STEAM game, so I don't see why not with HL2


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20.
 
Re: Reminisant of...
Sep 20, 2004, 12:14
20.
Re: Reminisant of... Sep 20, 2004, 12:14
Sep 20, 2004, 12:14
 
Kinda reminds me of RIAA vs Napster...

thats the first thing that popped into my mind as well when I read it.

Electronic distribution is going to cause a massive shift in how things are done. When the record industry has to start suing 11 year old girls and publishers want to litigate to force devs into an agreement on their next game it should be a sign that they've become obsolete.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
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"Both the “left” and the “right” pretend they have the answer, but they are mere flippers on the same thalidomide baby, and the truth is that neither side has a clue."

- Jim Goad
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19.
 
So we finally know...
Sep 20, 2004, 12:14
19.
So we finally know... Sep 20, 2004, 12:14
Sep 20, 2004, 12:14
 
...the real reason that HL2 has been delayed so much. I sincerely hope that Sierra gets their butt handed to them on a platter.

18.
 
WTH?!
Sep 20, 2004, 12:14
18.
WTH?! Sep 20, 2004, 12:14
Sep 20, 2004, 12:14
 
asking the court via filings to force Valve to work with it on whatever is next in the development pipeline
On what grounds can they possibly expect the court to grant this? It sounds like they'd be just as happy if slavery were legalized so they could chain developers to their desks and get busy with the whips.

Guess who is shopping for a new publisher? Hell, Valve is loaded enough that they could just about start their own publisher. As long as HL2 isn't complete crap it will make a hojillion dollars and after that what big box chain isn't going to go the extra mile to make sure they have the next Valve game on their shelves?

I wonder what VUG's shareholders will do when they lose Valve because of this horseshit?


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