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 5.
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77.
 
No subject
Sep 20, 2004, 16:03
77.
No subject Sep 20, 2004, 16:03
Sep 20, 2004, 16:03
 
This whole law suit doesnt even look to pertain to HL2 at all. But instead the way valve has been using Steam to distribute games Vivendi is still selling. The only way any of this will effect HL2 is if Valve decides to hold the game back until they get what they want, in which case Vivendi will probaly force them to release it.

All that aside, the whole deal with publishers being the problem with games is slightly off base. Sure they push for a lot of things that would be better off not done, but they also push for games to go out the door. A lot of companies wouldnt ever hit their release dates in a timely matter if it wernt for publishers holding their paychecks. Sure you can think that thats why games come out not done or buggy, or what not. But really you should look towards some of the developers as either not putting in the time, or not being as good as they should be. This isnt to lay blame on either side, because its differnt for every game, and probaly ends up being equal problems among both sides.

Now something that shouldnt be over looked, is that if a publisher loses a big development company like Valve, then they lose money. And by them losing money they are even less likely to take up that risky project. Publishers need big money makers to allow them to take these risks with small start up companies. What if they had decided to never take the risk with HL, the whole project could have gone down the tubes.

As for Online distribution, it may be the way some people perfer to buy games, but will never take the place of the actuall box sale. Reason being, that if a company wishes to sell both ways, they have to meet retails demands, and if you undercut the retail chains they arnt going to want to do buisness with you. So you are left with the dession of getting the box copy and any special deals they include with it, or download the game for the same price without getting anything but the game.

76.
 
Re: No subject
Sep 20, 2004, 16:00
76.
Re: No subject Sep 20, 2004, 16:00
Sep 20, 2004, 16:00
 
>Getting HL2 via Steam may be okay for some, but I want a hard
>copy that I can re-install at my leisure. Reformat your
>system and have to wait for it to download all over again, no
>thanks. Even game installs can get corrupted and need to be
>uninstalled/reinstalled.

Steam has two major functionalities that work somewhat independent of each other,

1) It can authenticate your game purchase

2) It can stream games for you over the internet.

For authentication, all Steam wants is a way to connect a game to your Steam account. If you buy a boxed copy, you'll give your CD-key (*if* you want to use Steam), if you buy online, Steam already knows that you as an account holder own this game.

This authentication needs to be done just *once*.

Once Steam knows that you own a certain game, it doesn't care where you get the files from. You can,
a) Have the boxed copy
b) Have a CD or DVD backup
c) Ask a friend to copy his game files for you
d) Ask a friend to download game files for you
e) Start streaming the files on a broadband connection at a place you are visiting (maybe a friend or relative's place)

That's actually the best part about Steam. That once you have authenticated a game, there are no CD-checks, no reason to keep CD in drives, no copy protection issues, a way to start your game from any PC anywhere.

To give a short answer to the original poster, I reformatted the hard disk this weekend and reinstalled winxp. This is the sequence of events regarding Steam reinstallation,

1) Copied Steam folder to another hard disk.
2) After reformat and reinstallation of windowsXP, I installed Steam using the 600kByte client at http://www.steampowered.com
3) Steam updated itself with roughly 2-3 megs of data
4) I copied the *.gcf files back into the new Steam folder. These gcf files contain all the packed game content. There was one Counter Strike file (~250 meg), two half-life files (~450 meg, 10-30 meg), one steam platform file (10 meg), three HL2 preload files (2.5 GB)
5) I then logged into steam and clicked on the games. It recognized HL, Counterstrike and HL2 preload and didn't download a single byte from the internet.
6) I then disconnected from Steam and started HL in offline mode. It came up fine (I had copied the saved games as well, which were in a different directory). Now I don't need to connect to Steam, and I can remain in offline until the time I want to download a patch.

The whole process was fairly painless and in fact most of the actions above need to be performed when reinstalling a game from a CD after reformat/winxp-install as well.

75.
 
Re: No subject
Sep 20, 2004, 15:50
75.
Re: No subject Sep 20, 2004, 15:50
Sep 20, 2004, 15:50
 
Another example of a lumbering Dinosaur fighting it's inevitable demise.

LOL, well put.

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74.
 
Re: No subject
Sep 20, 2004, 15:45
74.
Re: No subject Sep 20, 2004, 15:45
Sep 20, 2004, 15:45
 
Online distribution of games and music came of age years ago. Companies like Vivendi are the reason that we can't utilize it unless it's illegally like file sharing.

P2P file-sharing is actually legal, like emulation. The RIAA is trying to clamp down on the entire concept, but they've been foiled at every legal turn. The actual acquisition of something you haven't paid for is illegal, but the RIAA can't prove that. It's an assumption of guilt to say "everyone downloading mp3s on service X is a thief!" They can't prove these people aren't obtaining their one backup allowed by fair use laws. File sharing's quite legal.

What stuns me time after time is that rather than read the writing that's been on the wall in 12ft high letters written in blood for years and adapt, they'd rather spend millions in courts across the country just to keep the old status quo alive.

Well, it's like the mainstream media in the face of Internet journalism: they think they can ignore it and it will go away. While online distribution won't go away, it's not going to take the place of brick and mortar retailing, along with the distribution of physical media, for a long time. For all the coverage e-commerce gets, it's only something like 2% of all sales in the US. I'm sure that legit distribution services like iTunes have similar market shares, and I'm sure that Steam really won't make a dent in Gamestop's profits.

There's a long way to go yet before we can cut out a couple layers of middleman.

73.
 
This is just what we needed to hear...
Sep 20, 2004, 15:42
73.
This is just what we needed to hear... Sep 20, 2004, 15:42
Sep 20, 2004, 15:42
 
WTF now? Will there be more delays in HL2 release due to this fiddle-faddle? At this point, I'm getting closer to boycotting the whole fucking mess. Carmack must be paying close attention, and trying to keep from laughing himself to death.
P.S. HL2 graphics are well-outdated.

72.
 
Re: Sierra sucks
Sep 20, 2004, 15:33
72.
Re: Sierra sucks Sep 20, 2004, 15:33
Sep 20, 2004, 15:33
 
If valve is cutting all of this out of the loop and everything they make is going directly to them... WHY THE HELL ARE THEY STILL CHARGING AS MUCH AS RETAILERS!!!

Well, for starters, someone else already mentioned this. If they made the price too low, they'd piss off Sierra / VU as well as all of the retailers. It's probably in contract that they won't undercut everyone. After all, they don't want to completely alienate every publisher out there

Second, it's not like all costs are going out the window. They have to pay for insfrastructure, support, bandwith, upgrading/fixing the STEAM client, etc.

The more people that use it, the more personel they need to administer the servers and accounts, as well as fix things. They also need servers. They also probably have to pay for bandwith (probably flat rate, but rate increases if the usage goes up too much).

Providing a service like this is pricey. Why do you think some MMORPG's charge like $15 USD a month (in some cases). They need to admin the servers, expand when necessary, and fix software issues. Yeh, part of it is so they can constantly milk a small profit per user, but they have to cover costs.

And before you say "well, Blizzard doesn't charge," I have to admit I have no idea how they support Battle.Net out of pocket.

Yeh, you can call them greedy, but something has to pay for the service. At least it's not a monthly fee or something.



"Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you."
-Fry, Futurmama
This comment was edited on Sep 20, 15:35.
"Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you."
-Fry, Futurama
71.
 
Shit.
Sep 20, 2004, 15:33
71.
Shit. Sep 20, 2004, 15:33
Sep 20, 2004, 15:33
 
This is not good.

We bury our sins here, Dave. We wash them clean.
Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?
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70.
 
Re: In other words...
Sep 20, 2004, 15:31
70.
Re: In other words... Sep 20, 2004, 15:31
Sep 20, 2004, 15:31
 
Hmmmm...I disliked Steam.

Yet, I dislike VU even more.

Guess, if it means no cash for VU, I'll probably buy HL2 through Steam

DEATH TO THE OPPOSITION!!!!


69.
 
Re: Sierra sucks
Sep 20, 2004, 15:26
69.
Re: Sierra sucks Sep 20, 2004, 15:26
Sep 20, 2004, 15:26
 
If valve is cutting all of this out of the loop and everything they make is going directly to them... WHY THE HELL ARE THEY STILL CHARGING AS MUCH AS RETAILERS!!!

To keep the retailers happy. If they charged less, EB/Gamestop/Best Buy/Circuit City/whoever sells games would lose a whole lot of sales. Charge the same price, however, and Steam becomes just another method of distribution with no clear advantage over going to Gamestop and buying the game in person.

68.
 
Re: Sierra sucks
Sep 20, 2004, 15:16
68.
Re: Sierra sucks Sep 20, 2004, 15:16
Sep 20, 2004, 15:16
 
My big complaint is that the cost through Steam is too high. Gaming costs have always been high, but there at least was some excuse about how much CD's cost, printing materials, manuals, distribution, paying the publisher, etc.

If valve is cutting all of this out of the loop and everything they make is going directly to them... WHY THE HELL ARE THEY STILL CHARGING AS MUCH AS RETAILERS!!!

67.
 
No subject
Sep 20, 2004, 15:12
67.
No subject Sep 20, 2004, 15:12
Sep 20, 2004, 15:12
 
Publishers are the core of 90% of PC game problems, unfortunatly online dist. cant replace the actual product that you buy in the store, because alot of people just want the box and pyshical copy.

I doubt the courts are going to force valve to make their next game with sierra, that would be absurb, so we can probably assume that after HL2 Valve is done with Sierra, and we can count that as a win for consumers.

Unless of course they decide to sign up with EA or something

66.
 
Re: No subject
Sep 20, 2004, 15:06
66.
Re: No subject Sep 20, 2004, 15:06
Sep 20, 2004, 15:06
 
I don't see why more companies do that (allow games to be dl'ed and bought online). It seems to be popular with MMO games already. You can purchase and download EVE, EQ, Lineage II, and Anarchy Online off the web.. just to name a few.

The days of the middle man and the huge mark up at retail(EB games) are numbered me thinks.

Would developers be able to sell their games online without having to go through a publishing company? That would be nice.. well, except for those who have slow connections.

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65.
 
Sierra sucks
Sep 20, 2004, 14:57
65.
Sierra sucks Sep 20, 2004, 14:57
Sep 20, 2004, 14:57
 
Being on 56k dialup with broadband out of the question for the time being, and being slightly old-fashioned, I'd much rather buy the actual game box and CD than download the game.

One of the more vile parts of that most I noticed is that Sierra/VUG is trying to *force* Valve to work with them again in the future. wtf? And the thought of Valve loosing the Half-Life IP is very disturbing. Yeah, we can say we'd boycott it, but thousands would still buy the game. It'd still make money. Average Joe Gamer probably wouldn't care that the developer had just been robbed. Then VUG/Sierra would just nose-dive the IP into the ground.

Here's hoping Valve wins this one.

64.
 
Re: No subject
Sep 20, 2004, 14:48
64.
Re: No subject Sep 20, 2004, 14:48
Sep 20, 2004, 14:48
 
The days of the middle man and the huge mark up at retail(EB games) are numbered me thinks.

Well said. I concur wholeheartedly and anxiously await the day this is so.


"I never saw a dame yet that didn't understand a good slap in the mouth or a slug from a .45."
- Bogart, Play it Again Sam
"And then, suddenly and without warning, it turned into a real-life case of hungry, hungry hippos."
- Stephen Colbert
63.
 
Re: MP3.com anyone?
Sep 20, 2004, 14:42
63.
Re: MP3.com anyone? Sep 20, 2004, 14:42
Sep 20, 2004, 14:42
 
Anyone remember how they strung up and GUTTED mp3.com?
http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/11/21/14616/561

I was furious about that, still am. Could get lot's of great (and really bad) music for free, from bands nobodies ever heard of. Then they destroyed it all. Couldn't believe it. Obviously, somebody didn't like people enjoying music without paying the middle man.


Avatar 19418
62.
 
No subject
Sep 20, 2004, 14:31
62.
No subject Sep 20, 2004, 14:31
Sep 20, 2004, 14:31
 
Another example of a lumbering Dinosaur fighting it's inevitable demise. Online distribution of games and music came of age years ago. Companies like Vivendi are the reason that we can't utilize it unless it's illegally like file sharing. What stuns me time after time is that rather than read the writing that's been on the wall in 12ft high letters written in blood for years and adapt, they'd rather spend millions in courts across the country just to keep the old status quo alive. Look at the RIAA, they haven't even made a dent, despite sueing 11 year old girls and grandmothers. If Valve wins this case, it's going to be a BIG wake up call to a lot of corporations that change is here. And if they think they'll be getting $49.95 for a downloadable product with no CD, no manuals, nothing, then they'll be in for yet another shock. The days of the middle man and the huge mark up at retail(EB games) are numbered me thinks.

61.
 
Greedy?
Sep 20, 2004, 14:31
61.
Greedy? Sep 20, 2004, 14:31
Sep 20, 2004, 14:31
 
I hardly think Valve is the greedy one here otherwise why would they allow people to pay just a single one time fee for a game that has been giving people years of enjoyment. Also as stated below, I think more than a few people are assuming Sierra/VU funded the game which they didn't do (thus there is no return on investment required). Simply put I think Valve is fine with Sierra distributing the game on CD but they want their chance to explore the possibilities of doing their own online distribution via Steam and see how it goes. Sierra makes money off the CD and Valve makes money off the online distribution. If anyone is greedy here, it looks like Sierra to me. Valve paid for and created Steam on their own but it looks like Sierra wants a a cut (or most) of the profits for that distribution method even though they have nothing to do with it.

I guess what needs to be determined here was this a development/distribution agreement (which I don't think it was) or was it just a distribution agreement (for a specific medium)? If it was just a distribution agreement for Sierra to distribute the game via CD then I can't see how Valve is doing anything wrong with exploring their own distribution via Steam.

60.
 
No subject
Sep 20, 2004, 14:21
60.
No subject Sep 20, 2004, 14:21
Sep 20, 2004, 14:21
 
Sierra is so stupid. Valve is all they have. If they piss in that pool, who will want to do business with them?

Avatar 18037
59.
 
Re: No subject
Sep 20, 2004, 14:20
59.
Re: No subject Sep 20, 2004, 14:20
Sep 20, 2004, 14:20
 
I wonder if one can backup the .cfg files to a DVD.. Would this allow steam to only download files it needs after putting them in the correct directory? In theory, I would think so, but it depends if they keep all version upgrades available on the server.

58.
 
Re: Release the game already
Sep 20, 2004, 14:16
58.
Re: Release the game already Sep 20, 2004, 14:16
Sep 20, 2004, 14:16
 
Hey john.. Welcome to Blue's forum.

Vivendi = Member of RIAA

buy it on Steam and support Valve, not the RIAA

Doesn't VUG still get the money whether you download it off of Steam or not?

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