Whoever it was who said this:
That's total crap. I work in retail and we've had our copies of HL2 in our security room for about 3 days now. Don't say it isn't released when it really is. If you wanna just say, "We can't activate it right now because the street date is Nov. 16th," then fine.
Having a job with a nametag doesn't mean you know the industry, obviously. Release dates are used for the distribution of music, movies, and video games for several reasons. One reason is, of course, to coincide with the machinations of marketing departments. But it also maintains a level playing field for all of those various retail vendors who expect to sell the product when it's fresh on the street.
It would be easy and understandable for one retail company, for example GameStop, to sue Vivendi if EB (as a company, not a few isolated franchise stores) broke the street date and Vivendi did not act on it.
There's also the fact that having a street date let's everyone in consumerland know when, in fact, we can expect to find the product on shelves. I'm sure as a retail employee you don't want to answer calls of "Is Mega-Action Bombface 4 in yet?!" weeks in advance of the game's arrival.
Also, you're apparently confused as to what a release date is. Just because many companies end up shipping the product to stores just in time for the release date doesn't mean that the release date is whenever the product arrives.
...that's some bizarre markup
This comment was edited on Nov 13, 21:48.