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Valve and Vivendi Part Ways

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the raise-your-hand-if-you're-surprised dept.

Businesses 55

IGN has news that the long running suit between Valve and Vivendi has finally been resolved. There has been some sort of settlement reached, the immediate result being that as of August 31st Vivendi will no longer be distributing Valve titles. From the article: "Valve has not announced a new publishing partner, or whether the company will now solely rely on Steam for distribution. A new publishing agreement would almost certainly be needed for the Xbox version of Half-Life 2 scheduled for release later this summer."

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55 comments

WOW (2, Informative)

UnHolyRam (732327) | more than 9 years ago | (#12386251)

There's a shock. As if anyone couldn't see this happening. Now I wonder how many people will take this chance to start bashing steam once again

Re:WOW (5, Interesting)

Nos. (179609) | more than 9 years ago | (#12386450)

I think this is great news (even though we've been expecting it for awhile). The nice thing is that now Valve can actually focus on their issues with Steam with all their resources as opposed to trying to deal with Vivendi. Hopefully this will also start a new erra of games being released without the silly rules of publishers getting in the way. HL2 probably would have been cheaper via steam than in the store if it hadn't been for Vivendi.

I for one would be more than happy to download (and burn myself) all the software I purchase if it meant saving some dollars. Not only that, but the actualy software company would probably see a lot more of the money for their software in this type of a model.

Congratulations Valve!

Re:WOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12387568)

Buying and downloading games direct is the inevitable way all digital entertainment will go over the next half-decade.

But requiring the gamers connect to a company over the internet, or send any subsequent information to that company beyond key-authentication in an online internet multiplayer service, is bad for the consumer, unless you actually enjoy being a lab rat.

Re:WOW (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12387608)

Clarification: requiring gamers to connect to a company over the internet AFTER INITIAL ONE-TIME AUTHENTICATION.

I think even activation/authentication should be criminal, but I'll compromise if the other side's willing to compromise and not make me use a firewall to forcibly cripple Steam every time I want to play Half Life 2 without "reporting in" to the Gestapo.

Re:WOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12390159)

compromise and not make me use a firewall to forcibly cripple Steam every time I want to play Half Life 2 without "reporting in" to the Gestapo.

Bad news, buddy. Your game runs out of "steam" slowly when you don't phone home to our benevolent leaders at Valve. One day, your game won't work without connecting, what happens when Steam is gone and you're left holding the bag?

New rules, same game. (1)

frikazoyd (845667) | more than 9 years ago | (#12387582)

Even if Valve went without a publisher, do you really think they would charge that much less for their games? $50 has long been the standard price, and they won't tarry far from that path. After all, they are a business, first and foremost, and will make as much money as they can. It is inherent to what they do.

Also, they are going to get a publisher. Think about who buys games. Mostly teenagers. Now think about how people buy games via Steam. They buy with a credit card. I don't know about you, but my parents never let me use their cards. They risk alienating a lot of their market (under 18, I'd wager a good half) by moving to a Steam only market.

Re:New rules, same game. (2, Insightful)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 9 years ago | (#12390519)

Fact is they NEED a publisher, if only because of the XBOX port of HL2.

But a few things about getting a new publisher:

1) Vivendi had a lot of control over HL2 because they put money in at the very start (HL1).
2) Tons of publishers will compete to publish Valve's games, and Valve can set any conditions or terms they want
3) STEAM's price was not much less than retail only because of contractual obligations to Vivendi. Similarly, Vivendi forced Valve to delay HL2's release via STEAM until the retail release date even though the game was done

I see lower prices. Not significantly lower, but with no middle man and no interference, we might see another minor price cut. Right now STEAM was $5 less than retail. Perhaps we'll see $10 less than retail.

In addition, I would point out that STEAM as a concept does not require a credit card to function. Valve could just as easily produce plastic cards that were sold in every game store that contained a CD key. Much like cellphone pay-as-you-go cards, a user could purchase a game (or just plain STEAM credit) in a computer store with regular cash, and use that online with STEAM. Valve does not require a publisher to do this, just a few people to organize it. In fact, Valve is a big/popular enough company that I imagine if they simply printed the cards, stores would ask THEM to carry them, Valve wouldn't even have to go out seeking stores.

Re:WOW (1)

Bob The Cowboy (308954) | more than 9 years ago | (#12388800)

Yes, I'm sure all of the lawyers who were in the negotiations with Vivendi can now happily get back to coding on Steam and answering questions on their forums....?

Re:WOW (1)

KillShill (877105) | more than 9 years ago | (#12396440)

people only bash things worth bashing (aka everything). if you don't want to be bashed, please remove yourself or your precious from existence.

NCsoft (-1, Offtopic)

JVert (578547) | more than 9 years ago | (#12386311)

just because.

Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12386335)

I'm very happy about this. As long as Valve works the rest of the bugs with Steam out, I'll be more than happy to purchase products soley off of steam from now on.

Screw Vivendi.

Why? (3, Interesting)

bluephone (200451) | more than 9 years ago | (#12386341)

"A new publishing agreement would almost certainly be needed for the Xbox version..."

Why can't Valve self-publish? Granted I know little about this arena, so I may be speaking directly from my posterior, but it doesn't seem hard. A disc press makes up 500 bazillion DVDs, and they usually do the case for it too, you provide the art. Then contract to a printer to print the boxes and manuals. Box and ship to wholesaler houses.

What does a "publisher" do except manage all that and take a good chunk of money for it? Sure for smaller firms they bankroll the project, but Valve probably has a few bucks to do this themselves. They put out a recent game that seems to be somewhat popular with the kids...

One word: (3, Informative)

kaellinn18 (707759) | more than 9 years ago | (#12386419)

Advertising.

As well off as Valve is, I don't think they have the experience or the connections to run the kind of advertising blitz that an experienced publisher can.

Re:One word: (1)

Sick Boy (5293) | more than 9 years ago | (#12386503)

Three more words: Shelf Space & Distribution.

Shelf space is precious, and existing publishers have the relationships with the big box stores that are required to get space for the box. It may or may not be a problem for as high profile game as HL2, but most self-publishers get relegated to a tiny wire cd rack in a forgotten corner of the store if they get into the store at all.

Re:One word: (2, Informative)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 9 years ago | (#12386592)

but most self-publishers get relegated to a tiny wire cd rack in a forgotten corner of the store if they get into the store at all.

Just because Valve is an independent developer doesn't mean they'll be an independent publisher too. It's highly likely they'll have an agreement with another publisher like id does with Activision or Irrational Games had with VUGames for Freedom Force 2. In both those cases, the devs are contracting out the publishers to do specific work; VU got paid to promote and shelve FF2, but the sales revenue itself went to IG since VU was already paid for its work. Valve will just do a similar setup, publishers will all compete for the HL2 contract, and the winner gets a steady income no-risk contract doing work for Valve.

Re:One word: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12386887)

What a great idea! Valve should get on the horn with this VU company and get a deal set up...

Re:One word: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12388144)

Like we didn't expect this coming.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12386421)

"What does a "publisher" do except manage all that and take a good chunk of money for it?"

Design marketing materials & commercials, product packaging, negotiate with retailers for product placement, etc... you name it.

Having 500 bazillion DVDs sitting in a warehouse isn't exactly going to get them into the hands and minds of users now is it?

Re:Why? One Word... (3, Insightful)

SteevR (612047) | more than 9 years ago | (#12386560)

...distribution. These days it is possible for a developer to market their own title. Great leaps in manufacturing technology in this internet age have meant it is much cheaper to produce the physical media than it was in epochs past (early nineties), such as the CD, box, etc. What is barely possible for a newcomer is to break into the distribution channel.

Distributors are the ones that make sure boxes reach the shelves, at the right box width and height, at stores like Wal Mart, CompUSA, and Best Buy. Having the right distributors signed on is more important than having the right publisher.

As for a developer breaking into the distribution channel, I only know of one example: Id. Back when they were operating their own phone/mail order system for Doom, they offered up the shareware for free. I.e., they wanted no royalty take on the shareware copies that sold everywhere. Hence why you could find the shareware at anyplace that sold software, and some places that didn't (I remember a friend's picture from a convenience store in socal from that period, showing doom shareware up for sale next to the bubblegum).

Re:Why? (5, Insightful)

Nebulochaotic (880087) | more than 9 years ago | (#12386624)

Because it is for X-Box, not PC. In order to release a title for a console system, complicated contracts and agreements must be made between the console maker and the publisher. You can't just press DVDs for X-Box and sell them. Not only would they not work, they would be illegal to sell. Valve would likely have a difficult time getting microsoft to allow them to self publish the game for X-Box.

This doesn't even consider the shelf space purchasing and advertising that is likely needed for a big budget release as this.

These are the sort of considerations that are killing the garage game industry; except for PC games, it is now almost impossible to distribute games without a publisher.

Re:Why? (1)

SteevR (612047) | more than 9 years ago | (#12386825)

I'm pretty sure that Microsoft would make a deal with Valve, if only to make them an X Box or XBox 360/2/Next/whatever exclusive.

Valve and Id are probably the only two developers that have that kind of clout these days.

Re:Why? (1)

ReverendLoki (663861) | more than 9 years ago | (#12387231)

Valve and Id are probably the only two developers that have that kind of clout these days.

Close, but I'd include Square-Enix on that list as well. I was thinking maybe Blizzard as well, but a brief search showed they are a subsidary of Vivendi. Any others?

Re:Why? (1)

uzor (787499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12387763)

Yeah, but in all the recent buyout/selloff attempts for VU's games division, the main reason (IIRC) VU keeps saying no, is that the buyers just want to buy Blizzard, and not the rest of the drek. If they have that kind of interest outside in the corporate world, if they ever did get tired of VU, they could probably negotiate a similar exit strategy to Valve's.

Re:Why? (1)

chromaphobic (764362) | more than 9 years ago | (#12387488)

Ugh. Just the thought of Half-Life 3 being an X-Box exclusive triggered my gag reflex. Half-Life 1 & 2 are two of my favorite games of all time, I'd hate to miss out on the third one (and any other future sequels) due to another Microsoft assimilation. Grr.

Damn you Microsoft, you took Bungie away from me, don't even thnk about taking away Valve too!

Re:Why? (1)

Frodo Crockett (861942) | more than 9 years ago | (#12390793)

Damn you Microsoft, you took Bungie away from me, don't even thnk about taking away Valve too!

Meh. Halo turned out to be a very average FPS. It might have been ground breaking had it been released on-schedule for the PC, and only the PC.

Re:Why? (1)

chromaphobic (764362) | more than 9 years ago | (#12392704)

Exactly my point. I had loved every game Bungie put out up until the buyout (okay, Oni sucked, but that didn't actually come out until after the buyout, so I'll excuse it.) Since then all they've done is the two Halo games, which, while I'll confess to having never played either, I have never seen or read anything about them that makes me want to run out and play them. They seem to me to be, exactly as you said, very average FPS games, saddled with the additional handicap of having to use X-Box controllers to play them. Blech.

Would Bungie still be releasing great games were they not gobbled up by Microsoft? Perhaps they still would have only put out those two games, we'll never know.

Re:Why? (1)

Frodo Crockett (861942) | more than 9 years ago | (#12396675)

Halo has a few merits, but not many. The Warthog is loads of fun. Only being able to carry two weapons is realistic and makes players think more about which weapon they take. Some of the graphics are impressive, despite the game's age.

However, I recommend you stay away from Halo (except maybe the demo) because of the following: Most levels are very repetitive. The weapon balance is horrible. The frickin' shotgun is more accurate at long range and a better anti-aircraft weapon than the assault rifle. I can count the types of enemies encountered on two hands. Most of the audio is poor to average. There are more reasons, but I'm sure you get the jist of it.

Re:Why? (1)

Duct Tape Jedi (802164) | more than 9 years ago | (#12391201)

Why would microsoft care if the Valve made games for xbox only? As it is now unless you're using an emulator you have to be running a microsoft OS to play valve games.

Re:Why? (1)

dhaines (323241) | more than 9 years ago | (#12387943)

Here comes the GIAA.

Re:Why? (1)

Deraj DeZine (726641) | more than 9 years ago | (#12393116)

Funny you should mention this. A set of homebrew GBA games are being released on cartridges as we speak. 2004Mbit Development Competition [gbadev.org] . I don't know if it's legal, but I think it's pretty cool.

Re:Why? (1)

bozoman42 (564217) | more than 9 years ago | (#12396414)

The discs would probably not work because of digital signing, but thanks to court cases such as Sega v. Accolade, it would not be illegal to sell them.

good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12386396)

As much as I disapprove of Valve, I hate Vivendi more.

Let me predict: (1)

incom (570967) | more than 9 years ago | (#12386411)

Microsoft as publisher for atleast Halflife2 xbox.

Gord0wned (-1, Offtopic)

CaseM (746707) | more than 9 years ago | (#12386468)

nt

Does this mean... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12386648)

That Valve is going to quit being a bunch of little MS fanboys and might start writing code that is half-assed portable?

Somehow, I doubt it.

Re:Does this mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12386739)

Yeah I'm sure that extra 3% market is worth the trouble.

Re:Does this mean... (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 9 years ago | (#12388401)

That Valve is going to quit being a bunch of little MS fanboys and might start writing code that is half-assed portable?

Your post makes no sense.

Valve was not a Vivendi studio. Vivendi was merely the publisher.

Actual Vivendi studios have supported non-MS platforms, for example Blizzard's long history of Mac support.

Re:Does this mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12392288)

Yes! I demand a java version of counterstrike!

Activision? (1)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 9 years ago | (#12386770)

Maybe they'll team up with Activision next? It's not as is they've not done anything together before [activision.com] ...

Valve's Publisher Asperations (0)

SteevR (612047) | more than 9 years ago | (#12386802)

Take a look at the commercialization of Counterstrike and Day of Defeat. Counterstrike pulled a lot of people into the half life fold, when before the most popular mods were generally for the Quake series. They saw quickly that mods were sustaining the sales of their product.

They also saw the potential of standalone products based off of these mods. Factor in piracy due to Counterstrike's popularity, and you see that they were looking at more effective copy protection. Looking into the future, they saw mod groups turning into the next big development studios. When creating business strategies, you always look for business models along the lines of the One Ring.

Thus Valve toiled away, improving the mod SDK and telling mod developers that were interested in commercializing quality mods. This brought a lot of talent to the Half Life SDK. Working on their next generation engine, they saw the need to make it easier to develop with, if only for their bottom line- and to make the next gen SDK easy to use for modders. Steam, an online distribution system, is the ultimate way to commercialize the mods- and distribute Half Life 2 to those users who are network connected, and whom trust Valve with their credit card number.

Thus Valve is trying, nay, has succeeded, in forging One Steam To Rule Them All. What they haven't done is focused on creating standards in such a way as to bring all developers at least partially into their fold. Thus, they've gone off and created their own corner of the universe.

I have no doubt they'll be the number one publisher of commercial Half Life mods. After all, the Eula and SDK license insure that.

They'll probably sign with a publisher that offers them a great royalty deal, and publishing support on at least two of the console systems, to suuport their physical boxes. If they can get enough mindshare via Steam, boxes on the shelf won't be their biggest source (pun!) of income.

Please don't let it be EA (5, Funny)

knight37 (864173) | more than 9 years ago | (#12386919)

Please don't let it be EA
Please don't let it be EA
Please don't let it be EA

Re:Please don't let it be EA (1)

kicken18 (839808) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389149)

joins in Please don't let it be EA Please don't let it be EA Please don't let it be EA

I'll bet. (1)

ftgow (791708) | more than 9 years ago | (#12387056)

Ten bucks on Activision.

Valve and Vivendi split up? (5, Funny)

Rahga (13479) | more than 9 years ago | (#12387117)

Damn you, Angelina Jolie! Is nothing sacred?

Re:Valve and Vivendi split up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12387214)

"Damn you, Angelina Jolie! Is nothing sacred?"

Wonder how many nerds are trying to figure out what this has to do with Tomb Raider.

Re:Valve and Vivendi split up? (1)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 9 years ago | (#12387236)

Spit out my caffiene liquid. Thank You sir

Re:Valve and Vivendi split up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12388213)

Failing.. to.. comprehend.. joke..

Help?

Re:Valve and Vivendi split up? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389252)

She split up Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. It's a pop culture reference.

Re:Valve and Vivendi split up? (1)

snuf23 (182335) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389686)

It's a pop culture reference. Look it up!
Monkey banana raffle!
Whipcrackah!

well...duh (0, Redundant)

rwven (663186) | more than 9 years ago | (#12387251)

This was soemthing that was obviously going to happen from the start. I have a feeling that valve will become their own publisher. A company with that many resources can produce and distribute the media for its own games without any help from another party...

Yaaaaay! (5, Interesting)

ElAurian (133656) | more than 9 years ago | (#12387267)

Lucas carved out a new freedom in film-making, Google defined their own industry and vowed to do no evil, now Valve has its own opportunity to define a new way of distributing computer games.

Onya Valve!

Re:Yaaaaay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12387555)

You just supported your point with 1/3 of an argument.

Hurrah! (1)

IoN_PuLse (788965) | more than 9 years ago | (#12388553)

Hurrah for Single Player games that require internet connections to play, and require Steam while not listing this minimum requirement on the box! THANKS!

Re:Hurrah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12390761)

word

Re:Hurrah! (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 9 years ago | (#12390902)

Hurrah for all that and not supporting connection via Proxy or HTTP!
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