Valve have released Half-Life 2 to their distribution technology, Steam. Gamers can download the title now, but it will remain encrypted on their hard drives until the release date. No date has been given yet, but it can’t be too long. Poor, Half-Life starved gamers have had to endure a delay of a year due to a hacking incident last year when source code was stolen.
Steam’s distribution method is simple – games can be downloaded to PCs for pre-installation without charge. Gamers only pay for the game when it is unlocked via a variety of payment options – then the title is available immediately.
Distribution in this way means that publishers have complete control over the way that the game is installed, ensuring version control, simplifying updates, and reducing piracy and cheating. Steam customers can also enjoy their Steam applications on any PC.