Three Versions of H-L 2 Announced

Three Versions of H-L 2 Announced

In a story that may bring some substance to rumours of a delay in H-L 2s release, an email by Gabe Newell, posted on the forums, claims Valve is considering offering three different versions of H-L 2 to unsuspecting gamers all over the world. In a move which has created great confusion and generated vast amounts of rumours, the message by Valve's MD claims that the plan calls for three SKUs of the game starting with a discount single-player only, no MODs version, continuing with a version including multiplayer and MODs and climaxing with a collectors edition, promising the end-user things which no other gamer has ever seen.

According to the Eurogamer report Newell also announced a monthly subscription plan which will cost around USD 9.99 a month. Newell admits that some details with the publisher will definitely have to be ironed out but seems positive that Valve will go ahead with their plans. The full mail message reads as follows:

Here's my current thinking: Some people want to buy Half-Life 2 in a store. Right now we have three SKUs planned at three price points. One will have single-player only and not play MODs and we think of that as the mass market SKU (sold mainly at the Costcos and Walmarts of the world). The second is our traditional single-player plus multiplayer SKU that runs MODs and is sold at places like EBX. The third is the collector's edition SKU with lots of cool bonus stuff for people who like cool bonus stuff.

In the Steam world, some people will want to buy it once, like the middle SKU above. Other people will want to buy the game on subscription (e.g. USD 9.95/month). The good news for the "buy it once" crowd is, well, they only have to pay once. The bad news is that when we come out with new content (expansion products, TF 2, and presumably other games) then they have to pay separately for those. We're pretty sure that the USD 9.95 guys are going to get the better value, as we've been pretty good over the years at generating a lot of content.

Now nobody has done this before, so we're scratching our heads and massaging the plans to make sure we've got the best set of options. We've had some feedback that we should sell the top SKU (single-player only no MODs) on Steam, and my reaction has been "yeah, right, for the three people in the world who have a broadband connection, are sophisticated enough to purchase software over the Internet, but DON'T want to play MODs and multiplayer". Some people have said "I want a subscription, but I think the box and the manual are cool, so what about sending me those" and I think that's pretty interesting and we're trying to figure out what to do for them (needless to say Sierra isn't exactly jumping for joy at the idea of selling us boxes so people don't buy Half-Life 2 in stores).

But nowhere has there been a suggestion that people pay in the store and then pay a monthly fee on top of that a la the MMORPG.


Later Newell also added a reply to convince users of the forums that the message was authentic. The whole story however, seems to indicate that Valve are completely ignoring Sierra and seem to be taunting them by bypassing them completely on all things H-L 2. Whether this is part of some weird and twisted hype-generating plan or just the usual story of the big guys fighting over the big cash the game is expected to bring-in, one thing is certain, this is a story worth following...