Valve and Vivendi Settle Legal Dispute

Valve and Vivendi Settle Legal Dispute Valve and Vivendi Settle Legal Dispute

Valve and Vivendi have jointly announced the settlement of a pending federal court lawsuit filed by Valve in August 2002. Without quoting much of the legal jargon used, the settlement provides for a complete severing of the publisher/developer link which had existed between these two companies, effective August 31, 2005. At that date, Vivendi will cease to distribute Valve's games, including Half-Life, Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike: Condition Zero and Counter-Strike: Source.

Additionally, VU Games has notified distributors and cyber cafes that were licensed by VU Games that only Valve is authorized to distribute Valve games to cyber cafés and grant cyber café licenses. Cyber café operators that were licensed by VU Games have also been notified that any license agreement from Sierra Entertainment, Vivendi Universal Games or any of their affiliates or distributors that may have granted rights to use Valve games in cyber cafés, whether written or oral, is terminated.

With this settlement, Valve has probably become the first game developer to function completely independent of a publisher. From late August the only way to obtain a Valve game will be through Steam and although most Half-Life 2 owners will have some (completely justified) complaint regarding the service, I am sure most will agree that this is a significant moment in the history of gaming.

Valve has read the market and decided that since services such as XBox Live, the soon to be available Phantom and Turner's new gaming delivery system are perfectly capable of delivering video game content, it would have to do the same. Steam may not be perfect but the experience Valve gained from the Half-Life 2 launch will serve it well in the coming years.

What we all agree on is that if the middle-man is to be eliminated and if we are to experience a revolution in the gaming industry we will no longer be able to accept the same pricing. Starting with Valve's games for example, we have to see drops since we are sure that the staff and resources of VU Games must have added to the price and that now Valve can begin selling their excellent product for a much more, consumer-friendly price.

If this settlement between Valve and Vivendi is to bring about a revolution it had better be one that gets rid of excess baggage and ends up making the final product much more widely accessible.