XBox Claims no H-L 2, Valve Denies

XBox Claims no  H-L 2,  Valve Denies

In a recent interview on a Seattle bussines journal, David Hufford, a product manager in Microsoft's Xbox group, suggested that Half-Life 2 may not be released for the console.
VUGames have been quick to respond, on Valve's behalf and claim that the developer plans remain the same and that an XBox version is still planned. Without going into any further details Amy Farris, PR manager at Vivendi Universal Games, stated that there has been no change in plans and that the XBox version of Half-Life 2 is still go. In what is quickly becoming an embarassing situation, we have Microsoft claiming one thing and Valve another making gaming and news sites feel like pawns in the negotiation game between the companies involved.

If the original statement did really come from Microsoft lips then it does suggest some kind of problem in communication with Valve, since Doug Lombardi, only last month, could be found stating we're also working on an Xbox version.

Despite Lombardi's statement and a variety of previews surfacing on Xbox magazines, Hufford seemed to be pretty specific. He told the journal As of now, Half-Life 2 is not going to be on the Xbox. Strangely he also added Valve is sending us mixed messages on that.

In order to better examine what may be behind this story we probably have to look at Valve's console history and at the bussines model which Microsoft offers XBox developers. The fact that Valve have no qualms about pulling a console version of H-L even if it is deep into development has been demonstrated in the past, they did, after all withdraw the Dreamcast version of the original H-L even though development had been completed.
When looking for reasons why Valve may be playing hard to get, it seems unlikely that the development or XBox performance aspect of H-L 2 may be behind it. Following EA's decision to pull out of XBox Live, doubts have been raised over the deal MS are offering developers. It is very likely that Valve have some objections concerning that, they are definitely confident enough of their title to feel strong enough to demand more of Microsoft.

This is exactly the type of news Microsoft do not want to hear. With a very small selection of exclusive games and really only Halo becoming a successful one, Xbox desperately needed the guarantee provided by a title such as Half-Life 2. On the other hand a rebellion of this sort regarding the financial model of the cooperation, if such a rebellion is taking place, could really harm Microsoft's console career since XBox is losing the company money at an extreme rate. According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Microsoft's Home & Entertainment division, where Xbox resides, lost USD 190 million in the fiscal quarter ended March 31, nearly twice the USD 97 million lost during the same period in 2002. With 8 million units already sold this means that title sales are not doing well enough to help XBox break even. Any reduction in MS's cut of title profits and those figures could become even worse.

Having considered all that, there still remains some doubt concerning the validity of the story. Hufford's statements did appear in a very non-gaming web site and could therefore, be a result of some form of misunderstanding. Then there is the possibility that MS and Valve are still negotiating the financial details of the game and this statement is simply an attempt to lay some pressure on Valve.

Whatever the truth behind this story it remains more likely than not that Half-Life 2 will appear on XBox, the game does need some form of console representation and provided nothing is denied from PC gamers, Valve have nothing to lose from such a move.