After cutting ties
with Vivendi Universal for physical distribution, Valve Software has now found a new partner in publishing colossus Electronic Arts, announcing a new distribution and publishing deal with EA.
The software giant will publish Half-Life 2: Game of the Year
(which includes includes Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike: Source
, plus Half-Life 2: Deathmatch
, and Half-Life: Source), Counter-Strike Source
, and the Xbox version of Half-Life 2
under the EA Partners program. The first two of these titles are to launch this fall, and the Xbox SKU of Half-Life 2
is more precisely targeted for release this October.
Gabe Newell, founder and president of Valve, commented: "Valve games have sold over 18 million units at retail since Half-Life shipped in November 1998. By combining EA's unparalleled operation structure and distribution channel with Valve's award-winning development teams and games community, we've established an awesome combination for delivering great products to console and PC gamers around the world."
Other companies to conspicuously take advantage of the EA Partners include Digital Illusions C.E. (now owned by Electronic Arts), Free Radical Designs, Gas Powered Games, and Lionhead Studios. EAP also has regional partnerships with companies including Capcom, Koei, Namco, LucasArts and Square Enix Co. Those who take part in the EA Partners program receive increased distribution and marketing support in exchange for a share of the profits.
One aspect of the deal uncommented upon is whether Valve is more comfortable with EA than Vivendi when it comes to shipping physical product; the original PC version of Half-Life 2
was famously devoid of instructions or other physical trappings beyond a simple set of sleeved DVDs inside the box. Retail copies were also required to be verified online through Valve's proprietary Steam service, a process which is believed likely to continue.