Valve Software announced today in a press release and a short note posted on the Steam Web site that it will be shutting down its WON authentication servers starting July 26 and ending July 31. As a result, in order to play Valve's games online, including Counter-Strike, Half-Life, and Day of Defeat, players will have to download and use Valve's free Steam service.
Because Steam features automatic upgrading as part of its service, the move is sure to ruffle the feathers of the rather large community of disaffected Counter-Strike 1.5 players, who refused to upgrade to Counter-Strike 1.6 when it was released. Many cite long load times, performance hits, and game crashes when using Steam as reasons for not upgrading and switching over to Valve's centralized online gaming service. Others were more concerned with game balance issues in the update, especially those involving the extremely controversial riot shield, and they maintain that version 1.5 is far better. Until now, they could still play on individual servers that ran the older version.
Valve initially created the WON ID servers to support CD-key authentication for Half-Life online play. They have been running for close to six years.