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EA to distribute Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike: Source

Multiyear agreement sees publisher take over retail duties on storied shooter franchise, EA publishing Xbox HL2 in October.


Just over three months ago, one of the most contentious relationships in game history came to an end. On April 28, after months of overt legal disputes and covert bickering, VU Games and Valve Software announced they were ending a half-decade-long publishing deal. The arrangement saw the former publish the latter's groundbreaking PC first-person shooters Half-Life, Counter-Strike, and Half-Life 2.

However, Valve's next console game--after the PlayStation 2 Half-Life and the Xbox Counter-Strike--will be distributed by one of VU's main rivals. Today, Electronic Arts revealed that as of this fall, it will be the international publisher of the forthcoming Xbox version of Half-Life 2, which will now ship in October 2005. EA will also assume distribution duties on a new Game of the Year edition of Half-Life 2 for the PC, which will include Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike: Source, as well as Half-Life 2: Deathmatch and Half-Life: Source, in a single box.

However, Valve will now officially self-publish all its PC products, although the newly announced--and carefully worded--agreement will let EA "deliver a collection of Valve games to players worldwide" in the future.

"We consider Half-Life and Counter-Strike to be two of the best game franchises of all time," said Tom Frisina, vice president and general manager of EA Partners, in a statement. "We could not be more excited to have the opportunity to help deliver these outstanding games to players around the globe."

Valve founder and president Gabe Newell had similarly kind words. "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," he said.

The EA-Valve arrangement covers the boxed, retail editions of Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike: Source but does not affect digitally distributed versions of the game. As before, those games will be delivered and updated via Steam, Valve's online service.

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