Half-Life 2 starts preloading tonight


I assume this is a GOOD thing, but I’m not quite sure what it means in terms of when we’ll be able to play the thing.

Ya, I scanned the thread too but was unable to glean what exactly a “Pre-Load” is, and why it’s a good thing.

Something to do with Steam I’m guessing (??)

Things that aren’t likely to change until the game goes gold (audio, textures, etc) are going to be loaded onto the Steam server. Supposedly those who have an ATI voucher coupon will be able to go ahead and download these files which will likely be the bulk of the game’s data. Then, when the game is released, the remaining files (likely not very large in size) can be downloaded. Theoretically this could help alleviate the huge load Steam will be subjected to when it becomes available.

I’m sure there will be a “Preorder” option shortly for those people without the ATI voucher to go ahead and get a head start on getting the files.


Pre-order option for anyone who wants it (that link doesn’t work yet though).

Preloading available now FWIW.

I’m interested to see whether the intarweb breaks.

The Steam client says:

"The Steam servers are currently too busy to handle any more preloads of Half-Life 2. Please try again in a few hours.


Heh, well it’s not like you can do anything with it for weeks anyway.

Although you get that message on a per-content server basis, so I managed download by restarting steam a few times and trying again.

Yes, despite the fact there’s really no point to preloading it tonight.

Yeah, I have it preloading as well. With my slug of a DSL connection, I figured it might finish by release day.

I wonder how many times they’ll update the preload material before it ships?

This is an interesting marketing tactic by Valve. I can see some people who’d normally opt for the CD version (which Valve gets a smaller cut of) instead pull the trigger on the Steam version because they know they can get it the second it’s released…

I’m opting to wait for the CD version because it will be cheaper. Valve can’t undercut their retailers, but the retailers have no such restrictions. I bet it will be on gogamer 24 hour special within a week of release.

They can’t? How come. It’s their game. Seems like they should be able to sell it cheap if they want to do that.

Because retailers would refuse to stock the title if the publisher themselves undercut the retail outlets.

Maybe for people in the U.S . I figure Valve will sell it for $50Us which converts to $70Au which is at least $20 cheaper than what retailers will sell it for here in the wonderful land of Australia. At the cost of $1 per blank DVD I can download it and burn it’s cache in case I need it later and still make a saving of $19 :) .

Because retailers would refuse to stock the title if the publisher themselves undercut the retail outlets.

Yes … a retailer is going to refuse to stock Half Life 2

i don’t think so …

I think they would almost be forced to, but that depends on how organized they are. If they allow publishers to do this they will lose a lot of sales in the long run.

I think they would almost be forced to, but that depends on how organized they are. If they allow publishers to do this they will lose a lot of sales in the long run.

That’s true, but (to offer a hypothetical here), could it be that retail distribution as we know it is on the downward slide? Look at the toy industry, where WalMart’s aggressive discounting has pretty much driven a stake in the heart of KB Toys, finished off FAO Schwartz, and crushed other mall-based outlets, and has seriously hurt Toys ‘R’ Us. It’s come so close to destroying the traditional distribution channels for toys that the industry has even reacted against WalMart to some degree, trying to bolster Toys ‘R’ Us to keep multiple vending channels open.

In the game biz, things are nowhere near that level of single-source dominance, but the market is changing. If Steam works, and delivers more profit, and if copy protection issues continue to loom large on industry radar sets, well, it’s not inconceivable that the retail system built on in-store sales could be in for some changes, maybe fundamental changes.

Or not. :) I tend to agree that Valve would be foolish to simply piss off retailers for a short-term boost in revenues (though I don’t know the numbers, and maybe it would be worth it for them). But I do think that the hold retail outlets had over publishers has receded from its peak of a few years ago.

Let’s just hope retailers/publishers are prepared for this, because, let’s face it, this is the wave of the future.

I actually doubt that even 10% of HL2 will be sold on steam, people these days prefer thier hard-copy still I believe.

Anyway, if you get it from steam, that this means no safedisc? :D


I preloaded this morning, took well under an hour. Which makes me wonder how much was actually preloaded (or, how decent Steam seems to work, which is scary).

I confess that the second Valve says “gimme your credit card number and you can start playing HL2” I’m there. The only reason I’ve had Steam on my machine for the past year is to play Half-Life 2 as soon as it’s released.

Of course, if they end up doing a completely simultaneous release (you can get the game via Steam only when HL2 boxes are in stores) I’ll probably go the retail route. But if Steam will get me into the game even a day early, I’ll try that.

I’ll just pick up the boxed version in one of the subsequent inevitable Berilium Edition Game of the Century versions for ten bucks.

On a slightly relevant topic, has anyone here had any experience with Yahoo! Games on Demand?

Lot’s of games… some new, some old. Like Netflix, they allow for three games to be checked out at any given time. You can pay monthly or quarterly. Maybe streaming downloads are the future of game purchasing/renting.

One thing to note with most of these downloaded games is that you are downloading a specialty executable and game assets that verify that you’ve paid for the game, and then “unlock” the game. Unfortunately in the case of several downloads I’ve done (from a couple different services, most recently those “hit point” games that you get free from being a fileplanet subscriber), this means that you can’t regularly patch your game because the locking mechanism interferes with normal patching. You therefore have to rely on the people who package the pay-for-download version to make a new version of dev patches which work with their system.

Case in point: the Conquest version of Civ III I got from Fileplanet is still on the release version with no patches yet that I can use despite some very problematic bugs. Also, there was an issue where the Conquest expansion wouldn’t work with their PTW edition (which is what I had), so I had to download the original as well just to use the expansion.

That’s just for singleplayer too, I’m not sure how well any of these traditional on-demand download services work for multiplayer games that get patched frequently.

Steam shouldn’t have these issues because the dev and on-demand publisher are both Valve, so the patched content obviously already works with their distribution system.

Regardless of my personal feelings about Steam, I was very impressed with the preload experience. I steadily downloaded it at about 1mb/s (it’s about 1 gig worth of art assets) without any service interruptions. Just to test, I started up the CS:S beta during the middle and everything was completely smooth with no lag in authentication, server-browsing, or playing, although it looks like my download halted while I was playing. I assume this is intentional because you wouldn’t want Steam sucking all your bandwidth while you’re trying to headshot CTs on Dust. It picked right up downloading again as soon as I exited CS.

According to their server charts it looks like Valve only used 4 of their content servers to serve the pre-load, none of which reached max saturation due to the way they queued connections (the “try again later” messages). I’m shocked that it held up this well and almost gives me confidence that people will be able to log-in to steam to unlock HL2 on release day, download the game if they haven’t (though they’ll probably be waiting in line for a long time), and play Counterstrike without service interruptions.