Vivendi and Valve--what does Valve get out of the deal?

All this wrangling between vivendi and valve got me wondering–what is vivendi bringing to the table?

They box up the CDs and distribute them–I get that. But there’s been absolutely no marketing that I’ve seen. No posters, no pre-order boxes in the stores, no magazine ads.

Is this all part of their spat with Valve? It seems kinda counter-productive–if people don’t know that the boxed version is coming, more people will buy the steam version. But I gotta admit, I’m not a marketing guy at all, so maybe someone can explain it.


I saw a HL2 tv-ad today, so there’s some marketing obviously. Dunno about the extent of it though.

If I understand publishing well enough Valve probably signed over all distribution rights for physical media for half life and any add ons or sequels that would be made so unless Valve wants to start a whole new franchise they have to use Vivendi for the distribution of Half Life in stores.

You mean that the contract for the first half-life has a clause saying that Sierra has the rights to any sequels?

That’s exactly what Yurislave’s saying. It isn’t exactly unusual - generally the publisher owns all the IP under the contract. Valve got the rights for the IP and digital distribution back in a big contract renegotiation, which occurred after Sierra knew about Half-Life 2, before it knew about Steam, and before it was bought out by Vivendi. So Vivendi still has the retail publishing rights, and in fact if Valve puts out a Half-Life 3 at some point they may well be obligated to send Vivendi something to put on shelves, because Vivendi has the right to publish it to stores.

Obviously a lot of this is speculation, because the details of such contracts are almost never public, but it’s well-known that publishers of games, music, and movies routinely contract for the right to the work itself, not just the right to sell it. (Not the same as book publishing, where the author owns the IP and the copyright to the work, and the publisher is just buying an exclusive license to print it.)