Some thoughts on the current Half-Life situation
You can argue back and forth about whether or not this leak will hurt sales or not. Personally I think it will. Assuming that the April date is correct, that’s 7 months of time where gamers will be looking elsewhere. Most people probably had the money put away for buying it now and some might end up getting annoyed at the delay (especially considering the massive quantities of hardware sold for this particular release). And then of course there’s Christmas. Christmas sells games by the bucket loads!
Also you have to take into account that the increased development time of 7 months is about half the time that most ‘normal’ games take from start to finish. 7 months of rent, wages and degrading hardware on your hands is expensive for Valve, very much so.
On top of that Half-Life 2 had the advantage of a head start with its original September 30th release date. It would have been out ages before Doom3, Halo 2, Duke Nukem Forever (heh) and Painkiller, allowing it to dig itself thoroughly into the marketplace. Especially in terms of mods and let’s not forget that mods for HL1 are currently still selling HL1 copies!
Granted all these games will still sell tremendously, but with the new April release date it now looks as if all these heavy hitters have bunched up in the same quarter. Half-Life 2 will in fact be late! Both Doom 3, Halo 2 and Painkiller are set for March release dates.
For the consumer the first quarter of 2004 and the beginning of the second quarter is going to be a great time to be a gamer, but for the companies it’s going to be publishing hell. I’m putting my money on HL2 and though there is no way to find out, I’ll bet you that this is going to cost a lot of sales for both Valve, id and Bungie. It’s a bit harder to predict Painkiller, it’s getting good previews, but it’s not exactly a prove company; and Poland? Heh.
But guess who benefits from this? Everyone set for release before christmas :) — Max Payne 2 just went gold, I bet they’re happy little ducks right now…