Success for Half-Life 2 piracy control

When I installed Half-Life 2 last weekend, I was intrigued by how the whole experience in installing the game was so integrated with connecting to Steam’s servers online as part of the installation process to authenticate that I had a legitimate copy.

This authentication seems to be ongoing and extends to playing the game. I’ve not had much time to do that – unlike, for instance, Paul Thurrott who’s been posting ongoing commentaries about his gameplay fun – but each time I do start up Half-Life 2, it connects to Steam’s servers and logs me in with quite a bit of back-and-forth going on between the servers and my PC. Then, I can play the game from the installation on my PC.

So it was interesting read a BBC News report just now that said developer Valve has banned 20,000 people from playing Half-Life 2 because it had evidence that their copy of the game had been obtained illegally. When you install Half-Life 2, authentication involves setting up an account with Steam, Valve’s gaming community system, and letting that check which copy of the game was being run, as was my experience.

In a statement detailing the banning of the accounts, Valve said this system helped identify who had got hold of pirated copies. “The method used was extremely easy for Valve to trace and confirm, and so there is no question that the accounts disabled were used to try and illegally obtain Half-Life 2,” it said.

From the BBC report:

Rob Fahey, editor of online news site, said the mass banning showed off the power of the Steam system. Before now, he said, it has been hard for game makers to do anything about piracy once the game was being played. “But with this, Valve is taking really effective steps against people using illegitimate copies of Half-Life 2,” he said.

If Steam proves effective at cutting the piracy of games to a minimum, said Mr Fahey, other game makers may be tempted to set up copycat systems. “It’s not hard to see a point in the near future when every publisher wants you to run an application on your system purely to allow you to play their games,” he said.

I’d say you can count on it – this will be how you get to play PC games in the future.

6 thoughts on “Success for Half-Life 2 piracy control

  1. Success? That’s a matter of opinion. After dealing with several viruses and replacement modems over the years I decided to keep my computer off of the internet all together. I use my computer as a Digital Audio Workshop and re-format my hard drives every six months or so. Anyway, I loved Half Life and could not wait for Half Life 2. I made my purchase yesterday, got home real late, took the time to install 5 CDs of info to my computer to only discover that I have to have an internet connection just to play the game off-line. This is outrageous! I paid $60 for a game that I have to then ask permission to enjoy it and this is looked at as success. Yeah … the big companies get bigger, the consumer suffers. If that’s success for the PC gaming world then congratulations to makers like Valve. As for me and my fellow PC gamers, we will be forced to purchase a Playstation or X-Box to avoid any future hassles.

  2. Valve Software is kinda reminding me of someone standing in a hurricane with an umbrella, while proclaiming how good that umbrella is at stopping the rain that hits it.
    within I’d say two days of the release date, copies of Half-Life 2 were appearing on the internet sans Steam. basically what these “hacked” versions consited of, was a fake Steam that made the game think that it was connected, when in all reality it was just talking to itself.
    oh…but Valve isn’t quick to point that out are they? As it turns out, once again…from CD-Keys, to requiring the game disc to be in the drive to play, to Steam… It seems that the only group of people that are continually getting the raw deal here are the people who actually pay for the game.
    so in closing, let me congratulate valve on suspending 20,000 accounts, and we’ll just ignore that bit about the some odd 40,000+ who will download it for free and not have a nead for a Steam account to be suspended.

  3. OK. Here’s what I think
    I’m a serious gamer, and I think that the way piracy should be controlled is by what Valve have done with HL2. If people can’t pirate, they wont. This time round they have definatly made it hard to copy, if not impossible. Piracy makes software companies go under, and if we want more games like HL2 (my hands up) we need to support them and spend a tiny bit of our weekly wages and purchase the game. The amound of people that don’t have internet access is minimal, and they companies will not loose as much money to people not having the internet as they will with piracy. This may be a great leap forward in software piracy.
    Way to go Valve, 2 thumbs up for this one

  4. I have a legal copy of HL2, but not because I couldn’t get it for free.. and if I knew I had to mess with all this steam crap I would think twice, if not more, before buying it.
    For example, I bought Win3.1, Win3.11, Win95, NT4, and Win2k.. but ran a pirated version of XP for years because I didn’t want Big Brother messing with my ability to reinstall the OS without grief authenticating it. I’m legit now, but only reluctantly.. not because I don’t believe in supporting software developers.. I do.. but because I don’t like the hassles of dealing with copy protection.
    For example.. last night I went to play Counter Strike:Source.. part of the $80 Half Life Collectors Edition I bought.. and it wouldn’t run because it didn’t have the CD installed. This was after 5 minutes of STEAM doing stuff..
    I closed CS and ran UT 2004 instead.

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