When Half-Life 2 released in late 2004, it put a cap on a lengthy and controversial development cycle. Probably the most famous detail of this incident was the October 2003 incident where a hacker stole the source code for the game and Valve's subsequent delay of the game's release. However, perhaps lost in the shuffle was the lawsuit that publisher VU Games filed about Steam, Valve's digital distribution service.
The issue of that case aside, the fact that the major PC release came out on digital distribution concurrently with the retail release was significant. Valve was certainly pleased and made plans for new "chapters" of Half-Life 2 to release over Steam. Perhaps appropriately, Half Life 2: Episode 1 has maybe made an even bigger splash with its digital distribution sales than its predecessor.
GameDaily BIZ examines the game's success and impact on digital distribution, regular retail, and episodic content.