, The Associated Press 2003-10-07
After perhaps the most egregious case of piracy to hit video gaming, playable parts of the year's most eagerly anticipated title were reported circulating online Tuesday.Gamer Web sites said a considerable portion of "Half-Life 2," the sequel to a very popular PC action game, was available in piracy circles.
The game had been scheduled for release late this year and were unconfirmed media reports said the leak would force a rewrite of some parts of the game, delaying its release until April.
Phone calls by The Associated Press seeking comment to the Los Angeles offices of the distributor, Vivendi Universal Games, were not returned. Nor were calls returned by the game's developer, Valve Corp. of Bellevue, Wash.
According to the gaming fan site Planethalflife.com, a partial version of Half-Life 2 was "floating around" online. Another site, hl2world.com, posted screen shots and a video clip apparently from the pirated game.
"Whatever is out there, I can't say if it's the entire game, but some people say it is," said Rob Shively, chief executive of network security consultancy PivX Solutions, LLC.
A smaller part of the game's code was available last week after a hacker broke into a computer at Valve. But that code was of little use to players. The playable code surfaced early Tuesday.
David Cole, game industry analyst at DFC Intelligence, said Half-Life 2 was expected to be the biggest seller this year. However, he does not believe the hacked version will have a great effect on sales, since it will be limited to black market channels.
Games are routinely pirated after their release anyway, he said.
The original Half-Life game, released in 1998, and its spin-off "Counter-Strike" are still some of the most played action games online.