Valve has announced that it is now accepting pre-orders for Counter-Strike: Condition Zero through Steam, its broadband content delivery service, and that owners of the original boxed Counter-Strike can take advantage of a $10 discount, meaning that it will be available for $29.95 instead of its regular retail price of $39.95.
As recently reported here, Valve plans to release Condition Zero on Steam at the same time as its boxed debut on March 23rd (although the game won't make it onto European store shelves until March 26th). The announcement also sheds some light on how Valve plans to distribute full games via Steam, and the process will no doubt be keenly observed by legions of fans and commentators worrying about how Half-Life 2 will be handled in summer 2004.
As predicted, the developer will allow the service to download and store the game code in advance of the launch date, and now it's clear this is a system that will apply to pre-order customers, who will then be allowed to access the game the instant it's officially released. Although this is purely speculation at this stage, we'd expect a similar system to slot into place prior to Half-Life 2's debut. We'd also imagine that - despite protestations that Condition Zero isn't as bad as has been suggested - Valve considers the CZ launch something of a dry run for HL2, and a good test of the robustness of their encryption and whatnot.
We should have a full review of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero closer to its March 26th release.