Half-Life developer Valve has signed a worldwide multi-year distribution deal with U.S. publishing colossus Electronic Arts that will see boxed versions of Half-Life 2 on Xbox and the PC-only Half-Life 2: Game of the Year edition ship to stores later this year.

The first two products under the distribution agreement will be the newly-announced Game of the Year edition of Half-Life 2 (including Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, Counter-Strike: Source and Half-Life: Source) , along with a standalone Counter-Strike: Source (also featuring Half-Life 2: Deathmatch and Day of Defeat: Source). Both will be released in "winter" according to EA.

Meanwhile, the Xbox version of Half-Life 2 will be distributed and published by EA, with a release date confirmed for October.

Valve chief Gabe Newell said the deal represented an "awesome combination" in what represents a hugely significant deal for the developer.

"By combining EA's unparalleled operation structure and distribution channel with Valve's award-winning development teams and games community, we've established an awesome combination for delivering great products to console and PC gamers around the world," Newell said in a statement.

Meanwhile, it was a time for celebration at Electronic Arts, as EA Partners VP and general manager Tom Frisnia admitted that he considered Half-Life and Counter-Strike to be "two of the best game franchises of all time".

"We could not be more excited to have the opportunity to help deliver these outstanding games to players around the globe," Frisnia added.

Meanwhile, the EA-Valve deal does not affect Valve's ongoing plans for digital distribution via its Steam content delivery system. Further Valve titles, such as Half-Life 2: Aftermath expansion pack are also expected to form part of the EA distribution deal.

The news comes less than three months after the conclusion of a protracted legal scuffle between Valve and former publishing partner Vivendi-Universal. In the process, the EA-deal nixes rumours doing the rounds that Valve would continue with the deal it did with Activision in spring 2003 - a deal which produced just one very low-key title, the Half-Life mod Day Of Defeat.

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Kristan Reed

Kristan Reed

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Kristan is a former editor of Eurogamer, dad, Stone Roses bore and Norwich City supporter who sometimes mutters optimistically about Team Silent getting back together.