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Half-Life 2 delayed to 2004

Source code leak pushes game back.

Vivendi Universal Games chief executive Christophe Ramboz has stated that highly anticipated PC title Half-Life 2 will not ship in time for Christmas, following the distribution of source code from the game online.

According to Ramboz, the leaked source code - which was taken from Valve's servers following a concerted hacking effort over the course of several weeks - represents about a third of the total game.

This leak - which included code for Half-Life 2's anti-piracy and network security systems - is now being blamed for a further delay to the game, which was originally meant to appear on September 30 but was recently pushed back to the holiday season.

Communication between Valve and Vivendi about release dates for Half-Life 2 haven't always been particularly efficient, with Vivendi in the UK insisting up until a week before September 30 that the game would be out on that date; however, at present there's no reason to disbelieve Ramboz' statement about the game's release date. Besides, Vivendi have a better track record than Valve when it comes to telling the truth about the dates for the game - they informed retailers months ago that it wouldn't appear until November, when Valve was still insisting on September 30.

A more cynical mind might wonder if the apparent concerns over network security following the source code leak aren't just a convenient excuse for the game slipping into 2004 - since given the Steam automatic patching system, there's no reason why Valve couldn't release Half-Life 2 (primarily a single-player game) with compromised anti-cheat security before Christmas, and then patch over the problems for online players shortly afterwards.