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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 12:03 GMT
Half-Life 2 maker wins legal case
Screengrab of Steam logo, Valve Software
Steam means Valve can sell its games directly to fans
The creator of Half-Life 2, Valve, has won a legal fight to stop Vivendi distributing its titles to cyber cafes.

The ruling bars Vivendi distributing games such as Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike to these pay-for-play venues.

The legal row blew up over who gets access to the keen groups of players who congregate at these game rooms.

Valve is keen to get its Steam software adopted in these venues to help its ambition to be big in online, multiplayer and tournament gaming.

Player control

The legal battle was kicked off in August 2002 when Valve said publisher Sierra/Vivendi Universal Games was in breach of contract by distributing games to game parlours and web cafes.

Now a US Federal District Court in Seattle, Washington, Judge Thomas Zilly has ruled in favour of Valve and granted it the right to seek damages from Vivendi over the breach.

Screenshot of Half-Life 2

"We're happy the court has affirmed the meaning of our publishing contract," said Gabe Newell, founder and CEO of Valve in a statement.

"This is good news for Valve and its cyber cafe partners around the world," he added.

The BBC News Website contacted Vivendi, but it has yet to comment on the court decision.

The ruling means that Valve is the only legal source for cyber cafes keen to run games such as Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike: Source.

Valve's Steam software is an online distribution system which has been used to sell Half-Life 2 directly to gamers and to authenticate copies of the game online.

The system also helps players find opponents and games to play on the net.

Despite being more than five years old, Counter-Strike is still the most popular online game and is the cornerstone of many gaming tournaments.

According to statistics on the Steam site, more than two million users per month are playing via the software and between then rack up almost five billion minutes of play time.

At peak times almost 175,000 players are logged on to the Steam system.

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