Currently, players of Half-Life 2 must log in to the Steam service when playing single player. If the service is down, Half-Life goes with it.
The downtime is just another episode in the ongoing soap opera that accompanies the game management system. Accounts bought with stolen credit cards have been hocked on eBay, and the auction house won't offer purchase protection because no physical goods have changed hands. The Steam forums are littered with tales of account hacking, and once your account it gone, it's very difficult indeed to get back. Various email scams along the lines of bank phishing schemes attempt to get players to disclose their account details, and if you fall foul to one of these, you're screwed too.
Complaints have been made about the poor service that is being offered to those with reasonable complaints. If a customer buys a copy of HL2 off the shelf, and finds that the CDKey that comes with the game has already been hacked, he can expect to wait a stunning two weeks for a solution, according to this FAQ answer.
Bought HL2, finished it and want to sell it on? You can forget about exercising your ownership rights without limitation, because Valve will charge you $10 to change it.
Whether or not any of this is actually legal is something that many forumites are currently trying to unscramble. Nothing about Steam is mentioned on the retail package of the game, and we all know that retailers won't take back opened PC games. The lock on transferring of ownership of a game is another questionable legal area, since if ownership is not absolute - and Valve seem to be saying that it isn't - this is not noted anywhere in the license agreement or on the game's packaging. Indeed, not a word is mentioned of Steam in the user agreement for Half Life 2, suggesting that the compulsion to use it, and the failure of Valve to provide an alternative activation method, could mean that Valve are in contravention of their own license agreement.
Sometimes it is difficult to know whether Steam of HL2 has generated more column inches, but we know for sure that there are plenty more inches of both to come. µ
Looks like someone pressed the wrong button on the routing machine
Half-Life 3 VR anyone
Whilst some old favourites graduate to the main browser