As you’ve probably heard, Valve has canceled Half-Life 2 Black Box, which would have contained Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Team Fortress 2, and Portal. In its place, Valve will be selling the more-expensive ($50) Orange Box, which comes with those games plus Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode One.
Our immediate question was how does this impact AMD, which is bundling coupons for the Black Box with every one of its ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT cards? The short answer is it doesn’t: Although the Black Box won’t be available as a stand-alone purchase, ATI buyers will still get the three games they’ve been promised.
What’s more, Valve’s director of marketing, Doug Lombardi, tells us those buying cards based on AMD’s new graphics chip shouldn’t wait for those games to become available prior to registering their product keys on Steam. “While they wait for the release of the three new games, Day of Defeat: Source is made available to them immediately upon registering the product code that comes in the box with their new videocard.”
Day of Defeat: Source is an additional $20 value—assuming, of course, that you don’t already own it. That’s always been the downside to game bundles, which is why I found it refreshing that AMD is bundling brand-new games with its top-end Radeon card.
Valve’s decision to force gamers to buy games they almost certainly already own in order to get boxed copies of new software is a whole other matter. My guess is that retailers objected to stocking two SKUs, so Valve decided to drop the cheaper package. In any event, you’ll still be able to buy the three new titles separately on Steam—provided you can live without the boxes. If you can't, the product codes for Half-Life 2 and Episode One would make a great gift.
Hmm, I wonder if the Orange Box will arrive in time for Father's Day?