While PC Owners all over the world enjoyed Halo instead, Valve are now treating this theft with the same force that the RIAA treats downloaded music. They will be suing anyone hosting the code or anyone they track down with the stolen section of the game.- and presumably upgrading its security at the same time. Despite not launching at Xmas, all is not lost- a release in the supposedly dead time of summer failed to prevent Neverwinter Nights and Warcraft III from hitting their respective sales of over a million each and the same for the add-on packs. A strong enough name like Doom or Half-Life should create the same sales effect whenever released- so Valve hope.

It now looks like the most anticipated game this Christmas has once again slipped into the next year - in a statement from Vivendi Universal Entertainment - the games publisher - they stated that Half-Life 2 would contribute to 2004 results.

This will be a cracking blow to the company who have up until recently been intent on the belief that the game would be launched without hitch at the end of september. Now it looks like April next year

It goes from bad to worse for Valve. Thanks to a Denial Of Service attack much like those aimed at Microsoft and American Yahoo! Sites and other the source code for Half-Life 2 is now out in the wild, albeit unoptimised and still in the final stages of bug-testing and translation.

Company frontman Gabe Newell posted on the understandably busyhttp://www.halflife2.net/ forums to state:

“Yes, the source code that has been posted is the HL-2 source code...

...What I'd appreciate is the assistance of the community in tracking this down. I have a special email address for people to send information to, helpvalve@valvesoftware.com. If you have information about the denial of service attacks or the infiltration of our network, please send the details. There are some pretty obvious places to start with the posts and records in IRC, so if you can point us in the right direction, that would be great.”

For all the fans' frustration at this latest hitch it's unclear what impact it will have on the game's already highly mobile release date. All details on the hacker will certainly come to light soon, but is certainly the most extreme response to the ongoing final difficult gestation of this sequel.

Less sympathetic fans may be wishing the hacker had stolen Steam instead, which few would have shed any tears over.