Developer Valve is to send a release candidate for the eagerly awaited Half-Life 2 to publisher Vivendi Universal Games later this month - but new reports suggest that the game may not launch until November.
"We're currently planning to send release candidates to Vivendi by September 15th," according to Valve's marketing boss Doug Lombardi. "However, VUG hasn't given us a ship date yet."
His comments came following a report from Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter, which pinned down Half-Life 2 as a November release in a comment on the potential success of three key PC titles this year.
Speculation over a November launch will surprise many gamers, as anticipation for Half-Life 2 was raised to fever pitch last week when Valve began pre-loading content for the game onto the Steam distribution network. Some 2Gb of data has already been loaded onto PCs, which was taken by some as evidence that the game would ship within the next few weeks.
However, if Valve is sending a release candidate to Vivendi next week, the November timescale seems to make more sense, as presumably that candidate will then be passed through a QA procedure and revisions will have to be made before the game actually goes gold.
A November launch would see the game coming out in time for the Thanksgiving holiday in the USA, and right in the middle of the key pre-Christmas shopping period in Europe - adding another huge title to the already intimidating roster of games competing for sales in the third quarter of the year.