Half-Life 2 (stylized as HλLF-LIFE2; shortened to HL2 or λ2), the sequel to Half-Life, is a first-person shooter video game and part of the Half-Life series. Developed by Valve Corporation, it was initially released on November 16, 2004, following a protracted five-year, $40 million development cycle, during which a substantial part of the project was leaked and distributed on the Internet.
The game was developed alongside Valve's Steam software. It introduced the Source game engine and, because of Steam, was the first single-player video game to require online product activation.
Like its predecessor, Half-Life 2 was met with near-unanimous critical acclaim. It was praised for its advanced physics, animation, sound, AI, graphics, and narrative. The game won 39 "Game of the Year" awards and the title of "Game Of The Decade" at the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards.Over 6.5 million copies of Half-Life 2 were sold at retail by December 3, 2008, making it a bestselling PC game (not including the number of sales via Steam). As of February 9, 2011, Half-Life 2 has sold over 12 million copies.
Half-Life 2 leak
Originally slated for release in September 2003, the game was delayed in the wake of the cracking of Valve's internal network. The network was accessed through a null session connection to Tangis which was hosted in Valve's network and a subsequent upload of an ASP shell, resulting in the leak of the game's source code and many other files including maps, models and a playable early version of Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike Source in early September 2003.
Valve claimed the game had been leaked by a German black-hat hacker named Axel "Ago" Gembe. After the leak, Gembe had contacted Newell through e-mail (also providing an unreleased document planning the E3 events).
Gembe later explained he got into hacking by being a victim of hacking. He downloaded and ran a malware disguised as a Warcraft 3 key generator. He then reverse-engineered the program and coded his own malware in an attempt to steal CD keys on Steam. As a fan of Half-Life, Gembe was hungry for details about the forthcoming sequel. His passion drove him to try hacking into Valve's system in order to find something out about the game nobody else knew yet.
By luck, Gembe was able to find an unguarded tunnel into the network on his first attempt, then crack Valve's hashed passwords through an online cracker, easily gaining access to anything about Half-Life 2, including its source code. On 19th September 2003, Gembe downloaded the source code, then handed it over to whoever leaked it to the internet.
on 15th February 2004, Gembe sent Gabe Newell an email with a blank subject line from sender 'Da Guy', who claimed responsibility for infiltrating Valve's network months earlier to explain how sorry he was for the leak, which was not his intention. In a separate email, he asked if Newell would consider giving him a job. To Gembe's surprise, Newell wrote back a few days later saying yes, Valve was interested, asking for a phone interview with Gembe.
Newell kept corresponding with Gembe, not because he wanted to hire Gembe. It was to obtain an on-the-record admission from Gembe that he had been responsible for the leak. He was to be offered a flight to the USA and was to be arrested on arrival by the FBI.
When the German government became aware of the plan, Gembe was arrested in Germany instead. The police chief said to Gembe: "Have you any idea how lucky you are that we got to you before you got on that plane?" Gembe was put on trial for the leak as well as other computer crimes in November 2006. He was sentenced to two years' probation. Security breach aside, there was no evidence to suggest Gembe had been responsible for pushing the Half-Life 2 source code on the internet.