So the last time I did a bloggity post I talked about how Valve were the best behaved bastards I’ve ever loved in their Christmas Steam sale, which overdraws millions of people every year. This time I’m going to be talking about a very similar thingy. Assuming you have any interest in Portal 2 and have had access to the internet for the last week or so, Valve have been running an ARG to promote it and that culminated today with a countdown. Speculation was rife that the countdown was to the release of Portal 2, but when it hit 0 all we got was another page; which GLaDOS has named ‘the final challenge’.
The Potato Sack has been on Steam for a while, offering 13 indie games with strange, often tenuous links to Aperture Science involved. The final challenge requires that we (and I do mean we as a collective unit of gamers) play anywhere between one and all of these games in order to speed up the launch of Portal 2. Otherwise, it will launch on its previously announced date of April 19th.
Great, right? Well, no. Not according to some people.
Some people reckon that if Portal 2 is ready, why should its release be delayed? Why is it being surrounded by this marketing bullshit?
Here’s why I think you’re misguided:
Firstly, Valve are not delaying the game. We’ve known for a long time that Portal 2 will be released on April 19th. They are giving us a chance to play it sooner than that. In what universe does this mean the game is delayed? Heck, in what universe is this morally or ethically wrong to do? There are worse things to do to earn an early release of a game than play some indie games, after all.
Secondly, ‘marketing bullshit’ has never been quite so interesting. ‘Marketing bullshit’ is when Rio Ferdinand shows up to an event in London to play the game, claiming it to be the finest gaming video he’s ever played then leaving 20 minutes later to claim his cheque. This has been an ARG that has captured the interest of thousands. People have been on treasure hunts around Seattle, people from all walks of life have been chipping in with pearls of wisdom to help figure out the next stage and now we have this; an opportunity for hundreds of thousands of gamers to collaborate towards the release of one of the year’s best games. This isn’t standard rubbish you’d see a typical developer do, this is something that’s taken days of effort and coordination that only Valve seem capable of pulling off.
Don’t want to play any of the games in the Potato Sack? Fine, thousands of others will. Just realise this; Valve are doing us a favour, continuing to show us why [standard PC blogger gushing] they’re the best developers in the world. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, lest you never be fed another potato again.