This week saw an incredibly innovative game announcement by Valve Software. Using its unique position in the PC gaming industry through its digital distribution service, Steam, Valve launched an ARG eventually leading up to the reveal of Portal 2.
On Monday, Valve patched Portal via Steam, automatically pushing the update and its hidden content out to anyone with the game installed and Steam running. With it, a cryptic patch note sent players on a scavenger hunt, eventually decrypting .gcf files to discover Morse code, hidden images, and even a dial-in to a BBS system.
On Wednesday, Valve patched Portal again and changed the ending to the game, offering up more hints (and hype) for a sequel. In the midst of all of this, by the way, Valve also sent out a series of images to tease an "upcoming announcement", which was determined to be a Mac version of Steam by the community. An official announcement is expected at GDC 2010.
This is, by far, the best way to build hype for and announce a game, ever. The Steam community rallied around the scavenger-hunt in a massive, collaborative effort. All Valve had to do was flip a switch and push the content out without a single word to the press, which is probably why I was so thrilled by Valve's actions. I got to experience this as part of the community instead of having to keep embargoed information under wraps.
Oh, and some stuff happened at Infinity Ward.
Hot Gaming Stories for Hot, Gaming Shackers:
- Portal 2 officially announced, as discussed.
- BioShock 2's first multiplayer DLC hits Thursday.
- THQ's horror-survival FPS Metro 2033 goes gold.
- Microsoft changes its Xbox Live naming policy.
- Apple delays the iPad by a few days.
- PSA: Newegg + Intel processors = not a good idea right now.
- Microsoft says, "iPad, who?" with Courier.
- The Daily Show makes funny times happen with Chat Roulette.
Ultima Online: "Everyone (I hope) has at least heard of the first of the modern graphical MMOs, so a summery won't be needed. People are still playing this nearly 13 years after release! However, what might not be as well known is that during a live event Lord British was assassinated due to an accident where his character wasn't set as invulnerable. Some player pickpocked a scroll, targeted and hit the now-mortal British, and got hit with the wrath of the banhammer." (RevRaven)
Beginning Monday, each week in ER, the Game of the Evening will fall under a particular theme or motif as it strikes my fancy. You have been warned.
Oh no, I wroted too much. I didn't mean it.