Valve teases 'something with a three in it'

In what may be the most unhelpful tease ever, Valve boss Gabe Newell has assured fans that the company will announce "something with a three in it" at E3 2012. While this could be chalked up to Valve's adorable tendency to mess with its fans, it could also be part of another alternate reality game (ARG) that the company seems to be cooking up.

PC Gamer reports that Gabe Newell reportedly replied to a 4chan e-mail with, "I don't suppose it would ease your wrath if I told you we're announcing all of your favorite things at E3 2012?" Deciding that wording was "confusing," he then said, "Yes, we are announcing something with a three in it."

We're sure the cheeky comment recognized that nearly all of Valve's big franchises are set for a third installment, but it could be a bit more than mere trolling. PC Gamer suggests that various Valve activities lately are part of a new ARG. Wheatley's appearance this weekend on the Spike VGAs had visual information in the background, and the Doug_Rattmann Twitter account began streaming long strings of numbers on December 11. The crack hive mind known as the Internet will likely unearth any messages contained.

Newell's tease and the recent Half-Life 3 shirt could be hints at the ARG, misdirections, or just a bit of fun with an easily-riled fanbase. Valve previously released Portal 2 early through the Potato Sack ARG, which hid clues in various indie games.

If this is an ARG setting the stage for Valve's reveal, it will have to be an extremely slow burn to last all the way to June of 2012.