On the eve of the release of Valve Software's Portal 2 game, the firm unveiled a marketing campaign to boost the sales of indie games on the Steam distribution platform.
A web-based alternate reality game to promote the game ended on Friday with a message appearing that told gamers that they could speed the release of the game by purchasing the 'Potato Sack' bundle of discounted indie games.
A cryptic message in the web game had earlier raised hopes that the game, due for release this Friday, would be released early as the alternate reality game concluded. Instead Valve kicked off an promotion called GlaDOS@Home in a spoof of distributed computing projects.
The thirteen games in the Potato Sack can be bought either stand-alone or in a bundle with Portal 2. Each contains new Portal 2 content, illustrative of the importance of Valve and the Steam platform for the PC indie game scene.
The GlaDOS@home page shows a progress bar as well as individual progress for each indie game which needs a certain amount of players to progress until 'calculations are complete.' Several thousand gamers can be seen to be participating in the promotion 6 out of 13 of the indie games already complete.
Valve is also offering slightly discounted twin-packs of Portal 2, allowing the second copy to be gifted to another Steam user. At the current rate of progress, Portal 2 will unlock some time on Tuesday, three days earlier than originally stated.
Portal 2 offers longer game play than the original short game with valve boss Gabe Newell calling the game 'the best game we've ever done'. Portal 2 will also offer an online cooperative mode. Valve has also moved to tighter integration of Streamworks with the Sony PlayStation 3 version with Newell calling it the 'best console version.'
The PS3 support is something of an about face with Valve previously calling Sony's console a 'disaster.' However Valve is known to be unhappy with restrictions on the Microsoft Xbox 360 platform, chiefly the limited number of updates and extra content which can be provided by game developers.