Valve Uses Portal 2 to Push Potatoes ::UPDATE:: is the latest in a series of viral sites created by video game creators to hype up their games. Does it fail? Yes, yes it does. Does everyone remember Hideo Kojima’s site that kept teasing everyone with a field that had lightning? The final reveal was a picture of part of Raiden’s face. Yeah. We waited patiently, and intently watched all of the small progress for two weeks to get that kind of reveal? Really?

This is the picture I snapped right after the countdown ended, and before the site started up. Anyone who’s played Portal could tell you that this is GLaDOS, but we don’t have to guess, because the URL “” gave way to a new one: “[email protected]”. GLaDOS tells us that we’ve been “surprisingly competent at generating electro-chemical energy to jumpstart the system, but now we need raw computational power to speed up the reboot process”.

So, what does all of this mean? Well, at the top of the site we can clearly see: “HELP RELEASE PORTAL 2 EARLY! PLAY THE 13 GAMES IN THE POTATO SACK TO REBOOT GLADOS”. There’s also a conveniently placed button so that we can buy said “Potato Sack“—the indie-bundle that was released a week and a half ago.

In this pic for the site, you can see that there is a “Projected Launch” timer that ends (if my calculations are correct) on Tuesday at 7am Pacific time. Basically this means that Portal 2 is scheduled to launch at this time. However, if everyone wants to see Portal 2 get launched sooner, they’re going to have to play the Potato Sack games. I can’t tell for sure, but it seems like each of the 13 games have to be played concurrently by a certain number of people.

Above you can see the “current CPUS” of each game. I think each one represents one human player, but what exactly is this “Challenge Status”? It might be the total sales of the Potato Sack bundle. So, gamers, what do you have to say about this viral marketing stunt? Disappointed? I personally am, a little. On the one hand it’s great that Valve is helping out indie games, but it’s a bit annoying considering I wanted to see more of Portal 2. It feels very much like a bait and switch. I wonder if gamers will band together for the sole purpose of opening Portal 2 early whether or not they actually want the indie games.

UPDATE:With around 23 hours left to go before the scheduled launch of Portal 2 on Steam, 7 of the 13 games have their “computations” complete. That leaves Defense Grid: The Awakening, Killing Floor, Audiosurf, Super Meat Boy, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and The Ball as games that still require computations. The total sales of the potato sack appear to be 448, 207.

As a reminder, Portal 2 will be out  for Xbox 360, PC, and PS3, on April 19th in North America, and April 21st in Australia and Europe.

I am still excited for it, despite this disappointing marketing stunt.

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Ryan Southard
Ryan Southard 776 posts

Ryan Southard is a video game enthusiast, dissecting games down to their tiniest details. Whether it's new or it's old, as long as it's awesome, he'll play it. Follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Southard <a href="">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a>