No Alarms: Valve’s “Surprise”

By Phill Cameron on June 17th, 2010 at 7:00 pm.

NO ALARMS AND NO SURPRISES! NO ALARMS AND NO SURPRISES! AND SIMIAR!

There are no more molehills. Just bigger and smaller mountains.

So Valve sent out a press release cancelling one event and hinting at a ‘surprise’. It was a way of adding the tiniest bit of flavour to the otherwise blander-than-bland world of press releases. It was so out of the ordinary, in fact, that nearly every major gaming news website in the world instantly started up the rumour mills. What on earth could this surprise be?

It’s tempting to absolve Valve of all sin, because really, none of this is their fault, at least directly. The problem is they’ve made a reputation for themselves by creating ever more elaborate ways to reveal their games and any new developments. Just a month or two ago we got the Portal 2 reveal after a few days of brilliantly enigmatic ARGs from the game itself. So it only makes sense that if they tease something, it’s going to be something big.

Thing is, this was teased in a press release, which, for the most part, are somewhat internal. If they wanted to tease something to their fans, have no doubt it wouldn’t be done like that. It’d be in patch notes, or on a website, something that they can guarantee the fans will have access to. All it was, in the end, was a little light humour to illicit a smile or some such from the recipient of the release.

So it blows up, inevitably. A few enterprising individuals create a really quite convincing set of red herrings, along with a load of old ones resurfacing, and suddenly everyone is predicting Half Life 3, or something along those lines. Of course anything less than that is going to be a shattering disappointment, and try as they might have, there was no way Valve were going to be able to convince everyone that this was the most minor of surprises.

The seed of hope had been planted, and it’s terribly tenacious. No matter what anyone said, until it had been proved, (and, to the ardent fan, an assurance from Valve that it was merely Portal 2 related isn’t enough), no one is going to give up that seed. When you want something bad enough, you think it’s going to be real, maybe, just.

Do I blame the journalists who reported the story? No, not really. If I’d been a news editor receiving that press release, I can certainly see the temptation of getting a veritable fuck-tonne of hits by hinting it might be HL3 related. I’m sure they don’t regret it, and the fact was there was a chance it wasn’t just a run of the mill surprise; an event cancellation hints at something big, even when it wasn’t.

And you can hardly blame the fans for getting riled up. When you’re in charge of such a huge franchise, even the hint of a hint is going to be taken desperately seriously. You just have to see how quickly people get worked up at the latest fake teaser to realise that.

So if neither Valve or the journalists or the fans are to blame, what the hell went wrong? In the end the blame probably lies in the cynicism and nature on which sites work. You’re searching for hits, and when you see an opportunity like this, you’re going to take it. I’m not saying that everyone posting a story about this was thinking ‘this is probably nothing, but it’ll get them slobbering’, but I am saying that anyone posting news online in the past few years has been conditioned to seeing a potential story, even when it’s not necessarily there.

This is an issue of habit, rather than any pre-meditation. No one is truly to blame, but the system certainly doesn’t make things any easier. And, because Valve operate in a slightly different way to the majority of developers/publishers, when they put out a press release that’s a little bit unusual, people are going to jump on it.

My problem is that, after all this, you’ve just got a large number of viciously angry fans shouting at Valve because they had the good grace to make a press release a little less boring. They never teased anything of consequence, and they even made efforts to put down any wayward rumours. It was too late though; the internet had already given the rumour far too much life to be slain by ‘facts’.

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105 Comments »

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  1. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    As much as I love valve and HL2 and stuff, I don’t really care how long it takes to make/release HL3 or Ep3 or whatever they call it.

    Just keep updating America’s #1 war-themed hat simulator, and keep being funny.

  2. Samuel Bigos says:

    I was disappointed, but the semi made up for it because Portal 2 looks absolutely amazing.

    Still, that’s like 3-4 years without any news on the HL series?

    • Skinlo says:

      Less than 3 years, the Orange Box came out around October 2007.

  3. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    “In the end the blame probably lies in the cynicism and nature on which sites work.”

    You know whats easier than self reflection?

    Blame Sony.
    Those bastards.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      This made me smile.

      I think at least part of the problem is that Valve were actually really excited about Portal 2 and Steamworks on a console. Steamworks looks like a neat way to bypass certification, (which is why updates that were free on the PC cost money on the consoles) on PS3 at least. So it was a big deal for them (making games for a new platform, probably hiring quite a few PS3 programmers etc), and positively lovely for PS3 owners.

      It’s a shame, because if they hadn’t said they had a surprise, I’d have thought they weren’t going to be there, and have been delighted by a pretty great trailer and some nice news for console-owners. Instead I was really pissed off, then felt a bit silly because – hey – it really isn’t that big a deal.

    • frymaster says:

      indeed, this is a big deal for consoles, not because of portal 2, but because of what it says about the control the platform owners exert on the platforms

      by saying what he did (PS3 version will be the better console version because of this) Gabe is directly challenging Microsoft to make the same concessions there. In an era where many PC games are getting console-esque lockdowns, consoles becoming more open is interesting, if not immediately relevant to my interests as a PC gamer

    • Urthman says:

      Anything that makes free updates easier to release for consoles, anything that tempts other developers to try to compete with Valve’s level of support for released games, will eventually benefit PC gamers as well.

    • Premium User Badge

      Thermal Ions says:

      Very interesting point Frymaster. While I’d been interested to see that Valve had gotten Sony to loosen it’s grip, I hadn’t considered that it’s something which could actually have a throwback effect upon the PC (let’s just hope it’s a positive one).

  4. Bobsy says:

    At the very least, hopefully this whole debacle will have alerted Valve to the fact that a LOT of people want more Half-Life VERY badly.

    No matter how often they reaffirm their commitment to the series (which isn’t all that often), the fact that they’ll have made an entire game and it’s sequel, and now Portal 2 as well, without even hinting they’re moving forward on the third expansion pack for HL2 speaks volumes.

    Of course, we don’t want to emotionally blackmail Valve into making more HL if their hearts aren’t in it, but still… come on.

  5. DJ Phantoon says:

    I thought Gabe Newell was the surprise. Then I was confused.

    • terry says:

      Not as confused as he looked. I half expected guys in black suits to carry him away.

    • Kirian says:

      Ironically, for Gabe, the face-punching was just about to start.

      Although, seriously, Steamworks on PS3? Sony being open like Gabe wanted them to be and talked about in that earlier, misconstrued interview? That’s a big enough surprise for me.

    • Dominic White says:

      It’s pretty big news in general for anyone playing Valve games on consoles. See, Microsoft have this lovely policy where developers can’t release patches or DLC for free. Patches cost money for the developers to have Microsoft authorize, and DLC must be charged for.

      Except for if it’s DLC thats free on another system, at which point you’re allowed to release it for free. By bringing Steamworks and associated perks to the PS3 versions of the games, it basically forces Microsoft to either say ‘Fuck Valve’ (unwise), or loosen their restrictions and let Valve actually release the same game on the 360 as they’re doing on the PS3.

      Of course, I play all their games on PC, so it doesn’t apply to me, but it’s basically a big, nasty, pointy wedge of clever politics driven right into Microsofts side.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      It *was* a masterstroke. Not the one wereally care about, unfortunately.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      Steamworks on console? Does that mean the PS3 is getting added to Steam Play. ‘Cause, you know, I might care about that.

    • terry says:

      The only way Sony would ever allow Steamplay is if PC/Mac came as a bonus to buying the PS3 version, the reverse would be suicidal.

  6. Fumarole says:

    3-4 years? Not quite. More like 2 years 8 months.

  7. Stabby says:

    +1

  8. Nemon says:

    I blame Valve, for what it’s worth :)
    They know perfectly well that any vague hints from their part brings on the epicness of the interweb crying out for the long awaited HLep3, for fucks sake keep your statements clear. Is it not HL-related? Then say so immediately and don’t poke the monster any more, tons of angry internet men are ready with their cunning writing 24/7++.

  9. Uhm says:

    Oh, It just seemed to come and go with a bit of disappointment and that was it, but maybe I don’t read enough news. Was there lots of action?

  10. Helm says:

    “but I am saying that anyone posting news online in the past few years has been conditioned to seeing a potential story, even when it’s not necessarily there. ”

    And in lack thereof, some of those “is this pre-rendered or is it in-engine, Let’s Debate!!!” posts?

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      It’s in engine. That or the gameplay videos elsewhere on Youtube are strangely also pre rendered for no reason since they could actually do all that.

  11. Tei says:

    Portal 2 is looking amazing.

    I think we (the gamers) love the hype, because make us feel extraordinary things, even wen we know theres not a magic world of chocolate at the end, we live it anyway, because is fun.

    So again: Thanks Valve!.

  12. dartt says:

    I’m sure the editors were keen to get mega-hits but, as you know, editors and journalists are fans too; where I might excitedly spam a chat room of friends with the latest rumours, an enthusiastic journalist will publish an article that will be read by thousands of people.

    It surprises me that even now, Valve don’t fully comprehend how their fans hang on every word. I suspect that this will be another lesson learned by the Valve marketing department and they’ll be more careful in their choice of words in the future.

  13. elle pesh says:

    VALVE: “Surprise at E3 coming, directly related to Portal 2 and nothing else!”

    VALVE FANBASE: “IT’S OBVIOUSLY A CLEVER DIVERSION TO ANNOUNCE THAT PORTAL 2 IS ALSO HL2 EPISODE 3, OR SOME OTHER RIDICULOUS CONSPIRACY THEORY! NEED A PEELZ CAKE CUBE HERE! LOLOLOLOL”

    VALVE: Releases their first game on a platform that their most public figure loudly denounced as shit, and makes the momentous announcement that their Steam platform – and potentially free DLC – is partially extending into consoles, and that any free DLC for the PS3 subverts the XBL restrictions on free con-

    VALVE FANBASE: “Oh I can’t read anything but what reinforces what I specifically want! Valve is horrible for not giving me what I want! VALVE CAN GO TO HELL! I AM GOING TO BOYCOTT VALVE JUST AS SOON AS I GET SICK OF L4D2 WHICH I ALSO BOYCOTTED UNTIL ALL MY FRIENDS BOUGHT IT”

    • geldonyetich says:

      That’s an excellent impression of the Internet at large.

    • AlexW says:

      elle, that would be a very nice summary of the situation if Valve had actually said it would be Portal 2 related before all the speculation had already happened.

      Also, nice ad hominem calling all fans of Half-Life conspiracy theorists, L4D2 boycotters and idiots. It’s a nice touch.

    • Schmung says:

      Seconded. The people getting their knickers in a twist and lashing out are the ones to blame because they’re being fucking idiotic.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      elle, that would be a very nice summary of the situation if Valve had actually said it would be Portal 2 related before all the speculation had already happened.

      You should read their press release again, since it specifically says it’s Portal 2 related.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Since I don’t want to make anyone click the link and re-read it, this is the relevant line, straight from the press release. I’m not sure why anyone thought there was anything non-Portal 2 happening here:

      If you’d like to ask fruitless questions about the E3 Portal 2 surprise or, more fruitfully, schedule an appointment to attend a Portal 2 screening at the Valve booth during E3, please contact Valve’s Special Envoy to Surprises, Doug Lombardi.

    • Mojo says:

      Don’t you dare mix L4D2 into this. The outrage about the PS3 support is about a gazillion times stupider than over Valve dropping L4D in favor of a half-assed sequel.

  14. Premium User Badge

    El_MUERkO says:

    I pretty much ignore any Valve related news cause of the shit they’ve been pulling since Team Fortress 2 / Half Life 2 were announced. They’re perennial prick teases and well worth ignoring.

  15. Matzerath says:

    In all honesty, a big part of the problem is a bunch of grown adults getting into a tizzy over ‘surprises’.

    • Thants says:

      It’s terrible when grown adults get excited about things. Don’t they know that know that grown-ups are supposed to be somber and joyless?

  16. BobJustBob says:

    Love the Radiohead reference in the title.

    • Mo says:

      I had to scroll down *this* far for a comment on the excellent Radiohead reference? Man!

  17. Karthik says:

    The funny thing is, as soon as I read the opening line (smaller mountains), I thought you had something to say about Ep 3.

    Reading through the whole article just made this ironic.

  18. Unaco says:

    So… In the end, what was the surprise? Was there one? It’s all a little confusing.

    • Skinlo says:

      The surprise was technically Gabe turning up on the stage at the Sony conference.

      However, most people think its the fact that Valve are releasing a PS3 version of Portal 2.

    • Grunt says:

      Valve and Sony, eh? Wow. In Internet terms that’s kinda like Jesus turning up hand-in-hand with Satan, isn’t it?

  19. Clovis says:

    I hadn’t really watched the actual announcement yet. It sounds like there’s a good chance I’ll get to play Portal 2 on my PC and PS3 after just buying it once on Steam. Hopefully. That’d be really cool. I’d love to play the early bits on my couch and then jump over to the PC to handle the later tricky bits (using that whole cloud thing).

    Plus maybe other games will become available through Steam somehow?

    • Premium User Badge

      Nathan says:

      I’d be hugely surprised if this is the case. I think it’s much more likely to have shared save games in the Cloud, support for pushing patches and perhaps, just perhaps, cross-platform play.

    • Premium User Badge

      Thermal Ions says:

      The announcement was pretty much Gabe’s standard “We’re really excited about the future of gaming as a service …” line which gets an airing at each of his interviews, followed by oh yeah, we’re bringing Portal 2 and steamworks to the PS3 and it’ll be better than on the Xbox 360. Lasted all of a couple of minutes including preview video from memory.

  20. Turin Turambar says:

    I blame Valve. You can’t use the word s”urprise” if you aren’t going to have a big surprise. It’s that simple.
    Even if you have a small surprise, if you say “we are going to have a small surprise” people will think you are saying with irony or is a red herring or whatever. More when the last HL game you have relased was in 2007, it made sense to think that it should be announced the next one around this time of the year.

    • user@example.com says:

      Oh god, this. If Valve put out a press release using the blandest language imaginable, people would think it was some hilarious joke and they were about to release, I dunno, the Octarine Box with Half-Life 2: Episode 3, Half-Life 3, Black Mesa, Portal 3 and new hat DLC for Team Fortress 2.

      They cannot win any more. They can’t be funny, they can’t be serious, they can’t be excited, they can’t do anything unless they want everyone to massively overreact. Their only option would be to continually disappoint everyone until no-one expects anything from them, and even then they’d still get people praising them for their awesome “disappoint the world” ARG.

      Let’s hope it doesn’t stop them being awesome anyway.

  21. Dave says:

    Whilst I do believe fans blew this way overboard, I think Valve made a huge error when announcing this as a “surprise”…

    When you consider that most of their fans will be PC or 360 gamers, they are going to be the main people interested in your press releases. A PS3 gamer may hear of a surpise from Valve but not care because they don’t much care for Valve either.

    Obviously, they had to clarify that it wasn’t Ep3 or HL3 related, and obviously the internet wouldn’t believe them. However, at least the afore mentioned fans (i.e. PC and 360 gamers) could live in the hope that, if it’s Portal 2 related, it’s still going to interest them.

    Now, I’m not saying that the game shouldn’t be on the PS3, or that Steam moving to consoles isn’t a good thing. I believe it’s great that more gamers, no matter their platform preference, get a chance to play decent Valve gamers. What I AM saying, however, is that they misjudged their audience in the first place and have disappointed many long time fans.

    If they had not said anything and simply announced this at the Sony E3 Conference, PS3 fans would have heard about it and everyone would be happy. Instead, they used a press release which attracted existing fans… fans who owned 360s and gaming PCs. The PS3 crowd heard about it, which is good, but the majority of people who were looking out for the “surprise” were not the target audience Valve wanted to cater to.

    By doing so, they have now alienated many fans. Yes, the impact may not be huge, but it will have a gradual effect if they do it again, especially following the backlash at last year’s E3 and the announcement of L4D2.

    • Premium User Badge

      Thermal Ions says:

      While you make some good points, if fans have become alienated because of it then they’re taking things way too seriously. So it was a surprise that for a lot of fans was ho-hum, so what, get over it people.

      Or look on the bright side, Valve have an updated indication on just how obsessed people are about HL2:Eps3 / HL3 – that can’t be bad can it – unless they’ve shelved it of course. That’s unlikely though I would imagine considering the number of valve staff and the relatively small number working on Portal 2 according to the recent 1UP interview. There’s a lot of people twiddling their thumbs on Valve’s time otherwise.

  22. Tim James says:

    I’m surprised anyone pays attention to Valve’s marketing crap. They put out some nice games, but I just ignore everything until they are released.

  23. Mojo says:

    I’m about as much of a hardcore PC gamer as it gets, but I’m happy for Portal 2 to make it to the PS3. I think it’s quite remarkable that they actually got Sony to include Steam on their platform, which should make updating less of a pain for PS3 players.

    They said it was going to be a “Portal 2 themed” surprise. That didn’t leave many options. PS3 support was about as likely as it gets. I really don’t see how anyone could have been upset with this announcement.

  24. rocketman71 says:

    I blame Valve. They directed us toward disappointment. It was obvious by reading news sites or their own forums that a lot was being expected after their announcements. They could have avoided it by announcing the L4D DLC (which should be at least advanced enough to show since it’s already two months late). They could have opened the CSS beta. They could have started showing things from the Engineer patch. But they didn’t. They let us fall. And they knew they were doing it, so I blame them and them alone.

    It’s rare to see a Valve PR fuckup, but this definitely was one. Thousands of PC gamers, their most ardent fans and customers, ended up thinking who the fuck cares about the PS3?. Is this really the surprise?. This POS is what I’ve been looking forward for a month?.

    Bad Valve, no cookie.

  25. TheSombreroKid says:

    the news was huge if you own a ps3, steamworks on ps3! source on ps3! portal 2 on ps3! it’s just not news to us because we have or were definitly gteting all that anyway.

  26. TheSombreroKid says:

    i will say it’s a shame that valve didn’t see it as thier duty, given they’ve got a vested interest in the platform, to hold up the pc beacon at e3, they’ve got a lot they could be showing thats coming exculivly to steam and that would most certainly help promote the most popular platform in the games industry

  27. FlamingCat says:

    And that’s why I mainly go to sites that don’t rely on advertisements or “hits” to stay alive. That way I know they are only providing news and their honest thoughts on it. Example: http://www.gamingnexus.com

    And RPS, of course!

  28. Apsas says:

    Man, I like how whenever we see Call of Duty 73 or Tomb Raider 48 everyone is like “MAN GIVE US SOMETHING NEW!” And whenever Valve releases L4D or Portal, everyone is like “MAN GIVE US MORE HALF-LIFE ALREADY!”

    • TheSombreroKid says:

      & tbh 2.6 games in 12 years isn’t that long to wait if it was 6 games in 12 years it’d be shovelware.

    • asdf says:

      Apsas, please provide citations that identify actual examples of people who have been satisfied fans of CoD or the Tomb Raider series during their entire runs that are now asking for something new.

      I have been a fan of the Half Life games and invested in the narrarative they present for over a fucking decade. I want to know what the next stage of the war will be. I want to know the fates of these amazing characters. I want to know just who or what the fucking Gman is. I honestly don’t think it’s out of line to be upset that this huge unfinished work of fiction appears to have been abandoned in favor of totally different games.

      I guess I can see how someone who hasn’t been into the Half Life storyline for a long time might lazily toss that ‘angry internet men’ shit around, and all I can hope is that there’s some book or tv series you really love that someday ends unfinished. That might clue you in.

    • Conlaen says:

      I think a mayor issue in this is that this was supposed to be *Episodic*. Episode 1 came in june 2006 then episode 2 came in october 2007. And since then, silence for almost 3 years now. And they did say this was to be a trilogy.

  29. DrMoebius says:

    The whole situations is a mess, but to me the solution is quite clear: Throw your fans a bone Valve. Some leaked concept art shots are not a whole lot after 2 years. It’s obvious that plenty of angry internet men want some kind of update on episode 3, and of course valve is free to do whatever they want, but yeah, a screenshot, anything really would go a long way in quieting all the raging people.

    • Grunt says:

      …Are you kidding? You seriously think even one single solitary screenshot of HL3 or Ep3 is going to make Valve’s fans quiet down??

      My god, man – look at the uproar on RPS when they don’t even talk about the game(s)!

    • DrMoebius says:

      Well I can only speak for myself, but I’d be happy for any kind of news. However small the teaser is, it’s better than nothing in my opinion.
      something > nothing

  30. jsdn says:

    I find this all pretty pathetic. I think everyone should take a few steps back and look at themselves before tearing down their Gabe Newell posters that hang over their beds.

    • sbs says:

      I’m so glad i didn’t take down any of my John Carmack posters for Gabe Newell ones.
      The Carmack is so much more sexy anyway<3

  31. Heliocentric says:

    Personally, i think steamworks on the ps3 is important and exciting.

  32. deadsexy says:

    I’m just a little sad that there wasn’t a press conference by Valve. I really wanted some info on what’s in store for us Steam users in the future and some talk about game development. Of course I didn’t expect it to be like the press conferences of the “big three”. Something less showy and glittery maybe and if you ask me that’s what the E3 needs anyway. Someone to represent the PC crowd but it seems like that isn’t the kind of position Valve wants to take, Microsoft has clearly abandoned it in the past couple of years.

  33. Hat Galleon says:

    You know, I’m no fan of using sexual metaphors; in fact, I’d rather avoid them. However, this one in particular is too apt to ignore. To put this whole situation simply, the internet just has a huge case of blue balls over this. Valve came out with some really solid shooter games, people likes them. Valve came out with some episodes that continued the storyline and shootening, and people became more interested. Then, just about as the series of games is going to reach its climax (no pun intended, sorry), the storyline about to culminate in one wondrous finale with enjoyable game-play, and suddenly it stops. No word on when Episode 3 will be out, what it will be about setting-wise, nothing. To be honest, it’s sort of Valve’s fault because they’ve wanted to keep the suspense and anticipation there, but it’s no longer exciting after years of waiting; now most people just want the relief of it being over. People are going to look for it being done in everything they see because that’s what they want so badly, and it’s probably not going to end until either it comes out or Valve mollifies them a bit by releasing SOME information. No single side is really to blame here, it’s just massive expectations over a huge period of time; thus, the blue balls metaphor.

    And what an inauspicious way to end a comment: Not with a bang, but with a testicle-related metaphor.

  34. fuggles says:

    It’s clearly valve’s fault, or specifically whoever is in their marketing. Conduct some sort of gaming survey – people care more about finishing the half life story than having you churn out more franchising. I don’t really care how great portal 2 will be, you are 2/3 of the way through a story that I invested in and I want some proof that it will get finished and I can find out what happens to the characters.

    As mentioned, a whole ton of people don’t have PS3’s, will never own PS3’s and could not care less about PS3’s. From my perspective it’s as irrelevant as Mac gaming. You can announce games for the 3DS and I still won’t be bothered. This is not a surprise worth keeping, just announce it overtly.

    As mentioned by others, there has been NO information on HL2 EP3 at all. You didn’t have to show a lot at E3 valve, just a logo or a mention about Freeman – something to show that it’s still in existence on your plans.

    • Jad says:

      A whole ton of people don’t have gaming PCs, will never own a gaming PC and could not care less about PC gaming. So why do gaming web sites print articles about companies having “surprising” news about Civilization V and Starcraft 2 and Steam and Eve? Because lots of other people do care.

  35. Saucy says:

    ITS ONLY A SURPRISE IF IT EFFECTS ME

    The comments in this one are almost as retarded as that one about the gun that shoots catcallers.

    • Dave says:

      No… that’s not it at all. What is being said is that it could have just been an “on the moment suprise” announced in the Sony press conference. Instead, they announced a surprise for gamers, but even if the market share was even between the PS3, 360 and gaming PCs (obviously, it isn’t), you’re still talking about hyping something up that only a third of gamers would be interested in.

      Like I said in my original post – I think it’s great that it is coming across, especially with steam (I own a gaming PC, PS3 and 360, so cloud across all 3 would be something special!). I just think, as do many others here, that the tactics used by Valve were poor – get people interested when it would only affect a third of people.

    • tomsoul.grind@gmail.com says:

      it’s only a welcome surprise if it’s something that affects your fans. if it affects a totally different group of people then it’s great for them, but don’t expect your fans to be excited about it. (though they might be surprised).

      Press Release:
      On 23rd June 2010 JK Rowling will release some surprising news that will astound everyone.

      23rd June:
      JK Rowling has solved Riemann hypothesis.

      Result:
      Excited maths professors. Pissed off Harry Potter fans.
      Result without press release:
      Excited maths professors.

  36. Mitza says:

    Looking back at it now, it all makes perfect sense.

    Valve’s only plan for E3 was to show off Portal 2. At the same time they were either trying to cut a deal with Sony but weren’t too hopeful (or had their minds set on a no deal with Sony). All good until a few days before E3 when something happened: either way, Sony gave in. I think this is the moment that took Valve by surprise, and they saw it as big enough of a news to cancel their Portal 2 press event and attend the Sony conference as star guests. I really think Valve considered this a huge deal, and it probably is, but they had to react quickly and they ended up misguiding their fans.

    I’m OK with that, just that now I’m more interested in what were the terms of the deal with Sony, since obviously Valve considered this a HUGE SUCCESS :)

  37. fuggles2k says:

    Well, yes, otherwise why send all platforms the announcement of a surprise which turns out to be platform specific? They didn’t do it for the Mac launch

  38. bob_d says:

    Given that more and more games are being sold as downloads even on consoles, I’d say the long-term aspiration, at least, is for Steam to be a game distribution system for the PS3.
    (Ultimately what it comes down to is the loss of income for both developers and console makers due to high volume of used game sales for consoles.)
    So essentially this would be their way of saying, “Suck it, used game sales!”

  39. Lars BR says:

    I think it’s surprising that more people can’t see that this will change gaming for ever. We all (well most of us) know Steam is a brilliant platform. If Valve gets their way, that platform won’t depend on what kind of equipment you have, be it PC, Mac, PS3 or eventually Xbox 360, as most AAA-titles will be available on all of them.

    Steamworks on PS3 promises shared save-games across platform, and possibly (like the Mac intro) shared ownership of cross-platform titles. If I can play Portal 2 on my PC at home and continue on the PS3 in my hotel room, I’ll be thrilled.

    Again, this is huge.

    • Hat Galleon says:

      @Lars BR

      “I have a dream that one day this industry will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all consoles and PCs are created equal.”

      Can you imagine? A world where different consoles can all support the same games and where you can play online with people from different consoles, not arguing or fighting, but harmonizing.

      Ahahahaha yeah it’ll never happen.

    • Hat Galleon says:

      (Not to say cross-ownership wouldn’t be fantastic, though. I support that idea fully. I just have a feeling that the console creators will want to control their little corner of the industry and not allow cool things like that.)

    • Lars BR says:

      But Sony already did, by allowing Steamworks onto the PS3. By letting Valve itself control how their software is updated, they also allow free DLC (it’s Valve), forcing the DLC to also be free on the 360 via Microsofts own rules.

    • tomsoul.grind@gmail.com says:

      I can technically see why that might be great. But it isn’t great for ME, so I’m not excited about it.
      Having games on PC and Mac is a great advance. But I don’t have a Mac so it’s not exciting for me.
      Having them on the PS3 or even 360 might be a big breakthrough, but i don’t have one so it’s not exciting for me.

      I have no personal investment and involvement. For something to be exciting or surprising there needs to be some interest, connection or involvement.

      Colorado reversing some long-standing unjust law might be a big deal for those in colorado, or those with interest in the topic of the law, it wouldn’t affect me at all. It would still be a good thing, and a step forward. But that’s all. This is like that.

  40. Gee-rad says:

    I blame reading comprehension.

    Valve released a Portal 2-themed press release canceling a Portal 2 press event and announcing an “E3 Portal 2 surprise”. That is a direct quote from the press release. People baselessly jump to the conclusion that it’s Half Life 2 episode 3.

    Gabe Newell says “It isn’t ep 3″. People baselessly jump to the conclusion that he’s lying or that it’s not episode 3 because it’s actually Half-Life 3.

    Valve issues another press release, a week after the first one, announcing that Portal 2 has been delayed. The press release also mentions the “previously announced E3 ***PORTAL-2-THEMED-FOR-GOD’S SAKE*** surprise”. People baselessly jump to the conclusion that Portal 2 is delayed so they can push out Episode 3 or is lying because the fans are on to them and that it the surprise is Episode 3 or a Portal 2/Episode 3 hybrid.

    • Dominic White says:

      Neil Gaiman is an unstoppable freight-train of truth. When he gets on his soapbox, it is always for a damn good reason, and never does he leave a point or fact unsupported.

    • Premium User Badge

      Thermal Ions says:

      It makes so much sense doesn’t it.

      Now where’s my Episode 3?

    • Dawngreeter says:

      I’m just happy George R R Martin isn’t the one making Episode 3, cause it’d suck if I couldn’t demand it.

    • Mojo says:

      That entitlement crap simply doesn’t apply to everything. People praise stuff that is awesome and complain about stuff that sucks. Compared to some kid in Darfur, everything we experience, even that hobo puking on our shoes at 3 am in the morning, is awesome.

      If we’re not supposed to complain about ridiculous shit like “computer play thingies”, we’re also not supposed to praise them. If you want to have a hundred posts praising Portal 2 for being the most awesome thing since Portal 1, you’ll need hundreds of posts complaining about L4D2 being a mediocre sequel and not up to Valve’s usual standards.

      That being said, I find it strange why PC gamer get that angry about Valve doing something nice to PS3 owners (btw, after treating them like shit for years). If you followed the press releases it was crystal clear that it would be Portal 2 related and possible a new console support announcement. That Steam is coming to PS3 as well, is a huge surprise.

      You just can’t dump that “entitlement” thing onto everything and basically say “criticizing stuff is uncool”. How lame is that? If I don’t like stuff, I’m entitled to say that anytime I want. Especially if I’m not behaving like a total ass towards a stewardess or something…

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Mojo if there was some sort of award for completely & utterly missing the point of the thing you’re attempting to reference in your reply, you’d have one being couriered to you right now.

      Entitlement & criticism are 2 very different things & nowhere in that blog does Neil Gaiman even remotely link the 2.

  41. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    Wow, how silly these people are. Anyone who has had any contact with gaming in this era knows that “The cake is a lie.” Clearly this was an offer of cake.

  42. Jambe says:

    Wait wait wait. The fans aren’t to blame? You mean the ones that go apeshit over press releases? What sort of moron-appeaser are you, Alec? I think I’ve lost some respect for you.

    I dunno. Maybe I’m already a curmudgeon at 22, but I think most people reacting in any way negatively to this stuff really needs to… simmer down? Set some appropriate priorities? Accurately assess the proportion and magnitude of these events?

    *shrug*

    • Grunt says:

      “What sort of moron-appeaser are you, Alec? I think I’ve lost some respect for you”

      Ironically, Jambe, your response to Alec’s article is exactly the kind of knee-jerkism we’re seeing from ‘disappointed’ Valve fans. It’s also quite rude. For shame. In his defence I don’t doubt that the number of journalistic outlets speculating over this would have added fuel to the fire and will have tipped many fans from “hmm” to “Oh hey, this could really be something…!”.

      Also, considering how expertly Valve promote their products this one came off as more than a touch clumsy on their part. You can blame the fans for the intensity of their reactions, certainly, but the root cause is more difficult to pin down.

  43. Bru says:

    This was pretty much what I was saying on the forums. Nobody expected Portal 2 to be on PS3, so everyone who was waiting for the surprise were generally xbox and pc owners. How many people who own JUST a PS3 AND wanted Portal 2 at the same time? My guess is, not very many. Yet this surprise was for them. The only thing the rest of us got was some new info on the game, while very very cool, we fully expected to see.

    So I’ll admit, I’m a bit disappointed since I’ll never benefit from Portal 2 being on the PS3.

  44. Kevbo says:

    I didn’t know about the steam works on PS3 so that is great news. I don’t care about Valve games on consoles since I’ll play them on PC but anything that tries to slow down the greedy console industry from drowning in mediocrity is a good thing in my opinion. I really don’t like how its brain washed young new gamers into expecting to pay for updates and every little thing in a game. Now they don’t see paid DLC as a bad thing, they expect to pay. I wouldn’t mind it if the DLC was worth it but most of the time its absolute junk or just things that were stripped out of the game (especially obvious with the day one, week one dlc)

  45. half says:

    I waited nine years for Blizzard to announce SC2 lol. 2 years is nutthin

  46. Gabriel says:

    Actually I thought that announcing Valve’s support of PS3 with their future games as well as their technology, and acknowledging that ps3 is the console nearest their ideal of entertainment as a service is a pretty big surprise (especially about how outspoken Gabe was about the ps3), that and having the awesome british personality core is awesome and turned this year’s entrie bland E3 into something worth following even if just to get another glimpse at portal2 gameplay or a new interview that might or not come.

  47. Optimaximal says:

    Wait a second… Am I the only one who refuses to believe ‘Steam for PS3′ is *the* big announcement and Gabe is going to step in with a ‘…and another thing.’ moment…?

    …which will likely be just be a new set of hats for TF2.

  48. Dawngreeter says:

    I wouldn’t mind any of this, normally. But it ended up being yet more territory given over to the console industry. It was, in fact, your favorite rock band signing up for, say, Sony and announcing that their new album is going to be a lot more pop because that’s what the kids want these days. And presenting it to their fans as something positive.

    So yeah, I’m angry. I don’t care if Valve never meant for the “surprise” thing to catch on. They are all right bastards.

    • Grunt says:

      Oh it was nothing of the sort, Dawngreeter. This immature tribal view of Console vs PC has to stop: Games are the thing, not the platform they’re played upon.

      Valve ARE currently expanding outside the PC on all fronts, yes, but this has yet to mean any loss of quality in their products. We’ve seen no indication whatsoever that Portal 2 has been tailored to fit in with the expectations of console gamers over PC gamers so where you’ve found evidence to support that doom-laden comparison is beyond me.

      Finally, Valve make games. Everything they do is to allow them to keep making the games they want to make, that millions of players enjoy. Calling them names and getting angry over their efforts to keep doing so is not just childish and ungrateful but could conceivably harm the very products you want from them.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      The metaphor might’ve been less than fully apt, I admit. I didn’t mean to imply that the game design has changed to accommodate consoles. I meant that the company making PC games for PC gaming fans announces a goddamn surprise, and the surprise is: we’re shifting our target audience because this new audience is totally awesome, much better than the old one.

      Also, I don’t have an immature tribal view of consoles vs. PC. I have a very specific standpoint on closed platforms and how they will fuck us if they are allowed to completely dominate the market. If I wanted a closed platform I’d buy a goddamn iPhone and cheer praises to my prophet when prompted to do so, so that keynote speeches look exciting. I have no real opinion about the superiority of my chosen platform. In fact, it sucks bananas. I wish there was an option for a better one. There isn’t, though. And I do not play that “we’re all equal” Koombaya game. We’re not all equal. Some platforms treat you like a brain-dead gibbering idiot who excretes money for fun.

  49. spinks says:

    “Do I blame the journalists who reported the story? No, not really. If I’d been a news editor receiving that press release, I can certainly see the temptation of getting a veritable fuck-tonne of hits by hinting it might be HL3 related.”

    I dunno. It was pretty darned obvious that this was going to be Portal related. The style of it was very Aperture Science (who are unreliable anyway).

    Do you still not blame a journalist who ignored this in favour of spreading rumours which they probably knew fine well were rubbish? At what point does it stop being journalism?

    • spinks says:

      Also, I’m excited about Portal 2 multiplayer on Ps3. Whether or not it leads to divorce is yet to be seen :)