Robots Need Hats? Portal 2 Has A Store

By John Walker on April 19th, 2011 at 2:00 pm.

Weep.

As Jim and I played through the first couple of chapters of Portal 2‘s co-op, we spied a strange sight. The “Robot Enrichment” option on the main menu transformed from doing nothing to opening up a page featuring the two little robots, P-Body and Atlas, and a collection of itemisable slots. Oh heavens.

Both of us, for whatever reason, had been awarded a pink flag with a heart on it, which we were able to attach to our robot backs. “Can you see me wearing it?” we asked the other. Oh my goodness, what has happened to everything?

There’s obviously lots more to come. Currently you can assign objects to various parts of either robot’s bits and bobs (items are duplicated so can be used on either), and there’s a tab for trading them, which has yet to activate.

And there is a store, where for actual money you can buy imaginary items that make no tangible difference to how the game plays. Hello, world? For instance, you can get yourself a pink woolly hat with a weighted companion cube as a bobble. For £2. That’s how much a real bobble hat would cost you at a market.

Also for £2 you can get a comedy moustache. Or for a bargain price of £5 you can get a one-lens “pair” of glasses for your cyclops robot. FIVE POUNDS. HELLO? There’s more gestures to purchase, which you can show to the one other person playing the game with you, other flags to sport, and for £3.50, you can get yourself a completely new skin. Or, if you’re clinically insane, you can buy everything currently available at 56% off for “only” £28, instead of £63.

Items you’ve bought will become tradeable in a few days, the store says. I don’t know if that means they’re tradable when the trading is up and running, or if it’s the norm for each item to need to stay in your inventory awhile after you’ve bought it. I’m also not quite sure why you’d trade with someone for something when you can just buy it for yourself. So presumably more stuff will be appearing. If items are supposed to unlock with completed achievements, then it’s pretty stingy so far. I’ve unlocked 36% of the game’s achievements this morning, and got a flag.

So, there you go. There’s no crafting at this point, so there’s no opportunity for the entrepreneurial big bucks some have made through TF2. There is, however, a chance to pay money for imaginary things that don’t do anything that games used to give you for free. Good-o.

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174 Comments »

  1. Legionary says:

    After having jumped the shark with the Mannconomy update, Valve are now waterskiing over as many other marine animals as they can manage.

    • Wilson says:

      Flipped the dolphin? Vaulted the octopus? Somersaulted the whale?

      What magnitude of marine animal leaping are we talking here?

    • PoLLeNSKi says:

      Cartwheeled over the kraken

  2. Wilson says:

    I was a bit shocked when I saw the store, but as many people have said above, it doesn’t really matter. No gameplay impact, so it’s up to other people if they want to buy stuff (I can’t imagine paying for visual customization in a puzzle game, but as always different people will like different things). It’s a bit of a shame they couldn’t have included robot-customization as a free feature, but it’s not the end of the world.

    I’d love to see an in-depth analysis of what groups of people buy this kind of thing. It would be fascinating (and not in a ha-ha mocking kind of way, but just an interesting kind of way).

  3. cliffski says:

    The reason micro-trans and DLC exist is the vast majority of (silent) non trolling gamers want it. I’m sorry but it’s true. I sell DLC for GSB and I know the facts.
    People want this stuff.

    The easiest possible way for me to make another $5,000 is to release another expansion pack
    Maybe all the people buying DLC are hypnotised, but thats stretching reality quite a bit. I know I’d hand over money this second for some new official Company of Heroes maps or units.

    • CMaster says:

      Units I’d hesitate over.
      Some good, automatchable maps? Sure.
      (Especially if they made it work so you automatch, the maps that you both own are in the lucky dip, so it doesn’t divide the community at all).
      Mind you, I think DLC is a brilliant idea, just sadly often badly implemented. (I’ve never played GSB, but the DLC there sounds like exactly what I think it should be)

    • Ovno says:

      Yeah but your DLC are extra races or expansions which theres nothing wrong with, whereas pointless hats just make me want to hold my head in shame at the people who buy them and items which affect gameplay are just wrong.

    • brog says:

      Ovno: Whoa whoa whoa. Items which don’t affect gameplay are pointless and items which do affect gameplay are wrong? Lose/lose.
      (“new races” are items that affect gameplay)

    • Deano2099 says:

      Dare you to release a DLC pack that just re-textures some of the ships, with no new gameplay content. See how it sells :)

  4. Premium User Badge

    Colthor says:

    What.

  5. trooperdx3117 says:

    Seriously? I thought nay hoped that this was one of johns classic satire articles but no! Valve actually expect us to pay money for these useless trinkets? It annoyed me but I at least understood it for TF2 because you could buy weapons and hats to show off to complete strangers but why would you want this for portal 2, is it to show off to the friend your playing it with in co-op what a complete and utter twat you are?!

  6. Xiyng says:

    I’m glad Valve isn’t overdoing DLC but it seems they’re really overpricing what little they have. That said, I think I don’t really mind because I’m not interested and I supposed those interested don’t mind too much.

  7. Robin_G says:

    I wanted to be excited about Portal 2, I liked the first one. But I just didn’t feel any urge to play the second one for some reason. This whole thing makes me even less interested.

    I played TF2 and enjoyed it, and I continue to do so. But I really don’t feel the store added anything beneficial to the game. I feel like I was more accepting of it because I was already invested in my backpack when it was introduced. It seems quite insidious, looking back at it now.

    I was ok with it being a once off “experiment” but Portal 2 seems like an even less fitting game to have a shop. This really feels tacky and money grubbing in a way I don’t want to be associated with in any minor way. At least the prices seem a bit lower than the Mann co shop, thats something, I guess.

    • edit says:

      If you liked the first game you’re really missing out if you skip this one. I couldn’t be less interested in these ridiculous accessories but so far the store has been approximately %0.000 of my Portal 2 experience, the other %100 of which has been outstanding.

  8. vash47 says:

    Valve; now as bad as Activision.

    • Pathetic Phallacy says:

      Well now there is a perfectly rational statement with an abundance of evidence as proof. Well done! . . .

  9. jack4cc says:

    Wow. That’s…. bullshit. No, there is no other word for it.

  10. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    If you buy anything like this you have a criminal excess of wealth.

  11. Kilrathi says:

    I’m just waiting for Minecraft 1.5 at this point :-) Will get Portal 2 eventually too seeing as I own everything Valve has released (except all those hats of course).

  12. Wulf says:

    I don’t see much of a problem. Some people will buy them just to show off that they have money.

    The bizarre thing though is that the robots look so much better without any of this, so the additions actually don’t do any favours for their aesthetic, to my eye they actually look better without them. I just find that odd. What I’d expected was chasis changes, perhaps differently shaped torsos/arms and so on.

    But the blank aesthetics are better than with any of those items. So you’re not actually missing out on buying them, and the people who do decide to buy them will just continue to help fund Valve in regards to producing future things which we can all enjoy.

    So I agree with those who’ve said that this is a true win/win scenario.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Yup. I can’t even empathise with the people who are getting upset about this. It’s totally alien. I’ve read all the posts on this page and I still don’t understand where they’re coming from.

  13. General Frags says:

    Wonder what the Half life 2 Episode 3 store will look like, perhaps a nice pink HEV suit for Gordon and green bobbly hat to match him, seriously this WILL happen guys :(

  14. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Does anybody know why I seem to have got them all for free?

    • PanzerVaughn says:

      Gwuh? Preorder, or Potato-collection bonus?

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      I pre-ordered, did buy a couple of the potato pack games but didn’t buy the whole pack, got 12 potatoes. At first I thought it must be a pre-order bonus but some pre-orders have them all, other say they only got a few.

  15. PanzerVaughn says:

    I say, this seems quite the small surcharge to guise my automoton as a dapper chap, and make all my friends look like philistines.
    I shall be taking advantage of this, posthaste.
    Trousers. Sticky wicket. Bugaboo.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    What right to we have to say that Valve deserve the money of idiots? Wont someone please think of the idiots?

    I say we take their money for their own good. Just for safekeeping. Not to spend on booze, of course. Not at *hic* all.

  17. Nick says:

    This annoys me, it may not add to anything gameplay wise but why is something fluffy and fun now being charged for? Fuck TF2 and its store for this kind of thing.

  18. clownst0pper says:

    I’m sorry but everyone getting themselves in a tiz over this need to calm down. You don’t have to buy it, it’s all optional and is for those who have disposable funds or want an impulse purchase.

    So what’s your problem?

  19. geokes says:

    Does anyone remember when shit like this was free? When we got everything in the game… when we bought the game.

    • Ridnarhtim says:

      Yeah, earning credits in-game instead of achievements, and then spending that in-game money on in-game stuff instead of real money.

      Those were the days…

      Just as I would never pay for an avatar or theme for the PS3, this just isn’t gonna happen for me. I’d happily take and equip some free items though.

  20. Conor says:

    As much as I love Valve, this is just a bloody stupid idea.

  21. Ridnarhtim says:

    It shocks me that anyone would buy any of this. Except, maybe, the gestures, which I believe you need for some achievements. There, it doesn’t shock me, even though it’s still sad.

  22. terry says:

    Or you could buy nothing at all and have your game experience impacted not at all? Sorry JW I don’t really see the upset here. Sure it’s pointless nonsense, but so are hats in TF2, or World of Warcraft.

  23. ancienttoaster says:

    Our hearts go out to all those affected.

  24. Deano2099 says:

    Speculation:

    “Hey guys, why not have a store where people who want to give us money can buy utterly pointless stuff for their characters, that only makes a cosmetic difference”

    “Good plan, it’ll bring in a few quid, and with the extra money we make we can give pre-orders 10-20% off the price of the game”

  25. geldonyetich says:

    I don’t pay $50 for 8 hours. But then, I don’t pay $50 for a game whenever I can help it. See you when you hit the $20 mark, Portal 2.

  26. Premium User Badge

    shoptroll says:

    http://www.teamfortress.com/post.php?id=5325

    My brain just exploded

  27. Cunzy1 1 says:

    People like to customise their shit. Okay, not the people here but other people. With the added bonus in that it is optional. I’m glad that they’ll make a bunch of money off of this rather than making you pay for gameplay stuff as many recent games have. Another way to look at it is that it’s this or in game advertising.

    Get a hold of yourselves. I haven’t seen this much squinnying since something trivial happened in a minecraft update.

  28. Pathetic Phallacy says:

    I hate these cosmetic downloads. They ruin the game in some sort of way that I’m unable to articulate or prove. I’m so upset!

    I also hate when developers try and make money by selling products that have no affect on the game, so that they can turn around and use that money to invest in the development of new games. I guess it just angers me that Valve has found a way to make quality PC games and still turn a healthy profit. I really wish they would let this gaming platform die.

    But you know what really grinds my gears? All this time making hats for Team Fortress 2 could have been better spent making Episode 3. I mean, come on, we all know it takes a full team of developers working tirelessly around the clock for weeks to make a hat for a game!

    That brings me to my next point; I have no interest in these downloads, thus I’m sure by extension nobody else in the world does. Doesn’t Valve understand that because I bought Half Life 2 they owe me for the rest of my life?

  29. Navagon says:

    £5 for… what? I take it this is some kind of attempt to cover their insane advertising costs? Well as long as it’s not pimped in game at all. Ever. As in not even mentioned. Then that’s fine by me. Who cares, right?

  30. jonfitt says:

    Only a fool would pay money for these items.
    It’s a test. For science!

  31. Catalept says:

    Remember that the only possible way companies can make money off this kind of thing is by removing the ability for users to make their own content. I don’t care if they want to sell virtual portaltastic tchotchkes for actual cash. I do care that I can’t make my own :(

  32. Premium User Badge

    UW says:

    I wouldn’t say I’m massively upset about this, but in a small sense it does devalue the games. In the pre-DLC era, things like additional characters, outfits or whatever were generally rewards for doing certain things while playing the game.

    Instead, the reward for completing such tasks now is a completely intangible “Achievement” on your profile and the previous unlockable items have been replaced with chargeable DLC. So, in a sense, games in general do suffer from reduced content as a result of DLC like this but it’s hard to argue it has any significant impact on the overall quality of the game.

  33. 3lbFlax says:

    This sounds great to me, and I have no interest in buying hats or gestures. But someone who does want a hat can buy one, and they’ll be happy. Valve will make money, and they’ll be happy. And they’ll make more games, and I’ll be happy. And as far as I can tell, the only people who won’t be happy are people who are determined not to be happy for one reason or another, so everyone’s right where they want to be.

    Given Valve’s track record in expanding and supporting TF2, and supporting its community and community content, and given the sheer and rare quality of Portal 2, and bearing in mind it hasn’t even been on release for one single day at the time of typing this and reading all these reactions, I don’t see any reason to be anything other than cheerful and optimistic. It’s healthier and more fun.

  34. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Okay, so this is a joke, right?

    Right?

  35. celewign says:

    Yeah I understand that these don’t effect gameplay. But a part of me remembers how fun it was to play CS:S with weird skins and stupid maps, and now that Valve is selling this stuff I basically have to realize that the days of modifying your game to suit your own purposes is gone. Games that support good modding always last longer.

  36. SuperNashwanPower says:

    If I can put a Groucho Marx mask on Glados, then I am all for this.

    Also I hope that in half life 3 it will be possible to buy a pink fluffy HEV suit with angel wings for Gordon.

  37. Azazel says:

    First rule of making loads of filthy money: never assume that there exists a basic level of human intelligence.

  38. Rive says:

    If its MMO/FPS Item monetization, people bitch about balance. If its cosmetic, people bitch about the ridiculousness No one forces anyone to buy anything, so is it just being pissed that the carrot on that wire costs munney?.