Portal 2 In 4 Hours? The Steam Timer Is A Lie

A screenshot of Richard's so-called completion time.

We have seen some astonishing claims for completion times of Portal 2. When I criticised a number of the recurring nonsensical complaints against the game yesterday, one of the aspects I highlighted was that the game simply couldn’t be finished in four hours. But we’ve since received so many comments, tweets and emails from people claiming to have finished between 4 and 5 hours that we became a little suspicious. Having spent yesterday morning replaying the game, knowing all the solutions, I was certainly nowhere near finished in four hours. And the rest of us on RPS have found it’s taking at least seven hours. And then we started hearing about some even more incredible finishing times for Portal 2, based on Steam’s in-built timer. We’ve some news for you: the timer doesn’t work.

People’s desperation to finish games quickly has always bemused me. It’s like spending £20 on a Blu-Ray movie and then watching it on fast-forward, and boasting to your friends it only took you 45 minutes to watch Avatar. (Well, that’s not a good example, but you understand the point.) When spending £30-£50 on a game, surely you’d want to take your time, get the most out of it? Take the “1000G” approach (to speak in the parlance of our console cousins).

But here we have people saying they explored as much as they could, listened to everything, and yet clocked in times under five hours. With a Valve insider telling me it takes them around six hours to finish the game, something is surely up.

Which leads to two conclusions:

1) People are missing out chunks of the game by some means.
2) Steam’s timer doesn’t work, and people can’t tell time.

2 is definitely true. There’s no doubt about that. People have reported to us finishing times as low as 33 minutes according to Steam. Our own Richard Cobbett had Steam tell him an entire day’s play had lasted only two hours. And we’ve heard many, many more. There’s no doubt that it’s very broken, and all those basing their extraordinary finishing times on this stat should probably have taken a look outside and noticed the sun went down and they’d forgotten lunch and dinner.

As for 1, that’s even more intriguing. Another RPS contributor has told us he doesn’t remember playing some of the areas, including the section where you bounce repeatedly between two walls to reach a distant platform, and the second time you use blue paint on turrets. So are those who have based their completion times on their own timing – rather than Steam’s – and still find it came in under five hours, missing out on content?

Is this possible? Could there be a big, ugly bug that’s skipping a chunk of game? Is the Director at work here, stripping out sections? Or are people just mad?

We’re contacting Valve to find out, although replies aren’t very forthcoming at the moment.


  1. Dana says:

    My timer shows 4 hours, and Im at chapter 7 afair. The part with orange gel.

    • Wulf says:

      Did you mean the blue reaction gel, or Cave’s statement about the orange gel which doesn’t actually appear in the game? (Which was a play on portal colours.)

    • skalpadda says:

      There is orange gel in the game, it’s the stuff that makes you go whooosh!

    • Seth says:

      There is orange gel in the game, Wulf (the speed gel).

    • mda says:

      Wulf must have got the skip-3hours bug, or been 2bad and director skipped orange gel for him :<

    • Flobulon says:

      I’d be interested to know if anyone else inadvertently skipped the orange (or for that matter white) gel chambers. Pump Stations Beta and Gamma respectively, I think.

    • Blackberries says:

      Flobulon: Do you mean that you did manage to accidentally skip two of the pump stations?

    • Twisted says:

      I would not be in the least bit surprised to find this is an anti-piracy measure, a la Battyman and the cape of non-flying.

    • eoy says:

      There’s a lot more bugs to the system.
      This link shows me getting like 10 achievements within the same minute (12:30AM)…

      and yeah I didn’t spend 19,9h playing through SP once either

    • Flobulon says:

      @Blackberries – Not at all, I phrased that badly. I meant anyone other than Wulf, as I’ve seen a couple of people claim to have missed the orange gel bit.

    • reigh says:

      WHAt?? Part were we use blue gel on turrets let alone once but twice were?

    • CaiusCaligula says:

      As far as I know (and I pirate a LOT of games*), no one’s been able to crack Steam just yet to make it work like that. Usually, they just cut steam out like a big honking tumor or disable it somehow. So the gameplay time and all would have to be a bug with the actual game, or someone along the line is lying.

      *Yes, yes, I know, boo hiss…I do buy the games I pirate, unless they’re on GoG, in which case I refuse to give any current publishers money for abandonware I used to get for free and had installed for free. When it went up on GoG and I had to pay Activision, Atari, or whoever else currently owns the titles and wants to shovel more money into their festering maw, I balked just a little. Especially after I learned some of the games on GoG still don’t work, even after supposedly being optimized.

    • Zern says:

      You do realize that the stuff on gog can be no longer considered abandonware by definition, right?

  2. BigJonno says:

    According to Steam, I completed the game in six minutes.

  3. Gunrun says:

    I’ve found if my internet drops out for a sufficient length that I sign out of Steam Friends then regardless of it coming back the time spent on that session isn’t counted. I reckon this is probably a big cause of the timer. Also it only shows hours after a certain time, so if your playtime was 4 hours and 59 minutes it would only say 4 hours.

    • JohnH says:

      No, the timer show hours plus one decimal. e.g.: My Steam timer for Portal 2 showed 5.7 hours playtime when I had finished the game, so 4 hours and 59 minutes would show as 4.9 hours.
      (I completed the game in two sessions so I can’t comment on the validity of my timer.)

  4. Hunam says:

    If you want to find close to the actual time (probably add 15 or so minutes for bits before and after) just use the time between the wake up call and lunacy achievements.

    • Gunrun says:

      This only works if you completed the game in one sitting.

    • Hunam says:

      True, but I’m sure most people saying 4 hours did just that.

    • 12kill4 says:

      I did it in one sitting, except for one or two short breaks, which put my timer at around 6 and a half hours. I got a little stuck on two or three puzzles for about 5-10 min a pop, and I did occasionally do a bit of snooping around for secrets. So assuming that I’m fairly representative I’d say the game can be ‘beaten’ in just under 6 hours if you were really hurrying from room to room and didnt have any difficulty with the puzzles.

    • Chizu says:

      Steam told me I had completed the game in 5.2hours when I finished in one go.
      Those achievements are at the following times.

      Wake up call: Unlocked: Apr 19, 2011 5:42am
      Lunacy: Unlocked: Apr 19, 2011 10:40am

      I make that 5 hours still.

      I really do not know what else to say :v
      I didn’t TRY to speed through the game, I also don’t care if it only took 5 hours, Because I enjoyed it so much.
      And whilst I didn’t find all the extra stuff on the first time round I found some of it, its not like I was just burning through the game to get to the end.

      link to steamcommunity.com
      shows a basic timeline based on when I unlocked things.

    • gorgol says:


      PCGamer are much worse in my experience for impartiality. They are also EA fanbois and I’ve even seen them delete comments for highlighting their sometimes inconsistent journalism.

      RPS is the best PC games site I’ve come across despite the fact its not perfect. To be honest I think the journalism here is by and large excellent and never less than acceptable. For example I can’t imagine them balls out saying that a truly bad game is great as I’ve seen PCGamer do on many occasions.

    • zemerick says:

      Chizu: Look at all of your times. They don’t make sense. ( mine don’t either btw ). They should be in the order completed, plus they are almost all story specific so they are forced to be completed in the order you hit them in the story.

      A really obvious one in my case is that apparently I picked up the potato BEFORE pressing the conflict resolution button. Like 2.5 hours before, when it probably should have been 2.5 hours after if anything. Theres several other such occurrences in both of our lists.

      So, Game Played Time is not the only thing messed up.

  5. Ilinx says:

    According to Steam I am halfway through and only at 1.6 hours and yet the little hand on the clock moved from pointing left to pointing a little to the right of vertical. Valve has a pretty impeccable history when it comes to time, so I suspect the sun might be broken – do you think should we tell someone about this?

  6. Protagoras says:

    According to steam, my epeen is 26cm long.

    God you semi intelligent apes annoy me.

    • Burning Man says:

      Just beacuase.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      “Semi-Intelligent” apes? Jeez, didn’t anyone tell you; only give credit where credit is due, ffs ;P
      Also, Raging trolls are funny.

  7. Alfius says:

    Does this mean that my Empire Total War play time, north of 250 hours thus far, may actually be an UNDER estimate?
    Mind you I clocked over 400 hours on Battlefield 2142 …

    • Phydaux says:


      My TF2 time played, according to Steam, is less than that of the total time playing a single class, according to TF2. I’ve always thought the Steam “time played” was massively wrong, I just ignore it.

    • wiper says:

      My personal favourite is Steam telling me that I completed Dragon Age 2 in 26 minutes. I mean, I knew Dragon Age 2 was shorter than Origins, but man!

    • bill says:

      Probably. I played Jade Empire for a few hours today, and i’m at least 1/3rd of the way through it. Steam says 11 minutes.
      Most of the way through Lugaru. Steam says 10 mins.
      It also seems to think I finished Braid in 5 hours… but i seriously doubt that. World of Goo was apparently 3 hours to finish.
      Mirror’s Edge was 13 hours though.

    • JuJuCam says:

      While I was clocking up massive hours of Mount and Blade, Steam would regularly let me know that it was “Last Played: Tomorrow”.

      I knew me well…

  8. brog says:

    The ARG continues…?

  9. John Walker says:

    Yeah, I was being such a fanboy when I wrote about how stupid their stupid store was. Also, you may note that 6 hours is half as long again as 4 hours. Useful mathematic fact.

  10. Protagoras says:

  11. Samdav says:

    I played 19 hours of Portal 2 on its first day of its release yet my Steam timer reads 3 hours.

  12. Unaco says:

    Everyone does know that the Time Played for a game on your Steam Library is in Valve time? Right?

  13. Cyber Rat says:

    This game is awful. I paid full price for a game that took me 2 hours to complete. The puzzles are way too easy, the dialogue is uninteresting. The characters are one-dimensional (except for the main character who has no dimension) and all the levels look the same. They couldn’t think of new functions for the Portal gun, so we have some silly gel and “anti-gravity tunnels”. Heck, the game still has only one enemy: turrets! And to top it off, Valve is holding a gun to your head to buy all the DLC or face online social stigma from whoever you play the game with.
    Also, I hate fun and enjoying good games.

    • Sergey Galyonkin says:

      Also, where is a turn-based combat, RPG elements and real life weapons? AI for arch-nemesis? Laughable, we desperately need USSR / Generic Mid-Eastern enemies back!

    • Dana says:

      Are you serious ?

    • Gnoupi says:

      USSR / Generic Mid-Eastern zombies.

    • Phydaux says:


      How do I conceptualise zero dimensions!?

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      A point has zero dimensions.

    • PanzerVaughn says:

      But they made the Portalgun fire twice as fast, so you can deal twice as much portaldamage. Shit gets intense with those numbers filling the screen.

      And you dont need new enemies, when you have your friends who constantly forget which portal is sourcing the lightbridge youre on, and drop you both into acidsludgewaste.
      Also, the mention of zombies now has the mental image bored into my mind, of sidestepping a charger and having it Portal directly behind a teammate, which NEEDS to happen now.

    • Tuco says:

      @Cyber Rat: this is one of the stupidest, wrongest, more false and uninformative comments I have read about this game, and I’ve read lots of them.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      He was being ironic, tuco.

  14. Sergey Galyonkin says:

    if your internet connection drops during a game for some reason, steam stops counting time even after connnection has been reestablished.

    It is a known issue and until now haven’t actually been a problem for anyone :)

    I had “completed” Metro 2033 in two hours and Modern Warfare 2 under 40 minutes because of this :)

  15. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Yea that clock is broken, it’s always eventually updated and showed my real time on games but lead to the slightly embarrassing situation of me beating MW2, in quite a leisurely pace broken up over two short sittings, exiting and checking the time and I was like… Oooo, 2 hours and 30 minutes, how did I go that fast? I left it for a couple of hours, checked it again and it was still 2 hours and 30 minutes, so I was like… ok, that’s something to brag about I guess, no idea how I did it but even for a short game, that’s pretty damn quick.

    Told a couple of my mates, a day later they ambushed me on Skype and accused (disclaimer: when I say accused they were just taking the mick, not actually angry) me of lying. I check the time, 4 hours :'(

    *shakes fist @ Steam*

    I’ve definitely been taking my time with Portal 2 though, took me an hour and a half to get the reunite with Glados achievement… now that’s pretty slow. It’s just so hard to leave places in that game… they’re all so beautiful :’)

  16. BooleanBob says:

    The internet: not so much a ‘double-edged sword’ as an ‘omnidirectional shit-hose’.

  17. Brumisator says:

    I’m sorry, what does 1000G mean?

  18. r3spawn says:

    yeah the Steam timer isn’t very useful. Apparently it took me 12 minutes to get to level 57 in Borderlands.

    • Giant, fussy whingebag says:

      Yeah, the Steam clock has always been broken. It tells me I only played 2 hours of Alpha Protocol. I finished that game twice and there is no way it took 1 hour a go.

      That said, it seems pretty accurate for everything else. I can see why some people might be confused, if it’s working for all their other games. Still, if you start playing a game at 10am and finish at 5pm…. surely you can tell a long time has passed, even if it doesn’t feel like it?

  19. thepaleking says:

    I rushed a fair amount-I mean I listened to all the dialogue, but I didn’t stop to eat easter eggs or anything-due to being paranoid of spoilers. Still clocked in at around 7 hours and 30 minutes. I was only stumped on 2 or 3 puzzles as well. To be honest, with all the unskippable content, chases and falls etc, I can’t comprehend how you can complete it in less than 4 hours without purposefully speed running it.

    • CaLe says:

      edit: nvm

    • Mattressi says:

      Me too…I’d love to see how he watches a movie or reads a book. “Nope, skipping that last section, don’t want to ruin the ending!”

    • thepaleking says:

      I think you misunderstand what I mean by rushed. I listened to every bit of dialogue, those are the talking bits that reveal all the central story, basically what comprises the game other than the puzzles. I merely didn’t go around looking in every corner for hidden rooms and achievement easter eggs.

      Edit: Brief: I enjoyed the game in a different way. Deal with it.

  20. Stephen Roberts says:

    This is what happens when you play with Portals.

  21. Theoban says:

    Took me about six hours but it’s obvious I missed things, I wasn’t ‘rushing’ I just didn’t explore every nook and cranny. That’s for playthrough number two.

    Going on what some people are saying though, it looks like I missed entire rooms. Hmm.

  22. gulag says:

    Disregard Idiots
    Acquire Portals

  23. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I can confirm that both steam stats are wrong, i’ve played it for 7 hours to completion, steams stat on the launch page says 3 hours and steam community stats says 4.2, both are wrong.

    EDIT: I didn’t do the puzzle where you bounce between 2 painted blue panels, but i remember an area that looked like the demo which featured that, i think i solved it differently.

    • subedii says:

      I can also attest to the timer being completely broken, at least for me.

      First time I played Portal 2 was for about maybe 2 and a half hours. When I finally exited though, the timer literally only showed half an hour.

      Don’t really understand how that’s supposed to work.

  24. ShiftyParadigm says:

    I completed both single player and co op. Steam says 10.7 hours. This seems to be about right (3 hours for coop, 7 for single player). As a student with less money and more time I’d say that the game is a bit on the short side however it is also a fantastic and unique experience. Shame theres no advanced tests like in the orginal though.

    • drewski says:

      Wouldn’t surprise me to see that kind of stuff FreeLC’d in later.

    • BunnyMaz says:

      I would’ve liked more opportunities to play with gels and other fun things once they were introduced, but I think with a plot like this it isn’t easy to make the different areas longer without dragging the plot out too far.

      That said, I would like a non-plot multiplayer version where you just play levels and puzzles without the plot. I must clarify I LOVED the plot and story – both in single and multiplayer – but having a plotless multiplayer would allow them to freeLC all sorts of extra maps and levels and puzzles.

      GlaDOS claimed to have many more bots she was using, and now she has all those humans to test as well. We could play as them in extra levels.

  25. Koozer says:

    If you meet your future self, do not make eye contact.

  26. WASD says:

    “The Steam Timer Is A Lie”

    Yep. Also, the Steam stats are a lie.

    The Peak Today for Portal 2 is at 94,115. It was around that yesterday.

    The other games on the stats page are always around the same amount?

    “During the past 12 months the platform had year-over-year new user growth of 178%, pushing the total number of active accounts to over 30 million, with over 1,200 games now offered. Peak simultaneous player numbers were also up to over three million, with over six million unique gamers accessing Steam each day.” link to rockpapershotgun.com

    Something doesn’t add up…

    Something else that doesn’t add up? All those complaints on the Steam forums over the weekend regarding the early release of Portal 2, and not a single article on RPS about it. Now gamers are saying the game is short, RPS has posted two articles defending the game?

    Nice ad on the site though.

    • John Walker says:

      As an editorial team, we’re completely uninvolved with what ads appear on the site, and honestly, I couln’t give a shit.

      I have written about the game not being released very early and people’s disappointment in the article I link to above, and I’ve put the complaints to Valve and am still waiting for a reply.

      Really, get a grip.

    • WASD says:

      What? You intend to write an article regarding the complaints on the Steam forums about the early release of Portal 2 after the game has been released? Yet you’ve posted two articles defending Portal 2?

      You don’t have to wait for a reply from Valve to see that the whole Portal 2 promotion/ARG was a marketing scam.

    • brog says:

      Regarding it not being released very early:
      You’re designing a game. It’s cooperative. There’s a prize for everyone if/when they win.
      Do you –
      a) railroad it; tweaking the difficulty of the game as it runs to make sure that people do win?
      b) stick with your original design, even if it turns out that you’ve set the difficulty too high?

      Neither option is great! The best solution is to get the difficulty right in the first place (and usually Valve do a great job of this through playtesting, but you can’t playtest on the scale of this ARG). It turned out, given how many people were willing to put in an effort to win, that with the parameters they’d set it only came out a little bit early. Oh well, no big deal?

    • John Walker says:

      I’m sorry WASD, but if you can’t be bothered to read the words I’m writing, I can’t be bothered to eng…

    • WASD says:

      John, I read your words and it sounds like you want Valve to explain to you that the promotion of Portal 2 was a marketing scam:

      “4) This one is tougher to figure out, really. To the best of our knowledge, as a result of the ARG, the game did come out a few hours earlier than certainly we’d been told to expect. Whether Valve oversold the possibilities of what might come about from people engaging in the Potato Sack CPU business is still up in the air. Clearly there are some who are upset that it didn’t bring the game out over the weekend as so many had hoped, especially if they paid for the Sack in the attempt. We’ll be contacting Valve to see if they want to comment on how it all went.”

      Yeah the game did come out early John. 6:30am on the morning of release?

      Again. You’ve posted two articles defending Portal 2 and not one single article about the complaints on the Steam forums over the weekend?

      You know, something like this would’ve been fine: link to uk.kotaku.com

    • John Walker says:

      Article in which I raise the issues with Portal 2’s “early” release:

      link to rockpapershotgun.com

      Article in which I unambiguously criticise the idiotic Portal 2 store:

      link to rockpapershotgun.com

      I have not gone on to write an article declaring that the ARG was one thing or another, because I do not know. I do know that the game came out earlier than planned, albeit not very much. I also know people hoped it would be over the weekend, and it was not. So I have contacted Valve in the hope of hearing their side of the story, rather than just writing the ill-informed rant you clearly crave.
      My interest here is in reporting reality. Your agenda is likely being fulfilled by other sites, so I suggest you read them and feel good about yourself. I am interested in balanced reporting, rather than biased speculation.
      But if you reply telling me that I’ve not mentioned the disappointment regarding the “early” release again, I will edit your comment to entertain myself.

    • WASD says:

      “…I will edit your comment to entertain myself.”

      Yeah, that wouldn’t surprise me.

    • D says:

      I for one do not understand how this “Marketing Scam” concept differs from the concept of “Marketing”

    • Kadayi says:


      At any one time your average world wide online game expects to have about a maximum of 10% of its player base on at any one time (not everyone is gaming 24/7 after all). On average Steam has between 1.5 – 2.8 million users online generally which is consistent with a projection of 30 million users accounts (after all some probably are inactive).

    • Steven Hutton says:

      I think the accusations of bias are a little odd. Giving equal space to the concerns of fans might seem like a good idea but if those concerns are patently ludicrous then it’s irresponsible to repeat them. RPS’ and any games journalists primary responsibility is to their readers to inform them about games so that they can make informed purchases.

      If someone is discouraged from buying Portal 2 because they read a claim that the game is four hours long (it’s not), that it has day one DLC (it doesn’t – and the DLC that it has is optional, cosmetic and harmless) or that it’s a console port (it’s not) then they’re missing out on one of the best games of the year on false pretences. RPS have a journalistic responsibility to correct these errors and ensure that their readers are properly informed so that they can make decisions based on facts not rumour and innuendo.

      As far as the ARG is concerned RPS haven’t yet come out strongly one way or another on the issue. They might in the future render a verdict on that subject but right now they’re still gathering information and trying to contact Valve for comment. Which is a pretty reasonable course of action as far as I can see not least of which taking another few days before publishing a retrospective on the ARG gives people a chance to cool their heels a little and will likely lead to a more constructive discussion.

      It’s not a mark against RPS as games journalists to encourage people to buy a game that they consider to be truly excellent. That is, in fact, the most important part of their job.

    • RakeShark says:

      I remember Kane&Lynch 2 Ads on this site, as well as Mafia 2 ads.

      I do remember some less than kind WiTs about those games.

    • heretic says:

      your response to RPS not posting a full article on what you want to read is that they must be biased because of the adverts on their website.

      u mad??


    • Wulf says:

      Also, here’s something I want to do right now, it’s a little experimental, all right? And I don’t mean to patronise at all, but I just think this is necessary, to put things into perspective, objectively.

      I looked up scam on Wiktionary and it told me that it was a fraudulent deal. Fraudulent, in turn, implies dishonesty; based on fraud or deception. And fraud itself is defined as any act of deception carried out for the purpose of unfair, undeserved and/or unlawful gain.

      So for this to be a scam, I think it’s safe to assume the following elements;

      1. Valve was trying to deceive us by being dishonest.
      2. Valve was trying to profit from deception.

      Now, considering that they could have used their own games for this, and that they saw fit to add free content to their own games, I don’t see that they’re making much of a turnaround from this. They were raising awareness of Portal 2, yes, but it was hardly the best way to do it. I’ll say again that they could have used their own games, they could have had people buying the Orange Box, but instead they chose to work with a group of independent developers, with most of the money from the potato sack purchases going to independent developers.

      So 2 seems suspect at this point and I’m inclined to discount it since it doesn’t seem designed to be a profitable venture, it was fun, it was profitable for the indies, but in order for it to be a scam it would have to be very profitable for Valve. Portal 2 is a well hyped triple-A game that everyone was going to buy anyway, regardless of this ARG. The ads, previews in magazines, and little videos they’ve released were more than enough to convince us. Therefore, the ARG was more about providing a way for us to have fun and occupy ourselves whilst waiting for the released than anything else.

      And I personally think it was an awesome two weeks. I had a lot of fun. I got a great deal on a bunch of games, most of which I never had any idea were so good, I got DLC for those games at no added cost, which was dumped into them after I’d bought the potato sack (I didn’t buy it for the DLC, I bought it because it was a good deal), and anyone who already had those games anyway would also have gotten free DLC. So how did all of this specifically benefit Portal 2 rather than just being a bit of fun and helpful to independent developers? Unless someone can make a case that this ARG was necessary for Portal 2, I’m going to discount point 2.

      Now, point 1.

      How did Valve deceive us? There were a lot of assumptions in the ARG and I think that Valve assumed that people would be able to figure things out more easily than they did, and that the information wouldn’t be corrupted by trolls, they also assumed that the turnout for the GLaDOS@Home project would be higher than it is. All of these are honest mistakes. I want to see the purposeful deception. Show me that. Show me deception. Make a case for me on how Valve deceived anyone. No one was obligated to take part, no one had to buy anything, no promises were made on how early the game would be released, and the game was released early (12 hours early is still early, even if it’s not early enough to meet someone’s entitlement-borne desires).

      So again, where is the deception? Where did Valve lie to us? In order for point 1 to stand you have to make a case that Valve was purposefully trying to mislead us, and provide evidence to back it up rather than just a rant. Show me. Without that though, point 1 doesn’t stand either. So without evidence that Valve was trying to purposefully mislead us, we can strike 1 from the record, too.

      So… they didn’t 1) obviously benefit from this, and they didn’t 2) purposefully try to mislead us. (Again, if you have any evidence which is contrary to this then provide it, but back it up, no rants, actually back it up.) Therefore, if it doesn’t meet the requirements for being a scam, it is not, in fact, a scam.

      What it was was a marketing stunt. People created these little self-entitled desires and got all wound up in them, this had nothing to do with Valve’s marketing stunt, and because of their detachment from reality and what they thought they were entitled to, suddenly Valve’s marketing stunt was a scam. Except it isn’t a scam. The only place in which this stunt is a scam is in the very subjective mind of the person thinking it, because they detached themselves from reality and went with what they thought was true rather than what actually was.

      A lot of this anger as well might be that no HL 2 Ep 3 information was provided as ‘promised.’ That might have been part of the scam too. Except Valve confirmed early on that there was no HL 2 Ep 3 info in the ARG and that the heavy-handed ‘puzzles’ being spread around were being distributed by trolls, very obvious trolls if you ask me. The whole Borealis thing did not fit Valve’s MO for handling ARGs at all, it was patently ridiculous. But because of the trolls, people might have also felt that they were entitled to information about HL 2 Ep 3, and therefore this was a scam because none was provided. However, if we return to reality for a moment, no information on HL 2 Ep 3 was promised by Valve, so again, scam subverted.

      What we have here is entitlement going crazy and fantasies borne of entitlement. Almost anything can be a scam if you create vivid fantasies of being entitled to far more than you actually are, and therefore this whole scam thing is pure fantasy and hyperbole. Now consider the following: Why does Mr. Walker wish to contact Valve? Because then he’ll be able to point out in his article just how much of what happened in the ARG was trolling and BS (which people eagerly lapped up). That is a good reason for John to want to contact Valve before writing and publishing an article.

      And after that, I’m going to fall over exhausted.

    • mrjackspade says:

      Just had to log-on at this point to say…

      What an argumentative douchebag!!!

      Right, carry on!

    • WASD says:

      @Wulf; According to the Oxford English Dictionary in front of me;
      scam – a dishonest scheme.

      It definitely was.

      “Last Chance to Pre-Purchase Portal 2, Help Release It Early

      This weekend is the last chance to pre-purchase Portal 2. Get your copy now, save 10% and be ready to play the moment it is released.

      Help release Portal 2 early: From now until release, play any or all of games in The Potato Sack to expedite the launch of Portal 2. Your efforts will be tracked on the official GLaDOS@home page.

      Each game in The Potato Sack has received a massive Portal-themed update, making a collection of 13 hit indie games even better. So why not get a taste of Portal 2 now while you help launch it?” link to store.steampowered.com

      Portal 2 was released on the day of release. Yeah, that’s not a scam!

    • TheApologist says:

      The internet reaction to this game is baffling. Valve releases a game that is clearly very good, and people manage to work up a rage about it. Then when a games journalist counters what are clearly lies about the product that journalist is accused of various forms of financial corruption.

      Get a fucking grip, and enjoy your entertainment instead of turning it into a soap opera.

      PS On the timer thing, I just played the game for 1 hour and 43 minutes, and steam reckons I played for 34 minutes.

    • heretic says:

      Can’t argue that it wasn’t released as early as you would have liked, its possible Valve miscalculated their ARG. Anyway for people who participated a lot in the ARG they received Valve’s full catalogue of games including Portal 2 for free.

      Now you moron, what kind of scammer gives freebies worth more than the alleged scam?

      u mad??


    • WASD says:

      @TheApologist; That article above ends with “We’re contacting Valve to find out, although replies aren’t very forthcoming at the moment.”

      Yet John Walker has gone ahead and wrote/posted the article anyway? So why can’t he write an article regarding the Portal 2 promotion/ARG/scam without waiting for a reply from Valve?

    • TheApologist says:

      What do you mean why? There are a bunch of patently false claims about the length of the game floating around which people are using the Steam timer to justify, which he knows to be broken. Why shouldn’t he post a story about that?

      Anyway, that wasn’t my point. My point(s) are, i) you are turning something fun, a game, into something to get angry about that. Why would you do that? ii) Why do you think it is ok to cast aspersions on another person’s honesty on the basis of no facts at all? Seriously, that is not ok.

      BTW, I regret swearing at you in my post. Sorry.

    • Scatterbrainpaul says:


      When you say you’ve got a copy of the Oxford English dictionary in front of you, does that mean you’re English. If yes, I’d like to distance myself from you and say we’re not all moaning little twats who are incapable of having fun.

      Play the game, have some fun in your life. If you don’t like it, don’t play it, go outside, it’s sunny

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      “your response to RPS not posting a full article on what you want to read is that they must be biased because of the adverts on their website.”

      Ha, exactly. WASD, I think you’ve written enough of an article about this ridiculous subject in the comments section. We really don’t need another one, but thanks.

      We all know that a bunch of people are mad at Valve about the ARG. We know, we know, we know, WE FUCKING KNOW!

      We know because you’re all trolling metacritic and messageboards and twitter and every article about this game. Every one on the internet is aware of your opinions on this matter, and frankly, just about everyone is sick of hearing about it.

    • WASD says:

      @Scatterbrainpaul; Read the comments.

      So nobody here finds it odd that RPS hasn’t posted an article on the Portal 2 scam?

      ResonanceCascade wrote; “We really don’t need another one, but thanks.”

      If they were going to write one they’d have done it by now.

    • heretic says:

      No. Just you *pat pat*

      you trollolololololololololololololololololololololololololololololololol you :D

      link to arstechnica.com

    • WASD says:

      @heretic; Ars Technica wrote this on Friday:

      “Update: The counter has run down, and now it looks like we’re going to have to buy and/or play the games in the Potato Sack to unlock the game. You can watch the progress in what seems to be real time, but the clock doesn’t seem to be counting down any faster as of this writing. Our response? Lame. So lame.” link to arstechnica.com

      It’s the same author too!

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      Apperently he revised or better explained his opinion.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      @WASD so your complaint pretty much boils down to “Valve said Portal 2 could be released early which it was, but not early ENOUGH!” Well how early would’ve been acceptable to you? And more importantly who made you the arbiter of exactly how generous companies are required to be?

      You might say that the ARG didn’t meet your expectations for what counts as an early release but that’s just as much your fault for having unreasonable expectations as anything else.

      Maybe you should’ve played more Defence Grid over the weekend.

      Also, I really, really hope that all of this non-sense isn’t preventing you from playing and enjoying Portal 2. Frankly Valve could adopt a policy of setting fire to small children in the street and I wouldn’t care if they kept releasing games of this quality.

    • iainl says:

      Can I also point out that anyone complaining that they had a miserable time playing Super Meat Boy, that it was poor value for money or that they feel ripped off and scammed into buying it, has such incredibly poor taste that I kind of don’t care whether they’re upset or not?

    • Lusit says:

      WASD status: told

    • Picklesworth says:

      > Yeah the game did come out early John. 6:30am on the morning of release?

      Solution: move to a better time zone.

    • vagabond says:

      Yeah, if you can, go with that suggestion. :)

      I’m in Australia, and the 12 hours early unlock meant that it was available to play ~4pm rather than 4am the following morning. I can see how in the UK that probably meant it went from unlocking in the afternoon some time, to the early hours of the morning, on a school/work day, which is essentially meaningless for most people.

    • pepper says:

      @ WASD, Just because you keep calling it a scam that doesnt make it so.

  27. gorgol says:

    I actually agree on the fanboism, but I recognise it more generally than in just the writers here..

    For starters the game is clearly a bad console port, link to arstechnica.com

    Further, in general I feel Steam/Valve tend to take the piss with their pricing and their DLC, yet the community here insists on giving them slobbering, deepthroated e-BJs everytime they take a leak.

    Just sayin’.

  28. groghog says:

    There were a couple of points where I felt like I’d skipped past a bit by portalling to some distant walkway rather than take the route in front of me, but I’m not sure if I was actually being clever, or the game was making me feel clever.

    • Harlander says:

      I kinda get the opposite effect. Finding a solution to a puzzle that’s been tricking me for ages and it’s something absurdly simple makes me feel stupid…

  29. skalpadda says:

    I’d just like to take the opportunity to say thank you John, for leaving any kind of serious spoilers out of your review. It was the only one I read before completing the single player game, and having read a few others after I’m very glad about that. PC Gamer even had screenshots of the thing you censored, that should be all kinds of criminal.

  30. Oozo says:

    Why does not one of the people coplaining about it being too short do a second playthrough, listening to all the conversations,getting to all the easter eggs,still finish it in 4 hours&you know,RECORD it? That way,you get more playtime for your money and can prove us others wrong. (Oh,and don’t forget:it’sno speed run,so don’t forget to take your looking-around-the-room-thinking-pauses, like the rest of us first timers do.)

    • Kaira- says:

      “Why do you complain that this 10 page novel is too short? Read it again and really stop looking at the pages and read the preword”

      With all due respect, but that argument is bad, to say at least. Not that I would know about Portal 2 yet, as I haven’t played it, but still.

    • Koozer says:

      No Kaira, it’s like complaining that the book is too short after skipping every other paragraph. Go back and read it properly!

    • poop says:

      your hungry? why dont you just fucking regurgitate your breakfast and chew on it some more if you like eating so much, learn to appreciate your meals, bro

    • Oozo says:

      I’m not sure if I get your point. If you think that it’s implausible to demand somebody to do a second playthrough in which he “simulates” the experience of somebody playing it the first time, you’re probably right. What I wanted to say is: I’d like to see a video of somebody playing it the first time (or in a reasonable pace) and finish it in 4 hours, just to see if it is PHYSICALLY possible. I somehow doubt it, after my own first hours in it, but I’m maybe slow, so you can prove me wrong.

      The other thing I wanted to say is this, though: If you’re speeding through it without paying proper attention to the dialogues, the environment (or the environmental storytelling, like the turret manufactoring John mentioned), you’re either super-perceptive or missing out on vital parts of the experience. I’m not saying you’re “playing it wrong”, it’s your right to play it whatever way you want. It might just be that you’re not playing the right game for you. “Portal” never was exclusively about the great puzzles (they were and are clever, but they would hardly have been enough to justify all the fond memories and the praise), and if you’re only there to beat them, well, don’t come complain that it was too short. There’s more than enough content for my money in there. Maybe not for yours, though, which is perfectly possible, but maybe you and the game were just not a match made in heaven.

      Or to use your analogy: If it’s a 6 page novel with a lot of commentary, maybe something is wrong with it. Or maybe it’s “Pale Fire”, a full-prized book consisting of a 45 page poem, and 180 pages of commentary. I’m not saying you don’t have the right to find that stupid, or stay far from “House of Leaves” or “Infinite Jest” because footnotes annoy you – I’m just saying that if you’re reading those books without looking at the appendix, and find them unsubstantial – I want at least to hear some good arguments to back up your judgement.

      Maybe I made myself clearer. If not: Go eat at a top chef’s restaurant, swallow down whole in great hurry everything he puts in front of you and go think that you have wasted AAAALL your money, hungry as you are. (You might be right. I wouldn’t think so.)

    • Kaira- says:


      What I was saying is that I don’t really think you should add second playthrough with commentary to the time it takes to complete the game. To me it compares much like saying that you didn’t complete the game if you didn’t play it on all difficulties. Since most players (numbers calculated by Stetson-Harrison-method) probably don’t play the game through with commentary on the first time, I really don’t think it should be counted in playthrough-time. I usually play games in such manner that I try to explore as much as possible, so to be honest, I doubt that P2 is just 4 hours, maybe around 6-8 hours to me, but it will remain to be seen.

      And speaking of novels, is “House of Leaves” any good? I’ve been thinking about buying it for months, and it seems rather good, yet odd, book.

    • Oozo says:

      The fault is on my part then – note to future self: don’t mix quite reasonable demands with troll-infused fury in the same sentence.

      But fair enough, your point is, of course, valid. Since you haven’t finished it yet, either, you might find that while the game is in fact not terribly long, it’s longer than that rad claims by people. Maybe you won’t – as I said, I would be really interested in seeing somebody play it that fast. But I agree that while counting the coop might be fair, it’s at least dangerous to count further playthroughs of the singleplayer-mode to the overall playtime (depends on the game, I guess – in Minecraft, totally valid. In an RPG, no. In Portal? Somewhere in between, due to its mixed nature.) As I said, if I could have abstained from bitching in my first post, that’s not exactly what I wanted to say, though.

      I loved “House of Leaves” – it’s a bit flirting with the intellectual with all the meta-stuff and all the footnotes, but what I really liked about is that it never forgets that deep down, it’s a haunted house-story, with all the silly bits that implies. So, while it has you pingponging quite a bit between the different levels of the text and it throws around big words, it’s properly serious, spooky, demanding and tonge-in-cheek at the right times. Plus, it’s a beautiful book-as-object in and of itself, so I’d like it for that alone, I guess.

  31. Diziet Sma says:

    I do have the unnerving feeling I’m missing bits of the single player game but I don’t think it’s a bug, it’s just making me want to play through it a second time even slower straight away. Which is a very rare feeling for me with games or indeed anything… books, movies etc.
    The steam timer is definitely borked, and not just in Portal 2. On the one hand it can be quite accurate (159hrs play in Fallout : New Vegas for example when my save game indicates less which is understandable given reloads etc.) on the other hand it can be completely wrong… logging only a few hours play in some games for me when the play time on my save files is easily double that.
    It doesn’t have to be accurate, it’s not supposed to be used for speed runs or anything is it? And time as a gauge of the quality of an experience is, to pardon my french, bullshit.

  32. Tomm says:

    I just noticed as I started to write this reply, another trollish comment got made in this thread. Fair play to RPS getting their hands dirty and trying to sort out the mess, it’s frankly ridiculous what’s happened/happening. I’ve not yet finished portal, but I’ve read all of RPS’s articles, and at no point have they come across as ‘fanboyish’.

    In any case, back to the subject at hand, I’ve just started the third act of portal and I’ve been going perhaps around 6 hours with the steam timer suggesting I’ve played 5, so it’s a little off for me, but not massively.

  33. 20thCB says:

    According to the timer, I finished the game in 1955, just narrowly saving the day at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance – and I CERTAINLY don’t remember any bouncing gel :S I think you guys must all be confused or something.

  34. Mr_Day says:

    I am kind of amused that people are just now figuring out that Valve Time is in fact not very accurate.

    You see, the Steam timer is made by Valve, and so – oh, I’ll just shush, shall I? Ok.

    • Nick says:

      I can’t believe I didn’t think of that. It makes perfect sense.

  35. skalpadda says:

    Further, in general I feel Steam/Valve have started to take the piss with their pricing and their DLC, yet the community here insists on giving them slobering, deepthroated e-BJs everytime they take a leak.

    Perhaps because they keep making good games that people get a lot of fun out of, and in this case the DLC is entirely cosmetic, silly and optional. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they actually are taking the piss.

  36. Mman says:

    “For starters the game is clearly a bad console port, link to arstechnica.com

    How the hell does that say anything about it being a port? All it says is that the PS3 version is the best console (emphasis) version of the game.

  37. Cooper says:

    Quantity =!= quality.

    I’d take 6 fantastic hours over a 60 hour padded-out slog anyday.

    Complaints about the brevity of a game are only meaningful if it’s also a bad game.

    • Maykael says:

      I agree with you, friend!

    • Wulf says:

      I’ve been saying this over and over, too.

      This is a moment of clarity in a sea of insanity. This is actually proving to be really depressing for me and is largely impacting my Faith in Humanity metre. I mean, if you want to say that you didn’t like your experiences in Portal 2, fine, but… there’s so much nonsense and BS, it’s hard to cut through it all.

      Thanks for your comment, Cooper. I’m just glad it’s here.

    • DarkWeeble says:

      This game has more attention to detail, charm, and fun packed into every minute than any half hour of non-indie game I’ve played in the last year. I wasn’t bored or annoyed with ANY of it. How many of you can say that when you’re doing your escort missions and shooters? You know why it’s shorter than most games? Because there’s no filler! I don’t have to walk through empty corridors, shoot the same idiot in a ski mask over and over, drive across brown landscapes, or visit a jungle that, when you think about it, could be the same thing copy-pasted between games. Seriously. The hills are just put in new places.

      I can say with near certainty that I only ever enjoy 8 or so hours of most 20 hour games anyway. What you paid for is just the good parts of a 20 hour game. It also includes the modding tools, the near-certainty of free addons from the developer, and the possibility of playing with your PS3 friends who can’t quite keep up a dedicated gaming rig.

      For the people complaining, all this probably cost about $45. Even if we ignore the fact that Valve let everyone know that the game would be 8-10 hours long, this seems like a reasonable price to pay. I pay $12 to see a two hour movie in theatres. Why shouldn’t something that’s worth way more than four times a movie’s entertainment value cost AT LEAST four times as much? If you get your movies on Netflix, well, it’s important to realize that they probably operate the same way insurance companies do and make their money off the people not sucking up their bandwidth.

      In all honesty I wish more developers made games with this kind of design philosophy. I’m pretty upset about BF:BC2’s total lack of mod/level/dev support but I don’t remember ever seeing this much hate when it came out. That game only had one good hour of singleplayer (which no one played) and all of five or so maps for multiplayer that were just rehashed based on the game mode? If you want more maps for that game you know what you do? You pay for DLC. I’ll stick with Portal 2’s free, forthcoming community-built maps, thanks.

      Three years from now, when I’m still enjoying the hell out of this game, I’m going to throw Valve some extra cash and buy myself a fart animation and a Headcrab Hat. That’s how I see the DLC store. It’s a donate button. I have no problem throwing Indie developers some extra money when I like their product, why should Valve be any different? They’re independent, after all.

  38. yutt says:

    How does anyone think they beat this game in 4 hours? Are they completely unaware, even in retrospect, of the passage of time? It is a rather terrifying thing for them to brazenly argue that they’ve 2-4 unaccounted for hours missing from their life.

    If anyone still feels they beat the game in 3-4 hours on their first run, I highly recommend seeking a trained psychologist (not those untrained ones).

    • Archonsod says:

      Maybe it’s aliens!

    • iainl says:

      The first Portal took me about 4 hours the first time, because I got stuck on a few puzzles, enjoyed the atmosphere, played around doing stupid things like getting the long jump achievement etc.

      Even the biggest “Portal 2 is a rip-off” whiner has yet to claim that the sequel is shorter than the first game, however.

  39. subedii says:

    @ gorgol:

    Dude, that post says nothing about it being a console port.

    And to be blunt, claims that it is one are complete and utter tripe. Some idiots are drawing that conclusion from one freaking loading screen which was accidentally unchanged. Boo freaking hoo.

    I have yet to see anything that leads me to the conclusion that the PC version was somehow compromised for the sake of the dreaded console market.

  40. Navagon says:

    Tell me about it. Apparently I have completed the original Portal twice in a couple of minutes. That timer is so broken it makes Stardock’s promises look fulfilled. Playing a game offline is an automatic guarantee that the time won’t be calculated. But there seem to be more problems with it than that.

  41. Deano2099 says:

    A little off topic, but EG reporting GAME are selling the boxed version now:
    link to eurogamer.net

    Kind of puts all that ‘we can’t possibly release boxed copies in all territories at the same time’ nonsense in perspective doesn’t it?

  42. mattyjw says:

    I really wish Valve would remove the hours played part from Steam especially as it’s wildly inaccurate. Portal 2 sounds a bit like a Mario game if you can finish the story without doing all the levels. Didn’t Super Mario World have 16 bajillion levels of which you had to complete 36?

    • Jad says:

      If you got both warp whistles in the first world in Mario 3, you could skip all the way to world 9 and beat the game in after playing about 20 levels.

  43. trjp says:

    It’s the Vanquish thing all over again!!

    For the benefit of people unable to sample the awesomeness of Vanquish – it’s internal timer is a bit screwy leading to people reporting completion in under 4 hours.

    It’s physically impossible to do it in that time (Eurogamer did the testing to prove that) but the clock on your savegame will happily announce a silly completion time anyway…

    I’m actually wondering if someone is trying to make it look like we spend less time playing games??? Certainly everytime I typed “/played” in WoW I used to cringe – so…

    • Wulf says:

      Yeah, exactly.

      Not to mention that I think we’re moving out of the era where we’d have to devote our lives to games. Things like this seem to be the death knell of those old, padded grindfests and I couldn’t be happier.

      2 hours, 4, 8… if we got enough fun to justify the price we paid, does the time even matter? I’ve paid for MMOs and I’ve barely had an hour of enjoyment for the day I played it for. So that’s 1 hour in 23 of actual enjoyment and fun, versus 6-8 hours of actual enjoyment and fun.

      I mean… what kind of message are we sending developers, here? Make our games far, far less fun! Make them less clever! Make them incredibly grindy! Make them like World of Warcraft!

      This saddens me.

  44. Yokorose says:

    The issue with it saying how long it taken you to play the game is a bug with the steam clinet its self as i have had it happen on another new game i just got after playing portal 2 , if you leave it along it will update after a reboot of steam or a couple of hours as my portal 2 said i did it in 10 mintures but i was really on it for 3 hours

  45. Combat says:

    “Another RPS contributor has told us he doesn’t remember playing some of the areas, including the section where you bounce repeatedly between two walls to reach a distant platform, and the second time you use blue paint on turrets.”

    I think I have skipped some of the Cave Jonson area as he complimented me on not doing things by the book & going my own way (I saw no bouncing turrets with blue paint at all) I thought this was odd as it was the only way I could see to go, seems there are multiple ways through certain areas though as a result of reading the above, perhaps this is where the difference in time comes from.

    For the record I’ve played for 6 hours & am 1 hour into the last area, though did get stuck at a couple of the second actions puzzles

    • WASD says:

      Anyone spot the Pneumatic Diversity Vent? link to youtube.com

    • John Walker says:

      I believe that line from CJ is a joke, and the only available route. However, you absolutely should have plopped blue paint on turrets to make them not shoot you, via a t-beam. Did you definitely not encounter that?

    • skalpadda says:

      That’s not in that section though, it’s in the last part of the game.

    • Combat says:

      If it’s in the last section of the game I haven’t got to it yet, if it’s in the CJ section I didn’t see it at all, there were no turrets at all in that section of the game

    • Chizu says:

      Pretty sure theres no turrets in the Cave Johnson section.
      Their asthetic doesn’t fit the time period that part of the enrichment center is from.
      The painting turrets comes later.

  46. Harlander says:

    There’s something about adding “Just sayin'” to the end of a statement that really makes me want to crush styrofoam cups in my hands in a dramatic fashion.

  47. Protagoras says:

    “Its just my opinion, and im just a reader of this website, but i expected more from the actual journalists here in RPS, the last article “Let’s Address Some Portal 2 Nonsense” felt like i was listening a 12 year old defending his favorite pokemon on the schoolyard more than an article on a well known PC website”


    pepole think this [comment] is worthles.
    go ahead! say it! i dont care! im just trying to make a point here!
    blam this piece of crap!!!!

    (Also, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. However, you don’t see my anus spewing verbal diarrhea everywhere.)

  48. Tunips says:

    I’m glad to hear that I don’t need to call the lovely John walker a liar, he doesn’t need to call me a maniac, and we can shout rude words together at a robot timekeeper.

  49. SuperNashwanPower says:

    To the issue of not seeing whole chunks, maybe there are shortcuts to levels, a bit like in map 14 of the original? Here’s a video: link to youtube.com . Its not me by the way, so dont shout at me for the mumbling.
    Perhaps people are finding the shortcuts in certain maps, and so simply not seeing sections that other people might have seen? If you accidentally got the shortcut first time through, you might not even realise you skipped a whole chunk of map.

  50. sockpuppetclock says:

    The Portal 2 levels showcased in the pre-release events and whatnot (gel ramp through spikes, the second blue paint turrets that break the glass, bouncing on blue gel walls into the abyss, etc) look like they were either made for those events or cut out, because they really aren’t in the game at all.

    …or maybe they’ll just be released later? Speculation is rather abundant

    • Xocrates says:

      If you watch the first Portal pre-release videos, essentially none of the chambers there show up in the final game.

    • Dozer says:

      Excellent. I felt sad about watching them because I thought they were minor spoilers. There’s only a limited number of puzzles in the game, and I want to solve them all myself, and seeing part of the game done for me in the trailers would make me feel cheated of my fun, a little bit.

      EDIT: Xocrates said “the first Portal pre-release videos”, ie for Portal 1 not the earliest Portal 2 pre-release videos. I am misunderstand.