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.