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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Portal 2’s Release Mechanic, My Take

I’ve heard allot of fussing over Valve’s unique accelerated release mechanism for Portal 2, both good and bad. There are those who think it was fun to be part of the release clock and those who doubt playing the indie games Valve linked to their ARG system had any effect whatsoever. My opinion is that for a one-time gimmick it was fun. I enjoyed tracking the updates and playing the games was a good way to pass the time. It generated sales for indie developers too, so that’s a plus. My biggest worry is that this will become commonplace. It was fun once, but more then that could be too much. Maybe once a year I could tolerate it but I can just see some marketing exec seeing the fuss that this generated and trying to implement it for their own upcoming releases.

Some companies get more leeway then others. Valve, Nintendo and Bethesda, for example. Nintendo has a deep, core connection with gamers that no other company can match and people will buy their systems just to play the latest Mario, Zelda, Metroid and the rest of their first-party lineup. Valve has a huge reputation for quality and gets more patience from gamers as far as release dates and processes then most companies (save for Blizzard). Bethesda’s the wild card in this paragraph. My argument for them is, if any one else released games as buggy as their Elder Scrolls series – especially Daggerfall and Morrowind – people would have burned them at the stake and forgotten them. For whatever reason, their games get a huge pass on crashes, bugs and glitches. Personally, Morrowind would crash on me every 10-15 minutes, almost like clockwork. Any other game that did that to me would have been uninstalled in record time but I kept playing Morrowind, accumulating over 100 hours of play, easy. While I can explain Valve and Nintendo’s freedom, I still can’t put my finger on Bethesda’s magic touch.

In any case, Portal 2 now – according to GlaDOS @ Home – has under 30 minutes left before release. I’ll be there, will you?

UPDATE: At 12:30 AM EDT, Portal 2 is unleashed.

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