Valve's super-secret E3 surprise turns out to be a bit of crow-munching in the form of Portal 2, its geometry-bending shooter, for Sony's PlayStation 3.
"When the PlayStation 3 was introduced, I was the one of the platform's biggest critics," joked president and co-founder of Valve Gabe Newell after striding onstage to howls of surprise. "However, Sony Computer Entertainment has proved that the PlayStation 3 is the most open platform of all the current generation consoles and has worked extremely hard to make the platform the most desirable for consumers and developers.
"As such, we are delighted to announce Portal 2 for the PlayStation 3 and believe the Steamworks support included will make it the best console version of the game."
Presumed to be for Xbox 360 and PC only until today's E3 press show, the surprise PS3 version of Portal 2 will be the only version to include Steamworks.
It's not entirely clear, sitting here after the show, what that means. Steamworks is Valve's proprietary middleware suite for tracking play trends, delivering auto-updates, folding in community features, and packaging downloadable content. Until now, it's been restricted to the PC. Steamworks for the PS3 marks the suite's debut on the console.
But what does it bring to the table that Sony's PlayStation Network doesn't already do (and some might say, arguably better)?
Will it unite console and PC gamers? Make it easier to port PC games to the PS3 (or vice versa)? Does it open the door to future non-Valve-developed Steamworks game bundles, or is it restricted to Valve titles only? What's the net value for players? Will it really "deliver the higher level of service gamers have come to expect"?
Or will it be superfluous to Sony's service? And how much arm-twisting did Valve have to do to get Sony's write-off on, if you will, gilding the lilly?
We'll find out shortly. Portal 2 for PS3 launches in 2011 for PlayStation 3, PC, Mac, and--now assuming the caboose position in Valve's syntactic lineup--the Xbox 360.
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