(Posted by: Eric Rees)
People were more than a little upset that the end of Valve's beautifully run ARG (Alternate Reality Game) ended in the users having to buy $40 worth of indie games and play them, a lot, to unlock Portal 2 early. I am here to ask: is anyone really surprised coming from Valve? This is the company and the game that started the whole indie game genre.
Most people know, but some may not, that Portal wasn't always the game that it is today. It started as a little game called Narbacular Drop. An interesting "puzzle" game that had a Princess that couldn't jump escaping from an elemental creature through a series of dungeons. The game was made as a senior project for the group of guys attending DigiPen, a technology institute in Washington. The game went on to impress many people and won a fair amount of awards for a project and then Valve got wind of it. Thinking that this could be a big game, they acquired the creators and what we have now is now known as Portal.
The video game industry as a whole isn't that old and before this point, around 2005, the "indie" genre that we've come to know barely existed, if even at all. Valve, the creator of Steam which is a giant in the industry today, was taking a unprecedented risk by picking up some game designers still in college and helping them to produce their game. Until this point games had been developed by professional developers but this acquisition marked a turning point in the industry and spawned a whole genre of games and opened the door for amateur developers around the world.
Without Portal we wouldn't have gems such as Super Meat Boy, Limbo, Minecraft or Amnesia. A small company named Rovio Mobile might not have been picked up by EA based on the sales of their little game called Angry Birds. Valve extending a hand to a few guys who developed a game with some promise gave life to all of these games so I found it not surprising in the least that Valve turned around and gave the games in The Potato Sack the same shot that they gave the guys from Narbacular Drop. Indie games are a legitimate genre in video games today and Valve was doing just doing business as usual, helping other games to flourish and leading the industry forward. Don't be mad that they pointed you out to a few games that are awesome and fun and suggested that you play them while you were waiting for Portal 2 to drop. People didn't have to buy it but I guarantee you that there are plenty people out there that loved the games as they played them and I also guarantee that the developers from the games in The Potato Sack thank you for it.