You (Yes, You!) Can Help “Portal 2″ Launch Early

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Have you seen what Valve’s done with the Steam version of Portal 2? You may have heard something about early downloading for those who pre-ordered this hotly-anticipated sequel over Valve’s Steam network, and how an intricate ARG (alternate reality game) in the run-up to release led players on a merry chase. There was a countdown clock that popped up and everyone thought when it wound down, those who pre-ordered would get to play Portal 2 early.

They were only half-right. What the countdown clock revealed was the Potato Sack, a dozen indie games available through Steam, Valve’s uber-popular digital distribution network. The conceit is that GLaDOS–the bitchy, malevolent AI that tried to kill players in the original game–needs additional computing power to release Portal 2 early. That extra CPU boost draws power from people playing the games in the Potato Sack. The more people that play, the faster the unlock happens.

You’ve gotta hand it to Valve. This whole brilliant gambit has everyone not only bumrushing Steam, but also giving some love to indie games like the fantastic “Super Meat Boy” in the process. You can check how many people are playing and which games they’re into, as well as the computational power progress bar at the top of the page, updating in real-time.

We’ve had a Maddenoliday. We deserve a Portaloliday–early, even. It’s in your hands, nerds!

Also: these Aperture Science commercials for Portal 2 are the best. THE BEST.