Portal 2 Countdown Timer Reaches Zero

Written by David Hing

April 15, 2011 // 6:06 p.m.

Tags: #alternative-reality-game #arg #augmented-reality-game #countdown #portal-2 #release-date #unlock #valve

We’ve been watching a curious countdown timer on the Portal developer Aperture Science’s website that purported to reveal an early launch time for the much-anticipated Portal 2. Eager to get playing, we’ve been watching it all afternoon, but were disappointed. Instead of unlocking the game, the timer merely resolved to another countdown timer.

The second timer encourages people to play the games in the Potato Sack to ‘reboot GladOS’ thus allowing you to play Portal 2 early. In fact, this is an innovative way of encouraging people to play (and buy) the 13 indie games included in The Potato Sack bundle.

By playing games such as Bit.Trip Beat, Super Meat Boy and Amnesia: The Dark Descent the Portal 2 release time will – it’s claimed – be brought forward from the expected launch time on 19 April. You don’t need to actually do anything in these games – there are no gamer challenges to complete – just be recorded by Steam as actually playing them.

After the previous ruse we were sceptical, but leaving one browser page running the countdown while other page on another PC constantly refreshed showed a discrepancy. It does look like more activity in games in the Potato Sack is speeding up the countdown. Whether or not the countdown will tick down to an unlocking of Portal 2 before the previously announced time remains to be seen.

GlaDOS@Home is a riff on the concept of Bit-Tech favourite Folding@Home which uses the power distributed computing to solve many complex tasks. The idea to get as many PCs around the world doing as much work as possible simultaneously. The GladOS site currently lists how many ‘CPUs’ are playing the 13 games – for ‘CPUs’ read ‘PCs’.

Valve's servers somehow survived their entire following mashing F5 in unison as their timer reached zero, just after 5pm today. When the site first loaded, visitors were initially greated by text suggesting that the timer was a late April fools joke.

An ARG has been running over the last few days that has had sites speculating over whether it was a simple advert or something more. An ARG was also used to announce Portal 2 in the first place, with the introduction of the radios in Portal through an unexpected patch.

Portal 2 is one of the most anticipated games of the year and we talked about it in our recent gaming podcast.

Let us know just how mentally excited you are to be possibly playing Portal 2 in less than 93 hours in the forums.
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