Co-founder of the popular video game development company, Valve, Gabe Newell and his relationship with Sony's Playstation 3 has been somewhat of a roller-coaster. Back in 2007, he was very vocal and forward about his disapproval of the game console:
"[The Playstation 3 is] a waste of everybody's time and a disaster on many levels ... I'd say, even at this late date, they should just cancel it and do a do over. Just say, 'This was a horrible disaster and we're sorry and we're going to stop selling this and stop trying to convince people to develop for it'."
Tell us how you really feel, Gabe!
This is precisely why there was a good deal of shock over his appearance on stage during Sony's keynote at E3 2010.
Evidently, he was displeased at how Microsoft handled the release of the Valve title The Orange Box, particularly in how Xbox LIVE served as a hurdle when attempting to update the included Team Fortress 2 game, one that was to require numerous scheduled updates. He has since referred to the Xbox LIVE service as "a train wreck," in typical Newell fashion.
Newell's presence at E3 2010 was to announce a newly-formed partnership between Sony and Valve, citing the open nature of the Playstation 3 console. "I've been pretty outspoken in my comments about next-gen consoles," Newell said during the conference. "So, I'd like to thank Sony for their gracious hospitality and not repeatedly punching me in the face."
A result of said partnership, the biggest news to come out of the announcement was not only that the greatly-anticipated Portal 2 would be arriving for the PS3 at the same time as the PC and Xbox 360 versions, but that it would be supported by a version of Steam for the Playstation 3 platform.
If you're not familiar with Steam, it is a service for PC and Mac computers that sells games for each platform as digital downloads. As a consumer, you choose the game you want to buy, pay for it, and immediately begin downloading it to your computer, no discs necessary. The purchased games remain attached to your account and can be re-downloaded at any time as many times as you like on any computer you like. The only catch is that only one computer can be logged in at a time to play your copy of the game, as a form of copy protection.
Steam includes additional perks, as well. It does away with the tedious updating and patching process that PC gamers previously had to contend with by automatically applying patches as they are released. There are also social features such as friends lists that can be used for chat purposes as well as organization of multiplayer games. Conveniently, all of these features can be accessed through the Steam Overlay, usable while playing any game run through the Steam platform.
So what does it mean to have Steam on the Playstation 3?
Portal 2 will be the first game supported by Steam on the Playstation 3. Valve has announced that the game will be accompanied by the PS3's own version of the persistent Steam Overlay that can be accessed with a press of the Select button while in the game. But what this version of the overlay provides is particularly nice, especially for those who already have a Steam account on their PC or Mac. From Steam's website:
- Play cross-platform from your PlayStation®3 with Steam friends on Windows or Mac.
- Access your Steam friends list, enabling you to chat with, add, or remove Steam friends.
- Access redeemed downloadable content registered in Windows or Mac, and vice-versa.
- View your Steam friends’ community profiles.
- View your earned Steam Achievements, as well as global achievement stats, for Portal 2.
- See the latest news and announcements for Portal 2.
In addition, PSN trophies earned while playing Portal 2 will also register as Steam achievements on the linked account. Although, the reverse is not true; Steam achievements earned on the PC will not register as PSN trophies.
This January, Valve announced that the Playstation 3 version of Portal 2 will come with a free Steam code to unlock the entire PC version of the game. That's two versions for the price of one if you're following at home. It's an interesting move on Sony's part to entice hardcore PC gamers to choose the Playstation 3 platform when purchasing the game. Owners of both versions may even opt to actually play the game on their PS3 as well, since they will not miss out on playing with any of their PC Steam friends, and will effectively be earning two sets of achievements at once (quite a temptation for trophy junkies).
With the Steam platform in place on the Playstation 3, it would be foolish to assume that Valve and Sony would stop at Portal 2. Perhaps the next Left 4 Dead title will make its way to the PS3 using Steam. Maybe the long-awaited Half-Life sequel could make an appearance, as well. It should also be noted that Steam chat means cross-game chat on supported games, a feature that PS3 users have been pining for since day one.
Sony has dealt a decisive blow in the console war with this move. The more it develops, the more it feels like a party that the Xbox 360 just wasn’t invited to. After the dust settles, a question remains: Does Microsoft have an answer for this up their sleeve?
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