Potato sacks and Portals: Portal 2 marketing

Portal 2 marketing

2011- Valve and various contributors

In the wake of an exceptional game comes a down right masterpiece of marketing. Valve, the creators of the portal franchise, deserve nothing short of a diamond encrusted medal for producing some of the greatest games and most in depth marketing campaigns.

The client

Valve is a video game company that started with Half Life, a first person shooter, which has won more than 50 Game Of The Year awards and is considered one of the greatest games ever made. They continued to produce top tier games such as the Left 4 Dead series, Team Fortress, Counter strike and of course Portal. Valve has also produced the worlds largest online video game platform and marketplace.


Prior to the release of Portal 2, a first person puzzle shooter, Valve launched its alternate reality game with the release of the “The Potato Sack” on Steam (its very own marketplace).On the first update of the Potato Sack bundle cosmetic changes appeared. Upon inspection players discovered a series of Glyphs that referred to other games. Other hints included braille coded co-ordinates to an encrypted poster outside the Two Tribes headquarters.

The second update included login screens and passwords with each game in the potato sack containing a secret way to open the login screen and locating the password. Once opened files contained pieces of a larger puzzle that when put together would produce the word “prelude”.

GLaDOS , the main antagonist from the prior game, appeared in the third update with Aperture Science popups containing audio clues. Solving even more clues led to the GLaDOS@home countdown website where GLaDOS made a plea for additional computing power, which required people to play various Potato sack games. Upon reaching 0 an early version of the game was distributed to players who had collected enough “potatoes” ( distributed for solving puzzles during the ARG) as well as special items for Team Fortress 2 .

The Results

This project was no small feat with no less than 10 developers working with valve. The campaign produced a truly engaging story with an insane level of complexity and co-ordination, it  involved a mass fans and developers  left them all with a unique and enjoyable experience. Furthermore it actually managed to get fans to purchase 13 additional games! ,while supporting various Indie game developers, as well as selling 675000 copies of the game in the first 24 hours source: http://n4g.com/news/748031/portal-2-day-one-sales-675-000-units-on-the-americas.


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