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In a surprise move that shocked those who watched Sony's E3 2010 press conference today, Valve's President Gabe Newell came on stage and announced that the company is changing its position on developing for the PlayStation 3. The first Valve-developed game to land on the PS3 will be Portal 2, a follow-up title to 2007's unexpected smash hit action/puzzler included in the Orange Box compilation. Portal 2 for the PS3 will drop day-and-date with the Xbox 360 and PC versions, sometime in 2011.
Orginally planned for Christmas 2010, Valve delayed the game earlier this month because, according to the press note, "making games is hard". "Also, the game will be even better," the company added, as if a game delay decision was ever made to make a game worse.
Valve hatred for the PS3 has long been a source of drama for the games industry, with company officials repeatedly saying blatantly disparaging remarks about the console's viability as a development platform. Cases in point:
January 15, 2007 -- Gabe Newell lashes out at the PS3 calling it "a total disaster on so many levels" and urged Sony to stop selling the machine, to stop trying to convince people to develop for it, and to start fresh with a new console.
October 11, 2007 -- Gabe Newell returns with some more biting comments stating that the PS3 is "a waste of everbody's time" and that "investing in the Cell [the processor that powers the PS3]...gives you no long-term benefits."
May 5, 2008 -- Valve's main PR guy Doug Lombardi tells CVG that the company are "not PS3 developers" and their focus is the Xbox 360 and PC. There were rumours circulating for some time that Left 4 Dead would be ported to the PS3 but this was squashed when Lombardi went on record as saying "there is no PS3 version of Left 4 Dead announced, nor in development. Not sure how that got started."
June 10, 2009 -- Valve game designer Tom Leonard spoke with Loot Ninja about why the company doesn't produce PS3 games. His answer: the console is "too complicated" to develop for. Conversely, Leonard describes developing for the PC and the 360 as "just more straightforward."
July 4, 2009 -- Refusing to develop for the PS3, Valve outsources the porting of the Orange Box compilation to EA UK. The resulting port was critically panned with reviewers citing technical issues such as lower framerates, inconsistent multiplayer and slower gameplay than the Xbox 360 and PC versions. Valve's Doug Lombardi goes on record as saying PS3 gamers got the "stepchild version of the product" while Xbox 360 and PC gamers got "the sweet version of it."
May 20, 2010 -- Gabe Newell strikes again saying the PS3 is "more closed like a GameCube" and that the console should be "more open like a Mac" in reference to the company's decision to produce Steam for Mac, while continuing to ignore developing for the PS3.
That's quite a long list of spiteful comments stemming from Valve towards the PS3 over the last three years, but thankfully the bitter feud is over. Speaking about Valve's decision to now support the PS3, Newell had this to say during E3:
"When the PlayStation 3 was introduced, I was the one of the platform's biggest critics; however, Sony Computer Entertainment has proved that the PlayStation 3 is the most open platform of all the current generation consoles and has worked extremely hard to make the platform the most desirable for consumers and developers. As such, we are delighted to announce Portal 2 for the PlayStation 3 and believe the Steamworks support included will make it the best console version of the game."
It's not quite clear at the time of writing why Newell has backpedaled by saying the PS3 is "the most open platform" and the "most desirable for consumers and developers" which contradicts previous statements of his.
Portal 2 on the PS3 is being touted as the "best console version of the game" due to its support for Steamworks, a a complete suite of game features and services including auto updates, community features, downloadable content, and more.
If the trailer for Portal 2 as an indication, the game looks to break new ground by expanding on the innovative gameplay of first title and upping the graphics considerably. Portal 2 is also expected to be about twice as long as the original. The game will also introduce multiplayer co-op game mode to the series.
A bare-bones website for the game has been created called Think With Portals, you might was to bookmark it and check back later for updates.