Does Portal's Success Herald Industry Shift?

companioncube.jpg In addition to have spawned more cakes, crafts, and covers than you can shake a stick at, Portal may spawn quite a bit more than esoterica. From the low budget production to the delivery method, could more quirky sleeper hits be on the horizon?

Given that it was widely downloaded on Steam, the proprietary game delivery service of Portal developer Valve, it's hard to get exact unit sales. From a business point of view, however, its profit margin is easily better than AAA hardcore titles that require tens of millions to develop — by contrast, Valve developed Portal's gameplay from a freeware indie title made by some college kids the company subsequently hired, adding a quirky storyline and a series of puzzles with gradually increasing difficulty. "I think part of the reason we are doing episodic releases and smaller content releases is to allow us to take some of the risk out of the schedule and instead put it into the gameplay," Valve's Gabe Newell once explained in an interview.

Maybe, maybe not — but it's certainly hard to ignore a game that's been so popular without being any of the things people usually associate with blockbusters.

Does Portal's Success Presage Game Industry Shift? [GigaOM]


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