Valve's generally incredible at keeping secrets (we think they may actually be
knowledge of Half-Life from our brains at this point), but we thought we had Portal 2's main feature set pretty well figured out. Single-player, co-op, custom levels. Yep, that about covers it. Turns out, we were wrong. There's more. In this case, though, it's not necessarily a pleasant surprise.
Shortly after installing the game and bounding through its menus like frenzied, frothy mouthed wolves, many players happened across an option titled “Robot Enrichment.” One click spirited them away to an in-game store that housed all manner of microtransaction-based cosmetic upgrades for co-op mode's cybernetic co-stars, Atlas and P-Body. Thing is, some of those microtransactions aren't so “micro.” Skins, for instance, will run you $4.99 a piece, and hats will set you back $2.49. Emotes, meanwhile, break the piggy bank slightly less at $1.99.
Apparently, each item becomes tradeable to other players after “a few” days, though how exactly that works is currently untestable for obvious reasons. Also, some items can be unlocked via achievements, but early reports seem to indicate that such a method will leave your hat rack barren and your skin rack... wait. Skin rack? We really hope that's not a thing. And if it is, please don't tell us. We'll keep our innocence, thanks.
So, to review, purely cosmetic digital objects that one could solidly argue are a teensy bit over-priced. Is it time throw down your portal gun and pick up a pitchfork? Well, not quite. After all, these items are completely optional. No one's forcing you to spend money – except via the ever-powerful Jedi Mind Trick that is peer pressure. However, we're also not entirely sure how we feel about Valve's less-than-subtle nickle-and-diming here. Everyone needs to make money, yeah, but we don't get the impression of coin-cup-rattling desperation from Gabe Newell and co. Also, let's not forget TF2's strange obsession with hats. Depending on your point of view, the possibility of a similar situation here could be cause for celebration or months of mourning. So yes, it's a very sticky situation. What do you think?