Games publishers and distributors thought that Portal would only appeal to women.
That’s according to Valve’s Robin Walker, who, speaking to Rock Paper Shotgun, said that this viewpoint was raised when Valve was discussing how to market The Orange Box - which comprises of Half Life 2, its two episodic releases, as well as Portal and Team Fortress.
These companies believed that the products in The Orange Box would appeal to vastly different demographics and they they should separate them out.
““We’d been showing Portal to publishers and distributors in the months leading up to shipping, and we were often told that we’d made a game that would really appeal just to female gamers, or to people who weren’t into shooters, and so on,” Walker said.
“They felt we should target specific products to specific demographics, and that combining them into one was going to torpedo the whole affair. After we shipped, we saw people of all kinds playing everything in the Orange Box, and they didn’t break down along those kinds of simplistic lines. Portal players spent a lot of their other gaming time in Counter-Strike, and TF2 attracted players from all across the gaming spectrum. Both attracted many new players in the process.”
Walker goes on to say that The Orange Box’s release, and how players interacted with it, helped influence how it runs its own Steam platform.
“The Orange Box applied pressure on the communication channels through which we talked to players about our games, and the distribution channels through which they bought them,” he said.
“That pressure highlighted the ways in which those channels were affecting the kinds of decisions and games we could make.”