Save the World for the price of a burger

Amidst speculation that a new X-Com game is in the works, here’s a stone-cold fact: you can get every game in the series from Steam right now, for just five bucks a pop. Whatever weak-sauce excuses you might once have had for not playing these games just got hit by a blaster bomb, sucker. 

While you might justifiably shy away from such mediocre fare as Interceptor and Enforcer, can you honestly say that the original isn’t worth a fin? 

This is also a great opportunity to check out Apocalypse, or to experience the savage charm of Terror From The Deep, which (due to a bug) is always set to Superhuman difficulty. 

Penny Arcade Goes Green[house]

Gabe & Tycho in their hideous true forms

Penny Arcade and Vancouver-based developer Hothead Games have unveiled Greenhouse, “a platform agnostic digital distribution portal”. Greenhouse will initially be used to distribute the Penny Arcade adventure game, On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, but PA artist and co-founder Mike “Gabe” Krahulik says that’s just the beginning: “eventually we’d like to use [Greenhouse] as a way of promoting great independent games that might otherwise slide under the radar.”  

But with services like Steam and GameTap already in place, why create Greenhouse? Jerry “Tycho” Holkins told Wired that “Greenhouse isn’t an application by any means. It’s similar to the store we have for posters or shirts or whatever; it just happens to sell videogames instead. So we’re not asking somebody to install the Greenhouse client and then keep it updated or whatever.” 

The PA front men say that they will act as an editorial board: “The games have to go through us before they get to Greenhouse. Or we submit them to Greenhouse ourselves.”  So what kind of games would Gabe and Tycho like to see distributed on Greenhouse?

“The crayon game. Crayon Physics (linked here on O514 since forever! – ed). That’s the sort of thing that I would love to put in front of our audience, and say, you guys should play this, definitely. And obviously, we can link it, but to be able to actually distribute it through Greenhouse would be fantastic. It would enable us in a way that would be easy for the developer to get it out there with a royalty structure that is not full of shit. Which I think is a great combination.”

Greenhouse is currently in beta, and you can help stress test it by downloading an uncompressed podcast.

Valve makes a note: HUGE SUCCESS

Valve announced today that its Steam digital distribution system has exceeded 15 million users.

In addition, an official press release states that Valve has seen 158% sales growth over the last holiday season, putting the company in a very strong position for 2008 and beyond. Steam’s rapid growth is likely due in part to the critical success of Portal, as well as the ever-expanding offerings available through the download service.

Offering fans even more good news, Valve‘s Doug Lombardi has told Eurogamer that while “There’ll be more Portal, for sure,” the developer isn’t looking to simply throw a handful of new puzzles at us. “The details of that, to be honest, we’re still working out,” he said.

Also being worked out at Valve headquarters are the continuing adventures of crowbar-wielding physicist, Gordon Freeman, who’s due to appear in Half-Life 2: Episode Three. “With Episode Three we want to live up to the promise of where we are taking things to; there’s a lot of work being done to make sure we deliver on that promise.”