Ring in the new year with a rabbit hole
Valve has seemingly slipped an alternate reality game (ARG) into the 2015 Winter Steam Sale.
Over the past week, users have been searching for what they perceived to be clues all across Steam and in Valve’s still-unraveling Northpole Noir web comic. Many of them have congregated on a new subreddit, /r/steamsaledetectives. Today, that collaboration led to some interesting developments which suggest, yes, this actually is a full-blown ARG.
Notably, a hidden password prompt was discovered on the Steam store. To make it visible, go to an individual game’s store listing (while using a web browser, not the Steam client) and type “search” — then hit enter. You should see an entry field pop up. Super weird, right?
Now, using that method, bring up the password prompt on the Hitman: Codename 47 page. Type in “94050999014715” and hit enter. That should result in a dialog box that says “ic/4f21ca7” which, somehow, user DevinWatson determined relates to the URL for the Winter Sale comic. Combining that text string with the Northpole Noir URL redirects to a waveform audio file with a short message: “I was on the right track. I could feel it. Tomorrow, I was going to search again.”
If this mystery ends up having a significant connection to one of Valve’s games, that wouldn’t be a first for the company, but I’m going to keep my expectations in check. It’s better that way.
Still, who knows what tomorrow will bring. I get the distinct sense this is only the beginning. The Steam sale doesn’t end until January 4 at 10:00am Pacific. Welcome to 2016.