Opinion PC

Is there a connection between Steam's Winter Sale mystery and Half-Life 3?

Half Life 3.jpg

The Steam Winter Sale is well underway with shoppers having only four more days to grab some of the best PC video game deals out there. The lack of daily deals and flash sales does make the Steam Winter Sale a bit less exciting for many users. However, there is a mystery that Steam users are starting to uncover. I know it's a long shot, but maybe 2016 is the year we'll finally get some concrete Half-Life 3 details.

The Steam Sale mystery is one deep rabbit hole

You have probably noticed the Steam Mystery cards that unlock each day which also signals the release of a new comic page. Earlier today, the “Steam Sale Detectives” on Reddit found a hidden password prompt.

You can access the prompt by going to any Steam store page, for example Far Cry 4’s page and typing “search” (minus the quote). The password prompt is handled by a javascript called “nothing to see here”. The javascript code includes a link to store.steampowered.com/actions/clues which is currently blank.

However, the Steam Sale Detectives found the next part of the clue. In the first page of the Northpole Noir comic, when it was first released (old comic below), you could see a barcode. The barcode in question is similar to the digits tattooed on Agent 47 from the Hitman franchise. Entering the barcode in the Steam store page for Hitman: Codename 47 uncovered yet another code (4f21ca7).

Image 1.jpg

If you add that code to the back of the Northpole Noir comic URL, so that it looks like this http://store.steampowered.com/wintercomic/4f21ca7 you can download an audio file, which says:

"I was on the right track. I could feel it. Tomorrow, I was going to search again."

Note: Please keep in mind that it does not work in the Steam client, so you have to use your browser to find both the password prompt and the audio file.

Interestingly enough, the “Hitman barcode” found on the first page of the Northpole Noir comic replaced three numbers (6, 0, 4) with three 9s. It might be another clue because of the fact that the trading card “Sending a Message” has a hidden string of text that also feature three 9s, namely: 794E2CEA991

Unfortunately, that is how far the Steam Sales Detectives have uncovered the mystery. There are some other potential leads, but nothing solid enough to further investigation this point. You can check out the full idea map (so far) of the Steam Sale Mystery and maybe even add some insight on the Subreddit dedicated to the mystery.

The connection to Half-Life 3

You might wonder how this whole thing is connected to Half-Life 3. Well, first of all, the obvious question is why Valve would go through so much trouble to create this deep mystery if nothing will be uncovered at the end of the day. Half-Life 3 is arguably the most anticipated game ever, so something like this would be the perfect way to finally announce the game, but that’s just my opinion.

What is not just my opinion is the recent news that a “NeoGAF user unlocked Half-Life 3 listing in SteamDB” only weeks before the Steam Winter Sale went live. Further, earlier this year Valve’s Source 2 engine made its debut with the release of Dota 2: Reborn.

However, the biggest clue that points towards a connection between the Steam Winter Sale and Half-Life 3 is a website called XCCR.com. A billboard featuring the same name can be found at the start of Half-Life 2, which you can view below.

image 2.jpg

Reddit user super6plx  posted this a few hours ago:

“I thought somebody here might be interested to know that this website that has been running since a couple of days after HL2 launched has just now gone down for the first time in over 10 years.” - Source

You can still check out a backup of the website from 2006 here. The mystery of the XCCR website has remained unsolved for over 10 years. Could it really be a coincidence that just before users started to figure out the first part of the Steam Winter Sale Mystery that the XCCR website went down for the first time in 10 years?

At the time of writing, nobody has uncovered who even owns the website, so it could very well be Valve. All we know for certain is that there is something to the Steam Winter Sale mystery. It’s not just another Half-Life 3 conspiracy but rather real hope that we will hear something about the game. If it’s not Half-Life 3, it could be Left for Dead 3, Team Fortress 3, a new game from Valve or nothing at all. Hopefully, someone will solve the mystery soon, as the Steam Winter Sale does end on 4 January 2016.

Do you think the mystery is connected to Half-Life 3, Team Fortress 3 or another Valve game? What else could the mystery potentially reveal? Let us know in the comment section below.We pray that it is.

Sources: Reddit, Reddit 2

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