Is Valve Making a Console?

A job opening posted to Valve’s website says very plainly that the company behind Half-Life and Portal is “jumping in” to the gaming hardware biz.

The job listing in question (“Industrial Engineer”) states:

Valve is traditionally a software company. Open platforms like the PC and Mac are important to us, as they enable us and our partners to have a robust and direct relationship with customers. We’re frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space though, so we’re jumping in. Even basic input, the keyboard and mouse, haven’t really changed in any meaningful way over the years. There’s a real void in the marketplace, and opportunities to create compelling user experiences are being overlooked.

Sounds pretty juicy, no? It’s easy to draw a direct line between this job description and Valve’s popular Steam service for downloading games. Steam has become a real force to be reckoned with, standing shoulder-to-shoulder alongside the likes of Xbox Live, PSN, and the iTunes App Store. It just makes sense that Valve would want to leverage the powerful platform that they have with Steam on more than just computers. If Valve created an OnLive-like “Steambox” console, they could bring their vast library downloadable games to TV sets. Imagine firing up your Steambox, connecting to the Steam service (the same way Apple TV connects to iTunes), downloading new games to built-in storage space, and immediately start playing.

Valve founder Gabe Newell is known to not be a huge fan of game consoles, but console games consistently outsell their PC brethren, and no game company can afford to be blind to that. Besides that, Newell’s stance on consoles seems to have softened the last few years, with the simultaneous release of its most recent games, such as Left 4 Dead and Portal 2, on both computers and consoles.

It’s one of those ideas that’s just too good to ignore. But with OnLive already on the market, the coming of rival download-based console Ouya imminent, the marketplace for this sort of thing is getting mighty crowded. Still, with its existing service’s popularity and its huge library of titles, it’s hard to see Valve failing at this.

For that matter, when was the last time Valve failed at anything?

[Image credit: Risachantag]

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Robin Parrish
@robinparrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

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