Valve enters hardware market - not just speculation (but lots of that too!)

From IGN:
"A job listing on Valve’s site confirms that the company will begin developing hardware. A listing for an industrial designer says “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.”

It sounds more like they are looking into developing peripherals than an actual new gaming platform, but it sure is interesting. The IGN article links back to the actual job listing, so that's pretty solid. Of course, there is no mention of what exactly they will be developing, which is where the speculation comes in. Any ideas? More rumors, speculation or hints?

Rallick wrote:
It sounds more like they are looking into developing peripherals than an actual new gaming platform, but it sure is interesting. The IGN article links back to the actual job listing, so that's pretty solid. Of course, there is no mention of what exactly they will be developing, which is where the speculation comes in. Any ideas? More rumors, speculation or hints?

They were doing research in the last year or two regarding biofeedback monitors in multiplayer games. Basically the pulse monitor peripheral Nintendo demoed at E3 but for things like Left 4 Dead where they could adjust the "director" AI behavior based on how stressed the player was.

Here's the GDC slides from the talk they did on the subject. And video of the presentation.

I am gambling on a pc that is cheap, but will run games quite nice with Valve's Steam Powered version of Ubuntu.
Hook it up to your big screen or your pc display and you are good to go. Will also be capable of playing back the usual
movie and music formats of course.

See also: http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/1... from March.

I'll believe it when they actually release something. If they are working on something, it's for something like guidelines for manufacturers.

Valve now seems to be a company that does a lot of things just because they can, and maybe they'll pan out into something interesting, but they're okay if it doesn't. This has been going on there for years, with the biometrics, with the augmented reality, with economics, with linux, mod teams, and so on. They seem to be trying to throw ingredients in the pot and seeing if something cool comes out, or it affects something already established. I don't see it as a direct relationship between "Valve hires X specialist" to "Valve plans to dominate X".

There's been talk of them working on everything from augmented reality stuff like Google is doing with their glasses, to working on control peripherals. Competition is good.

Scratched: I knew of the existence of that thread, but it was a little too specific. The job opening mentions things like keyboards and mice not having changed at all, which is why I suspect this does not have much to do with a Steambox or whatever they were calling it. Also, I didn't say anything about Valve dominating anything, so I'm not sure where that comment came from. I agree that they seem to be throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks, which in my opinion makes them more awesome than 99% of companies out there, most of whom seem to be playing it safe.

MannishBoy: Augmented reality is something I'm really excited about. It always seems so cool in sci-fi, but I don't believe the technology is quite there yet - though we're getting close.

I was being a bit more general. I just know I can't get a biometric mouse that inputs into games yet, and I'm not expecting anything much to come of this either. If it does it'll be a nice surprise.

Scratched wrote:
I was being a bit more general. I just know I can't get a biometric mouse that inputs into games yet, and I'm not expecting anything much to come of this either. If it does it'll be a nice surprise.

The fact that they made a special motion controlled input option for Razer's PC motion controller is also indicative I suspect of what they're thinking. I think they're probably frustrated when stuff like that doesn't take off.

But they've also said nice things about the Ocular Rift, too.

As cool as it would be to see Valve hardware, this is typical IGN reporting. That they're hiring a hardware guy is no indication that they're working on anything but IGNdotcom made it sound like a sure bet. Valve hires tons of people for things they don't end up releasing all the time (one of the perks of having buckets of money and no management) and while I'm sure they're eager to experiment in hardware, hiring a guy doesn't mean they're determined to make any and if they are, it's probably barely beyond the initial planning stage. If they do pursue something to release though, I can't wait to see what it is.

I think they have to. Because of the App Store, and then Microsoft following Apple down that rabbit hole, the computer world is rapidly moving away from general-purpose computing, and moving frighteningly quickly to a 'mother may I' software world.

Apple is already known for saying 'no, you may not sell your software' for all kinds of absolutely bizarre reasons, most especially conflicting with Apple's corporate goals. Anyone who thinks Microsoft will be any different is deluding themselves; Microsoft is a monopoly, so it's dangerous for them to pioneer abuse, but they can freely copy it.

This is not an environment where independent developers like Valve can prosper. "Mother may I" can turn into "NO!" at any time, killing them. So they absolutely must get out from under these corporate thumbs. And shipping their own hardware and OS is probably the only way they can do this.

Must be a slow news day. This is non-news; as mentioned above, we've known since March that Valve has been hiring hardware folks. They are definitely working on hardware projects and they have resources devoted to it. Among other things, Jeri Ellsworth works for them now. (If you don't recognize the name, Google can help you out.)

Hardware, yes. Steambox? Probably not for a while. Call me when there's a prototype. Otherwise, it's just more rumormongering on old information.

I'm not very familiar with IGN. The only reason I saw it was because it showed up on my Facebook page - I had 'liked' them a while back to enter a competition. Outside of GWJ I don't visit a lot of gaming sites. You're saying they're not very reliable? Do I need to change the title of this thread to be more speculative?

Rallick wrote:
I'm not very familiar with IGN. The only reason I saw it was because it showed up on my Facebook page - I had 'liked' them a while back to enter a competition. Outside of GWJ I don't visit a lot of gaming sites. You're saying they're not very reliable? Do I need to change the title of this thread to be more speculative?

IGN is one of the biggest gaming sites but they're also one of the biggest examples of what's wrong with gaming journalism and of driving for clicks rather than accuracy. They're probably correct in their story. But in reality, all Valve did was put up a job posting for a hardware guy. Their story isn't incorrect or wrong, they just framed it in such a way that this is almost some kind of announcement rather than something Valve's been quietly working on for a while.

Malor wrote:
I think they have to. Because of the App Store, and then Microsoft following Apple down that rabbit hole, the computer world is rapidly moving away from general-purpose computing, and moving frighteningly quickly to a 'mother may I' software world.

Apple is already known for saying 'no, you may not sell your software' for all kinds of absolutely bizarre reasons, most especially conflicting with Apple's corporate goals. Anyone who thinks Microsoft will be any different is deluding themselves; Microsoft is a monopoly, so it's dangerous for them to pioneer abuse, but they can freely copy it.

This is not an environment where independent developers like Valve can prosper. "Mother may I" can turn into "NO!" at any time, killing them. So they absolutely must get out from under these corporate thumbs. And shipping their own hardware and OS is probably the only way they can do this.

bingo. windows 8 and beyond does not look good for companies like steam.

that and seems to me we're somewhat at a plateau of processor and video card performance (relative to previous years). i really haven't upgraded my cpu or video card in a few years, and it still runs games fairly strong... i look at the high end offerings, and not sure its worth it to eeek out that much more performance.

so steam may be able to jump into the hardware side of the house with a smaller hurdle than say, back in the early to mid 2000s.

KimJongIl wrote:
Malor wrote:
I think they have to. Because of the App Store, and then Microsoft following Apple down that rabbit hole, the computer world is rapidly moving away from general-purpose computing, and moving frighteningly quickly to a 'mother may I' software world.

Apple is already known for saying 'no, you may not sell your software' for all kinds of absolutely bizarre reasons, most especially conflicting with Apple's corporate goals. Anyone who thinks Microsoft will be any different is deluding themselves; Microsoft is a monopoly, so it's dangerous for them to pioneer abuse, but they can freely copy it.

This is not an environment where independent developers like Valve can prosper. "Mother may I" can turn into "NO!" at any time, killing them. So they absolutely must get out from under these corporate thumbs. And shipping their own hardware and OS is probably the only way they can do this.

bingo. windows 8 and beyond does not look good for companies like steam.

that and seems to me we're somewhat at a plateau of processor and video card performance (relative to previous years). i really haven't upgraded my cpu or video card in a few years, and it still runs games fairly strong... i look at the high end offerings, and not sure its worth it to eeek out that much more performance.

so steam may be able to jump into the hardware side of the house with a smaller hurdle than say, back in the early to mid 2000s.

If this is all true, then Steam is already screwed. If their own hardware is key to their ability to continue to sell software, then they will lose. No matter how you cut it, their number of potential customers will shrink.

But in reality, I suspect Steam will continue to sell games, even on Windows 8.

I can't see MS say 'no' to Steam or able to get a cut from their sales.
But I could see MS trying to compete with them. Knowing MS, this will be in the most unfair way
they can think off, as their history showed already.

Sparhawk wrote:
I can't see MS say 'no' to Steam or able to get a cut from their sales.
But I could see MS trying to compete with them. Knowing MS, this will be in the most unfair way
they can think off, as their history showed already.

If GFWL is part of that strategy, the much-trumpeted end of PC gaming may well occur. However, I think MS got their fingers burned with the various anti-trust legal issues they've had, so hopefully they will behave with a little more decorum this time around.

Interesting article on Ars:

Valve is "jumping in" to the computer hardware market
Valve Software has just revealed a bit more about its apparent intention to jump from gaming software to computer hardware: a job posting for an industrial designer noticed by CVG states that the company is "frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space" and that Valve is "jumping in" to fill a "void in the marketplace."

Whatever that means again of course. Will see what they come up with.

KimJongIl wrote:
Malor wrote:
I think they have to. Because of the App Store, and then Microsoft following Apple down that rabbit hole, the computer world is rapidly moving away from general-purpose computing, and moving frighteningly quickly to a 'mother may I' software world.

Apple is already known for saying 'no, you may not sell your software' for all kinds of absolutely bizarre reasons, most especially conflicting with Apple's corporate goals. Anyone who thinks Microsoft will be any different is deluding themselves; Microsoft is a monopoly, so it's dangerous for them to pioneer abuse, but they can freely copy it.

This is not an environment where independent developers like Valve can prosper. "Mother may I" can turn into "NO!" at any time, killing them. So they absolutely must get out from under these corporate thumbs. And shipping their own hardware and OS is probably the only way they can do this.

bingo. windows 8 and beyond does not look good for companies like steam.

that and seems to me we're somewhat at a plateau of processor and video card performance (relative to previous years). i really haven't upgraded my cpu or video card in a few years, and it still runs games fairly strong... i look at the high end offerings, and not sure its worth it to eeek out that much more performance.

so steam may be able to jump into the hardware side of the house with a smaller hurdle than say, back in the early to mid 2000s.

There are a multitude of holes in this theory about Windows 8 and Microsoft locking anyone out. notice how Gabe Newell carefully avoided saying that. He's only upset about Windows 8 because he has to compete with someone else. There is nothing about Windows 8 that prevents anything that currently runs from continuing to run just fine and in fact, Steam could choose to integrate itself into the Metro UI if they wanted to. I think the Giant Bomb guys made a very good point about this on a recent podcast. The casual user who only cares about Angry Birds/Fruit Ninja doesn't know what Steam is and isn't using it anyway. That's who Microsoft is going after with the Windows App Store. Anyone who knows enough about "hardcore" PC gaming to use Steam already knows what it is and will experience exactly zero confusion in differentiating it from the Windows App Store. Metro is not designed to run Skyrim or any other "AAA" PC title and there's no threat to that market from it. Yes, Microsoft shoving it in people's faces when they start their computers is something that should remain and option and not a requirement but the segment of the gaming public that makes up the vast majority of Steam's user base will be phased by it for maybe a minute before they realise where the games they want are at. Between enterprise and all the specialised uses various segments have for Windows, this notion that every Windows PC is suddenly going to be locked down like an iOS device is absurd. Microsoft has too many people they will lose if they try that, it's not going to happen. It's the same reason it hasn't happened on the Mac yet either.

If Valve does choose to release their own hardware (which once again, there's no confirmation of), I imagine it will be with a specific purpose in mind, probably one that's way out there, hence the "fill a void in the marketplace" statement. Hardware is an extremely high-risk, low-margin business and I don't think Valve would enter it just to say "Here's basically a PC with unified hardware you plug into your TV." I wouldn't be surprised if they try to release something like a Kindle Fire where they have a tablet that's powered by Steam and which would allow cross-buy/cross-play between the tablet and your PC. Remember that they also recently announce non-gaming software will be coming to Steam. Since they can't put Steam on Apple devices (though theoretically they could make their own App Store for Android) and they have the clout they do, I could be persuaded to buy a tablet where I could buy a game once and play it on multiple types of devices. That's something the Windows App Store is aiming to do as well but undoubtedly Valve could do it better.

He's only upset about Windows 8 because he has to compete with someone else.

I don't think you understand the full ramifications of the changes in 8.

There is nothing about Windows 8 that prevents anything that currently runs from continuing to run just fine

True, but the old stuff is deprecated. In Windows 8, Microsoft is deprecating windows. That means minimal maintenance, and no new features. Their engineering efforts are all going to be pointed at that incredibly sh*tty Metro environment.

and in fact, Steam could choose to integrate itself into the Metro UI if they wanted to

No, sir. If they do that, they die, because they can't do most of the normal functions of computer programs, and they absolutely can't run a competitive store that's sold in Microsoft's store.

They're locked out of Metro, and the desktop is now on life support. It's dying. And that means that Steam will eventually die, too.

This is probably best taken to the Windows 8 thread but I will say that it's part of my job to understand the ramifications of Windows 8 and while I'm not sold on aspects of it, I definitely don't agree with your assessment. There's zero evidence beyond your saying so that Microsoft has "deprecated" anything. That's speculation at best and I don't believe those reasons have anything to do with Valve wanting into hardware.

Valve wants to make peripherals. That's interesting, especially considering there's been about 0 innovation in that space.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:
This is probably best taken to the Windows 8 thread but I will say that it's part of my job to understand the ramifications of Windows 8 and while I'm not sold on aspects of it, I definitely don't agree with your assessment. There's zero evidence beyond your saying so that Microsoft has "deprecated" anything. That's speculation at best and I don't believe those reasons have anything to do with Valve wanting into hardware.

Am going back on forth on all this. But I think Valve knows that MS rather has people playing on the Xbox than windows. MS' efforts for gamers on the windows systems are nil. And that is bad business for Valve and others. Time will tell though.

Come on people, we all know this is the Steam implant we've all been waiting for.

There's zero evidence beyond your saying so that Microsoft has "deprecated" anything.

Um, other than all their development tools shifting to Metro? For quite awhile, it was looking like the free tools would ONLY create Metro applications, but I gather the squawking was so extreme that they changed course.

There is only one future, as far as Microsoft is concerned, and that's Metro, where you buy all your apps from them. They're already trying to make the old stuff unappealing. Eventually, they will make it impossible.

Malor wrote:
There's zero evidence beyond your saying so that Microsoft has "deprecated" anything.

Um, other than all their development tools shifting to Metro? For quite awhile, it was looking like the free tools would ONLY create Metro applications, but I gather the squawking was so extreme that they changed course.

There is only one future, as far as Microsoft is concerned, and that's Metro, where you buy all your apps from them. They're already trying to make the old stuff unappealing. Eventually, they will make it impossible.

I couldn't find an equivalent to Visual Studio C++ 2010 Express when I looked last week.

Sparhawk wrote:
Parallax Abstraction wrote:
This is probably best taken to the Windows 8 thread but I will say that it's part of my job to understand the ramifications of Windows 8 and while I'm not sold on aspects of it, I definitely don't agree with your assessment. There's zero evidence beyond your saying so that Microsoft has "deprecated" anything. That's speculation at best and I don't believe those reasons have anything to do with Valve wanting into hardware.

Am going back on forth on all this. But I think Valve knows that MS rather has people playing on the Xbox than windows. MS' efforts for gamers on the windows systems are nil. And that is bad business for Valve and others. Time will tell though.

And yet Windows is basically the default Gaming Platform for PC's. Sure there are decent amount of games for the Mac and Linux but all the cutting edge gaming is pushed on Windows. Microsoft can't really stop this or do much more to enable it than they really have... Direct X/D3D do a decent job on their own to help gaming exist on Windows PC's...but certainly OpenGL has its presence as does the various plugins/web technologies.

Gaming on the PC has always had its strengths in its flexibility, customization, as well as backwards compatability (to an extent). I'm locked in on the Mac side to specific hardware and drivers.. and at the whim of competing camps on the Linux side forever fragmenting the gaming scene.

Windows 8 might be presenting a Microsoft Store/App front as well as Metro Specific apps..but Microsoft has made zero motions to stop any user from installing non metro software in the standard fashion as before and running any applications they want. Anything presented here otherwise is speculation or outright FUD. In the old days we called it Trolling.

Valve may be a favored company but any gaming platform would be essentially controlled by Valve and thus all applications purchased would probably come from Valve and Steam (see speculation!!!) thus ensuring Valve of a cut of anything installed on this system.. essentially you trade an "open" system for a system likely controlled by Valve soup to nuts..

Valve simply making another Linux distro doesnt make that much sense from Valve's economic interest and/or functionality for the user. Valve making a tightly controlled gaming "box" makes sense since Valve certainly has experience with providing developers a great distribution platform..additionally I can easily see Valve providing one of the better development IDE's as well... Performance would be probably way higher than your typical PC and optimizations would probably be way easier on this platform.

I would be excited about the prospects this mythical system might bring as well.. anything that pushes the hardware/development envelope is a good thing (competition as well)

Scratched wrote:
I'll believe it when they actually release something. If they are working on something, it's for something like guidelines for manufacturers.

I like that take on it as in a recent interview on GTTV Gabe said that they weren't interested in creating a hardware platform but would work with those that created them.

I'd love to just get a cheap computer that runs the few programs I want to- including games. I don't care who comes out with it- would love to see it.

and at the whim of competing camps on the Linux side forever fragmenting the gaming scene.

And never getting the damn sound system right. It's been more than twenty years since Linux 1.0, and they still don't really handle sound properly. They have several competing, broken systems, instead of one that actually works.

Maybe Valve can fix that.

Malor wrote:
There is only one future, as far as Microsoft is concerned, and that's Metro, where you buy all your apps from them. They're already trying to make the old stuff unappealing. Eventually, they will make it impossible.

And what do you think a dedicated Valve box would be? Why is it wrong for Microsoft to force you to funnel everything through them (which is still speculation without evidence at this point) but it's OK for Valve to? If Valve released their own box, I highly doubt it would be open. OUYA's trying to do that and while that company is certainly not Valve, their idea of an open console has largely been mocked as unrealistic.