Valve Would be Prepared to Make Hardware

Gabe Newell has spoken to Ben Kuchera for the Penny Arcade Report. The most striking snippet to come from the interview is the fact that, if they thought it necessary, Valve would develop hardware.

Newell was keen to point out that they’d prefer to keep on working as they currently do — making software for platforms that are developed by those with manufacturing and distribution experience. But Valve’s drive to innovate would spur the company to compete with the likes of Microsoft, Sony and a plethora of PC manufacturers if they thought it was beneficial.

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Well, if we have to sell hardware we will. We have no reason to believe we’re any good at it, it’s more we think that we need to continue to have innovation and if the only way to get these kind of projects started is by us going and developing and selling the hardware directly then that’s what we’ll do.

It’s definitely not the first thought that crosses our mind; we’d rather hardware people that are good at manufacturing and distributing hardware do that. We think it’s important enough that if that’s what we end up having to do then that’s what we end up having to do.

Valve revolutionised the PC distribution market and some would argue that their Steam platform is what has kept PC gaming healthy in recent years, as well as providing an invaluable income stream from smaller developers. Could they innovate in hardware too?

The full interview, in which much more is discussed, is fascinating and serves to highlight what a creative environment Valve Software is and what a visionary Newell himself is, we’d recommend you all give it a read.

Source: Penny Arcade Report

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19 Comments

  1. Given most power stations are just giant kettles producing steam to spin turbines, aren’t we all using steam-powered computers already. :-)

    Luckily gaming’s come a long way from when the only ‘game’ you could play on your (thermionic) valve computer was “what are the Germans saying today”.
    http://www.bletchleypark.org/content/visit/whattosee/ColossusRebuildProject.rhtm

  2. I would buy it, if its priced right, that would mean more cross platform with pc gamers online

  3. I know it’s kind of a slow gaming news day but this does sort of sound like “Valve haven’t completely guaranteed they won’t make hardware”
    I mean, I don’t want to eat people to survive but if that is what I had to do, if there became no other option, then that is what I would do.

    • The younger the tastier.

    • I agree but the headline stuff is just that — a headline soundbite from the interview. The interview is generally very interesting and I wanted to alert people to it.
      Unfortunately, “Gabe Newell is Really Interesting, Loves Tablet Computers, Isn’t Opposed to Developing Hardware and Valve Studios Sounds Like a Great Environment to Foster Creativity” wouldn’t fit in our headline space ;)

    • I wonder if Gabe ever thought of eating people to survive.

      • I would think most of us might if we were faced with our own mortality.

      • I’m eating someone right now.

  4. Just imagine Steam on a console! I would probably never buy a disk-based game again! Also, cross-console play with PC gamers would be awesome.

  5. It would be one of the only consoles i’d have genuine enthusiasm for, as Valve understand video-games and the business more than anyone in the market.

  6. The only problem with this gaming platform if it exist is that it was come out probably a decade after it was planned by which time it might be obselete. If their games are delayed so much what’s gong to happen with this…?

  7. Sounds like the kind of quote that comes back to haunt you later in life. Like “PS3s suck” – Gabe circa 2008 [paraphrased].

    • His comments were completely justified. Just that people were deeply offended by his words but Valve wasn’t built to cater for the PS3 and as always, business is business.

      • Umm, what?

        I don’t know what history you remember, but I’m referring to this:

        ——————–

        Gabe – 2007
        “Investing in the Cell, investing in the SPE gives you no long-term benefits. There’s nothing there that you’re going to apply to anything else. You’re not going to gain anything except a hatred of the architecture they’ve created”

        “I don’t think they’re going to make money off their box. I don’t think it’s a good solution.”

        “a total disaster on so many levels… I think it’s really clear that Sony lost track of what customers and what developers wanted”

        “I’d say, even at this late date, they should just cancel it and do a do over” Just say, ‘This was a horrible disaster and we’re sorry and we’re going to stop selling this and stop trying to convince people to develop for it.’”

        Gabe – 2009

        “If you look at the customers that I feel we’ve done the worst job taking care of, it’s the people who bought [The Orange Box ] on the PS3,” Newell said, “and that’s a source of frustration. Those are people I have trouble saying anything other than, ‘yeah, I’m sorry, you have a legitimate beef with us.'”

        Gabe – 2010

        “We thought that the Orange Box didn’t put our best foot forward with the PS3 community. We don’t want to do something like that again on the PS3. We want to give PS3 owners the best possible experience.

        “Some of that will come from us learning and getting better. Before we can go onto the PS3 again, we want to make sure we’re better at developing for it.”

        Appears on stage at Sony’s freakin e3 conference, eats humble pie and announces Portal 2 with steamworks for PS3.

        ——————–

        Remember that?

      • There’s a little nugget of truth in some of his comments. You can tell he was being constantly badgered about PS3 support, and I think he reacted badly to it.

        Of course, now that Valve have brought along PS3 and Mac support, they’ve in my good books again. ;)

      • I have to agree with Tef. His complaints about the PS3 architechture are legit. They had to train people or hire a new team of devs just to be able to program for the Cell and where else would game developers use that knowledge after the PS3 is gone? It’s kind of like learning Latin for that one girl you want to impress but you know you’ll break up after 5-10 years anyways.

      • A little bit of truth yes, but it’s his absolute dismissal that was unnecessary. Ultimately he was wrong – the PS3 has been far more successful than Newell predicted and had Valve invested the relatively small effort into expanding their development tools earlier they could have profiteered from it even more. Portal 2 was a great example of how “investing in the Cell” was worthwhile.

        Everyone makes out like programming for the PS3 is the Everest of game development, I can’t help but feel it’s a little over stereotyped. Sure most people admit the Xbox has easier tools, yet hundreds of developers seem to manage the PS3 just fine.

        Getting back to my original point, Gabe Newell sometimes tends to engage his mouth before his brain – the day Valve do develop hardware and are trying to sound like they know what they are doing, I guarantee these comments will be the first things come back to bite them.

  8. It’s actually a pretty interesting idea. Dell just came out with a small. Alienware branded entry level gaming PC that fits in the living room. I can see this work for the not so techy people who are interested in PC gaming, don’t want to spend a lot of money on a huge gaming rig, don’t have the room for a tower case or simply lack the knowledge to build one on their own.
    I’d certainly be intrigued to get something like that to replace my bulky gaming PC and put it next to my PS3.

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