Google To Buy Valve? – Update

By John Walker on September 17th, 2008 at 12:37 pm.

Right...

We asked Valve to comment on the rumour, and received a succinct reply:

“Which is all it is… a rumor.”

Can it really be true that Google are about to buy Valve? So goes the rumour that’s currently setting the internet alight. A rumour we look on with dubiously raised eyebrows and possible scorn. Yeah, right. Very happy to be proved wrong. But we’ll see.

The Inquirer cite “well placed sources”, who say the purchase will happen any moment now. All other stories link back to that one. The Inquirer seems pretty confident, but then also pretty vague. But it does sound like a special kind of nonsense. Never mind that it’s a little early in the morning US time for a deal to be happening. It’s currently 4.30am in Seattle, where both companies reside.

Last year we had the following exchange with Valve boss/owner Gabe Newell:

RPS: I have a friend (an idiot) who is determined that in six months Valve will be owned by either Microsoft or EA…

Gabe: Tell him that I’m not interested in buying either one of them.

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102 Comments »

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  1. MetalCircus says:

    Yes I also just read this. If it’s true i’m wondering if it’s a good thing…

  2. Masterdog says:

    Worries me. I’ve no reason to suspect Google of wanting to interfere in Valve’s activities (unless they plan to sell the fact I prefer a pulse rifle to an RPG launcher to munitions companies). However, Valve seem to be getting on just fine on their own. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke…

  3. araczynski says:

    i don’t think it would be good or bad, or really matter (to me), unless the new overlords happen to remove the retarded restrictions on steam (and i think every other online game downloading service) purchases (i’m assuming that’s all they really care about buying, steam).

    retarded restriction being: pay retail prices, don’t get retail product, and lose rights to resell it.

  4. Freelancepolice says:

    Google OS in 2 years time, you heard it here first

  5. Naurgul says:

    First of all, if I may, let me express that I have many doubts there is any truth in this story. Supposing that it’s true, though, I think it’s the best Valve buyout scenario possible. Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t have my reservations for such a prospect. I fear two things in that case: a) ads, b) Valve games being eaten by the Google black hole effect.

  6. delfino furioso says:

    “google to buy steam”

    that’s more likely

  7. piphil says:

    Google OS? In two years? I’m typing this on Chrome, which from the sounds of it is basically the first beta of Google OS. :-P

  8. Mogs says:

    This is surely a load of bunk.

    But a bizarre rumour regardless.

    Oh, and Valve being eaten by ANYONE would unquestionably be a bad and wholely unnecessary thing.

  9. Heliocentric says:

    I’d rather google than either ea or microsoft.

    Google hasnt proven themselves to be anti-trust consumer abusers.

    And who can realy buy google, If gabe is gonna sell out google isnt a bad choice.

    Edit: if this is an intercepted email of one of the google owners trying to get a copy of hl2 over steam and his credit card not going through.

    i’ll lol

  10. cHeal says:

    “google to buy steam?”

    more likely

    Yeah it seems like the primary asset which they would be interested in.

  11. John Walker says:

    Freelancepolice – I think we in fact heard that about 20 billion times previously. But we heard it from YOU here first, and that’s still special.

  12. The Sombrero Kid says:

    this is click harvesting imo

  13. Heliocentric says:

    Kid, i didnt click through, what do i win?

  14. Mogs says:

    Google OS, now that’s something I’d like to see. Get them to back some version of Linux & release it for FREE.

    MS would shrivel.

  15. Flint says:

    This is so absurdly random.

  16. Nick says:

    Ok, here’s an out-there theory – Google buys Valve as a way to get a hold of a digital publisher, who can help enormously with the task of preparing the new Google OS to run games, which have previously been largely restricted to Windows operating systems.

  17. faelnor says:

    Love both companies’ products, but if Google buys Valve, I swear I’m uninstalling Chrome, switching to Altavista and never buying anything off Steam again :(

    Valve certainly don’t need Google or anyone for that matter, and Google have to learn to consolidate what they already have before thinking about more acquisitions.
    Google buying the Steam distribution system would be a different matter, though. I can definitely see something good coming out of that.

  18. Naurgul says:

    There’s another point to be made about this: Steam right now it the top dog as far as PC gaming digital distribution goes. However, they don’t have the manpower other companies do. EA or Microsoft or whatever could take the lead if they put their mind into it.

    So, perhaps this is the only way that the effort they put into Steam wouldn’t be a waste.

  19. Ben Hazell says:

    But does anyone know what Valve is actually worth now?

  20. Gladman says:

    I like steam and think that the conveniences of it (access from anywhere, patches, server browser etc etc) more than make up for the retail prices.

    Don’t ruin my steam, google.

  21. Downloads_Plz says:

    First thought: Why?

    Second thought: At least it’s Google and not Microsoft or EA.

  22. Meat Circus says:

    Google has infrastructure that Gabe can only dream of.

    Google buying Valve? I wouldn’t have thought so. What I could see, however, was Steam being spun off into a joint venture co-owned by Google and Valve, run through Google’s vast server-and-tubes backbone.

  23. Masterdog says:

    One thing I can think of that Google and Valve have in common is an attempt to speed up (or increase the efficiency of) the Internet. Google, I seem to remember, have been laying various cables between some countries under the ocean. Valve, of course, had their abortive PowerPlay initiative, which was supposed to decrease pings (or at least minimalise lag) until they realised they didn’t know how to do it. Maybe they’ve decided to join forces and get something done.
    I’m just wildly speculating here of course. But it’s fun.

  24. kadayi says:

    I could see this happening, though I suspect not much would actually change at Valve as a result in terms of operation. Google would probably be principally interested in Steam and developing the platform/principle into other areas.

  25. Nimic says:

    Well, I know Gabe Newell doesn’t need the money as far as personal wealth goes, so I trust him not to put Valve in a situation where they won’t be able to do what they’ve done so well. For that reason I wouldn’t be immediately skeptical if a deal was struck.

  26. Vandercanal says:

    The Inq may claim to have a credible source but they’re not particularly credible themselves.
    Partnership would make some sense though – google ads on Steam in exchange for faster downloads. Steam is also just a tweaked IE at this point, Valve would probably be better served basing it on Chrome (since MS also want to get into digital game distribution and could effectively hold them hostage) and Google could provide some engineering talent to do that. They’d be wiser still to stay independent and base on Firefox IMO.

  27. Monkfish says:

    Google’s core business is advertising. Here in Internet-land, Google practically are advertising.

    I suppose the question is, how exactly would Valve fit into the Google machine? I can see that Steam would be an attractive addition to Google’s core business, but the game development angle would be quite a deviation. Unless there’s a games-meets-advertising angle, of course.

    Hmm.

  28. nakke says:

    Counter-Strike 1.6 already has advertising (in some maps). Maybe google is about to take care of that?

  29. Dag says:

    Google Adwords in all of Steams 440 games, with over 15 million active user accounts worldwide this has to be what Google is looking for.

    It looks like I will be uninstalling when the out of control ingame advertising starts.

  30. The Kins says:

    “The Inquirer”
    “Well-Placed Sources”

  31. phuzz says:

    First thought:
    ahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
    Second thought:
    There’s already adverts for Valve/Steam on their download servers, but I’ve never seen any others, perhaps this is a way to speed up steam and drop their server costs?

    but a buyout? Nahh, I’ll eat my mouse if that happens.

  32. The Sombrero Kid says:

    valve are all about making the customers happy, that doesn’t include loading up their service that’s already been paid for with ad’s people wouldn’t like that and gabe wouldn’t like the customers not liking that, valves in a stupidly dominant position with steam, it is literally priceless since you can’t hostile valve and valve stand to make more money than google’s ever seen for the de facto internet media distribution service it’s more likely google would be asking polity to stick some ads in the service for a special free game distribution component and valve agreeing or google publishing other peoples games for free though steam riddled with ad’s either way the inq is doing what the inq does best evangelising and over exaggerating and on this one i all but guarantee they’re talking out their ass.

  33. Velt says:

    Has anyone ever actually read a completely legit article from the inquirer?

    The day Steam is colored in flare, is the day I quit gaming. I love google, but honestly? no. I highly doubt Valve will ever sell out. They are the only gaming company that does things the right way, every time.

  34. Shadowmancer says:

    @ Ben Hazell “But does anyone know what Valve is actually worth now?”

    They are worth $50 million (£100 million), personally I think this acquisition is good theres nothing much that Google has done that has ever made me rage, at least its better than EA buying it.

  35. nakke says:

    valve are all about making the customers happy, that doesn’t include loading up their service that’s already been paid for with ad’s

    What about the ingame ads placed in counter-strike 1.6 after no real updates (although there are some major bugs, still) for years? They just did it because they noticed people still play that game, but they can’t really sell new copies to all those people.

    But is that making customers happy? Of course it is! Who wouldn’t want to know about the new hot stuff while shooting some terrorists?!

  36. PsyW says:

    Valve being bought out would be a very bad thing. However, them being bought out by Google would probably be the least worst option.

    Note least worst as opposed to best, there. A buyout by EA or MS would be catastrophic. Valve are quite possibly the best developer/publisher in the world so far as consistently high-quality games are concerned, and any fusion with a publishing megacorp is likely to spoil the magic. Maybe Google would do better, but I’d worry that they’d meddle with the way things are done and accidentally ruin everything.

    For an acquisition of Valve to be successful (from the gamers perspective, at least), the parent company would have to essentially leave everything as it is. I don’t think that’s terribly likely, no matter who does the buying.

  37. Reverend Speed says:

    Steam.

    On Chrome.

    Linux?

  38. dhex says:

    $50 million USD is about 27 million uk pounds.

    i’ll add some wood to the fire – this really doesn’t make any sense.

  39. kadayi says:

    If they have an interest its undoubtably beyond selling games and using it for advertising, more acquiring Steam and turning Steam into the de facto digital distribution platform for music, films, TV shows etc. Downloads that are saved to an account and can being redownloaded being the hook and advantage over itunes for example.

  40. Shadowmancer says:

    @ dhex
    Cheers, sorry about the wrong number I’ll see if i can edit it, i was typing an email to my uni at the time.
    edit: looks like i cant edit the post :(

  41. The Sombrero Kid says:

    @nakke
    that’s a good point but putting ads on cs 1.6 is no where near the same as allowing google to trample the steam platform with ads the fact is most people said ‘i don’t give a fuck, that games ancient and i don’t play it anymore’ with cs 1.6 (which is why they didn’t do it with cs source)
    @Reverend Speed
    very unlikely the whole concept of steam is completly tied to microsoft tech and it would need to be rewritten from scratch to run on linux without wine or some alternative, not to mention most of the games, on linux steam will always need a directx translator

  42. dhex says:

    naw man i got all excited for a second and then worried because it meant that the usd had experienced super deflation and milk would be like nine bucks a gallon. i like cereal so i panicked a bit. :)

  43. Monkfish says:

    While the Inquirer is a pretty dubious source of information (to say the least!), there has been a fair amount of speculation over the last week or so that goes some way towards validating this rumour. A bit.

    And the Grauniad had an interesting article that I found whilst Googling (natch!) around.

    Also, MCV have something about Google throwing some gaming-related patents into the mix late last year.

    In any case, the Inquirer really should learn to put question marks on speculative article titles. Like John has here. Well done John.

  44. Sam says:

    @The Sombrero Kid:

    Who told you that nonsense about “the whole concept of Steam” being tied to Microsoft technology? You can already download a cut-down Linux Steam that just does the installation of packages etc (it’s for installing the Linux servers for Valve stuff).
    Now, the shiny GUI uses a lot of embedded IE, but I don’t think it should be that hard to make it embedded Gecko or Webkit instead (indeed, that’s basically what Wine does to it). The meat of the thing, however, has never been inherently Microsoft-based.

    I accept your point about the games though – it’s a bit sad that Half Life had an OpenGL renderer, but Source-games (except on PS3) only do DirectX.

  45. Half Broken Glass says:

    And nothing of value was lost.

  46. The Sombrero Kid says:

    i meant the shift tab for directx hooks thing though btw in game^ which on retrospect could easy get cut and tbh on consideration apart from the games and the snazzy shift tab directx hooks there’s no reason it couldn’t run on linux with another browser tech quickly and better

  47. aiusepsi says:

    @The Sombrero Kid
    How is Steam completely tied to Microsoft tech? The only bit of Microsoft-specific tech they use (in Steam) is an IE control for web browsing, and they’re thinking of replacing it with an open-source one anyway (http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=723466).

    Everything else is fairly easily portable. They use their own UI toolkit for instance, so porting the UI to Linux or whatever would be fairly trivial.

    The shift+tab thing (the overlay) also works with OpenGL, for compatibility with GoldSrc games and things like Quake.

  48. Sam says:

    I am going to have to ask what the shift-tab directx hooks do.
    I don’t remember ever pressing shift-tab in a Steam managed game.

  49. The Sombrero Kid says:

    @aiusepsi a little known api called directx

  50. Ian Dorsch says:

    Steam makes Valve an awful lot of money. I can’t imagine they’d really be interested in selling it off.