Steamin': Valve Recruitment Ad Reveals Hardware Plans

By Jim Rossignol on April 13th, 2012 at 10:00 am.


The unblinking internet eye of Engadget has spotted a new job placement ad at Valve, appealing for an electronics engineer. It reads: “For years, Valve has been all about writing software that provides great gameplay experiences. Now we’re developing hardware to enhance those experiences, and you can be a key part of making that happen. Join our highly motivated team that’s doing hardware design, prototyping, testing, and production across a wide range of platforms. We’re not talking about me-too mice and gamepads here – help us invent whole new gaming experiences.” Valve previously denied a “Steam Box” gaming platform, and the wording of this new ad suggests this might be something else entirely. But what? To the Speculatotron! See below for some video-clues.

Valve R&D lab?

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70 Comments »

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  1. jellydonut says:

    Oh my.

    Well, idk. ARM/x86? Clearly they’re making *some* sort of box.

    If this is a handheld device I will murder myself.

    • MrTambourineMan says:

      Don’t forget to call me as well, we’ll put some serious Heaven’s gate shit together!

    • vodka and cookies says:

      At worst this could be just an extension of steam certified PC’s, remember Windows 8 will be running on Arm chipsets which you will only be able to buy pre-built no DIY systems.

      At best they are planning some form of set top box that can tie into Steam library, have the PC do the heavy lifting and the STB display the output on your TV.

      An actual game console would be a huge risk for Valve.

    • MordeaniisChaos says:

      What? How does that mean it’s some kind of box? The thing clearly mentions input devices, so it’s pretty clear what it’ll be. Hardware has to be made to work with software, and if you want that software to be on everything, then you have to include those things. Boxes don’t “enhance” the gaming experience.

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      Zephro says:

      Controllers also have ARM chips in them and X86 for the device drivers. Pretty simple.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Llewyn says:

    Valve have already said many times that they’re working on things like biometric interfaces. I don’t see much need for the Speculatotron here.

    • zeekthegeek says:

      This. They’re experimenting with stuff but it’s ludicrous to speculate on anything beyond that.

    • Shivoa says:

      Yep, in the PAR interview from a month or two back they straight up confirmed their experimentation with novel input and output devices and Gabe’s love of all that stuff and playing with the new toys (and if no one else is bringing to market something they think would be cool then Valve might have to give it a go if they want to make games based on a new input or output device).

      “You know, where some of the things we’re looking at longer term are just spending a lot of time thinking about input devices. We’re also looking at some of the emerging output technologies that are coming along and trying to figure out how much of an impact that they’re gonna have on our designs. So we mock stuff up in our hardware labs and try and figure out different, sort of game fragments and see how those things work.”

      from Gabe via http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/valves-gabe-newell-talks-wearable-computers-rewarding-players-and-whether-w

    • Simon Hawthorne says:

      They clearly have a few Google Project Glass specs are are experimenting with mods http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-news-blog/2012/apr/05/google – seeing how to create a gaming interface. /rampantspeculation

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      Zephro says:

      This. The eurogamer one is full of inane speculation. But ARM chips are generally put inside controller devices etc, and knowing X86 is handy for doing device drivers. So unlikely to be anything other than control interfaces.

  3. hellwalker says:

    well something like Onlive seems an obvious choice,
    Steam could own it with cloud platform.

    • klo3 says:

      I’m not sure why you’d need a cloud based service. Why not just offer a subscription model to Steam, maybe a couple of tiers for example 10h, 25h and unlimited gaming a month? No need to invest in expensive tech and server farms. The games would be downloaded normally but somehow encrypted to work only the time limit you payed for. Of course you could still buy games normally if you wanted to… This could probably also be combined to a hardware platform.

      I’m sure there’s many (researched) reasons why this wouldn’t work but there’s have to be many reasons why it would…

      • Premium User Badge

        RaveTurned says:

        “I’m not sure why you’d need a cloud based service.”

        Mobile devices. OnLive’s cloud-based framework means you can play triple-A games on your iTabletDevice or RobotPhone. All you need is support for something like a Bluetooth game-pad (if there isn’t one already?) and you’re set.

        Steam’s mobile support amounts to chatting and buying games, but you can’t actually play them. Yet.

        • SexualHarassmentPanda says:

          You would first need a control device. I don’t care what you say, touch interfaces are not suitable for anything but simple arcade games.

      • hellwalker says:

        Manny AAA title publishers would hate that :D
        Now you have to pay 59 for both games that last 6 hours and 200+ to unlimited.
        definitely very few would pay 59 for 6 hour subscription to something (other than sex or Spaceship trip I guess),
        cloud is interesting because End user does not have to own expensive hardware to run games.

    • SexualHarassmentPanda says:

      Steam already has a cloud platform. I doubt they would get into streaming lives games. It doesn’t make sense since a vast majority of their audience already own a gaming pc.

  4. D3xter says:

    I hope they’re not really trying to do data gloves/”wearable computing” again: http://www.penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/valves-gabe-newell-talks-wearable-computers-rewarding-players-and-whether-w/

    No, Gabe, bad Gabe, bad!

    • MrTambourineMan says:

      I like Gabe’s new style with grey beard and shit.

    • gschmidl says:

      If it’s Wearable Computing, “I’m quaking in my boots” gains a whole new meaning.

  5. Xzi says:

    I know it’s a pipe dream, but I think Valve entering into the GPU market would be pretty awesome.

    • sneetch says:

      Oh, I think that sounds like a nightmare, there are enough problems with AMD, NVIDIA and Intel drivers and chipsets not playing well with each other, the last thing we need is a software company trying their hand too.

      • Xzi says:

        Well that’s exactly what I mean. Having a lot of software development experience themselves might help them to better support all the titles that Nvidia and AMD often fail to.

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    phlebas says:

    A control device that plugs directly into the back of your head. It’s wireless, with a distinctive red aerial.

  7. faillord_adam says:

    And the Linux ad is gone…

    Unless they hired someone?

    • qd says:

      Something that hasn’t been reported on RPS is that Valve is also pretty obviously researching the possiblity of a Linux Steam client and ports of some of their games and are hiring people: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTA3OTY

      Multiple people have emailed Gabe who confirmed it’s true, Ryan “icculus” Gordon (famous Linux games porter) turned down an interview/job offer because he didn’t want to move, and the owner of Phoronix was invited over to Valve and he’s going later this month.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Which brings up another thing to speculate about. Surely Microsoft would hate to have yet another non-pc device out there bleeding their xbox revenue. They’d likely charge Valve a hefty sum for OS licensing costs.

  8. sneetch says:

    I’m hoping they put handles on a tablet, that’d drive the innovations through the roof!

  9. Staggy says:

    These Valve ARGs are getting ridiculously complex.

  10. Gabe McGrath says:

    I just want to mention the word ‘Gabecube’ again – not because I’m sure it’s likely,
    but because I *love* the sound of it.

    That’s all.

    Oh, and I wish I’d thought it up, but I didn’t.

  11. Monkey says:

    Half Life 3 Box Station

  12. Lemming says:

    So looking at that second video they drink Newkee Brown while working? No wonder Valve get fuck all done! ;-)

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    princec says:

    Fundamentally all Valve need to do is ship a cut-down console system based on a PC but bundled with controllers (hurrah!). You will have access to all your existing Steam titles. You won’t need to wank around finding drivers or getting games to work on it because Valve will QC titles for the system, and developers only have one major target to point at. Instantly a whole load of user support headaches are no longer a problem, and they can afford to sell top spec gaming hardware at a ridiculously low pricepoint because they can subsidise it with Steam. It will almost certainly run standard x86 chips in it – i5 is my bet, nothing ARM based – but the OS will be anyone’s guess. Linux would certainly be an interesting base but then it rules out 99% of the games you already own on Steam and that’s the most important value proposition Steam actually has.

    So basically: you get a top spec dedicated gaming PC for Playstation money, and all your driver worries go away. I’ll be buying one.

    • skinlo says:

      I won’t, gamepads are awful, plus I already have a PC that I built myself that works fine.

      Plus, ‘driver worries’ are over rated, they aren’t common at all, despite what some console owners like to believe.

    • sneetch says:

      “Instantly a whole load of user support headaches are no longer a problem, and they can afford to sell top spec gaming hardware at a ridiculously low pricepoint because they can subsidise it with Steam.”

      I’m not seeing the “win” for Valve here… they subsidise PCs with Steam’s profits and get… what exactly? Apart from lower profits. Why subsidise anything? People already have PCs, their customers already have PCs so the only reason to sell a standard-spec Valve-branded PC (which is all you’re talking about really) would be to make them money not cost them money.

      Also you don’t need hardware engineers for any of that.

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      bear912 says:

      I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon, but if I wanted subsidized hardware I would buy a console.

      • Vagrant says:

        Truth! He speaks it. I dunno about the rest of you, but play computer games.

    • dazman76 says:

      None of that would require the electronics experience being requested, as Sneetch pointed out. Those skills are clearly ground-up hardware design and build skills – if you were making a high-spec PC, you’d just use existing processors, motherboards and RAM – absolutely no low-level electronics or thermal experience required.

    • DrGonzo says:

      That’s not simple, it would cost hundreds of millions at least.

    • Net_Bastard says:

      Sorry, but that sounds awful. If I wanted standardized gaming I’d get a console. Also, in my entire lifetime of PC gaming, I never had any trouble with drivers. PC gaming is not a minefield that involves driver tinkering for every game only for it to crash in 20 minutes, as much as console gamers would like to believe that.

  14. Roshin says:

    Steam OS. I wants it.

    • Khemm says:

      You want Valve to have a total monopoly? They control 90% of PC gaming market already.

  15. lordcooper says:

    Episode 3 is actually a console. You heard it here first.

    • JayeRandom says:

      They’re going to make buying hardware a condition of playing Ep3, aren’t they? Just like they used HL2 to make everyone install Steam…

  16. dazman76 says:

    OMG Valve make HL333333333333333333!!!

    Phew, sorry guys – really not sure where that came from. Well, I guess this could be quite interesting – or it could go the same way as Valve’s (previously) major franchise, which they’ve completely ABANDONED OMG make HL33333333333!

    Lord, this is difficult. I better go and have a word with myself.

  17. Brun says:

    Bet it’s hardware to support their biometric gaming research. My guess is that it’s a peripheral of some sort that will ship alongside one of their new games.

    • SexualHarassmentPanda says:

      This is the most likely suggestion I’ve seen.

  18. trjp says:

    Valve have said, several times, they’re working on hardware to enable games to be played on bigger screens – specifically your TV in the living room.

    They don’t need an engineer to design a mini-PC – I suspect they’re working on something which sends your games to your PC in some way (either OnLive-stylee or something like that – using your home network perhaps).

    Now THAT is speculation which is interesting :)

  19. Skabooga says:

    Honestly, I’d settle for that crowbar controller.

  20. Merus says:

    It sounds like Valve saw everyone freak out about the Steam box and they thought, ‘huh, I guess we should look into that’.

  21. ResonanceCascade says:

    I’m interested to see what they have in store this E3. Rumors of new IPs and such have been brewing (I’m not expecting any Half-Life), so hopefully they have something new to show off with some of their new hardware ideas.

  22. ResonanceCascade says:

    Wow! Not even in the right story. Ultra reply fail.

  23. Wyrm says:

    They are obviously creating the big red “Brainvalve” PC-Cranium interface device.

  24. edit says:

    Even some basic biofeedback could change gaming forever. Interested to see what they cook up.

  25. Novotny says:

    Big bottoms, big bottoms – talk about mudflaps, my girl’s got em. Ah.

  26. Iskariot says:

    Instead of news about Valve’s hardware plans, I would rather hear some news about Valve’s Half life plans.

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    Vandelay says:

    To add potential weight to the controller argument, Valve have worked quite closely with Sixense, the makers of the Razer Hydra. As well as allowing them early access to Portal 2 assets to create special Hydra levels, they are currently working on implementing direct motion control into other Source games.

    If Valve worked with Sixense on motion controls, rather than the crummy support Razer have given, I would be very interested.

  28. noproblem says:

    Wow I thought I recognised Jeri Ellsworth, she had a group on the element14 community. I had no idea she was working for Valve! I am really glad for her! It must be a dream job for a dream company!

  29. jellydonut says:

    Mystery solved: wearable computing. http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/abrash/

    This is what they’re hiring for, and it’s what those clever people whom you didn’t expect to see at Valve (Ellsworth and Abrash for instance) are working on.

  30. Wubbles says:

    Half-Life 2: Episode 3 console confirmed???

  31. Streambeta says:

    This is EXACTLY what I was thinking Valve was going to do when they first announced they were going to do some hardware stuff. Then out of nowhere all the gaming sites had to through around that stupid rumor of a “Steam box”, which made zero sense at all.

  32. Jambe says:

    I invite you all to watch the videos of this guy:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/bkraz333

    He is Ben Krasnow, and is the “I can’t believe we get paid for doing this” fellow in the second video in Jim’s post. He’s also an employee of Valve.

  33. Cryo says:

    Edible clothing + wearable computing = EDIBLE COMPUTING.