The evergreen rumors of Valve moving from software to hardware are looking more credible than ever with the company outright saying it’s “jumping in” to the hardware market.
Valve has just listed a vacancy for an industrial designer who is required to have at least six years experience in producing “world-class, high-tech hardware products.” It gets even more explicit about the hardware move by saying:
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.
What exactly the job will involve is not so clear, which is partly because of the company’s business approach that means staff work on their own choice of projects. In theory it’s possible that the decision of what Valve actually makes will be decided by the person who gets the job.
It’s also notable that the job ad specifically calls for experience in “shipping” products: that’s a clue that Valve wants to go beyond the prototype stage.
Valve has previously denied rumors that it is already working on a console dubbed Steam Box that would be far more open source than the current market leaders. The company has only confirmed that it won’t be making such a device in “the near future” but isn’t saying either way about its long-term ambitions.
The Steam Box rumors originally stem from two patent applications Valve made back in 2009: one covering a game controller where the inputs can be replaced, the other using biometric inputs that would measure factors such as heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure or pupil dilation.
The ad comes just a few weeks after Valve confirmed it is working on porting Steam games to run on Linux.