A recent job posting from video game developer Valve has made explicit their intention to jump into the PC hardware business. This will represent the biggest diversification effort yet from the thus far software oriented company.
The job ad in question is for an Industrial Designer with “expertise in product design and manufacturing, ergonomics, usability, aesthetics, and surfacing” – so nothing to do with Half Life 3, then.
Along with detailing the requirements of the position with Valve – which values flexibility and initiative from its staff like no other video game developer – the listing reveals something of Valve’s plans and its reasons for entering the hardware space.
“We’re frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space,” reads the post. “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.”
This sounds like Valve is planning on nothing less than a complete overhaul of the way we use our computers. At the very least it will present a viable alternative with – we suspect – a clear nod to gamers.
Of course, this isn’t the first ambitious detour from the house of Half Life. Its Steam service has revolutionised PC games distribution, offering an online games shop and a community hub for PC gamers the world over. On September 5 Steam will be opening out to include non-gaming apps, offering the potential to become something like Apple’s App Store (but with better deals).
This isn’t even the first time Valve has been linked with stepping into the hardware market – the company is known to be investing in research and development of wearable computer technology, and there have been rumours over the last six months or so that it’s looking to create its own console-like PC system.
Could the latter be what this Industrial Designer role is intended for? To create an integrated, streamlined PC system with a revolutionary interface? We’ll be watching this one with interest.