Valve is examining the feasibility of creating “open hardware platforms” as an alternative to existing proprietary console technologies, the company’s co-founder has revealed.
Speaking on the back of weeks of speculation that Valve is building the so-called “Steam Box”, Gabe Newell confirmed that the studio is considering a new bold move into the living-room space.
And, in another extraordinary disclosure, Newell also said the firm is examining an open hardware solution to mobile gaming.
“We’re looking hard at both the living-room space and the mobile space to try to see if we can create open hardware platforms that the industry can use so we can get out of proprietary traps that we’re headed in both of those,” Newell said.
Discussing the matter in a podcast interview with Seven Day Cooldown, Newell said such an initiative would involve “barely out-there hardware design” – an implication that such mobile and living-room devices would be relatively unique.
The reference to "living-room hardware" would, by conventiional definition, mean a console to plug into a television set.
In March, Valve cooled intense rumours regarding plans to build hardware by claiming that such an endeavour would not result in near-future releases.
Newell also clarified that the company has not made a final decision on hardware design. He said Valve has “no reason to believe we can be any good” at building consoles and systems.
“But hopefully we have something to add there,” he claimed.
Newell has been a vocal opponent of what he defines as the “closed platform philosophies” of the existing hardware manufacturers.
In October, he said that platform holders are severing direct lines between developers and customers for their own benefit during an unremittingly critical speech on the matter.
Newell said the likes of Microsoft, Nintendo and even Apple “view themselves as more rent guys who are essentially driving their partner margins to zero".
"They build a shiny sparkling thing that attracts users and then they control people’s access to those things," he said, adding that it was “ominous that the world seems to be moving away from open platforms”.
Months later he revealed that if Valve needed to make hardware to resolve the matter, “then we will”.