Valve is worth somewhere in the vicinity of 2.8 BILLION US Dollars. Everyone under the sun has tried to buy them, partner with them, push them to make the company publicly traded, or find some sort of way to get all up in that sweet, delicious, Valve pie.
The notion that Valve would “partner” or allow itself to be bought out for a meager $893 million dollars is ludicrous.
Gabe, not to mention pretty much the entire set of employees at Valve, would probably burn the building down and shoot the ashes into space before they sold themselves to someone else.
I’m not saying Valve will never float themselves on the stockmarket, or partner/sell off to a bigger company, I’m just saying that it is not going to be happening any time in the near future, and most certainly not for anything less than a metric frick ton of money.
Now we’ve got that out of the way, I want to tell you about something amazing. Early in September Valve invited a journalist from the New York Times into their HQ and talked about their plans for creating real wearable computing devices and user interfaces. They strapped a NVIS HMD (head mounted display) onto Nick Wingfield and demoed what they were aiming for in the future.
This was the proof that they had been working on bridging a massive gap that has appeared in the way we interact with technology. Ever since we settled on the keyboard and mouse being pretty much the bee’s knees, nothing has changed.
The first mouse was invented in 1952, 60 years ago. Sure, it was made using a Canadian six-pin bowling ball and was a secret military project, but the basic functions have remained the same for six decades.
Ancient mouse design from our Elders. You have served us well, now here is the door, don’t let it hit you on the way out.
The question I want to ask is why has it stayed the same for so long? Why have we let it stay the same for so long? I remember being a kid in the 1990s and seeing all these bulky VR HMDs at the arcades and in ridiculous movies starring kids from various sitcoms, they were hailed as the future. I thought, “Holy crap! I can’t wait to live inside of a holodeck with Wil Wheaton!” I’m a grown-up now and I am no closer to fighting giant lizard-wombat hybrids in a holographic arena for digital credits (the currency I imagined would replace real cash money), glory, and all the replicated mac and cheese I could eat.
I thought that we’d be closer to fully immersive gaming experiences than we are.
I was lamenting this stagnant gaming environment earlier in the year when the wondrous Oculus Rift VR Headset started its Kickstarter campaign. It was like a kick in the face.
An awesome kick in the face. It made me realise that people who actually know how to engineer and technologize their way to success were as disillusioned with the current state of computing technology as I was. They’re also doing something about it. They’re taking the decades of VR HMD research and doing something awesome.
You have Palmer Luckey, a super genius who has one of the biggest VR HMD collections around, and has worked as a designer at a military research lab making HMDs for them. You also have John Carmack, co-founder of idSoftware and lead programmer on Doom, Quake, Rage, Wolfenstein 3D and their sequels.
How the hell could this be even remotely bad? It’s not, it is amazing. We’re going in the right direction, we have smart, experienced people on point here.
Just prior to this amazing announcement Google had revealed Project Glass, their AVR (augmented virtual reality) glasses. Project Glass is the next step in everyday wearable technology. Ten years ago smartphones would have been considered witchcraft and I had just gotten used to the fact I had a cell phone that could make video calls, even if it looked like a Decepticon. Project Glass is looking to be the must have next-gen replacement for smartphones,, and this is something I am totally OK with.
A snazzy looking young gent with the concept design of the Google Project Glass.
While we sit here with Sony telling us that the Playstation 3 still has 3-4 years left of active development and life left in it, and we have the next “next-gen” consoles coming with specs that are no better than my crappy 2 year old laptop, this gives us another gap.A console gap. Sort of. More like a device gap.
It’s the reason why indie games on the PC, XBox arcade, PSN, and smartphones are so popular now.
It’s the reason why the entire internet went crazy for the Ouya and threw $8.5million at their Kickstarter.
It’s the reason there are rumours swirling around Valve. (See? I knew we could get it back around to Valve!) Valve are currently beta testing Steam Big Picture, and it has had people in a frenzy over why Valve wants you using Steam with your television.
People have been talking for years about a Steam Box, the mythical console that Valve is allegedly working on. Now that they’re actually hiring someone for an Industrial Design role, from the information regarding input peripherals and their interview with the Times, we know that it’s not a console they’re developing. At most with the Big Picture, they’re looking to bring the PC into your lounge room and make it your platform of choice for almost all aspects of gaming (handhelds not included, Nintendo and GameFreak can keep making Pokemon games for me.)
The PC is one of the best and most open platforms for development, consoles have their place, but when you have companies releasing terrible ports of games over the three major platforms (Oh hello there Skyrim on the PS3, what’s that? I can’t have Dawnguard because you can’t port a game properly without breaking the entire universe? Oh… OK then, I guess I’ll go over here now and play with tabletop Vampire: The Masquerade, because that’s the only way I’m going to be able to play vampires and not feel weird.) because they want all of the markets, how can you not feel a little disillusioned with the other people supposedly in charge of forwarding the future of gaming technology and the overall gaming experience?
With Valve joining the charge into battle with Google and the chaps creating the Oculus Rift, we may see a meaningful change in the way we interact with our technology, especially with regard to gaming.
Here is hoping that we get to the point of the Brain Box at some point in my lifetime, because having my brain put into a jar and hooked up to the internet, where I could play games on a completely different level, forgetting I am now just a glorified computerised goldfish, would be awesome.
Make it happen, guys. Make it happen.