Have you ever wondered what everyday life is like for the average worker at Valve? As a privately held company they tend to be a bit overly secretive, and as such we know surprisingly little about what they do all day. Aside from tormenting us with silence over Half-Life 3, it turns out new employees actually get issued a handbook on what to do “when no one’s there telling you what to do”.
Valve has been attempting to be very outwardly complimentary of EA over the last several months, perhaps in the misguided hope that the publisher will quit it with the Origin exclusives, and start bringing some of its titles back into compliance with Steams terms of service. You’d be hard pressed to find any bad blood between the two companies, at least on the Valve side, but yet the stalemate remains. On the most recent Seven Day Cooldown podcast, Jack Inacker asked Newell what EA was doing right with Origin. His answer? Uhhh (pause), ummm (pause).
Valve is one of those companies you just can’t help but admire. They are consumer first (almost to a fault), and course they also haven’t sold themselves to EA and Activision. Anytime they set out to do something ambitious, they gather a lot of media attention. Rumors of a Steam hardware console have been circling for several weeks now, but it turns out their hardware ambitions are much more bizarre. Valve developer Michael Abrash admitted the company is looking to hire hardware designers to help advance a prototype in the field of “wearable computing”.
The raging battle of words between PC gamers and console gamers has never quite reached PC vs. Mac levels of animosity, but it's come close. Could those angry days be coming to an end? Probably not, but if anybody could convince the two camps to pick up their virtual arms in unison and start singing "Kumbaya," it's Valve -- and rumors floating around say that Valve is developing a console-esque box designed to let gamers get their Steam on in the living room.
If you're currently imagining a dystopic future in which we all nervously salute guards clad in Combine outfits while texting on our Steam-powered phones and breathing the Steam-branded air, calm down. Gabe Newell has no aspirations of heading up his own ill-gotten evil empire. In truth, he'd prefer that Valve forever avoids getting its hands dirty with the greasy innards of some proprietary piece of hardware. However, if it's the “only” way to keep innovation's gears churning, then he won't hesitate to bite that particular bullet.
When Steam was hacked way back in November, Valve took the high road and immediately informed users of the breach. (Not that the company had much choice -- the hackers defaced the Steam forums as part of their nefarious deeds.) The baddies snuck into an encrypted database full of sensitive user info -- including credit card numbers -- but Valve found no evidence that any of the data was stolen or cracked. That's the good news. Now the bad news: the breach is probably worse than originally thought and the hackers may still have your credit card information.
Blizzard's generally not so big on the whole talking thing, but the past 24 hours have given everyone an uncommonly good look at the powerhouse developer from all angles. The good news? Diablo III's almost kind of sort of but not quite here. And the bad? Try a no-holds-barred legal cage match with Valve over a name Blizzard's community – and certainly not Blizzard – invented.
Hey, Rest of the Gaming Industry, want to know how to support a PC game? Take a page (or a piece of mottled parchment or whatever they use around there) from Bethesda's book. For the low, low price of zero arms, legs, or firstborns (or dollars, we guess), you can now nab Skyrim's official mod toolset, a spiffy high resolution texture pack, and the Valve-created “Fall of the Space Core, Vol. 1” mod. It's an incredibly generous gesture, and one that – in hindsight – makes that ugly horse armor business from back in the day seem like some bizarrely specific bad dream. On that note, we're now off to create our first mod: Everything Armor. Mudcrabs, Silt Striders, children – the works. Also, we're bringing back Silt Striders, because there's no greener form of transportation than a giant horrifying bug creature.
Do you live and breathe the Steam platform? Constantly wondering what your Steam friends are up to when you're way from your PC? Do you start to twitch if you don't get your Steam fix every hour on the hour? You should try coffee or Monster or any caffeinated beverage. In the meantime, Valve has found a way to feed your obsession to Steam with a new mobile app for Android and iOS.
BioWare's Community Coordinator, Chris Priestly, is letting Mass Effect fans know that if they plan on helping Commander Shepard save the planet from Reapers, they'll have to go about it without using their Steam accounts. Mass Effect 3 will require interacting with EA's Origin platform and will be available for purchase through Origin and select digital download services not owned by Valve.