Valve may beta test hardware project in 2013

Knowing Valve’s cautious approach to new ventures and its emphasis on polish over timeliness, I wasn’t expecting a taste of its first hardware project until… well, until some time around the heat death of the universe. According to a recent piece by Engadget, however, we may see some kind of a public beta much sooner than that.

The piece is about Valve’s hardware skunkworks and the woman in charge—Jeri Ellsworth, a self-taught chip designer whose claims to fame include creating a hardware Commodore 64 emulator. Ellsworth seems to have remained rather vague during her talk with Engadget, and as a result, the story doesn’t reveal much more than the New York Times piece we spotted last week.

Except, that is, for one rather interesting detail:

Ellsworth is hoping to have [a beta] for the team’s first product in the coming year — we’ll of course know much more about the product by then, she says. Internal beta tests are already underway, and a variety of the team’s prototypes are available in the office for other Valve employees to tool around with. The next step is getting prototypes into gamers hands — she says Valve already has a production line for short runs, making a beta possible — and iterating on design before launch.

Could Valve’s super-secret hardware project—which might involve wearable computing, apparently—be ready for a first look in 2013? Maybe so. And then again, maybe not. Ellsworth is only “hoping” to have a beta ready by then, and we all know how flaky Valve’s scheduling promises tend to be.

Whatever, though. I’m still excited.

Comments closed
    • spigzone
    • 7 years ago

    With Nintendo, Sony and Ms all going with AMD for their next gen graphics, wouldn’t be surprising to see AMD in the Steam console. Make it very easy for developers to code a version optimised for the Steam console which would double as their ‘PC’ version and call it a day.

    Add in Steam Apps, general PC capability and automatic updating of everything and it becomes a pretty compelling alternative to buying a PC.

    • spigzone
    • 7 years ago

    I bought a Hydra based on a news release it was being fully integrated into the Steam app … then that was delayed .. and delayed .. and delayed .. and then nothing … so that’s probably being integrated into the Steam console. Which wouldn’t suck, on the few in house
    games fully supported the Hydra blows away any other controller.

    • jazper
    • 7 years ago

    I have a serious amount of respect for Jeri Ellsworth.

    With her on board, Valve could be doing anything from doing custom hardware (i.e. processors etc) to custom input devices or anything in-between.

    Really curious to see what comes of this.

      • spigzone
      • 7 years ago

      I’ve seen her being interviewed by Leo on TwiT. She’s seriously into modding cars and motorcycles … as in blowtorch and welder gone wild. She’s also brutally honest about herself. In her earlier years she lived waaaaaaaay out on the edge.

    • sunner
    • 7 years ago

    Many moons ago, Gabe Newell was complaining to The Verge about the “fragmented state of Gaming”.
    He seemed to hint Valve is working on Project thats gonna “end” that.
    Since then, as we all know, Valve has periodically advertised for Hardware people.

    I suspect Valve is working on a Console that’s a universal gaming machine.
    It’ll play XBox games, PS3 games, PC games.
    Just stick it in Valve’s ‘Steam Box’, and away you go.
    I sure hope, Gabe, thats what your doing.
    (Err, have u got a good lawyer, Gabe?) 🙂

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      Just speaking for myself here, but I don’t want to stick anything into Gabe’s Steam Box.

      • Sahrin
      • 7 years ago

      There is literally no way what you are talking about is possible.

    • HunterZ
    • 7 years ago

    I didn’t know Jeri Ellsworth was involved! I didn’t even know she worked for Valve (should have guessed, though, since she did a video on an internal science fair type of thing that company did).

    Jeri seriously knows her stuff and is very creative and motivated. Valve made a great decision by getting her on board! I didn’t have much interest in this project until seeing this posting, and now my interest is piqued.

    • eitje
    • 7 years ago

    You hire for what you need. Valve is going back to C64.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 7 years ago

    I personally think it’s going to be some type of controller. Valve is not going to be part of the OEM computer builders. I see them having a Valve controller with deep integration with Steam and a basic system build for OEMs to build. That way there can be several “Steam boxes” on the market all bundled with the Valve controller.

    • TheMonkeyKing
    • 7 years ago

    The hardware is a lie.

    • vargis14
    • 7 years ago

    I wonder what they are going to come out with? A line on computers with the valve brand name? Or a Console type machine with a decent CPU and upgradable graphics? What OS will it be I am very interested to know. I hope its windows based in a way to make game makers lean more towards PC games then consoles.
    Also will it have both keyboard, mouse and gamepad? Support joysticks and wheels?
    Will it be able to surf the net?

    I am leaning towards and PC with valve branding with some windows 8 custom OS with valve popup ads like the kindles.

    I truly have no idea though 🙂 all speculation

      • superjawes
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]I truly have no idea though 🙂 all speculation[/quote<]I'd bet even Valve employees don't know what they're working on. The only man in the world who knows what Valve is going to do is Gabe Newell. I would bet on a sort of media center/digital distribution box. Capable of keyboard + mouse input, but packages with something like the Razer Hydra and ready to connect to the TV in your living room. I think "traditional" consoles have at least one strong physical media generation coming, but it could easily stand alongside pure digital platforms, which are going to be the next major step in console development.

    • yogibbear
    • 7 years ago

    Half-life 3 launch title.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      best valve game ever was black mesa. easily.

      • vargis14
      • 7 years ago

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