The Inquirer’s Charlie Demerjian, quoting “well placed sources,” reported today that Google is “going to buy Valve any second now.” If so, that’s news to Valve’s marketing veep Doug Lombardi, who should be in a position to know.
“I never heard anything about it until I woke up this morning and checked my Blackberry, which John McCain invented,” cracked Lombardi. “There’s really nothing else to say."
No one would be surprised to hear that Google might be interested in acquiring Valve: Every major game publisher in the world—with the exception of Microsoft and Vivendi (although Vivendi’s Activision division is a client) has signed up to use Valve’s Steam content-distribution system.
Steam attracts game publishers for many reasons, not the least of which is that it handily solves the piracy problem without generating the kind of negative press that has plagued EA’s Spore. And in addition to developing Steam, Valve has produced several of the best-selling games of all time, and they’re on the cusp of shipping another: Left4Dead.
Now, the big question is why would Valve be interested in selling to Google—or anyone else? The company is privately (and very closely) held, so no one really knows how much money it’s worth or what kinds of revenue it’s producing, but when you consider how much time and effort they invest in each new episode of Half-Life, and how many new projects they’ve started or acquired over the years, it’s readily apparent that they not starving for capital.
Selling to Google would undoubtedly leave Gabe Newell and company with a big pile of money, but those guys have never played the short game; it’s doubtful they’ll start now.