Now here's a whacky rumor that could actually pan out to be true: Apple is working on a games console. More specifically, the company's console project may be linked to reports that Valve is working on its own gaming console. Throw in additional rumors that Apple is developing a gesture-based, Siri-controlled HDTV that will reportedly change the world forever, and you have a nice little foundation to build a solid, capable rumor.
Let's start with Valve. We know the company is up to something -- it's just not going to admit to anything just yet. Recently Doug Lombardi said Valve wasn't working on anything immediate, but left the door wide open for speculation of a console release at a later date. But as reported on Saturday, a job listing at Valve now confirms the company's plans after all, reading:
"For years, Valve has been all about writing software that provides great gameplay experiences. Now we're developing hardware to enhance those experiences, and you can be a key part of making that happen."
There's no denying Steam Box now. Previously it was presumably a list of hardware specs for PC vendors much like Intel lists spec requirements for Ultrabooks. But Valve's listing takes an interesting Apple-like approach to its wording, reading:
"We're not talking about me-too mice and gamepads here – help us invent whole new gaming experiences."
Sound familiar? So there's Part 1 of our rumor: Valve is working on a new gaming experience by developing hardware. Part 2 consists of Apple CEO Tim Cook actually visiting Valve's Bellevue, Washington headquarters. It's reportedly a big step for the fruity company, as at one time Apple "didn't get gaming" as stated by Valve CEO Gabe Newell.
"We have this pattern with Apple where we meet with them, people there go 'wow, gaming is incredibly important, we should do something with gaming,' and then we'll say, 'OK, here are three things you could do to make that better,' and then they say OK, and then we never see them again," Newell said in an interview back in 2007. "And then a year later, a new group of people show up, who apparently have no idea that the last group of people were there, and never follow through on anything. So, they seem to think that they want to do gaming, but there's never any follow through on any of the things they say they're going to do."
Flash forward to 2012, and gaming is rocking Apple's world in a big, cash-cow way on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. It even has a Game Center where iOS device owners can make friends, hook up to play multiplayer games and share scores. We're even told by many app developers that iOS is the favored platform mostly because of a limited hardware set and the insane popularity of Apple's iPad.
That brings us to Part 3. For starters, let's not forget that both Apple and Valve provide a closed network, backed by a strong community. Valve has also recently spoken out about its annoyance with trying to integrate Steam into Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. Valve and Apple are seemingly a good pair if they get all their ducks lined up in a row correctly which is why an Apple iTV packed with Valve's gaming hardware doesn't seem all that far-fetched. That's what Apple Tim Cook reportedly went to go see: progress on the console aspect that will rely on motion and touch-based controls.
So what will the Valve hardware focus on? Mac games or PC games? Steam offers both, but the offering would presumably be Mac-based so that customers can play them on their Macs as well. So far there's no indication that streaming will be involved, leading to presumptions that, like apps, games will be purchased, downloaded, and installed locally on the device. Purchases and saved games will be stored in the cloud.
To be honest, if Apple struck a deal with Valve to include the latter studio's hardware in its iTV, there's a good chance we won't see anything similar beyond the iOS/Mac realm. You know how Apple can be with those troublesome "favored nation" clauses.