But the big industry players were dropping the ball, from Valve's perspective.
So in addition to building blockbuster games and running one of the world's leading gaming networks and storefronts, Valve taught itself to build computers. And operating systems. And game controllers.
It's an audacious effort to convince the vast and established PC industry that there's another path to the living room besides the one blazed by
It's also unclear how many of Valve's 65?million customers -- much less the rest of the world's consumers -- are interested in an entirely new game system competing against the Xbox, PlayStation and Wii platforms.
But it's still exciting to see a relatively small company apply so much creativity and innovation to a market segment that desperately needs defibrillation.
Valve is about to release the first batch of prototype Steam Machine computers that it designed, running an operating system the company developed in-house.
These souped-up boxes work with an entirely new game controller that Valve designed and built from scratch in workshops the company cobbled together in
Apparently, Valve is a believer in the old saying, if you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself. Early on, it worked with design and prototyping vendors, but decided that it could learn more doing it all in-house.
Valve also is redefining the PC industry term "original equipment manufacturer," or OEM.
Its offices in a downtown
There are also laser-cutting machines and other tools for designing, building and testing prototypes. The landlord said no to a full-blown factory, so the game controllers that Valve is providing to 300 testers this fall are being produced by employees at a shop in Overlake.
If the platform takes off, Valve eventually will contract for large-scale manufacturing of controllers.
Valve doesn't plan to be the next
Instead, Valve is trying to encourage PC makers to build their own Steam Machines using the Steam OS, providing an open platform on which Valve can continue growing and offering gamers an alternative to consoles.
A variety of Steam Machines, and entertainment applications for the new platform, are likely to be unveiled in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in
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