Do you remember the rumor back in March 2012 suggesting Valve was working on a ‘Steam Box’ gaming console with partners and the subsequent denial from the company? Well, consider the rumor renewed. Valve has declared it is jumping into the computer hardware space, according to one of its own job postings.

Earlier this year, Kotaku quoted Valve marketing director Doug Lombardi on the rumor:

We’re prepping the Steam Big Picture Mode UI and getting ready to ship that, so we’re building boxes to test that on. We’re also doing a bunch of different experiments with biometric feedback and stuff like that, which we’ve talked about a fair amount. All of that is stuff that we’re working on, but it’s a long way from Valve shipping any sort of hardware.

Now compare that with a job posting for an industrial designer position on Valve’s Join us webpage, first noted by CVG. Here’s the excerpt I want you to focus on:

Valve is traditionally a software company. Open platforms like the PC and Mac are important to us, as they enable us and our partners to have a robust and direct relationship with customers. We’re frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space though, so we’re jumping in. Even basic input, the keyboard and mouse, haven’t really changed in any meaningful way over the years. There’s a real void in the marketplace, and opportunities to create compelling user experiences are being overlooked.

If that’s not a planned shift in strategy, I don’t know what is. The listing of course doesn’t say anything about specific hardware, but it is written as if something big is coming. It could be a console, a custom PC, something in between, or something completely unrelated.

Here’s the full job posting, in case it gets pulled:

As an Industrial Designer at Valve, you will join a world-class group of electrical, mechanical, software engineers and designers who are busily defining new entertainment experiences through both hardware and software. We’re hoping to add your expertise in product design and manufacturing, ergonomics, usability, aesthetics, and surfacing to our team.

Valve is an entertainment and technology company driven to design and deliver rewarding experiences to customers. We hire generalists who also exhibit deep expertise. Designers at Valve contribute in a wide variety of ways: We define and articulate goals, we design and ship products, we create and implement user studies, we write press releases and blog posts, we manage projects, and much more. We also recruit designers. People like you.

Valve is traditionally a software company. Open platforms like the PC and Mac are important to us, as they enable us and our partners to have a robust and direct relationship with customers. We’re frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space though, so we’re jumping in. Even basic input, the keyboard and mouse, haven’t really changed in any meaningful way over the years. There’s a real void in the marketplace, and opportunities to create compelling user experiences are being overlooked.

At Valve, our design process really gets going once products are in customers’ hands. Our best work is the result of an ongoing dialog with customers. Through years of shipping software as a service through Steam, our digital distribution platform, this has become fundamental to the way we create great products. With an engaged community of millions of users, what will you ship? What will you try, and what will you learn through doing so?

Do you prefer to define the work that you pursue, rather than simply following a vision that’s been set for you? If you’re seeking an opportunity to steer product definition, functional exploration and design decision-making, consider joining Valve. We can’t wait to see where you’ll take us.

Requirements:

  • BS/BA/BFA degree (or equivalent) in industrial design (or equivalent)
  • 6+ years of professional experience shipping world-class, high-tech hardware products
  • A thorough understanding of product design principles
  • Highly effective multidisciplinary collaboration skills
  • Personal commitment to quality, attention to detail
  • Confidence with 2D and 3D design visualization tools
  • Effective, articulate design communication and decision-making skills

Please include with your application an online portfolio of work which conveys your capabilities.

See also: Valve launches Greenlight, lets you pick which games come to Steam

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