rumors this morning, Google is about to acquire the well-known game development company Valve. Valve is best known for its Half-Life games and Steam, a content distribution platform which it uses to sell and distribute PC games from various developers with the help of a desktop client. Currently, Steam distributes close to 440 games and has over 15 million active users. We assume that Google is mostly interested in the technology behind Steam and no so much in the distribution or game development business of Valve.According to a number of
Update: Valve calls these rumors a 'complete fabrication.'
Steam's technology would definitely be a good fit for Google, which, thanks to YouTube and other ventures, is getting more and more invovled in the content distribution business. On the other hand, though, while pushing out 30,000 Mbit of data is surely no easy feat, we can't help but wonder about why Google would need to acquire them. After all, if anybody has a lot of experience in distributing massive amounts of data, it would be Google itself.
Overall, even though the Inquirer cites "well placed sources," we can't help but wonder if this rumor will pan out to be true. Maybe Google will only take over the Steam part of Valve's business, or the two will announce some form of partnership.
However, if Google really wanted to get into the game distribution business, buying Valve would make perfect sense. Games are not only a growing business (though PC games, which Valve focuses on, are suffering greatly from piracy), but also a growing advertising platform. Having control over the distribution mechanism for these Games might just make sense for Google.
What Will Google Do?
If this rumor turns out to be true, do you think Google is going to keep the Steam storefront open? Also, given Google's record of acquiring technology and then having it linger in the back of a server farm for years (think GrandCentral or Jaiku), do you think Google is actually going to make much use of this technology?