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Buzz over Apple game console heats up after CEO’s unlikely trip

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Could developer Valve be teaming up with Apple to create the next big thing?

By Mike Wehner, Tecca

When you're the CEO of the world's most valuable brand, you don't typically stop by other company's offices for a cup of coffee, so when Apple boss Tim Cook made a trip to video game developer Valve, the web went wild. But through all the static surrounding whether the visit was business or pleasure, some insiders attempted to clear the air with a few stunning details. According to numerous anonymous sources, Valve and Apple are planning a brand new home gaming experience to take on the likes of the XboxPlayStation, and Nintendo boxes populating hundreds of millions of homes worldwide.

Reliable insiders let Apple information blog Cult of Mac in on the juicy details, most notably that the new gaming hardware will come with the long-rumored Apple HDTV. The system is said to work with innovative new input methods, including motion control technology similar to the Xbox 360 Kinect accessory. "Come with" and "built-in" are two very different things, however, and it's not clear whether the gaming aspect would simply be a feature of the TV, or a separate box entirely.

Recent industry whisperings claim Valve — the company behind the Steam digital video game distribution network for Windows and Mac — has been working on a game console that will support its web-based game network for some time. A Valve job posting notes that the company is looking for hardware engineers to help them build "whole new gaming experiences," and even specifies that candidates will "Conceive, design, evaluate, and produce new types of input, output, and platform hardware."

If Apple working with a separate company on a video game console sounds ludicrous, think again. In 1995 — while Steve Jobs was taking his now famous break from the company he founded — Apple and Japanese electronics maker Bandai partnered for the development of the Pippin, a game console designed to compete with the original PlayStation. Unfortunately, the U.S. game market was already drooling over Sony's machine, and the Pippin's huge $600 price tag doomed it to failure.

With a new captain at the helm, Apple may be poised to make a triumphant return to the industry it once visited but never conquered. With help from Valve — a dominant force in the PC gaming space with hit releases like Portal 2 and Left 4 Dead under its belt — the duo could make a major splash in the gaming space.

Just a couple of months ago, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell was asked whether Valve would ever consider selling hardware to allow the company to innovate at will. "If we have to sell hardware, we will," Newell responded. Perhaps that time is now, though we won't know for sure until either company pulls the curtain back on whatever it is they're working on.


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