Valve Doesn't Want To Make Portable Games

Nintendo is catching a lot of heat these days for refusing to make games for the iPhone, but one of the other elite video game companies, the forward-thinking makers of Portal, Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2, Valve Software isn't just shunning iPhone.

Valve shows no interest in making portable games at all. Not for iPhone. Not for iPad. Not for Droid, 3DS, Vita, tor even your old digital watch. That makes them not just one of the only major video game companies not making games for people on the go.

That also might make them -- apologies to World of Warcraft's Blizzard Entertainment -- the best game-making outfit on Earth, not making portable games.

"We're about people sitting on their couches or at their desks," Valve writer Chet Faliszek recently told me while we talked about Valve's Counter-Strike GO, the team-based first-person shooter set for release as a downloadable PC, Mac, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game in early 2012. I wanted to know if Valve was considering making GO as a portable game, perhaps for the twin-stick PlayStation Vita, which may launch in America around the same time as the new Counter-Strike. "We haven't forayed into that space," he said, of portable gaming. "It's just not a space our engine has been looked at or optimised for."

If Valve keeps shunning portable games, they're going to be lonely. They're natively a PC gaming company, one that has branched out and established, in recent years, a reputation for also making reliably good games on home consoles. But while they've gone that far, some other long-time PC gaming stalwarts like id Software and Epic Games have aggressively pushed into the world of portable games. From id we've gotten a raft of Doom and Rage-related iOS games. Epic, which makes Gears of War but also the graphics tech Unreal has pushed into the world of iOS too, selling their Unreal engine to developers and pushing their own Infinity Blade as one of the most well-regarded and visually-impressive games on iPhone or iPad. From Valve we've gotten no portable Portal, no handheld Half-Life.

So many other companies have gone portable too. There are DS Call of Duty games, PSP Maddens and, of course, Marios, Zeldas, God of Wars and more released by Nintendo and Sony for their portable gaming machines. Even Microsoft, the one console gaming juggernaut without a handheld system has started making mobile games for Windows Phone 7.

Several years ago, Valve reinvented how PC gaming works by launching Steam and convincing PC gamers and game-makers that a digital download store filled with user-friendly chat and game-updating services is not just essential to gaming on that platform -- it's better, better than what was there before. Lately, they've been nudging console makers to reinvent their business, wrangling Sony to allow the PlayStation 3 version of Portal 2 to connect to those being played on computers (the PS3 CS:GO will do the same). Perhaps they'll punch through some walls there.

But what could Valve do for portable gaming? In that area we have Apple promoting 99-cent games yet holding gaming at arm's length by still only gingerly promoting the iPhone or iPad as a go-to gaming device. We've got Nintendo, once unimpeachable in portable gaming, struggling to justify its new 3DS and the $US40 price tags on its portable gaming. And we've got Sony oscillating between a portable gaming strategy based on downloads or store purchases that's once again hoping that creating a handheld device, the Vita, with nearly home-console-level horsepower can thrive globally this time. What we have, really, is chaos in portable gaming, a lack of clear vision, visionary leadership and sound execution, the very things Valve, under Gabe Newell, has given PC gaming.

Maybe one day Valve will get into handheld gaming. Maybe we'll get a Steam store on iPhone, a Portal on the 3DS and a Counter-Strike on the Vita. That won't happen soon. When I met them at Valve, last month, Chet Faliszek and Counter-Strike: GO Ido Magal didn't have portable gaming on their minds. I had to remind them what the Vita is. "We're slow to move on to new platforms," Magal told me. That may be, but portable gaming sure could use them.


Comments

    Is this just like when Gaben said they didn't want to work on the PS3? Now they have nothing but love for the ole black plastic box?

    Sorry but I don't believe a bloody thing Valve says these days.

      To be fair to Gabe, by holding out he got a barrel of cash and permission to install their service on a competitors machine. He's a sell out, but well played.

        The only people who label people as 'sellouts' are the ones who have nothing to sell.

        They didn't develop for the PS3 because it was needlessly complicated to develop for. It hasn't been said what changed, likely either being able to use Steam on heir system allowed for easier development, or perhaps the PS3 dev tools finally evolved to be less complicated.

    Good. The day that I can buy a 99 cent valve game on the 'app store' is a sad day indeed. Valve is a big boy developer of big boy games.

    Besides, if they forayed into portable games... HL3 would just get delayed even more!

    Also, portable gaming could sure use them? What happened to 'portable gaming is killing traditional gaming' with crap like 'angry birds' being the wave of the future and the only thing people will play?

      What about a Valve game on the 3DS or the Playstation Vita? How cool would playing Portal 2 on your handheld on a long plane flight be? You could play a quick game of TF2 on the train into work!

      Who are you to say that Valve wouldn't make an incredible iOS / Android game? They've had a pretty remarkable track record with every other platform they've worked on...

    ugh im sick of the media constantly pushing all the game companies to make games for smartphones.

    If they went and put some crappy version of CS on rails on iphone i really cant see them making much from it.

    Puzzle games are the only ones that really do well on mobiles and Valve and Nintendo really dont do puzzle games.

    Why do we WANT mobile gaming like this? I prefer my serious games on a big screen and my tiny tower/social games on my portable device.

    I really dont see how versions of big games on mobile devices actually sell. COD on DS? Terrible, I would just wait until you get home and play it properly. Assasins Creed on DS fits that mould too. The only games that work on those platforms are games like fruit ninja and angry birds, and I do not want valve to start making games of that ilk. Stick to what you do best guys, PC gaming with a dabble into consoles.

    This article takes the assumption that its inherently good for Valve to go into mobile.

    Do one thing and do it well IMO.

    This pleases me.

      Elaboration: Valve keeping to serious games on serious platforms pleases me.

    As far as I can recall, Nintendo is catching no heat at all, for not making iPhone games.

    Nintendo simply do not want to make games for iPhone, that's it. Nobody is protesting that.

    People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.

    There you go, a quote from Steve Jobs - that'll rile up a few people here on Kotaku :P

    Why yes, there are DS CoD games. And they suck.

    Valve are good at making PC games, and should stick to it.

    so yeah I don't care much about valve making iPhone games, but and android/iPhone steam chat client would be much appreciated.

    Eh I'm gonna call bollocks on this one. It might matter to some, but not to me.

    I don't own an iPhone or 'droid and gave up on portable gaming with dedicated devices soon after I bought a DSLite - which I then sold soon after. Do I miss it? Not even slightly Not only that, any games I've played of friends iphones have entertained me for a minute or two before I put em down and never felt the urge to play again. As long as Valve keep making games for more consoles and PCs, I'll be happy.

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