updated 10:45 am EDT, Wed September 17, 2008
Google May Buy Valve
(Updated with official response) Google may buy Half-Life developer Valve Software to give itself an edge in content distribution, according to a new rumor. Allegedly "well placed" sources of the Inquirer claim the early search engine company is aiming to buy Valve for its Steam platform, which so far has been used as a store for users to download free and paid games as well as a small number of videos and other content. The system has been heralded for making an end-run around traditional retail and provides an edge over some other online app downloads by remembering a customer's purchases should they lose an existing copy to a computer crash or upgrade.
It's unclear what role the potential acquisition would serve for Google's existing platforms. The company now has several downloadable apps that include Chrome, Google Earth, Picasa and others but has also relied heavily on web-based apps such as Google Docs. The firm also has a large infrastructure to support YouTube and isn't presently involved in the gaming sphere.
Such a move would however challenge Microsoft, which has been developing a similar distribution model for its Games for Windows platform and has also experimented with online distribution for some of its core businesses. Windows Vista has had built-in online shopping to allow upgrading to more advanced versions without buying a second retail copy.
Google hasn't commented on the matter, though Valve's marketing VP Doug Lombardi now says the story is nothing but "rumor."