We all knew it would happen someday, but it looks as though Valve is preparing to bring the virtual wonder that is Steam to tablets, cellphones, or both some time in the not-terribly-distant future. Speaking to the trade magazine MCV, Valve's marketing VP, Doug Lombardi, expressed some regret over the company's lack of mobile support. "It is something we're starting to look at now. People are starting to ask us for it. The more requests we receive, the more we feel the need to act on them." No details have emerged on possible platforms, but this is the first we've heard of Valve's interest in the matter, so news will surely be forthcoming.
As I've mentioned in previous articles, I'm not enormously fond of touchscreen gaming; I'm even less fond of virtual controls.. However, the market seems to be leaving me behind - I still harbor fond memories of my childhood, playing Wolfenstein 3D on a demo computer at my local Radio Shack, much to the annoyance of their all-important "everyone" demographic - and I fully expect to one day find myself a bitter, backwards old coot, griping to my many cats about how the iPad heralded the end of "real gaming." With the growing popularity of cellphone and tablet games - a recent Google survey found that 84% of tablet owner use their device for such frolic - and the steadily-growing power of portable hardware, it seems likely that Valve would at least dip their toe into the mobile market. Even if they were to introduce something along the lines of a "Steam Lite" application, one that would provide games suitable for the tech specs of iOS or Android devices, it seems like a worthwhile pursuit.
While it will be interesting to see how this all plays out, I'm not excited just yet. Despite being giddy at the prospect of seeing more sophisticated mobile games, the nightmare of implementation - virtual controls remain wholly unsuitable for playing PC-style games, especially with first-person shooters - feeds my skepticism. Certainly Valve could introduce some fresh, iOS/Android-friendly entries into the market, but unless one cares to bring a keyboard and mouse into the mix - thus negating the convenience of on-the-go gaming -- I doubt Valve will be able to tap into the "hardcore" niche, nor will it necessarily be their central goal.