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Apple CEO Tim Cook, Spotted at Valve Office

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Last Friday, Daniel Eran Dilger of AppleInsider reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook visited Valve’s Bellevue, Washington office. This roused questions whether there will be a potential collaboration between the two companies.

Mac Support for Valve Games

Created by two former Microsoft Employees in mid 90’s, Valve Corporation has grown into a major video game developer. It maintains the Steam gaming platform, which ships over 1,400 games to its more than 30 million active users. The gaming platform works the same as Apple’s iOS Store in iTunes, offering game titles for PC and delivers automatic software update.

In early 2010, Valve rolled out a series of its video games to Mac such as Half-life 2, Left 4 Dead 2 and Team Fortress 2. They also released the Portal 2 for Mac and Windows that winter. Valve’s Director of Steam Development John Cook said that time that Apple had “been a great partner so far and we look forward to growing our relationship with them over time.”

Apple’s Significant Shift in Gaming

The Cupertino-based company’s turnaround in gaming was particularly significant. Three years prior to that, Steam co-founder Gabe Newell publicly complained that Apple didn’t get gaming. In late 2007, he said in an interview:

“We have this pattern with Apple where we meet them, people there go ‘wow, gaming is incredibly important, we should do something with gaming,’ and then we’ll, say ‘OK, here are three things you could do to make that better,’ and then they say OK, and then we never see them again.

“And then a year later, a new group of people show up, who apparently have no idea that the last group were there, and never follow through on anything. So, they seem to think that they want to do gaming, but there’s never any follow through on any of the thing they say they’re going to do.”

In addition, Newell pointed out that video games are one of the main reasons why they’re holding back in the consumer space.

“If you look at Macintosh right now, it does a lot of thing really well compared to Vista PC, but there are no games. Why, I don’t know. If I were a Macintosh product manager, it would be pretty high on my list.”

Game Center on iOS

With the release of iPhone and the new iPod Touch in 2007, Apple’s indifferent stance on gaming quickly changed. The shift became more significant after App Store was launched in early 2008.

Games became iOS developers’ major focus then, and comprise a huge percentage of App Store’s software available for purchase. In turn, this threatened big gaming companies like Sony and Nintendo. Since then, Apple added game-centric feature to its hardware and iOS. This includes Game Center, which is said to arrive in Mac’s OS X Mountain Lion this summer.

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