It would be a last resort but a necessary one to "get these kind of projects started" - it's "definitely not the first thought" they have at Valve, but they'd take on the challenge if need be.
Fortunately the coffers at Valve aren't in any bad way thanks to the meteoric rise of Steam and its purely digital revenue stream. It should be left to the hardware people, really though.
"Well, if we have to sell hardware we will,” Newell told Penny Arcade. “We have no reason to believe we’re any good at it, it’s more we think that we need to continue to have innovation and if the only way to get these kind of projects started is by us going and developing and selling the hardware directly then that’s what we’ll do.”
“It’s definitely not the first thought that crosses our mind; we’d rather hardware people that are good at manufacturing and distributing hardware do that. We think it’s important enough that if that’s what we end up having to do then that’s what we end up having to do.”
The Valve supremo also touched on the frustration they get at the studio when fan are annoyed, referring to the uproar the community has been over no Half-Life news for, like, ever.
"We’re acutely aware of how much we annoy our fans and it’s pretty frustrating to us when we put them into that situation," continued Newell. "We try to go as fast as we can and we try to pick the things that we think are going to be most valuable to our customers and if there’s some magic way we can get more work done in a day then we’d love to hear about it.”
“But we recognize that it’s been a long time whereas we have so many games that people really love–Counterstrike, Half-Life, Portal, Left 4 Dead, not a whole lot of Ricochet enthusiasts out there, and at the same time we want to be making sure that those games and those stories and those characters are moving forward while also making sure that we don’t just get into terminal sequelitis.” Should Valve jump into the hardware market?
Surely they'd favour a piece of kit with just a digital library if they ever did? Check out thebetween Gabe Newell and Penny Arcade, talking about 'opening up consoles' and game ownership.