Rumors about Valve getting into the hardware game have been flying around for months, and Apple CEO Tim Cook's recent visit to Valve HQ added even more fuel to the fire.

Cook was reportedly spotted visiting the company last week, and though the purpose of the meeting is totally unknown, the rumor mills have nonetheless been churning.

Valve has certainly been hinting at something, and Apple's involvement would be a major development.

The Steam Box

As a game development studio and the current king of digital distribution of PC games, Valve has a vested interest in creating their own gaming hardware. In some ways it seems like the next logical step.

Valve CEO Gabe Newell said as much in an interview back in February, and the moniker "Steam Box" emerged some time afterward as a possible name for any Valve-produced hardware.

More recently, the company posted a "help wanted" ad for someone to join their "highly motivated team that's doing hardware design, prototyping, testing, and production across a wide range of platforms."

"We're not talking about me-too mice and gamepads here – help us invent whole new gaming experiences," the job listing reads.

Apple CEO visit a day

Cook's visit to Valve could mean any number of things, but given what Valve's been hinting at, it's easy to jump to one conclusion: Apple's planning a gaming push, and Valve is on board.

The next version of the Macbook Pro is due any day now, and it could be Apple's best gaming hardware since the Apple II.

Retina display is a must, though whether Intel's Ivy Bridge chip will be enough to support the push is a question that won't be answered today.

And if there's one thing Apple knows better than any other, it's how to market a product.

Valve's appeal is limited to hardcore gamers, but a partnership with Apple for their upcoming hardware plans could be exactly what's needed to appeal to more mainstream consumers.

With Valve's library of OSX-ready games already in place thanks to Steam, the tracks are already laid.

Apple and Valve Partnership

via Slashgear, Valve