....................Recently there's been chatter that Valve — the company behind the massively popular gaming service Steam — has been considering getting into the hardware business. Specifically, there have been rumors that the company has been toying with the idea of creating a proper set-top console which could potentially pose a threat to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Valve co-founder Gabe Newell even recently told Penny Arcade: "Well, if we have to sell hardware we will."
At a glance that would simply be interesting fodder for a gaming forum debate, but we've uncovered information that suggests that not only has Valve been secretly working on gaming hardware for the living room, but that the company is actively pursuing a strategy which would place Steam at the center of an open gaming universe that mirrors what Google has done with Android. Backing up that concept, in the same interview we quote above, Newell says that Valve doesn't really want to do hardware on its own, stating, "We'd rather hardware people that are good at manufacturing and distributing hardware do [hardware]. 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."
........................Apparently meetings were held during CES to demo a hand-built version of the device to potential partners. We're told that the basic specs of the Steam Box include a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU. The devices will be able to run any standard PC titles, and will also allow for rival gaming services (like EA's Origin) to be loaded up.
Part of the goal of establishing a baseline for hardware, we're told, is that it will give developers a clear lifecycle for their products, with changes possibly coming every three to four years. Additionally, there won't be a required devkit, and there will be no licensing fees to create software for the platform.
We're hearing that a wide variety of USB peripherals will be compatible with the boxes, though it will likely ship with a proprietary controller. It's possible that the controller will even allow for swappable components, meaning that it can be reconfigured depending on the type of game you're playing. Think that sounds odd? Well Valve filed a patent for such a device last year.
Interesting times ahead...The most interesting piece of this puzzle may be related to that statement. According to sources, the Steam Box isn't intended to just clash with current gaming consoles. Rather, Valve wants to take Apple and its forthcoming new Apple TV products head-on. Newell has clear questions about Apple's strategy, telling the The Seattle Times "On the platform side, it's sort of ominous that the world seems to be moving away from open platforms," adding that "They build a shiny sparkling thing that attracts users and then they control people's access to those things."
The Steam Box could be unveiled at GDC, though we're also hearing that the company may wait until E3 this year to show off what it's been working on.
One thing is for sure, however: if these rumors turn out to be correct, there could be a whole new kind of battle for control of your living room happening in the near future. Of course, much of this is pieced together from a variety of sources, and there could be moving parts which we can't see. Some of this information could change.
We've reached out to Valve for comment, and will update the post with any new information we receive.
I've heard rumors too, that Steam is going to adopt their interface for controllers too... now imagine a PC, like an HTPC, that is just there to play games. Like a console. Might cost a bit more, but the games are less expensive... so in the end, it's not a problem. And FULL backwards compatibility to ANY game, too. A gaming console PC, with which you can do whatever you please. That'd be quite awesome, indeed. Put out a new model every year, keep the price low-ish (Ipad pricing, I'd say, for which you can buy a very capable PC indeed, though not an i7 system, I'd think), and you got yourself some HEAVY competition to the consoles.
I've always wondered, why there was never a push into these fields. I mean, Dell does sell gaming PCs for example. But there was never any real synergy with game makers or game sellers at all. And it's not like Steam and others haven't been around for a while, either.
In any case... why not? No more "wait for next gen to support feature X" or "the games of today are getting stale". It's always "current hardware", like it used to be on PC. And with "standardized" hardware, game makers can profile their games better, too. Say you got 2012s machine, set everything to "full", or you got the 2010 machine, set everything to medium... All the hastle of PC gaming GONE in an instant.
Though... I don't have any REAL hopes that this succeeds... not sure why, but I don't think it will. Though I'd want it to.
Kept you waiting
I'd sure give it a shot I mean Alienware now has that slim HTPC thing
If I wanted this, I would just build a miniature PC to my own specs.
The interesting part might the proprietary controller that can be modified to suit the game...
Steam + convenience of a console. I'm with it. Though I much rather Valve made a deal with Sony, Nintendo or MS (lulz) and brought Steam in it's full glory to one of those consoles.
When MAC launched we had MAC games section and icons and etc. Just imagine MAC is a PS4 or a WiiU icon. Steam showed it can adopt easily to a new format.
Anyway as I said, whatever way it happens, I am with it. I really can't stand PC gaming lately so any way to enjoy Steam another way is 100% welcome by me.
Last edited by masteratt; 03-04-2012 at 05:52 AM.
I've long used XBMC for watching video and livetv at home. You can configure your Linux box to automatically login the "xbmc user" and start it... basically providing a full interface for controlling XBMC. This should be an option for Steam, too.
It can all be soooo easy, yet soo hard^^
Kept you waiting
The only thing that I could see making this an option that many gamers will consider is if it offers some sort of advantage. PC games just do not have the exclusives the consoles enjoy which have all become household names. Valve isn't going to jump into the fold with a bunch of PC games and the few they make and be any sort of challenge to any of the 3 established names. In addition, none of those games are optimized for their box if they're just playing PC games. So, it's very likely that when the next round of consoles from the big 3 launch, you'll see better performance on them. It then would defeat the purpose of PC gaming in the living room, as the box just won't be powerful enough to fit in a small case and sell cheap enough to compete with the closed architecture systems. It may outperform some of the systems on some games, but it'll be PS3 syndrome. Too close to make taking the plunge worthwhile for the average gamer. All it'll take is a couple failed lens of truth comparisons, and Valve's box will start to struggle. There just aren't enough big budget AAA PC exclusives to justify it for mainstream gaming, so it's left with relying on it's specs/features. We know that PC games never take full advantage of the systems that they run on due to it's open architecture, so I see them having a few issues matching performance with those specs. You're taking a system that probably couldn't to 1080p60 on every PC game currently available and putting it against closed architecture systems that, while they may not be more powerful on paper, will certainly have some performance advantages due to the optimization that having a closed system allows for.
Should valve start porting games to their box, then it would be a different story, but I don't think they have the resources to do it and I doubt many third party devs are going to invest much time in such a new concept, so I wouldn't expect them to show much interest at first either. Even Valve themselves are saying they would rather someone else do it and just let them port steam to their platform. They've already experimented with Sony. however, a conflict of interest takes place when you are trying to sell games on a console that makes it's money selling games. Valve ultimately wants to make money on those games, but they'd have to find a console manufacturer willing to let them handle the software end of things. Apple would have been the candidate, but they're too wrapped up in closed systems (which Valve even commented on), so that leaves them to go at it alone.
It's an interesting experiment, but I just don't see this thing getting off the ground. It'll be a PC gamer's toy for the living room, not much more.
Last edited by frosty; 03-04-2012 at 09:20 AM.
Apparently, Kraptaku has some prototype pics and info. The concept is interesting, and there's probably a big demand for such a product.
On the other hand, there are rumours on PlayStation 4 that claim it'll essentially sport PC hardware. Could Sony actually build something related to Valve or whatever? After all, they've integrated Steam on PS3 to some extent already.
PSN ID: VGAficionado
This will make more games on PC, especially Steam play with a 360 pad, so I for one completely approve.
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-reverendburn - Funny cool youtuber getting kicked out his home before xmas.
Hmmm... yes and no. Given that my PS3 era PC (bought in March 2007 with hardware from 2006) for 900€ still plays ALL console to PC ports at higher than console resolution and settings, I tend to disagree. BUT it was also 50% more than PS3 at launch. So it's only partially fair to compare that. Though I do tend to buy pricier stuff for my PCs, as I put emphasis on stuff other than games, too... I probably could've shaved off some 100 bucks off that price (cheaper mainboard, mostly) and still have the same performance. Same goes for the PSU, which was also pricier than it could've been (and which broke down some time ago, due to dust buildup and negligence).Valve isn't going to jump into the fold with a bunch of PC games and the few they make and be any sort of challenge to any of the 3 established names. In addition, none of those games are optimized for their box if they're just playing PC games. So, it's very likely that when the next round of consoles from the big 3 launch, you'll see better performance on them.
Not really. First of all, if Valve does design and build these systems themselves (with an OEM, of course), there are ENOUGH dials to make this system small, yet powerful. Current laptops are several times as powerful as current consoles, yet smaller and they include a freaking keyboard, touchpad, battery and screen (external PSU, though). Now, I am not saying I'd want laptop hardware inside Valves box, but there are enough ways to make a PC small, yet powerful. You assumption (and I agree) is probably, that they take off the shelf parts and put them in a box. But looking at several HTPC cases in which you can fit muATX boards, they aren't much bigger than a PS3 Slim (including an internal PSU). And in most cases, they even offer an additional PCI slot, in which you could fit a DVB-S card or whatever and use that PC for watching freaking TV (not some dvb-t bullshit PS3 offers).It then would defeat the purpose of PC gaming in the living room, as the box just won't be powerful enough to fit in a small case and sell cheap enough to compete with the closed architecture systems.
Wait what? Are you suggesting that people (i.e. mainstream, casual and whatnot) actually care for or read these comparisons? And do you think that such a box would really look worse than any console version out there? At THE WORST, PC versions of console to PC ports look as good as the console versions. And that's with using VERY old or VERY slow hardware, which this system won't have. Even current low end GPUs (say Llano) are overpoweringIt may outperform some of the systems on some games, but it'll be PS3 syndrome. Too close to make taking the plunge worthwhile for the average gamer. All it'll take is a couple failed lens of truth comparisons, and Valve's box will start to struggle. There just aren't enough big budget AAA PC exclusives to justify it for mainstream gaming, so it's left with relying on it's specs/features.
anything the consoles can produce, let alone mid or high end (and I expect mid-end for the Valve Box) GPUs.
And, haven't we, more or less, concluded that exclusives don't matter? I mean, look at last years Xbox sales. They had virtually NO exclusive whatsoever, yet it outsold PS3 by a considerable margin in the US. Valve box doesn't NEED these high sales, either, as ANY gaming capable PC can play Steam games. ANY FREAKING PC that has viable hardware. Plus, you have BC with ANY Steam game out of the box, too... there's no "oh you have Valve Box 2012, you cannot play Valve Box 2010 games anymore" like most consoles. ANY game you bought WILL run in YEARS to come. And due to open source programmers, this trend is bound to continue for a long while. For a LONG while.
Yeah, like PS3 games are all handy dandy 1080P, let alone 720P with good framerates, good filtering and whatnot. Now, it's true that games made for consoles tend to be optimized for said hardware (often, ports to PS3 suck balls, too, see Bayonetta or GTA4). With PC, you cannot do that. But it also allows for aformentioned BC argument. Since the hardware is abstracted, you can run any software on any hardware. If I would built a PC with an RSX equivalent today, there's no way any game ported from PS3 to PC would run on it in any good performance, simply because of said optimization. Now if Valve puts out "Valve Box 2012 has this hardware", all developers can target these specs for their games (not optimizing). So there's no problem with badly running games or whatever on these boxes.We know that PC games never take full advantage of the systems that they run on due to it's open architecture, so I see them having a few issues matching performance with those specs. You're taking a system that probably couldn't to 1080p60 on every PC game currently available and putting it against closed architecture systems that, while they may not be more powerful on paper, will certainly have some performance advantages due to the optimization that having a closed system allows for.
Optimizing onto a closed box takes you further, no question, but it's not a magical spell that makes all shortcomings go away. Just look at stuff like MW3, which needs to lower the framebuffer resolution to something not far from ancient PAL, and upscale it to 720P... Even low end PC hardware of today easily "outplays" a PS3 or 360. Next year when PS4 might come out, based on a GPU from ~today, Valve Box next year could have a mid end GPU from next year which is probably twice as fast as the GPU in PS4 (it doesn't always work like that, but with PS3, it was easily doable, but RSX was also a bit of a hag).
Now all that comes down to price and how Valve might acquire hardware and such... highly speculative.
I think you are oversimplifying here. The point of this box isn't intended to be a "pc gamers toy", but rather to enable current console gamers to play PC games with the same ease they play console games. And that it should achieve. And when ALL games are easily 20% cheaper than any console game, offer MUCH more, not just better graphics, but modding (easy modding with Steamworks, too), full resolution 3D gaming, full BC, play ANYWHERE (take your games onto your laptop and play them on the go!)... it's a VERY good argument to switch over. Plus, all the free to play games not available on consoles, the PC exclusives (hey yeah... there's still WoW, SWTOR, CIV5... all the indie games NOT on consoles...) and the ability to download ALL Steam Games there are... not just the ones "Sony" or "MS" seems fit... and don't come at me with arguments like download sizes... The Witcher 2 is 20GB, too. XPlane is 10 DVD9s currently and can be downloaded, too^^It's an interesting experiment, but I just don't see this thing getting off the ground. It'll be a PC gamer's toy for the living room, not much more.
Kept you waiting
You're doing a lot of comparing today's systems to what valve's box would be, rather than what the next crop of systems are going to have. That will be Valve's competition should they choose to do this. If PS4 waits even 6 months later than Valve to release, and matches or exceeds it in hardware power, the purpose of this box to the general public will be greatly diminished. Again, PS4 will have 3 generations of high profile exclusives releasing on it. Games that have all become household names by now. If PS4 is pushing equal or greater power than the valve box, the purpose of buying a valve box will be defeated for the average gamer, especially when you factor in the added performance advantages of a closed system. Also, what happens if Microsoft decides to include an almost fully functional version of windows on Xbox 3? You wouldn't have steam probably, because I don't see MS letting go of Live!, but the PC game functionality would be there. If Valve ever proved the be a threat to MS, I could see them releasing a console that could play any windows game to counter them. With the added brand recognition of Xbox and games like Halo and Gears, Microsoft alone could crush Valve's box with a move like that.
I see PC gamers loving this, but I don't see it catching on to the mainstream. You aren't just going to turn 20 years of closed platform gaming on it's head overnight by releasing a PC in a tiny box. There are too many exclusive titles that people expect to be able to play on the other 3 systems. PC has it's exclusives, but it is a FAR cry from having the brand recognition that the other 3 consoles enjoy with their games. World of Warcraft and Sim-anything outstanding, there aren't that many PC exclusives that you could call a "household name".
Last edited by frosty; 03-04-2012 at 11:43 PM.
They are a software company, not hardware. Their greatest means of expanding their service and doing so with a sizable profit margin would be to release Steam on all next generation consoles.
All 3 of them will be a mini-PC anyway and are guaranteed to have good sales (provided none of the 3 fuck up royally). If a specialized controller is their intent, then get with a 3d party peripheral maker and just launch a line of Steam branded controllers. I find the notion ironic anyway given that PC gamers always attest to the superiority of a KB/M over a game controller.
Hm... maybe I need to do some backtracking. PCGames Hardware had a supposed leak of the box, and it's quite small, and does indeed include laptop hardware. Though, I still think a lot of my points still stand.
And... MS was just a software maker, too, before the Xbox... if you ignore the input devices they made^^ Honestly, keyboard and mouse do have their advantages. Games like Command and Conquer control like ass on consoles. But, say Alan Wake, does control well on both. Thing is, if I want to play on my tv sitting on my sofa, keyboard and mouse are really not an option. That'd be quite uncomfortable.
Kept you waiting
My favorite option is a combination of the two. I haven't used it in a while, but back when I would play UT2004 I would hold my ps2 controller clone in my left hand, and my mouse in the right hand. L3 was use/enter, L1 jumped, L2 ducked, and I used the d-pad and select for optional buttons. All could be comfortably reached with my left hand. A navigation controller would be a perfect alternative. Then the mouse took care of the aiming, firing, and weapon switching.
I murdered everyone in that game using that setup. Analog control of all the vehicles made flying and driving perfect, and I had the speed and accuracy of my mouse as well. I would go on all kinds of insanely long killing sprees with that setup.
What would really be cool is if Sony made a move/mouse hybrid. Lay it on a mouse pad, and it's a laser mouse. Pick it up, it's a move. You can have mouse aiming while still being able to use gestures to do things like issue commands, etc.
Well... with that "hardware" maker, you investement couldn't gave gone wrong^^ This nothing more than a scam to get moneys^^
Kept you waiting
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