Gabe Newell Discusses Hardware Plans, ‘Packaged’ PCs

By Adam Smith on December 10th, 2012 at 9:19 am.

Important post-weekend question. While speaking to Kotaku at the VGAs this weekend, did Gabe Newell:

A) Confirm that Half Life 3 will be a Wii U exclusive.

B) Reveal Valve’s plans to release a Steam Box that will replace desktop PCs entirely and force us all to sit on a couch for the rest of our lives.

C) Request ‘a little off the top’, mistakenly believing that he had walked into a particularly loud and very well-sponsored barber’s.

There’s only one way to find out – follow me down the Monday morning rabbit hole.

It’s none of the above, although option ‘B’ has some truth in it. Newell did talk about hardware and his belief that companies will begin to sell ‘packaged’ PCs for the living room, in direct competition with the next generation of consoles. Valve, he says, will enter the market, but they won’t be alone: “We’ll do it but we also think other people will as well”.

The specifics aren’t entirely clear, although any Valve offering would have Steam pre-loaded, perhaps acting as a sort of dashboard.

“Well certainly our hardware will be a very controlled environment. If you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general purpose PC. For people who want a more turnkey solution, that’s what some people are really gonna want for their living room.”

Valve’s commitment to compete directly with console manufacturers fits with rumours and hiring patterns, but the bigger story might well be Newell’s acknowledgement that his company won’t be the only battling for the space under your telly. If there are a range of options, all offering degrees of flexibility, then the line between the desktop and these ‘PC packages’ and actual consoles could become extremely difficult to discern. There’s also a question of upgrades – if a box is preloaded with Steam, will it be configured to run every game on Steam? Will there be different price brackets and power options?

We don’t know a great deal more than we did on Friday, but we do know that the times are a-changin’. It’s odd that the Valve box will be “a very controlled environment” when Newell has been so critical of Windows 8, but then he does seem to believe that any sort of Steam Box would be one option among several rather than the only future for PC gaming. The desktop, with all its versatility, isn’t going anywhere and it seems that Newell believes it is the desktop which deserves better than Win 8.

With Big Picture now available and Linux support still receiving a great deal of attention, Steam is already expanding. Heck, it’s even possible to install to a drive of your choice directly through the interface now – we truly live in remarkable times. I think the idea of the packaged PC should be much more worrying for console manufacturers than for those who are clinging to their towers and fearing that they may be replaced by something small and puny.

Next year promises to be very interesting, which is good because this year is on its last legs. I wonder if it’ll contain any more surprises?

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183 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    Cinek says:

    I suppose this steam box will run on Linux meaning that Steam will push as many companies as it gets to release Linux titles, which should make linux gamers happy.
    For regular Windows gamers though this doesn’t make any difference what so ever. Besides Valve wasting their time on god-knows-what instead of releasing Half-Life 3 already.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Yeah, because it’s totally the same people inside Valve working on both things.

      • Ich Will says:

        If their “leaked” employee handbook is to be believed (which I don’t think it can) then people can work on what they want.

        • Kapouille says:

          … To the limit of their ability… You’d guess that a hardware design guy isn’t really going to help releasing HL3.

          • Premium User Badge

            Cinek says:

            Hardware designer not, but a person coding steam client on linux, or preparing support for various windows stuff to work on linux most likely can easily help with HL3.

          • Shuck says:

            It’s a moot point as, let’s face it, the reason HL3 isn’t out has absolutely nothing to do with insufficient resources. The issues keeping HL3 from being released aren’t solved by throwing more people at it.

        • Low Life says:

          We don’t need to believe any “leaked” handbook, Valve (and Gabe Newell) has been very open about how they work – people are free to choose what project they work on based on their own interests and skills. Even Dota 2 started with a couple of guys wanting to make a game of that kind, then as it progressed more people got interested and here we are.

          And that’s exactly why people who’d be working on Half-Life 3 are in fact working on Half-Life 3, not on this Steambox project.

          • Ich Will says:

            Right, and if Kapouille’s hardware designer decides he’s the worlds finest AI talent and goes to work on (ruin) the AI for HL3, do you expect me to believe no-one would politely requests he gets back to working on the steambox or collect his (US equivalent of a P45)?

          • aldo_14 says:

            Right, and if Kapouille’s hardware designer decides he’s the worlds finest AI talent and goes to work on (ruin) the AI for HL3, do you expect me to believe no-one would politely requests he gets back to working on the steambox or collect his (US equivalent of a P45)?

            I’d suggest that situation is rather improbable, and thus that people would have an implicit assumption about what they should be working on based on what they’ve spent their adult life training to be good at.

          • Ich Will says:

            Right, because everybody at *INSERT YOUR WORKPLACE HERE* does their job diligently. No-one skives, no-one is incompetent, everyone knows exactly what their job should be and everyone is worth exactly what they’re paid.

            Oh, wait…

          • spedcor666 says:

            Because the hiring standards at *INSERT YOUR WORKPLACE HERE* are obviously the same as those at Valve.
            I’m guessing there’s some sort of reason behind Valve’s success. I doubt that hiring incompetent employees is one of them.

          • S Jay says:

            As you remember from the handbook, not only “what you want” but “where you add the most value”.

            Clearly the foundation of this kind of work environment is not wants, but responsibility. You give people the freedom to choose where their talents contribute the most, because they are adults and can make good decisions.

          • Aemony says:

            It would seem that Ich Will haven’t even bothered to read the handbook, as most of this stuff is explained therein. You chose the project based on what you want to work on and where you think you can contribute the most. Similarly, it’s not pure anarchy in the workplace, as pretty much everything is peer-evaluated. Further on, Valve tries to (as described in the handbook) only hire those that can actually work under these terms without much guidance. They have, and will probably again, at times mistakenly hire people who are more accustomed to a heuristic leadership structure, and not suited for this kind of structure. Those will, as of always, be found through peer evaluation.

            It’s really retarded to argue against their philosophy as we’ve more than enough evidence of its success already. Or people would argue that Half-Life, Half-Life 2, Portal, Portal 2, Team Fortress 2, Dota 2, Steam, Steamworks and Left 4 Dead 2 are nothing more than once-in-a-lifetime products that got ‘lucky’?

            As for “believing” the handbook or not, there’s really nothing that speaks against it so far (except for that chick who designed Portal and later went on to develop Quantum Conundrum and said that certain heuristics do exist in the company, obviously, with Gabe at top and a few others). Yet there’s more than enough material to prove it’s accuracy, from personal blogs of employees at Valve, to articles, interviews and a lot of other third-party ‘testimonies’.

            But no, obviously Valve is just like any other game company no matter what they say. Their workforce is forced to work at a project of someone else’s choosing, with a lot of crunch-time scheduled in the development phase, with at times horrible work practices. It’s pretty much hell on Earth…

            Geez… Some people can’t handle the responsibility. Valve obviously tries to not hire those.

          • Ich Will says:

            Valve may earn a lot of money from steam, but I would argue that their failure to release Halflife 3 or HL2 episode 3 indicates that they are not working efficiently and that those given the “responsibility” to make those games are somewhat failing to do their jobs.

            Their software department would have been bankrupt years ago if steam wasn’t the success it is, now I certainly don’t begrudge them the luxury to piss money away on wages, but let’s not pretend anything other than steam is a success and steam is only a success because of some pretty shitty anti consumer tactics.

          • The Godzilla Hunter says:

            @ Ich Will

            I am pretty sure that TF2 and Dota 2 both make a large amount of money via the cash store. Furthermore, all of the recent releases have been commercial successes.

            It is true that steam money gives them a lot of breathing room. I would argue that all of their games are good (at least, commercially, though you may not personally enjoy them) because they have so little financial pressure; they can afford to take their time. Furthermore, if they did not have steam money, they would probably be pumping out games quicker.

          • Ich Will says:

            If they are making $20 million (Their annual wage bill if they pay industry minimum wages. They claim to pay more than average) from hats per year, I will literally eat mine. And post the video on youtubes for your enjoyment. A proper hat, made out of wool.

            I don’t disagree that their games are good, but their games were good when they worked as a more traditional model. It is nothing to do with the freedom they give their staff and everything to do with Newell/Harringtons QC standards.

            Just to nit-pick, we don’t know their releases are a commercial success because we can never know true sales figures or manpower that worked on the game.

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/03/08/%E2%80%9Chats-are-key-to-building-an-in-game-economy-%E2%80%9D-hard-team-fortress-2-stats-straight-from-gdc/

            The profitability of TF2 shot up 400% when they made the F2P switch in 2011. Start looking for hat seasonings.

          • Ich Will says:

            And what was the profitability before the 400% increase? 5 million per year, I think not.

            Best figures I can find to their software’s profitability are for the portal franchise. It had been in development since early 2007. It has sold 8 million copies across the franchise according to Newell, for an income of approximately 40 million dollars. 6 years of work to earn 40 million dollars could only be profitable if the team making the second game was smaller than 50 at all times (And the first game cost 0 in wages) on lower than average wages. That’s for break even. (All figures used in this calculation are derived from data from NPD)

            This is still meaningless however as we have literally no idea what the accurate data is and we will never know! I would bet a second woolly hat on a leak from a disgruntled Valve employee in the next decade demonstrating that their software does make a loss and that working conditions are not as described.

          • spedcor666 says:

            @Ich Will

            So, now that you’ve taken to arguing about sales figures, does this mean you believe the “leaked” handbook now?

          • battles_atlas says:

            @ Ich Will

            What are you arguing now? Even if your imagined number crunchings are correct, even if no Valve game of the last half decade has made a profit, so what? They’re a privately owned company that has no requirement to maximize earnings. Steam ensures that they make profits, and its quite clear from their track record that Gabe would rather make an incredible, loss making HL3 than a mediocre one that made money. Without a lengthy workplace ethnography I suggest you have no fucking clue what impact their workplace culture has on their productivity. And like Gabe I suggest in this context measuring productivity by quality rather than quantity.

          • Ich Will says:

            @spedcor666 – No it does not. I do not believe for a second Valve works in the way the handbook makes out. I believe they try very hard to make the company work like that but I think that the problem is that they employ people and people don’t work in the way Valve think they should.

            @battles_atlas – I’m arguing that I am in no danger of eating my hat. Valve supporting itself on software sales cannot happen because of the way they run their company. For the record, I am very happy steam money goes towards giving them the luxuary of working that way, or at least, as I state above, try to work that way. It’s a shame all the halflife fans have to suffer broken promises and vapourware as a result but in general it is great that the money goes towards making their employees lives nicer rather than into shareholders dividends.

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            Speaking personally, I happen to work for a company that has a policy not totally unlike Valve’s. We’re not quite at the Valve level of flatness and self-direction as they are, but we’re fairly flat, and staffed full of 20-somethings (“generation Y”?) that thrive on self-direction.

            Our hiring standards are exceptionally high. We look for potential to learn and expand, not for what people currently know. People shuffle between departments regularly because they’re encouraged to do what they want to do and expand their horizons, not necessarily always just grinding away at the things they’re already best at. When it became clear that I was straddling two different departments and working to connect them better, I wasn’t told to get back to my assigned position; instead, I had a new hybrid position created for me. Our benefits include things like free lunch/drinks/snacks/beer every day, free high-class gym membership and a yearly sporting goods allowance, a two storey lounge with pinball/Xbox/PS3/foosball/etc., and even a free home cleaning service. And we’re generally not micromanaged, but rather, encouraged to find things that need doing and just do them.

            And yes, this sort of stuff is sustainable. We’ve got well over a hundred people so far, we’re the fastest growing business in the region, and we’re still quite profitable.

            So yeah, progressive companies like this do exist. Valve just took it to the next level, and bravo for them. If you can’t see this sort of thing working out absolutely fine — with proper hiring and performance evaluation practices, of course — then I can only assume you work in one of the thousands of non-progressive companies and just can’t comprehend how much greener the grass really is on our side, and you have my sympathies.

          • Ich Will says:

            @Wisq – Actually, I’m self employed, so it’s you who has my sympathies, it seems you company tries to give to a pale shade of what my worklife is like but you will still never truly get the full joy of being your own boss! Maybe your companies owner could describe it one day!

            :0)

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            I’ve been self-employed. This is more fun.

          • Premium User Badge

            darkChozo says:

            @Ich Will

            Out of curiosity, where does that $20 million figure come from? Is that game devs only, or software engineers/product development/whatever in general, or Valve’s entire payroll? If it’s anything but the former, I’m not sure if the profitability argument is valid; discounting the revenue from Steam but counting its costs is, of course, not going to look too good for Valve. Valve also has recent successes in DOTA 2 and CS:GO as well; I believe they’ve been sitting in the top 10 pretty consistently in Steam player counts, though I can’t speak at all to their profitability.

            As for Valve’s company culture, it’s really not as revolutionary as some people seem to think it is. It’s a pretty common organizational structure for small-to-medium software development companies, particularly those with stringent hiring standards. If you’re hiring MIT postgrads, there’s not much reason to micromanage them, and they’re probably going to be best off if they’re working on a project that they’re emotionally invested in. That’s not to say that the model doesn’t have its issues — lack of organization, standards, and documentation, for example — but it’s certainly not untenable.

          • Ich Will says:

            @Wisq, clearly you weren’t doing it right were you? What was the problem, struggled to get business, struggled to pay the bills – it does take someone of a certain quality it’s true to be comfortably self employed. I’m on a 4 year sabbatical at the moment, since my son was born, living off my savings. But sure, your place sounds like heaven!

            @darkChozo – I used the “worst case for my argument” figures presented by NPD, including their industry analysis of support staff to development staff. Feel free to look it all up yourself.

          • Premium User Badge

            darkChozo says:

            @Ich Will

            Could you provide a linked source of some description? Google is not my friend in this instance — too much interference from the employee handbook thing and general NPD industry reports.

          • Ich Will says:

            My copy is with my investors pack from EA, I was under the impression that it was freely available from their website somewhere however as a PDF download (last post I inserted the link into is in spambot detection hell) – failing that, torrents are your friend.

            Anyway, you have all the information you need, I’m off to obsess about spacehulk – get back to me if you can demonstrate Valve isn’t losing money with it’s software development, My hat is cayenne peppered up and ready to go!

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Er… I didn’t get one in my EA investors pack???

            EDIT: Turns out I did ::Blushes::

          • Tirade says:

            Something’s fishy with your Portal math. Portal 2 had sold 4 million copies by May, which I’m pretty sure puts all 4 million of those copies at least at the $30 price point. Valve doesn’t exactly pay external distributors for shelf space for most of its sales, but since we’re trying to determine profitability of just the game development segment, we’ll go ahead and pretend that all copies before that point were sold at $30 apiece, and distribution ate 30% of that. That by itself is $96 million, and doesn’t include Portal 1, sales from the Steam summer sale, and probably underestimates the price per copy on the 4 million I’m counting.

            Is there some source you have for Portal 1 and 2 selling for on average $5 apiece, or is that something you just made up?

          • Tirade says:

            Nevermind I got my years switched around, but still, $5 is a bit of a lowball estimate for average price point I would have thought.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Tirade, what about taxes, did you take taxes into account? Here in the UK it’s going to come to a total of 20% but we use a VAT system, so it’s going to be more in the US, maybe as high as 40%?

        • Xerian says:

          From reading all you’ve said in this thread, I’ve concluded that you’re a (possibly half-witted) moron-ish person.
          Let me refer you to something like GTA. The latest game was released in 2008. Thats seven years after the third game. It had several THOUSAND people working on it across several dev-studios. The fifth game is slated for what, 2012? Thats four years, with even more people working on it.

          Valve has a total of about THREE HUNDRED employees doing everything that goes on in their company. They’re maintaining Steam, updating it and working on releasing games every single day, then theres the constant stream of content for TF2 and subsequent patches, etc.

          Theres alo Dota 2 which is in active development, and which was created quite fast. Then theres the known fact that they *ARE* working on HL3, and that they’ve scrapped several “versions” of the story, just like they did with half-life two.

          Then theres Left 4 Dead, which is still being further-developed with new maps and such, and still receiving updates. Then theres Left 4 Dead 2, which like the first is still receiving updates. Then theres Portal 2, which has also recently received some major updates. Then theres the new counterstrike, etc.

          My point is, Valve is a TINY STUDIO (compared to other AAA-studios) but a big studio by indie standards, working on 6 different franchises, simultaniously. This means they work REALLY FAST. Which incidentally means that the way they do things WORKS.

          And since my brother recently interned at Valve for a while,I know that they *do* work like they’ve always said, and just like the handbook says.

          So thats 300 people, working on whatever the hell they want, are releasing big games of superb quality with some great writing and excellent mechanics, whilst also working on a new engine.
          So yes, their way of working does work, and half-life 3 hasnt been in the works very long when compared to your run-of-the-mill AAA-game. (And then theres the fact that most AAA-games these days are literally bad games.)
          So yeah, thats me, concluding your moronic-nature, or that you should go ahead and eat your stupid hat.
          And I beg of you, please dont talk like you know everything about a given subject when you know next to nothing on the subject being discussed. It makes you look… Well, lets just call it silly.

          • Ich Will says:

            @Xeron – The easy argument would be to call you a fanboi. What got you so butthurt? Was it that I pointed out that Valve have broken their promise of releasing Episode 3? Was it that I dispute that their model for software development is effective or sustainable? Which bit of what I said inspired this post? And why don’t you hit back at me with a bit more of a logical argument than Hur dur, I disagree, they make games I like and you’re stupid. Which is what your post condenses down to.

            I’ve already stated that they make great games, I know they have the ability to try to work the way they like and I’ve stated that it’s good for them, but lets be honest, their software costs the company money to make. Let me guess, your brother didn’t decide he would check over the company accounts did he, because if he tried to access them, he wouldn’t have been allowed to. I’m sure as an intern he learnt absolutely everything, I’m sure he found it a flower smelling utopia etc etc

            PS – your use of racist terms elsewhere is disgusting, unless there’s another Xerion who’s brother worked for valve calling people the N word on esea

          • spedcor666 says:

            ‘but lets be honest, their software costs the company money to make.’

            That’s not being honest. That’s pure speculation based on absolutely nothing. You don’t know how many employees worked on any particular game, how long they worked on the game for, or even how many were sold. How can you base anything on that, never mind state your speculation as fact?

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @spedcor666 – He actually made that exact point himself above, but he’s clearly got himself in a bit of a muddle dealing with the trolls

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Oh it’s a muddle, all right.

    • Meat Circus says:

      Don’t they have some kind of partnership with Canonical? That means it’s gonna be Ubuntu with a Steam big picture frontend. Everything’s in place already. Stop worrying.

    • Toberoth says:

      Personally I’m pretty happy about them taking their time with HL3 and working on PC gaming infrastructure stuff simultaneously. I honestly don’t understand people who want them to rush HL3 out of the door: it’s not like there aren’t plenty of other games to play in the meantime, and working to ensure that PC gaming has a bright future is surely more important, right now, than releasing a single game?

      • Premium User Badge

        Cinek says:

        Rush? LOL…. HL2 was released in 2004. That’s 8 years ago. Episode 2 was released in 2007. That’s 5 years ago.
        WHERE THE HECK YOU SEE RUSHING HERE?!

        • Toberoth says:

          If they are pressured to release it before they’re ready to release it then it’s a rush job, it makes no difference when HL2 or the Episodes came out. Thankfully Valve are very sensible about these things, and won’t move forward on a project until they’re absolutely sure it’s up to scratch (compare early screenshots of the scrapped version of TF2 with the much-improved version that eventually saw release, and is incredibly popular to this day).

          I know a lot of people are excited for HL3 (I include myself in that!) but I really don’t get all the whining and pleading and anger directed at Valve for taking their time producing it, especially since they’ve kept very quiet about the project, purposefully avoiding hyping it and building up expectations (although they acknowledge that high expectations exist). The constant demands from so-called fans reek of entitlement, to be honest.

          • Ich Will says:

            Here’s the problem. Daikatana syndrome: At some point, the work you have done on the game which was cutting edge becomes obsolete. And needs to be done again. Adding up to an infinite development cycle OR the release of a game which is years out of date.

    • BlackAlpha says:

      I highly doubt the people working on the Steam Box are potential candidates for the Half Life 3 development team. Valve probably hired some specialists who know a lot about what needs doing to get the new Steam Box up and running, but they probably do not know much, if anything at all, about game development.

  2. gibb3h says:

    uh-oh, prepare for Angry Internet Men

    • f1x says:

      INTERNETFACE!

      bah, that was bad, blame mondays

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      Well, as you’re prepared:

      MAY ALL YOUR CHILDREN BE BORN WITH WEBBED FEET.

      • tobecooper says:

        MAY YOUR EYES BECOME SO WEAK YOU WON’T SEE YOUR STEAM BOX SCREEN!
        Hah, I’m angrier and more vile.

        • ColOfNature says:

          MAY ALL YOUR CHRISTMASES BE WHITE!

          I don’t think I’ve quite got the hang of this.

        • Xocrates says:

          Irving Berlin?

          EDIT: Bah! Reply fail to Arbodnangle above. That just ruined the joke :(

          • Arbodnangle Scrulp says:

            Actually I was attempting to Godwin the thread but your comment is way funnier than that.

    • Xerian says:

      The angriest of internet-men has arrived! Haaaaaave you met Ich Will? He’s the guy up there arguing that Valves way of working is nothing but a lie and that they’re inefficient at releasing games. This makes him quite the moron, or possibly mentally-challenged to some degree.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Why don’t you toddle off back to whatever dingehole you came from, we don’t tolerate this kind of bullying around here.

        Also BLOCKED!

      • Hahaha says:

        The only morons I see above your comment are –
        f1x
        Fazer
        Aaarrrggghhh
        -Spooky-
        The Random One
        SuperNashwanPower
        tobecooper
        ColOfNature

  3. stiffkittin says:

    Sounds good to me. I’m pretty sure his mention of ‘controlled environment’ is wholly in reference to hardware concerns for their device. Where his criticism of Windows 8 was about increasing restrictions in development and marketing.

    I wonder if all their dev-time into Linux is going to pay off soon in the form of a Linux OS on their Steamboxconsole? Now that’d be a shot in the arm for Linux game development. A commercially successful Linux-based console?

    EDIT: Ninja’d :P

    • f1x says:

      yeah its obviously talking about hardware, I suppose in a similar way to consoles it will be a closed hardware setup, meaning you cannot go around opening the box and changing components, on the other hand I guess their goal is to ensure a similar experience in terms of performance for all customers

      Regarding the OS and the rest, its a mistery at the moment, but I hope for something with the same functionality as a PC, I mean if its just a box that runs steam…humm that would make it even worse than a console

      • stiffkittin says:

        I think it’s highly likely it will be a polyvalent device, in terms of multi-media, streaming, internet access etc. At lest if Valve want it to compete for space with current living-room hardware. They’ve got their nacent software market to think about too. That said, it’s hard to imagine Valve selling a device that has the Win8 app market as a thing…

        • f1x says:

          yeap, I think we can put our hands in the fire thats its not gonna run on windows ;)

      • jerf says:

        I’m pretty sure that Valve will collaborate with Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu Linux) to give Steam Box multimedia and general-purpose capabilities. The reasons for this seeming to be rather probable are the following: 1) they’re already collaborating: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2012/10/valve-talk-steam-for-linux-at-uds, 2) it will benefit both companies and the users as well and just seems logical.

        I imagine that there will be two choices with how to boot your Steam Box: 1) directly into Steam 2) to full-featured Ubuntu (maybe optimized for big screens), offering multimedia and general-purpose capabilities.

        It’d be very good if indeed it’ll be like this, since Ubuntu is both user-friendly and powerful.

  4. Phantoon says:

    Exciting! I think!

  5. SuperNashwanPower says:

    I guess the concern is, is this valve joining them, rather than beating them? That word ‘controlled’ didn’t sit well in these days of walled gardens.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      I’m guessing it’s more that they don’t want to do tech support on modded Steam hardware. And if you prefer to mess with the software or hardware you are still free to use a normal PC or another device that can run Steam.

    • Godwhacker says:

      I’m hoping it’s just the hardware- they’re most likely going to put together a single, very well-optimised spec but with a compact form factor that makes it tricky to upgrade. Even so, I doubt they’ll be doing an Apple and soldering the RAM to the motherboard or anything like that.

      • karmafarm says:

        You do know that Macs have easily accessed RAM slots now, and have had for years? Thx.

      • Unruly says:

        I figure it’s going to be more along the lines of a Mini-ITX form factor PC. Those things are already about the same size as a modern console, and you can pack quite a bit of power into them. I don’t have any experience with ITX cases, but I know they make ITX form factor motherboards with PCI-E 3.0 slots, so they must make cases that can fit dedicated graphics cards.

        So build an ITX form factor PC, slap in a mid-range GPU, 8gb of RAM, and throw Ubuntu and Steam on it. The ITX form factor is mostly used with APUs, so if you can get the APU graphics unit and the dedicated GPU to work together(I know it’s possible, and that they’ve been doing it a bit already) then you’ve got a nice, little, self-contained system that packs decent power. And before you say that APUs are weak, remember that the entire Core i-line of Intel processors are APUs. So a Core i5-3550, a Radeon 7750, 8gb of RAM, and pretty much any 1TB 7200 RPM HDD for a general guess. If I were to piece that together myself I’d be spending around $625(based on current prices over at newegg, with a case that’s slightly larger than a console so as to fit a full sized 5-600w power supply). But if Valve plans to do this in bulk they’d get volume pricing, work out supply contracts, etc and would probably end up spending a fair bit less per unit. They may even go the route that all the current console makers do and sell it at a loss, hoping to make it up by selling more stuff through Steam. So you could end up seeing the above mentioned system, or something similar, retailing for $400 or less. That’s not shabby at all, really. It won’t run everything on super-high, but you’ll be very likely to get at least medium settings on most games. And it allows for a bit of upgradability, even if the only thing that would really need upgrading is the dedicated GPU.

        No need to solder in components, no need to fully lock down the hardware, and it’s built with off-the-shelf components. And yet it’s about the size of a decent surround sound system’s subwoofer.

        • Godwhacker says:

          I’m not so familiar with the exact hardware, but that’s the sort of thing I’m expecting. If they can get all games currently on Steam working on Linux then that’ll be fantastic, but we’ll see.

    • MichaelPalin says:

      That word ‘controlled’ didn’t sit well in these days of walled gardens.

      What do you mean by that? Steam is a walled garden already.

      • spedcor666 says:

        Really? I’d be interested to hear how Steam restricts access to alternative methods of installing games on my PC.

        • Prime says:

          It’s a closed ecosystem within a larger, open ecosystem capable of hosting many such ecosystems. No-one is stating it has power over the larger ecosystem but within Steam you are on Valve ground and you obey Valve rules (and Valve time, apparently). If we could download games through the client but run them without the client, then you might have some room for argument but you can’t so you don’t. Accept it – STEAM is a closed system (you can’t transfer games from Steam to Desura, can you?) We’re just lucky the PC is not.

          I suspect any Valve-built device with be a fully closed system, without the backup of that larger ecosystem but that is only my opinion.

          • ResonanceCascade says:

            It’s not a closed ecosystem, is a closed facet of a larger ecosystem. No one would argue that Steam is a truly open platform. They do decide who gets in to their store. They don’t decide what gets on my machine in general. That is a massive difference.

          • spedcor666 says:

            Being a closed system isn’t the only characteristic of a walled garden. If it were, just about every proprietary application available would be considered one. A walled garden also restricts access to content and services from alternative providers. Much of the content provided by Steam is available elsewhere, hence the content is not enclosed within a walled garden of Steam. Even for Steamworks games, there are plenty other non-Steamworks games available through other methods.

            You are not being restricted in any way to buying games through Steam. There is no wall.

        • MichaelPalin says:

          Go to the Subscribers Agreement and read clause 9. They have the right to do whatever they want and whenever they want to with your stuff. In fact, “walled garden” fits Steam better than to any other similar system, because Steam is generally the less annoying and abusive of them all, thus making the effect of being in a garden stronger.

    • Bhazor says:

      And a few months ago Gabe Newell ranted about how Windows 8 was the worst possible thing and it was stripping away all the freedom of the PC.

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/07/26/windows-8-is-a-catastrophe-according-to-gabe-newell-valve-hedging-with-steam-on-linux/

      The creator of modern DRM complaining about losing computer game freedom.

      • Prime says:

        Yes, it was rather ironic, wasn’t it?

        Really, Gabe? Really? Pot Kettle Black, much?

      • Dark Nexus says:

        He’s not the creator of modern DRM, he’s just the one who did the most to bring it to games. Don’t give the guy too much credit.

      • SaVi says:

        Gabe Newell never had a problem with lying straight to our faces when it is for the benefit of Valve. I am thinking of the “PS3 Disaster” or “Axel Gembe job offer”. He is not the god of PC Gaming and the gamers friend, but just a smart business man. Better take whatever he says with a grain of salt.

      • Premium User Badge

        darkChozo says:

        To be fair, context is rather important here. Windows is the de facto platform for gaming and most clientside software, and the OS market in general has high barriers to entry and lots of vendor lock-in. While you’ll always need Steam to play your old Steam games, there is very little keeping people from jumping ship if the service loses its appeal, and there’s actual competition in the marketplace. It’s valid to worry about the former closing itself down while being okay with the latter.

        In other words, if Valve and all the Steam servers randomly exploded tomorrow, the PC gaming market would be mostly unthreatened. If Microsoft were to unilaterally declare that no one could play games on PC any more, then things would get a little more thorny.

        • SuperNashwanPower says:

          How dare you bring logic and well reasoned argument to an internet discussion sir. I demand more extreme blanket judgements RIGHT NOW.

        • Bhazor says:

          Apart from the dozens of games that are tied in to Steamworks.

  6. Zanchito says:

    Looking forward to this, if it’s priced right and still allows me to use it as a media center and Web TV set. Linux-based is a geeky plus (and a rather serious possibility, I’m guessing, because of cost reduction by not having to license windows).

    • Ich Will says:

      Don’t get too excited about a cost reduction, windows 8 is retailing for £25 at the moment, it’s probably being shipped to PC manufacturers for quarter of that.

      • Prime says:

        I got mine for £40 (Pro version) but even that’s amazing contrasted with the £120 they were looking for me to upgrade from Win7 Home to Win7 Pro. And the Media Centre pack was free – got my license a few days ago after simply giving them my email.

        • SuicideKing says:

          It’s only a promo till Jan 31st, after which it’ll cost the full £100/$100 whatever Win 7 HP/Pro cost you.

          They’re trying to make sure everyone upgrades as quickly as possible so that they can call it a success.

          • Prime says:

            Yes, I know it’s temporary but that doesn’t take anything away from it being a good offer; I know which I’d rather have paid.

        • Bhazor says:

          I did not know that. Yoink!

      • Kageru says:

        The discount is mostly because windows 8 doesn’t offer that much for the desktop user and they’d love to spur adaption. All the media seems to suggest they still want 100$ per copy from the OEM’s. No doubt lots of volume licensing deals but they’re not going to offer that to an Xbox competitor.

        They’ll go with linux because the windows license is enough to make the price uncompetitive with xbox. Plus the fact that there would be lots of ways Microsoft could make things difficult for them. That and they wouldn’t mind weakening Microsoft’s monopoly position a little in the long term.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Revisor says:

    This is the news of the year. Valve creating a PC standard for living room gaming is a glove thrown in the face of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, a challenge that has a chance of standing against the closed systems where you can only do what the corporation allows you to do.

    I expect the Gabebox to be semi-closed but easily hackable if you wish to. And people will wish to play non-Steam games, and they will found out the PC greatness that is modding and freedom. And ubiquitous game sales. :)

    Great news indeed.

    • Prime says:

      …where you can only do what the corporation allows you to do

      How does that differ from what Valve already do with Steam, exactly? They *don’t* control what goes on Steam?

      Also, you can ‘hack’ PS3s to run Linux so I’m not sure exactly where this advantage is coming from? Valve are great because they’ll set up a closed system that you can hack to run non-steam games? It’s not clear exactly what you’re basing this on…

      • Premium User Badge

        Revisor says:

        A PC is open by design and Steam actively supports mods.

        Also Valve is not a public corporation and unlike them it can have a different goal than make a lot of money no matter how.

  8. Kaen says:

    Adam, for a fleeting moment my world was ruined. Bravo.

  9. Baboonanza says:

    I would guess that when he talks about many devices he’s actually referring to plans for Valve to license their Steam OS out to anyone that wants to make a box. After all, Valve won’t be doing this to make money out of the hardware, they just want people to buy through Steam so making it semi-open like Android makes the most sense.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this does. The selling point for gamers is surely going to be the much lower prices on games than a traditional console without many of the recent add-ons that don’t necessarily appeal to core-gamers, like Kinect.

    • MrMud says:

      Are you using the same steam as I am?
      With the exception of the sales, the prices on steam are equal to the prices for retail console games.

      • stiffkittin says:

        Agreed. Steam pricing in Europe is absolute rubbish. Steam is a very useful platform, but I can’t justify buying anything directly from them outside of sales either. Other digital distributors and even online retailers far outdo them.

      • lordcooper says:

        Apparently I’m not using the same Steam as you either.

      • Baboonanza says:

        I don’t know where you shop but the Steam price on Far Cry 3 (for instance) is £10 cheaper than the price of the XBox or PS3 version on Amazon, which would be even more expensive in an actual shop.

        Bar a few cases such as CODBLOPS where publishers set ridiculous prices this is reflective of all new game releases. The point where steam is not competitive is usually where a game has been out for say 6 months and is starting to get discounted at retail to shift stock while holding it’s price on Steam, and in that case you just have to wait for the next sale.

        I don’t tend to buy new releases on Steam because on they aren’t the cheapest source for PC games, but they are still almost always cheaper than console games.

        • Premium User Badge

          Zephro says:

          Check the PlayStation Store, if you want a download copy of Farcry 3 it’s £60.

        • MichaelPalin says:

          At least in Spain, all big budget game release at 50€, just like in retail stores. Not sure what you mean by “cheaper than the console version”, the PC version is always cheaper than the console version.

      • Kageru says:

        Steam doesn’t get to set the prices. I’m sure they point out that distributors trying to screw over regions (I’m in Australia) costs them sales and encourages piracy but at the end of the day it’s not their call.

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          At least with steam when my australian friends express dissatisfaction with regional pricing I can just buy it for them with american dollars.

  10. Meat Circus says:

    They’re gonna call it the Steam Engine, folks. THIS IS YOUR TRUTH.

  11. marsilainen says:

    Its pretty amazing how the internet-people have reacted to this. Many have concluded that valve is actually abandoning the PC and start making consoles.

    What i have read is that they are just making a standardized PC configuration which then will be more controllable environment. Every other PC manufacturer can do the same if they want. Focusing development to it becomes easier and steam acts as a unifying software platform. Everything that works on your PC works with this and vice versa. Basically its a branded HTPC.

    • Nic Clapper says:

      The problem I see is if these are non-upgradable pcs we’re talking about here. Theres already enough problems with multiplatform games not taking full advantage of PC hardware. If these things aren’t upgradeable and eventually become a hit I imagine that problem increasing even more. Not an immediate problem…but an eventual one I would think.

    • Premium User Badge

      AmateurScience says:

      Alienware did one a while back. Not sure if anyone bought it.

      The problem with a lot of these setups is it’s often cheaper to source the exact same components individually and put them in an (admittedly uglier, cheaper) box and achieve the same results. But if it’s targeted at the right people (primary console users tired of waiting for xbox next) and timed right (before the next console generation) and sufficiently powerful to outdo the next gen consoles then I reckon that valve could carve out a sizeable chunk of the current console market.

    • Kageru says:

      Pretty much, with good economy of scale so it can potentially be cheaper.

      It can also become a reference platform for others to build similar boxes and push the market further. I would think Valve has correctly identified that the PC gained from having lots of diverse suppliers as long as their was some sort of agreement on interoperability. If they release a usable spec, start integrating improvements on a decently fast life cycle, the whole market evolves and becomes more competitive.

      Microsoft will never do this, because that would be competing with themselves (the Xbox). For Valve it makes sense because their market gains from the PC environment remaining viable. It also allows for the PC market to survive the shrinking of the dedicated home desktop numbers.

  12. ShadowNate says:

    Pretty much my policy for Gabe’s interviews or statements the last few years is:
    Ctrl+F, search for “Half life 3″. If there are only 1 or 2 results, then skip it entirely.

  13. Toberoth says:

    This is exciting news :) As a fairly computer savvy person who gets a kick out of building and rebuilding his own system, I can’t see myself buying one of these Steam Engines (as Meat Circus put it above), but the more people dabble with PC gaming the better, IMO, since it will (hopefully!) lead to more PC games being made.

    Glad to see Gabe being nice and open about it as well: [paraphrasing] “If people don’t like this way of doing things, they’re welcome to do something else, and we’ll be one option in a wider market.” Valve’s quiet confidence, openness, and track record of success is so much more appealing to me than the brash (sometimes slightly desperate?) marketing you see for consoles and console games a lot of the time.

  14. Eddy9000 says:

    HALF LIFE THRE…!!!

    aww…….

  15. Prime says:

    It’s odd that the Valve box will be “a very controlled environment” when Newell has been so critical of Windows 8,

    Are we being sure to differentiate between hardware and software here, Adam? Windows 8 provides a closed ecosystem for software (in addition to the completely free one it continues to offer) but that quote from Valve seems to indicate only tighter control on hardware? If you’re looking to provide a box for the livingroom/lounge that avoids the classical hardware mish-mash compatibility issues of the traditional PC that would seem to make all the sense in the world.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Aye, you might well be right there. I wasn’t deliberately ignoring the hardware/software distinction, just putting in the question and maybe looking for things to query a little too hard. Monday mornings, eh?

      Until we know more, I do wonder how much a Valve offering would use it as a pre-loaded Steam as a primary gaming interface – the dashboard idea. If it’s there, front and centre, but users can click it into the background, would it be so much different to Windows 8?

      • Aaarrrggghhh says:

        I think that depends on what Windows 9 will be doing.

      • rustybroomhandle says:

        On the Steam hardware itself, no not that different. But nothing will prevent you from installing Steam on different hardware, or for oems to make more hackable alternatives. Or for you to learn Linux and build your own.

      • Prime says:

        @Adam

        No it wouldn’t. That would make Mr Newell’s previous comments about Windows 8 seem a mite hypocritical though, eh? :)

        (they kind of were already, what with Steam being such a massive almost-monopoly and all)

        • TsunamiWombat says:

          A monopoly born from building itself to market standard, not exploiting it’s install base and purse

          • Prime says:

            Oh, it’s a nice monopoly? That’s alright then.

            No-one’s criticizing how they got there but when the biggest provider of DRM around starts scoffing at others for locking people into a service then I think we’re allowed to start saying “Now hold on a minute, Gabe…”.

            When Steam starts letting people run games bought through the service without involving the client at any stage then they can start chucking stones but NOT before.

          • jhng says:

            Yes — it is a ‘nice’ monopoly as you put it. Steam’s position is built wholly on creating a new type of service and then continuing to do it better than anyone else. They have not locked out competitors in any way as far as I know, which is what a ‘nasty’ monopoly does.

            The only marginally anticompetitive thing they did was to leverage the demand for Half-Life 2 and the Orange Box to get people using Steam in the first place by requiring a Steam account to play. But if we are going to grumble about that then we may as well call all forms of online DRM and forced sign-ups anticompetitive (I’m sure some people do).

          • Prime says:

            Did you see that line about “No-one’s criticizing how they got there…”? I didn’t even use the word ‘anti-competitive”. I know very well how evil Microsoft can be and have been: I used Linux for many years. You don’t frequent those forums without hearing the horror stories! On that score, yes, Valve look good.

            However, I don’t want to get confused with belief in Valve as a reasonably ethical company and their hypocrisy in decrying closed systems when Steam, however friendly, is a closed system in itself.

          • Toberoth says:

            I’m always tickled to the point of slight distress by seeing the word “evil” bandied about in discussions of software companies and hardware manufacturers. Through its long history Microsoft has been careless, exploitative, short-sighted, and mercenary (as well as innovative, forward-thinking, savvy, and hugely influential, let’s not forget), but “evil”? Really now.

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            Evil is a word I reserve for John Ricetellio and Steve Jobs. Though really I use “prick” far more.

    • sd4f says:

      But is the hardware compatibility issues that big a problem? I’ve never had problems with things not working because of hardware (with the exception of hardware failure), just about all my problems stem from software compatibility (ie post vista, or windows 95 software on xp and above), and not powerful enough hardware; the drivers or hardware cross compatibility, in my honest opinion, is a non-event.

      • SuicideKing says:

        I believe that’s because APIs like DirectX provide some level of abstraction so that whatever variation exists between hardware (say AMD64 and Intel64, for example), so it’s not a big problem.

        If Valve chooses to use of-the-shelf PC components, but only uses a specific type (say, only stuff from AMD) then programmers can pretty much forego a lot of abstraction and make it more or less machine specific, and optimize hugely.

        The side benefit of that is when the same games run on our home gaming rigs, they’ll run much, much better, at least that’s what i hope.

      • f1x says:

        I think is not about hardware compatibilities, but more about hardware quality
        if you have a minimal idea of hardware you can surely make a decent combo by selecting components, but I’m sure a lot of people with 0 knowledge of PCs have bought one of those Acer combos or similar only to find they were perfomed really poor even with decent specs, or they simply didnt last long,

        I suppose they are trying to change that, by putting in decent quality components and a good setup, making it similar to what iMacs are doing in terms of hardware,

        considering that they possibly will make it even good looking, not like one of those cases that seem straight from 80s Sci-fi

  16. BreadBitten says:

    “Controlled environment” sounds like there won’t be any room for upgrades and such. I guess there’s no point to this product if you already have a decent PC (regardless of its relationship to your living room) AND a little box under your television.

    • Prime says:

      Or maybe a limited range of upgrades? Even allowing for an upgrade possibility would give it an advantage over just about every other livingroom-based gaming option out there.

      • Baboonanza says:

        The reason for this is often (though not always) practicality though. Closely integrating components, like soldering RAM onto the mobo and is often done simply to reduce manufacturing cost and package size and I would expect the Valve box to be similar unless they go out of their way to make it upgradable.

        • BreadBitten says:

          You may have a point about them making it upgradable in some way, but that would also entail some form of specialized service on Valve’s end (centers that handle the upgrade procedure and some such). Sounds way too ambitious to me.

          • Prime says:

            ….Not necessarily, no. That is the way Apple do it but it’s daft to say that’s the only way to do it. GFX cards and hard-drives of varying specs on slot-in cartridges?

          • Premium User Badge

            darkChozo says:

            The fabled return of the Expansion Pak?

      • Kageru says:

        I would be immensely surprised if it’s not standardized and integrated. There will almost certainly be zero expandability (maybe drive size as a marketing point) to make it a more reliable platform and programming target.

        What they will do is have a shorter life cycle than consoles (I saw the suggestion of 3 years) and maintain upward compatibility. That would let them regularly integrate advances in PC hardware.

        And if you want the bleeding edge, buy a real PC.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Simplisto says:

    We suspected HL3 might be held back for Source 2. Could it be that both are held back for the Steam Engine (it’s catching on Meat Circus!)?

  18. Ucodia says:

    I think Valve is actually preparing its defense against Microsoft next big plan: Xbox Durango. I truly believe that the core of Microsoft next Xbox will run Windows 9 which of course will embed a derivative version of the Xbox Store application in Windows 8.
    This console will make the final bridge between the PC and console world, a bridge that is getting already more abstract every day considering the similarities between the consoles network shops (Xbox Live, Playstation Network, Wii Ware, …) and PC digital platforms (Steam, Desura, Origin, …).

    If Valve does not do any move on hardware and Microsoft release its next Xbox, Steam will lose a lot of its interest. Can’t wait to see what Gabe prepared us!

    Note: I am not really a cloud gaming believer.

  19. Jamesworkshop says:

    I can see a market but can’t say i’m a part of it

  20. Parge says:

    I’d be very interested to see what hardware they’ve chosen. I wonder if they will have several SKUs or just the one.

    The trinity CPUs might be a decent choice. Low power at idle, and semi decent gaming performance at 1080p. AMD are going to have to start putting more effort into their Linux drivers if it is based on that.

    Speaking of which, I can’t see this becoming at all popular unless Valve get a serious amount of games running on Linux.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Going the Trinity route is the only way i see them getting the thing under $350.

  21. rustybroomhandle says:

    I hope Gabe is prepared to get sued in stupid patent suits for crap like ‘button to buy directly from online store’ and so on.

  22. Premium User Badge

    AmateurScience says:

    It’d be interesting to see if they partner with devs to optimise for their particular hardware setup ‘the way it’s meant to be played’ the steam version for instance.

    Also, given this will probably be something that has a hardware refresh annually or so, it’d be nice if they can say to those who’ve already bought one: ‘hey buy this part from one of these manufacturers and swap it out, and we guarantee it’ll work well’ rather than ‘sorry, you need to buy a whole new box’ a la all tablet and console manufacturers ever.

    • Lemming says:

      I can say with almost 100% certainty that the ‘Steambox’ will have an nvidia graphics chipset using OpenGL, and with that kind of partnership, game developers follow suit fairly quickly.

  23. MichaelPalin says:

    So, Valve is releasing a cheap single purpose PC that everyone will buy, then format and use as a regular PC?

    • nil says:

      No, because dedicated graphics hardware is not cheap?

      • Ucodia says:

        Well, if this kind of PC platform dedicated to gaming really happen and go mainstream, then GPUs will get as cheap as CPUs.

  24. sophof says:

    I’m taking an extremely wild guess here, but knowing the way valve works, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of XBMC/steam-big-picture hybrid as the target. That stuff is just begging to happen.
    Or maybe it is just me getting my hopes up, but to me it seems like an obvious idea.

    • Svant says:

      Thats what im running atm, shortcuts in big picture to xbmc and to steam bigpicture in xbmc. Controller works in both. Very handy.

  25. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    I was so excited about being able to install a game where ever I liked, I installed FTL onto my SSD just because I could.
    Because, you know, it needed the increase in IO speed. Or something.

  26. The13thRonin says:

    I fail to see how this is a good idea in any way shape or form. Valve are taking the one major unique feature of the PC as a platform, its customizable nature and throwing that out the window to release some kind of hybrid console-rig that is going to make concessions which are going to cause dissatisfaction for both console and PC gamers. The PC gamers will feel that its too ‘consolish’ and the console gamers will feel that its too ‘PCish’, mark my words.

    Of course in this brave new age of not questioning anything new things always equals progress… Who could possibly argue with logic like that?

  27. Metalhead9806 says:

    I’ll be doing my thing, build my PC, upgrading it over the course of the next gen and playing my games.
    If i need to buy a Steambox, 720, PS4, Wii U, 3DS, Vita, iOS Device or Oyua for exclusives I will. Because I’m a gamer and the gamer goes where the games are.

    • Prime says:

      This idea of ‘generations’ is one that needs looking at/taken out and shot. It makes no sense from the PC perspective whose lineage stretches back nearly 30 years. Only consoles use it because they go through discreet leaps of hardware performance – the PC is nowhere near as segregated. “Next-gen” is just a vapid buzzword.

  28. derbefrier says:

    So Valve is getting into the console market huh. Well as long as I never see this headline “Half Life 3 is a steam box exclusive.” Then I will give them, the benefit of the doubt. Could be cool though maybe this will finally get some of my console friends into PC gaming if the price point of this is similar to the next gen consoles. The steam box could be the gateway drug to PC gaming..

    • Lemming says:

      A timed exclusive wouldn’t be unreasonable in order to boost initial sales and hype. Exclusivity forever would be appalling, however.

    • MichaelPalin says:

      Do you mean like “Half Life 2 is a Steam exclusive”?

      • Premium User Badge

        c-Row says:

        You need Steam to activate it, but it’s nowhere near an exclusive as in “can only be purchased through Steam”.

  29. Lemming says:

    “It’s odd that the Valve box will be “a very controlled environment” when Newell has been so critical of Windows 8, but then he does seem to believe that any sort of Steam Box would be one option among several rather than the only future for PC gaming. “

    Yeah, happily answered your own question there. Valve have never had a problem with console solutions for the living room, as they’ve never had a problem with the PS3 or Xbox. It’s turning the PC into a closed environment they (rightly) have a problem with.

    I’m foreseeing something that means your Steam account has parity across PC and this ‘Steam Box’, so you can choose which system you want to play it on: The turnkey solution, or the more open PC.

    Given Valve’s experimentation and knowledge of marketing/sales strategies, it would doubly make sense if they see it as a way to boost ‘Steam Box’ sales right out of the gate if your existing Steam account and all your games count across both systems, while throwing in a couple of exclusives.

    Imagine a console launching with a digital catalogue like Steam: Oh my god it’s full of stars!

  30. Pindie says:

    I would really love it if they found a way to make PC layout more compact.
    With tiny SSDs and no need for DVD drive anymore it’s hard to justify the width and height of the casing. Other than the fact the GPU is sticking out at right angle from my Mobo in hopes I’ll figure out a use for the other 3 slots…
    I’d love a PC unit that is built a bit more like laptop, but with no sacrifice in power and no inbuilt screen/speakers/keyboard etc.

    Seriously, my casing is mostly filled with air and some wires.

    The packaged PC also means you have uniform dimensions of components inside, so you can have heat pipes leading to radiators that are facing out of the casing, increasing the cooling efficiency greatly.

    Finally, well, we have literally a handful of GPU/CPU manufacturers left anyway, so if you build a gaming PC chances are it’s just like the other gaming PC anyway.

    How could this go wrong?

  31. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    Make no mistake this is about buy once play anywhere & the fact the console manufacturers will never endorse that concept, it’s why steam on android will exist and not on ios (no not the chat/catalog, actual steam)

  32. jhng says:

    This is great!

    The way I see it Steam will be putting the tip of the PC wedge into the console/sofa space. It is kind of a counterpoint to Win8 Metro which is (sorta) Microsoft trying to fence in the desktop space a la Apple App Store.

    In terms of control/opennes — a degree of control at least on hardware side is desirable because that is what will make it palatable for a wider consumer electronics audience. But I am not that worried about Steam becoming a closed garden.

    A large part of Steam’s great success has been leveraging a temporal ‘long tail’ effect where older games are still made available (and often promoted via Steam sales / publisher bundles) and retain their revenue-generation abilities for much longer than they would have in the shiny disc era. This kind of ecosystem benefits a lot from the biodiversity that is encouraged in PC gaming due to the openness of the platform. By way of example, To The Moon was an out of the blue success coming up from the primordial swamp of PC openness — now one year later it is coming onto Steam (after no doubt some technical polishing and support from Steam) which will bring it a larger audience, make money for the developer, and make money for Steam.

    The chances of Valve trying to change all this by walling the PC garden is low (unless they abruptly turn into morons) — I am sure that they want to be in a position to pick up and run with outlier successes from the indie community and that they also want to be in a position to keep generating revenue from older games. In fact, Greenlight is all about trying to cherry pick from a wild garden rather than a walled one.

  33. DeanLearner says:

    Valve pushed for Steam adoption with Half Life 2
    I predict that (maybe for a set period) Half Life 3 will be a Steam Box exclusive and people will set up Steam groups called “BOYCOTT STEAMBOX AND HALF LIFE 3!” formed of members “currently playing Half Life 3″

  34. Misnomer says:

    It’s almost cute how PC people who are fans of calling Microsoft evil will get happy when someone else talks about entering the console market. Of course we seem to overlook what the hardware market entails (all of these are in the comments, but don’t seem to be getting much attention because the word “open” is so much more fascinating).

    1. A loss leader. Wii U is the first ever Nintendo platform to be sold at a loss, but the PS3 and Xbox have been doing this for a long time. Hardware just becomes the same cost as a PC otherwise. What section of the market are you getting for $700 competing against Xbox, PS3 and Wii? Just cannibalizing low end PC with less benefit. Either way, if this pathetic piece of hardware becomes the basis for all new “PC” games….say goodbye to games that pushing graphics because suddenly they have an even smaller PC user base to fund them.

    2. Platform exclusives …. Absolute necessity of large market share, the reason for the loss leader, means Valve is going to need to give people are reason to use their box. If they can run any Steambox game on a $700 PC AND have a $700 PC that does all the things that it does….it starts to become somewhat pointless. So Valve will either have to make the big screen support exclusive to their boxes or they will have to find some way to get tons of people on their platform.

    Quite simply…. a developer is not going to create a Linux based game if it is going on a platform with less users than Wii, Xbox, PS3, and PC requiring a completely different API. Just look at how hard it is to get developers to truly use the Wii, it is known now for being a platform where you can only rely on Nintendo games and they keep it afloat. Valve games may be enough to keep their box in existence but only if there is a massive user base….so exclusives from Valve. Woo.

    So really, just think about everything Valve will have to do to make this popular enough to make developers want to create a Linux port of their games. Just what will they have to do to get enough people using it that it is worth programming for even more than PC.

  35. RDG says:

    All you need for a proper Steambox experience is a gaming rig with an HDMI output. I put my old gaming rig (Q8400+8800GTX) behind my television for my wife to play on. She prefers playing with the controller on the couch but doesn’t want to shell out extra £40 for a 360 version of a Steam game we already own. Put Steam on Big Screen Mode at start and start Steam with Windows and you don’t even notice you’re running Windows.

    Ze future!

    • fish99 says:

      Until Skyrim pops up it’s launcher, which it does every time you run it, and which has no gamepad support and text that’s too small to read from your couch. We’re not quite there yet then.

  36. wodin says:

    So a Steam Console then??? Isn’t the beauty of PC’s that you can upgrade things like Graphic Cards etc? So for a small price you can keep relatively updated…

    Surely what he is talking about is a ValveSteam Console???

    Big big names have made consoles and have suffered…SEGA for one. Nintendo has had it’s problems and so have Sony in the past…so I’m trying to figure out what will be different between Valve Console Box and PS 4 or XBox 720??

  37. ResonanceCascade says:

    The whole prefab for a Steamy living room idea sounds OK to me, but I’ve got an HDMI cable and big picture mode, so I’m guessing I’m not the target audience here.

  38. CrazedIvan says:

    I was oddly listening to Bob Dylan’s – The Times They Are A-Changin’

  39. KevinLew says:

    Maybe I’m just naive about all of this, but I see this “Steam Box” as a potentially good thing. Right now, PC gaming is viewed as a third wheel when it comes to video games. Heck, it’s probably even lower ranked than smart phone/tablet games to the average consumer. I’ve thought about it, and I think the main reasons why are:
    1) PCs are deemed as expensive and difficult to maintain for any kind of decent gaming experience.
    2) Keyboard and mouse are nowhere near as easy to use for controls as a touch screen or controller.
    3) PCs can’t just be played for 15 minutes and put down; you have to commit to a specific set of time.

    If Valve does this right, then they can eliminate all three of these problems. A simple but good performing PC should be inexpensive and relatively easy to maintain. With an efficient Linux kernel, it should boot extremely fast as well. Finally, with Big Picture Mode, they can get general users to stick with controllers that they understand.

    The real question is, “Will Valve turn really evil with this?” If they start doing idiotic stuff like expensive certifications, blocking users from buying from external sources, etc. (that is, just like every other console maker), then the idea will fail. If people seriously think the OUYA is such a great idea, then I don’t understand why a Valve Box can’t open the market up for PC gaming.

    • Emeraude says:

      The thing is, those “problems” are direct byproducts of what makes the PC a great platform for some of us in the first place: it’s a dedicated platform for dedicated players who want an experience tailor-suited to their wants.
      (Though I must stress once more I don’t understand where that “Kb+M only” mentality came from – choice in peripherals be it joysticks, gamepads or whatever, always happened to be a strength of the PC platform; Kb+M is better for some profile of players over some games, not for everything and all.)

      The thing is, I don’t think you can have the accessibility and ease of use *and* the open/libre nature – they are antithetic. There’ll be compromises over basic principles along the way. Hence why I’d bet chances are we’ll never see the fabled “year of the Linux desktop”.

      The real question is, “Will Valve turn really evil with this?”

      Valve don’t have to turn “evil”. They just have to become big enough that by virtue of their influence alone, their choices will destroy as much as they build. I trust that there was no evil intent behind Steamworks; it’s still has proven a malicious influence over the whole PC market for those of us that are in favor of (some) customer rights.
      I trust that there is no evil intent behind that hardware platform, but the fear that between this – if it succeeds – and what Microsoft and Intel are doing right now, the days of PC gaming as some of us loved it are numbered is real – if maybe overstated.

    • Kageru says:

      It’s a great thing. Consumers will get the choice of a dedicated PC (with many games being common across windows, Linux or Mac), media-PC fans will run their existing machines with steam in big picture mode and casual gamers / computer uses who are never going to buy a dedicated PC might see it as a decent value proposition. The larger the user base the better for all of them.

      Especially if Valve keeps it relatively open so other providers can support a common platform.

      Which is probably what Gabe means in that garbled sentence about different media in different places. If you can have the same games and media on your TV and your PC both become stronger.

  40. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    Yes. YEEESSS!!! It’s exactly what I hoped it would be!
    We may not want want to use a cheapo living room box, but we will all benefit from it in the long run. Anything that eats away at console marketshare even a little and makes PC more popular among common folks means more games will be released for all of us to enjoy. Good call, Gabe, glad you’ve listened to me.

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