Do You Want To Get Piston?

By Craig Pearson on January 8th, 2013 at 3:00 pm.

Lol.
John made me write that headline. And he was encouraged by Jim, who responded with an “arf”. RPS: the site that writes about the biggest things to happen in PC gaming with references to wee wee. And wee it is. Piston that is, the surprise announcement from PC makers Xi3 and Valve that they’re building a tiny, modular PC together. It was such a surprise that when Nathan wrote about it, all we knew was the name, the companies involved, and that the thing is small enough to be held in your hand. But I have more information and a video below. You’ll see just how small it is, and gasp as I did. It’s like the kitten of the PC world.

It’s not until the Xi3′s CMO David Politis grasps the thing that you can appreciate just how small it is. He holds it in one hand, and can easily swap out its base components in seconds. Watch him show off his baby to Machinima.

Piston has eight USB slots (four 2.0, four 3.0), four eSATA slots, two Mini Display Port ports, and an HDMI port in a modular PC. The motherboard is broken into three smaller pieces, with each section providing separate components to the PC. The pieces connect at the edges, forming a box shape. The biggest surprise is there appears to be only two wires in whole PC. It looks to me like there’ll be an external power source.

The company’s current high-end PC, the X7A, which features up to a 3.2GHz quad-core processor with 4 to 8GB of RAM and at least 64Gb of SSD storage, though it can manage 1 terabyte. Looking at the machine in his hand, I’ve no idea where any of those drives will fit. No news on the power of the graphics cards, but it is integrated. I suspect it’s not the best. The lowest of those specs is expected to be around $1100, and the details are worryingly vague. Intel vs AMD is still important to everyone. Anyway, I’ve dug up a few more videos, showing off the innards off.

First up, the motherboard.

Next, how it all slots together.

Nathan’s already asked the sort of questions that this move begs, so I’ll refrain from repeating them. Instead I’d like to know what relationship you have with your home PC. Do you build? Would something that gives up your ability to control every component while simplifying the building process appeal to you?

You want more tech than that? More tech than you can handle? Richard “Digital Foundry” Leadbetter’s got some of his hot scoop over at EG.

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211 Comments »

  1. westyfield says:

    I’m weely excited about this.

  2. DanPryce says:

    Urine for a shock if you don’t think a pun thread won’t come out of this.

  3. paulapuffmutter says:

    Piston and Valve….where’s f**ck**ng Half Life 3?

  4. Squishpoke says:

    Jeez, why so small? Most console gamers might automatically think that it is less powerful than their WiiPlayBoxes just by visual size comparison (which will be an incorrect assumption).

    • Sakkura says:

      They might actually be right in this case.

    • ulix says:

      People today have phones that are equally (or almost as) powerful as their console-toyboxes.

      • Baines says:

        Yes. As much as people might want to mock or question the OUYA, the transparent dev version showed just how small the system itself is.

        A good chunk of a Wii’s internals are taken by stuff like the DVD drive and the systems various ports. The DVD drive pretty much defined its shape.

    • Bhazor says:

      Thats actually a good point, why is it so small? Not only is it unnecessarily small but it’s a weird shape, my netbook is way bigger but is much more of a convenient shape and it can slip into a folder, a satchel, a handbag or what have you. Where as the piston looks too fat for a satchel, or anything other than a full laptop case.

      Given how many cables you’ll need to take with you (not to mention monitors/keyboards for Lan parties) I have to wonder how portable it really is.

      It also looks like theres no way to add larger heat sinks or an extra graphics card so either it’s stuck with low power parts or it has a fan that sounds like a jet engine.

      • MrLebanon says:

        I think the idea is to have it as something you’d leave under your TV to play games, watch digital movies.. etc

        I have to wonder though… it’s going to be nearly a necessity to have a portable HD attached… they couldn’t have made it marginally bigger to allow for the usage of an HDD? Not everyone can live off of a 64 gb ssd (and not many can afford a 1TB ssd)

        • Bhazor says:

          He makes a big point of it being super portable and if its just being left under the TV then why does it have to be so small? Apart from anything else heats going to be a major problem with everything so cramped.

        • protospork says:

          Not even from a portability standpoint, but just by aesthetics (and the shape of the shelves underneath my TV), this is a no-go for me. It would look hella ridiculous sitting in my living room. I was very much hoping for a nondescript black rectangle.

          (Even if I could afford one. $1100? Eesh.)

        • James Kulas says:

          It’s definitely something I’d consider to sit under the TV providing I can run something like XBMC in addition to Steam. Seems like there’s a good chance of that if they end up going with Ubuntu.

          At that point it’ll do everything I could ask of a living room box and it’ll come down to price. For £300 ish I’d consider it decent value for money and equivalent to building a solid HTPC, for the £1100 we’ve seen speculated I’d just build my own.

        • egg-zoo-bear-ant will e 91 says:

          I’m not sure that is the only idea. The way they were talking about the sensibleness of convergence and having “one pc do all the computing in the home”, he seemed to be positing it as almost a ship’s ai of the home. Streaming TV and web browsings and games to every room. It seems like throwing all your eggs in one basket but I guess its cheaper and modular and there is always the laptop to fall back on. But so small! Maybe this is not the only model and there is a higher tier? Any word on pricing yet?

          • Josh W says:

            Every single electronic product company wants convergence, and they want convergence around their device. It’s basically their version of “Wouldn’t the world make so much more sense if I ran it?”

            However, while these guys are talking about universal convergence, they’re still implementing lots of useful open standards, which is where the real convergence happens; when you can plug all your stuff into your other stuff.

  5. Brun says:

    64Gb of SSD storage, though it can manage 1 terabyte. Looking at the machine in his hand, I’ve no idea where any of those drives will fit.

    I don’t think SSDs have to be that big – for desktops they tend to design them to fit in existing tower bays or bay adapters, but you can look at things like tablets, phones, thumb drives, etc and see that even 64 GB+ of flash memory doesn’t take up much space.

    • SuicideKing says:

      SSDs can use mSATA, don’t think HDDs can.

    • RaveTurned says:

      These days you can also get 1TB on regular (i.e. non-SSD) 2.5 inch laptop drive at 7200RPM, or 2TB at 5400RPM. I swear last time I looked the upper limit was only about 320GB.

    • elderman says:

      Or maybe you attach storage through some of those ports.

    • HothMonster says:

      I would bet an internal SSD possibly right on the board and the “up to 1tb” part is stuff you hook up to the esata ports.

      • iniudan says:

        The internel SSD is most likely an mSata which plug into a mPCIe port, it like half the size of a SO-DIMM RAM, it actually a form factor used which see most of it use in ultrabook and mini ITX form factor motherboard.

        Have one that I installed in my laptop, has to have an SSD and but keep the regular hard drive for storage. Was surprised by how small the thing was when I received it.

        So if that form factor is used it would actually be very easy to improve internal storage to 240-256GB (don’t remember having seen a mSata 512GB yet).

        • elderman says:

          In another video of a sales rep talking at a show in NYC, he says the internal storage is soldered onto one of the motherboard sections and that it’s about 32GB, “enough for an operating system”. A lot of the other functionality comes in through the new “xmedia” port on one of the IO modules on the back.

          The vision for this thing seems to imply that Valve could configure one version to be the Steam box. It’s a rather bigger idea than just a new gaming platform, though. I’ve been saying for years I would prefer something like this. The more I learn about it, the more my response to the post title is “yes, I want to get a Piston very much.”

    • solidsquid says:

      From the website (when it was up), they sell external eSATA drives with a custom enclosure. Guessing that’s what the terabyte storage uses

  6. DanPryce says:

    I tell you what – if the USP is going to be ‘play your Steam library on our console’, they had better not make me pay through the nose to play the games I’ve already paid for when I’ve got a PC to play them on already.

    • wu wei says:

      You mean, like how Steam charge you separately for Windows, OSX and Linux licenses of the same game?

      Oh wait, they don’t. So why would you expect them to charge for this when the entire _point_ is to access your Steam library through this?

      Other than for the usual Steam/Valve bashing?

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        What evidence is there that Valve are going to allow existing account holders access to their current libraries with this box? If you have some news on that, I’d honestly love to see it.

        • memorianx says:

          I’m pretty sure he said it’d run windows, which means it’s technical just another windows pc where you run steam on. when he siadit’s designed for big picture mode he’s just talk bs. big picture is designed to be used on big screen with controllers, if you have something that can run big a big screen and a controller it’s designed for big picture

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            I get what you’re saying here, but it still doesn’t tell me whether or not my current Steam account will be usable on the Piston. My particular question’s got nothing to do with OS/hardware/software, and everything to do with how giving Valve are going to be when it comes to user rights.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            This doesn’t really seem, to me, to be Valve saying, “here’s our console!” as it is Xi3 using Steam’s Big Picture Mode as a feature for their little PC. Kind of like NVidia with their Shield demonstration.

            The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that if Valve is working on a console box, they’ll probably use a custom Linux platform and will try to model it after the PS3 for porting capabilities, since the PS3 uses a proprietary version of OpenGL.

            Think about it, Valve made the PS3 version of Portal 2. Beyond that, they made Steam for the PS3 network, and made online play cross-compatible between PS3 and PC. If Valve is going to make a console, they know that there needs to be a way for them to facilitate porting from the more entrenched platforms so they can get major titles on their console as well.

          • Michael Anson says:

            @SkittleDiddler: I take it you’ve never had the opportunity to work with Steam on multiple computers. It’s actually pretty simple. As long as you have your user name and password, you can install your games on any system with Steam. You just can’t be logged into more than one computer at a time with your Steam account. So, if you are playing on the Piston, you can’t also play on your PC, and vice versa. However, there is also a workaround. If you log into a Steam account, then go into offline mode, you can continue to play games (sans any Steam-based online component, where applicable), while logging into another PC.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            @Michael: Oh yes, I’m fully aware of how the standard Steam account works on multiple computers — I’ve got mine installed on three systems at the moment. That’s all well and good if Valve are going to allow that kind of usage with Piston, and that’s where my concern lies: Valve may very well decide to wall off the Piston from existing Steam accounts, forcing buyers to create a new account and buy new subscriptions for games they already own. That’s pure speculation, obviously.

            The question isn’t whether Valve can (we already know they can), the question is whether they will (a valid question, especially considering Valve’s trending views on user rights and ownership).

          • Michael Anson says:

            @SkittleDiddler: I doubt that will be a problem, since Piston will be capable of running Windows and Linux of whatever desired flavor. This is basically an ATX board folded into thirds, after all, and is intended to be run as a standard PC. Steam on Piston will be Steam on Windows or Steam on Linux, depending on what OS you install, and as such, should be no different from being on any other platform. Regardless, if it CAN run Windows or Linux, but doesn’t come that way, there’s nothing stopping people from doing so and running their Steam games unimpeded.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            Good points Michael, and you rightly point out that a basic Linux or Windows box would allow for easy modification. However, all Valve would have to do to stop rampant box modding would be to include an encrypted hard lock that prevents any kind of account fiddling on the part of the user. Protection of that sort obviously wouldn’t take too long for some dedicated soul to crack, but 90% of the ownership base wouldn’t bother with it anyway.

        • Phantoon says:

          The fact that all moves in the past would suggest the opposite, and there’s no reason to suspect Gabe Newell is trying to convert your children to Satanism. Stop suspecting it. I mean it.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            By “all the moves” do you mean items like limiting litigation rights, changing important ToS basics at the drop of a hat, and stretching the definitions of terms like subscription and service to fit their own business needs? Or how about threatening users with permanent bans if they allow family members to play games on their personal accounts? Or threatening blanket-bans of accounts that use a VPN for valid purposes?

            Valve isn’t run by altruistic businessmen looking out for the best interests of their customers. They stand to make millions off of the Piston, and I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if they haven’t even considered forcing segregated Steam accounts on those who buy a unit.

            Like I said above, the question is pure speculation until we get more details, but it’s damn valid speculation whether you think so or not.

          • Ruffian says:

            You’ve got a very valid point, IMO, Skittle, and I’m sure they have thought about it. They’d have to be retarded not to.

            Still though one would hope that they’re aware enough to realize that doing something like that would anger and alienate a swath of their customer base (whether because they’re just used to steam working how it does, or because they see it as a blatant cash grab, or whatever), and refrain from doing it.

            It could just be my love of valve clouding my reason but I, personally doubt that it will happen, not that it isn’t a perfectly logical speculation, Idk why ppl seem so adamant about refuting it.

          • darkChozo says:

            Even if we surmise that Valve is nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded capitalists focused on the bottom line, it still seems unlikely that Valve would require you to have a separate account/rebuy games, just looking at it from a business perspective. Requiring existing customers to rebuy would totally alienate their current customer base (and this isn’t some obscure geeky DRM issue, anyone with a Steam account and half a brain would get pissed over this), and the last thing a budding console needs is to alienate a potential established base.

            Furthermore, the potential for cross-platform play is a rather large selling point; even if you figure that new customers probably don’t have a gaming rig, anyone who’s going to be buying a pseduo-console probably has some kind of computer, and saying that your Piston games will work on your home PC and your Macbook is a rather powerful thing. Once again, that’s not some obscure geeky thing, that’s a bullet point you can put on your ad campaign.

            I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s totally within Valve’s power to do it, and they’re certainly not the shining paragon of PC gaming that some people seem to think they are. But they really don’t stand to benefit from restricting Piston purchases; sure, they might make some extra money in the short run, but this thing really needs a userbase if they want it to be a moneymaker and not just a cash grab.

      • lhw says:

        I can name you one example:
        http://store.steampowered.com/app/42700/
        http://store.steampowered.com/app/214630/

        I won’t search for others right now as i think one example proves a point. Publishers do charge for other platforms. In this case I think it was because of a third party company doing the porting to mac.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        You mean, like how Steam charge you separately for Windows, OSX and Linux licenses of the same game?

        Oh wait, they don’t.

        Ahem. Black Ops: Mac Edition would like to contend that assertion.

        Steam Play is a “feature” that publishers can use, if they so choose. It’s not mandatory nor guaranteed.

        Most Steam titles do give you both the PC and Mac versions, but you need to check to see if it says Steam Play. The big ones that participate are Rockstar, Ubisoft, Valve, and LucasArts. Of course, lots of indies also have Steam Play. Some titles don’t have their Mac versions hosted on Steam, like Spore, so there is no Steam Play possibility. But, again, just because Steam has a Mac version of a game also available, it doesn’t guarantee Steam Play functionality.

        • darkChozo says:

          Are there any other examples of that happening? That’s a bit of an odd case (ported by a third party developer and technically includes more content, though that’s rather sketchy as a justification), and to the best of my knowledge it’s the only game where the Mac version sells separately. Not saying that your point is invalid, but it’s rather irrelevant that one or two games double dip if (and that’s a rather big if) the vast majority are properly cross-platform.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            To the best of my knowledge, Black Ops is the only title that does this. So, no, it is not the norm.

            However, the Mac version of BlOps highlights the point of Steam that needs to be endlessly repeated: Steam does very little to restrict how publishers wish to sell their game. Publishers set the prices, they set the sale participation frequency and discount, they set whether they want a forum, Steam Cloud, or Steam Play, etc. The only real restriction I know of is the bit about how DLC must also be made available for sale on Steam, which was ushered in when they added F2P games. Steam can be as comprehensive or as minimal as you want it to be.

            So, it is assumed that some titles would be ported over to a SteamBox, but it would be at the discretion of each publisher as to how they wanted to do that. I would imagine, as an incentive, Valve would gladly grant access to owners of previous titles, if they were to make previous titles available on their SteamBox.

            Looking at it, I’m doubtful that this is Valve’s console at all, anyways. It seems more like Xi3 is using this as a feature to push their little PC, like NVidia with their demonstration of the Shield, than Valve saying, “here’s our console!”

            If this was truly Valve’s console-box idea, then there wouldn’t be some PC company talking it up. It would a conference of GabeN doing doughnuts in a Corvette out in the parking lot while holding up their Valve console and screaming, “come get some!” as money rained from the sky and fire erupted out of the tailpipes.

          • iniudan says:

            @stupid_mcgee That last paragraph is just wonderful.

          • Ninja Foodstuff says:

            Black ops was something of a special case, but almost certainly won’t be the last. It was ported by aspyr, who also did borderlands 2 (amongst several others) which was steamplay. However, many other publishers that port mac games do not publish the mac versions to steam, presumably so they can identify which sales are “theirs”. It’s a pretty shitty situation to be honest, but that’s why indie games are so popular on macs.

          • Ruffian says:

            It would make my life if valve really ran a promotion like that.
            Gabe just seems so quiet and dry humored.

      • DanPryce says:

        Maybe I misspoke. What I mean is that I’ve got all the apparatus I need to play the games on my Steam library, and if they want me to do that on their smaller form factor system they’d be stupid to make it any more expensive than, say, £500.

    • Jeremy says:

      Yeah, 1100 would be a bit too steep if they’re also going to be getting guaranteed purchases on their store. I wouldn’t buy one of these for an OS or main desktop, so they’ll need to figure out a solid price point that makes sense, and recognize what it is they’re selling.

  7. AmateurScience says:

    I’m not sure the super-small form factor is as important to people* as a not insane pricepoint ($1100 is an insane pricepoint).

    Also I would be concerned about the proprietary mobo/modularness. Getting locked into an expensive upgrade form factor etc rather than taking advantage of the already established parts standardisation associated with the various *TX standards.

    *well me at least.

    Edit: bearing in mind (I’m assuming) more powerful Alienware X51 is about the same price (£700/~$1100) and that was hardly the harbinger of the PC in your living room revolution

    • Brun says:

      If this thing launches with a price point of $1100 it will be dead on arrival. That’s the price of a low- to medium-level gaming PC that will be able to do everything this machine can as well as all of the things regular PCs do (internet, e-mail, productivity). The value just isn’t there at that price.

      EDIT: Even if they went for the Microsoft strategy of selling this thing at a loss and making it up with Steam sales, I think they’d have a hard time turning this into a success if the post-markup cost (based on estimated cost of the hardware) would be anywhere close to $1100. The Xbox 360 is retailing at $199 nowadays. The next-gen consoles will probably top out at $299 or at most $350. Even if you sell at a 50% loss ($550) you’re already losing by $200.

      Then there’s the demographic issue. Who exactly is this thing for? Existing Steam loyalists will likely find few reasons to shell out the extra cash for this machine as they can already play Steam’s full library on their own gaming machines (and if Big Picture meant so much to them, they’d wheel those gaming machines over to the TV and hook them up – sure is a lot less expensive than paying $1100 extra!).

      That just leaves the console kiddies, and I can just hear them now: “Where’s the disk drive?” “What is this Steam thing?” “How do I get games?” “Why are half these games the same ones I had on my Xbox 360?” We’re talking about an audience to whom digital distribution is almost completely foreign. To them, downloading is for DLC, games come on disks. Expecting them to adopt a completely novel (to them) way of gaming, at a price point higher than competitors, with no “killer apps” or other must-have features, is asking a lot.

      Honestly I can’t see Valve’s reasoning here.

      • PoulWrist says:

        1100 dollars is a high level gaming pc.

      • CMaster says:

        Remember that the PS3 cost $500 on Launch.
        There’s been plenty of inflation since then, and I’m still praying that the console manufactorers learned their lesson and there will actually be a decent amount of RAM on new machines, so we can start having interesting levels and AI – but that would come at a cost.

        Also, I wouldn’t say that digital distribution is that foreign to console gamers. Most of them probably have a smart-phone that they download applications and music to. A lot of them have probably got at least one XBLA/PSN game (Braid/Minecraft/Geometry Wars/etc). And you can bet your life that the next generation of consoles will be BUILT around DD. Gives the platform owners more control, opens up consoles to the Free2Play market (which will be HUGE on consoles), helps curb piracy (they hope).

        Don’t get me wrong – the price needs to be <$500 for them to even have a hope in hell. But I think you're wrong in assuming that the competition for this is the 360 and PS3 – it's not. It's there to fight with the WiiU/PS4/Xbox720

      • wu wei says:

        That just leaves the console kiddies, and I can just hear them now: “Where’s the disk drive?” “What is this Steam thing?” “How do I get games?” “Why are half these games the same ones I had on my Xbox 360?”

        Jesus wept. Owning a console doesn’t remove your frontal lobes, just as owning a PC doesn’t expose you to intelligence increasing radiation, which is painfully obvious from some of the commenters here.

        • Brun says:

          Please. One of the biggest appeals of console gaming (at least a perceived appeal) is that it is simple enough for technologically illiterate (and I don’t use that term in a condescending manner at all, just a descriptive one) people to handle, at least compared to PC gaming. It’s the Apple factor – pop the disk in and “it just works.” If you want to compete with Microsoft and Sony your hardware has to be at least as intuitive and simple to use as theirs. Introducing a diskless gaming ecosystem to a user base which has been bound to physical media for the entirety of its existence is not something to be done without a fair amount of consideration of how that user base will deal with the change.

          If you’ve ever worked in an IT or Technical Support role you have seen how some of the smartest people on the planet trip over themselves when having to deal with technological change. There’s no shame in that, and it doesn’t characterize one group of users over another. Back when I worked in IT, you better believe I would have had concerns similar to those I listed just above when introducing a new piece of technology to my users, whatever it might have been. And that’s really my point here.

          • Beva says:

            @Brun You DO realise that a lot of console gamers have moved on from their super famicoms, which in turn means a lot of them have massive HDD:s on their PS3′s with hundreds of titles available digitally and a lot of titles are exclusively digital. Hell, even Wii had a massive library of games.

          • Bhazor says:

            And with such high quality download titles you can see why they’d jump at the opportunity to play download only games.

          • derbefrier says:

            perceived is putting it nicely, I would say completely made up bullshit. the biggest appeal of consoles is the price. I could spend a couple hundred bucks on an xbox and have a good gaming machine or 1200 on a pc.I know its not that way anymore and you can build a really good budget PC for half that but if you go to say the game spot forums the biggest complaint I hear from console players about PC gaming is the price of entry. My friends that don’t have gaming PCs would love to get one but have shitty jobs and cant afford it.

        • yapper says:

          If you think this is bad, have a look a the comments on the PC Gamer website…

      • darkChozo says:

        While I agree with you on the price point, you’re way off when it comes to your console facts. The Wii U already is at your “at most” pricing, and if the previous generation and a quick evaluation of the tech is any indication, it’s going to be the cheapest of the three. Remember, the price range for consoles last generation at launch was $250-$600, and that was six or seven years ago.

        Furthermore, the consoles have had online distribution for ages now, and it looks like the next generation is going to have simultaneous disk and online launches for everything (the Wii U has this already). To suggest that console users are going to be confused by the concept is pure PC gaming master race nonsense.

        • Brun says:

          To suggest that console users are going to be confused by the concept is pure PC gaming master race nonsense.

          See my post above. It has nothing to do with this. Remember: Apple factor. I gave a somewhat dramatic example from a more technological perspective, and I have no doubt that there will be some people that will be uncomfortable with Digital Distribution for exactly those reasons. But people will also be asking themselves “why should I buy into this completely foreign ecosystem and means of game distribution when there are already two (!) that I fully understand and are familiar to me?” It will be something that will make people think twice about buying Piston over Durango or PS4.

          Think about it. PC gamers ask that same question whenever someone releases a new DD channel. “Why should I buy my games from Origin when I’m already used to using Steam for everything?”

          • darkChozo says:

            Ease of use is definitely a plus for consoles, don’t get me wrong, but your original post suggests that console users won’t understand digital distribution, which is utter nonsense. Both the 360 and the PS3 have had DD of some form for a while now (not as familiar with PS3′s history but 360 had stuff like downloadable demos since launch), and both allow downloads of full games, including retail releases. It looks like all the next-gen consoles will be increasing the support to the point where it’s basically equivalent to what PCs offer.

            As for your other points, the same could be said of basically any new console; if I own the 360, the PS3 has most of the same games and I’ll have to rebuy everything if I want to play them on both systems. The same could be said of the next gen consoles, to some degree. People preferring disks over DD is definitely a potential issue though. There are plenty of console gamers who are attached to disks for either sentimental reasons or because it allows for renting, borrowing, reselling, etc.

          • Brun says:

            With all three Eighth Generation consoles using simultaneous disk and digital releases, it will be interesting to see how heavily each distribution channel is utilized. My guess is that it will likely be skewed heavily toward disk, for the aforementioned reasons (both yours and mine), especially early.

            As for your other points, the same could be said of basically any new console

            Exactly! None of these points are unique to Piston, and in fact Durango and PS4 will face the same issues. But Microsoft and Sony have strongly established brand identities going for them, among other things.

            My point is that breaking into this market is going to be very hard for Valve, based on the information currently available. Microsoft got *very* lucky with the original Xbox. They were very lucky that Halo was such a hit (and don’t try to deny that Halo was a huge reason for the Xbox’s initial success and market penetration), and they were very lucky that Nintendo was in the process of remaking itself into the more family-friendly, casual gaming company we know today, and thus had a relatively weak showing on the GameCube. Nintendo’s weakness made an opening that Microsoft exploited. I don’t really see anyone with such a weakness for Valve to exploit, and it’s unclear whether the market can support a third “hardcore” gaming console (I don’t include the Wii in this category as again, its target market is different from the PS3 and 360). Since the Fourth Generation it’s pretty much been a duopoly between Nintendo and Sega (4th), Nintendo and Sony (5th), Sony and Microsoft (6th), Sony and Microsoft (7th).

          • darkChozo says:

            Yeah, that certainly will be interesting. I’d guess that early on, it’ll be heavily skewed towards disks, and slowly make its way towards DD. Same thing happened with PC games and movies not too long ago, it stands to reason the same will happen with consoles.

            There is something of an opportunity in that Sony isn’t doing very well right now. It’s not inconceivable that they could go the route of Sega and be forced to drop out entirely, particularly if the PS4 were to have issues early on. It’ll be interesting, the Wii U is shaping up to be more of a “hardcore” competitor than the Wii is, if for no other reason than the fact that it’s easy to port traditional games to it, just with a minimap on the controller or something lazy like that (beyond that, ZombiU and Bayonetta 2 being Wii U exclusives indicates that Nintendo is trying to court gamers a bit more).

            But yeah, the console market is not friendly to new competitors, it’d be interesting to see how well Valve does just getting people to hear about the Piston in the first place.

      • ulix says:

        They all have iPhones, so through iTunes and the AppStore they know digital distribution quite well.

        “It’s like the Appstore.”

        Also, you’re conveniently leaving Nintendo out of your equasions. The Wii was the best selling console in the 7th generation.

        The 6th generation wasn’t a duopoly. It was dominated by Sony, Nintendo and MS were almost equally strong (Xbox sold 24 million, Gamecube 22 million).

        • Brun says:

          I’m considering it a duopoly of “hardcore” gaming systems. I understand that is a rather ephemeral distinction. But the point I’m trying to make is that during the GameCube era Nintendo dumped many of its third-party franchises that were geared exclusively toward more mature audiences, and many players who had played the likes of GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, Turok, etc. on the N64 found themselves fleeing to either the Xbox or PS2 for similar fare.

          Full disclosure: I’m a longtime Nintendo fan, and I’ll admit that I’m still somewhat bitter about their software decisions during the GameCube era. They produced some fantastic first- and second-party titles during that time (Super Smash Brothers Melee, Wind Waker, Metroid Prime, etc.) but their third party offerings were pitiful compared to what could be found on the PS2 and Xbox.

          And just to be clear, I’m not excluding the GameCube or Wii because they are irrelevant (as your sales statistics indicate, they weren’t). I’m excluding them because I’m trying to draw comparisons to consoles that are targeting the same audience as the presumed audience of Piston – that is, people who play Xbox 360s and PS3s today. During the 6th Generation, the Xbox and PS2 dominated that audience.

      • Bhazor says:

        “$1100…low to mid range”

        Where the heck do you buy your computer? Certainly shouldn’t need to pay more than $700 (including monitor ) for a rig that will see you through the next three years at maximum settings.

    • angramainyu says:

      At $500 (or less), this thing will be awesome. At over a grand, it will be hard-pressed to see the adoption it needs. I really hope Valve is going to keep the price point low enough that it is comparable to both consoles and what could be self-built.

      • Brun says:

        Unless this thing offers something completely unique that we don’t know about yet, they’ll have to do better (lower) than $500. They’ll have to be competitively priced with existing *and* next-gen Microsoft and Sony hardware.

        The biggest thing Valve has going for them here is that the library of games (the “app ecosystem” in mobile phone jargon) already exists. It will make this system immune to the normal slump period that occurs between launch and the release of the first wave of high-quality non-launch titles. At the same time though, Piston won’t have many (if any!) high-quality platform exclusives to drive sales – most of the recent AAA Steam titles are cross-platform. About the only thing that could change that is Valve pulling Half-Life 3 out of their ass and making it a Steam (or Piston) exclusive.

    • Walsh says:

      There’s little point to this if it’s running Linux. I’m not repurchasing all of my games for Linux.

      • InternetBatman says:

        On Steam you get access to the same games on all platforms. So, no repurchasing of your library either way.

        • Walsh says:

          That’s what Valve says for their games and some indies but does that mean a third party publisher will do it? I doubt it.

          • Tei says:

            All the AAA games that have a native client, just give you the native engine and not put any problem or price for it. Think the Quake games, or Doom.

          • zain3000 says:

            I doubt that will be a problem. My PC steam library has about 40 games (mostly through those Humble Bundles) and my Linux library only started out with about 5 of those same games about a month ago. Today, 7 additional games are now available in my Linux Library. It’s catching up! Granted, most of those games are indie but in the end if the AAA devs see value in making their games available for Linux, they’ll do it. It’s up to the consumers to show them that there is a Linux market and Valve to provide the additional “lubricant” (that was meant to be a mechanical pun, you sick, sick puppies!).

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            When Activision released Black Ops for Mac on Steam, Windows owners did not get a Mac version. If you look on the store page for the Windows version, you can see there’s a link for the Mac version. The Mac versions also costs $10 more USD.

            Most Steam titles do give you both the PC and Mac versions, but you need to check to see if it says Steam Play. The big ones that participate are Rockstar, Ubisoft, Valve, and LucasArts. Of course, lots of indies also have Steam Play. Some titles don’t have their Mac versions hosted on Steam, like Spore, so there is no Steam Play possibility.

    • Col Sanders says:

      Tbh I agree completely one would think they have priced themselves out of the console market with that price and also many PC gamers will be turned off. Also it’s about £700 which is madness…

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Oh god, is that confirmed? Consider me not interested at that price!

      • frightlever says:

        £700 + VAT = £840

        I WANT one, but not at that price. I feel similarly about the X51.

        • DickSocrates says:

          It’s called Piston, Valve have invested in the company. It is the Steam Box.

          Why it’s so small and so expensive are the real questions. Make it bigger and lower the price. No one needs a home computer to be that small. My table lamp is bigger. My small desktop speakers are bigger.

    • Oozo says:

      Yepp. I was pretty excited about this, but 1100$? I know that it’s not uncommon to sell a console on a loss and then try to make up for it with the software/games being sold. I can also see why for Valve, this might be a highly problematic option. But still: 1100$ just doesn’t look competitive. Hm.

    • Teovald says:

      For the last 2 years I have been playing on my laptop which dual boot between windows (only for games) and macosx (everything else). It is always a pain in the ass to have to reboot to change tasks, not to mention the fact that I keep windows on this machine only for video games.

      So, all things considered, piston may be right for me. A small box dedicated to gaming on one hand, and a laptop to run MacOsX or a linux distribution on the other, and all my desktop computing needs are covered.

      edit: I don’t know why my comment popup as a comment here, totally unintended.

    • hatseflats says:

      While this has a small form factor, it need not be $1100. I think that a cooperation with Valve/Steam could well be an incredibly good idea.

      Since this is basically a regular PC but small, it doesn’t have the full advantage consoles have – besides these machines, many other PCs in different configurations will be used, so games are unlikely to be fully optimised for these machines. Thus we can expect very strong integrated graphics, likely integrated graphics by AMD – like the recently announced Richland APUs (though the question is whether these machines can get rid of the heat, but 65W TDP – like the A10 5700 of today – should be possible with active cooling like these have). Those chips aren’t extremely expensive. RAM is dirt cheap, mini-itx motherboards are hardly more expensive than full size boards &c.
      The main issue with the pricing here seems to be limited quantity of products, which requires a high markup to earn back the development costs. If Valve is going to offer this, it will likely sell very well if it doesn’t charge an excessive price, which then generates sufficient revenues to earn back the development costs.

  8. Sardonic says:

    Well maybe a little, but I’ll stick to my normal sized computer for a while.

    I will say it looks like pretty impressive tech though.

  9. Sheng-ji says:

    As a laptop user, I tend to just take my games rig to wherever I want to play and if thats on the TV, it’s easy enough to just plug in – however, even I would be attracted by this if the price is low enough to save scrabbling about behind the TV for cables etc

  10. Jams O'Donnell says:

    I’m certainly not against it, but I don’t think it’s something I’d be interested in owning. At least not for a while, anyway. If the price was right (and it looks like it won’t be) I could see a scenario in which I change from a single multipurpose PC to a dedicated gaming machine and a non-games machine.

  11. reggiep says:

    $1100? I priced one at under $900 with a big 240GB SSD in it.
    http://xi3.com/buy_now.php

    • iniudan says:

      And if you buy the SSD seperately you most likely can get it cheaper also. mSata format most likely for the internal one with the possible size they are giving, 240GB one are like $200 where I live, if you buy from online retailer.

      So like for laptop, stick with the cheapest one they offer and buy yourself, cause OEM over charge for storage and RAM.

  12. InternetBatman says:

    No, but I’ll keep playing steam games on my linux box plugged into my TV. I might not be the target user.

    I think game sites are leaping to conclusions though. Valve has not confirmed that this is even the Steambox yet.

    • ulix says:

      It’s called Piston…

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Which is not copyrighted, thus a random company just called their random windows/linux box “piston” to trick everyone. Until I see Steam saying they did that is. While it could actually be an easy thing to get Steam for Linux validation, and this is the first box to take the first step in that. :)

  13. Vinraith says:

    So it’s a small, overpriced, non-modular computer that will mostly sell because of the name stamped on the outside. . So basically Valve is building a Mac?

    • serioussgtstu says:

      In fairness they haven’t announced a price yet. $1100 is only based on Xi3′s current prices. Manufacturing costs could well go down because of Valve’s ‘influence’. I’m more interested to see if they will be willing to take a hit on the manufacturing costs because people will have to buy games from Steam.

    • HothMonster says:

      It’s semi-modular. Looks like the graphics card is on it’s own board (with the NIC) so it’s upgradable. How comparative the pricing for that will be with a normal GPU upgrade we will have to see but just that option is streets ahead of normal consoles.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      My impression so far is that there is no “Steam box.” Just a bunch of different products and companies teaming up with Valve in the living room. I suspect we’ll be seeing more Valve-stamped living room rigs in the future from other brands.

      If I’m wrong and Valve is serious about this being their thing, it shouldn’t cost a dime over $400. They can recoup their losses with extra game sales. But that idea strikes me as un-Valvelike somehow.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      In before Vinraith starts…ah bugger.

      So it’s a small, overpriced, non-modular computer that will mostly sell because of the name stamped on the outside. . So basically Valve is building a Mac?

      VALVe aren’t building anything if you bother reading before adopting your standard knee jerk response to any vaguely Steam or VALVe related post. Also the basic premise is of it’s modularity and nothing what so ever to do with the name of the company making them.

    • Josh W says:

      You missed, “with some very cute industrial design”. It made me think mac immediately too.

  14. Crimsoneer says:

    I’ll get one if it ‘s under £500 and I can stick it under my TV :)

  15. maweki says:

    I think I would not throw out my living room rig with the tv-cards and stuff but it would definately be good to take with you to gaming parties (as people take their consoles with them).

  16. SuicideKing says:

    I build my own PC, and if i’m going to spend $1100+ on it, it better be…well, not this.

    I mean seriously now? $1100?

    The cost of components on that thing is probably less than $300, assuming that’s an AMD A10 that costs Xi3 about $150.

    I mean, for $1100, you’re looking at an i5 3570K, GTX 670/Radeon HD 7950, a full ATX sized mobo, a decent case, a PSU, 8GB of RAM, a CPU cooler, an ODD, an HDD and at least a 120GB SSD.

  17. SanguineAngel says:

    So, I think it could be a good thing. The only major down side in my view is the ASTRONOMICAL PRICE.

    If it becomes a popular device, this has the potential to raise the bar on expectations for game design from the general public.

    Although some people deny it, I think that there is a large difference between games developed for consoles and games developed for PCs. That’s not because of technical limitations (anymore) but because of audience expectations (possibly stemming from their cultural experience of games developed for earlier consoles where technical limitations might have been a bigger concern).

    Anyway, I think a lot typically console gamers tend to dismiss PC type games out of hand – their pre-conceptions colouring their impressions of games even if they do try them (and vice versa, PCites).

    So if the Piston (which I do think is a cool name) were to become a common household television underbox, and introduces the casual gamer to a whole host of PC titles in a user friendly and accessible way and gets them hooked, it could mean general outcry at shoddy annual franchise cash-in-fests and a demand for a higher standard of game design.

    I might even say that the piston need not be an open platform (I shudder even typing it) because that might be a step too far for the common gamer. Gamers tastes are coloured by their experiences and I think a big part of the console experience is its plug and play nature. Having too much of an open field might mean a lot of people bounce off the less directed experience. Baby steps are required.

  18. Lars Westergren says:

    I’ve been considering a HTPC. This might very well be it, even if it cost $1100.

  19. vandinz says:

    $1100!? Get to fuck!

  20. rossasaur says:

    “No news on the power of the graphics cards, but it is integrated.” I’ll pass thanks.

  21. Kageru says:

    1K is for the high end box Piston is based on, and which probably sells in very small volumes. I expect the Piston to be significantly cheaper. It pretty much has to be.

    That said I expect this to be a reference / development platform as much as anything. Valve have never said, and have no reason, to only want a single hardware provider. Nor do I think they care about getting profit out of the hardware, or probably even invested that much in xi3. But perhaps what they do want to demonstrate is that a PC doesn’t need to be a drab, huge, rectangular monolith. It can be small and stylish, which forces other manufacturers to think about their products rather than just cough up a PC in a TV cabinet form factor.

  22. Beernut says:

    I don’t see any benefit in fitting a device in a little cube, when it comes to gaming devices. A “console” the size of an average hifi-component would be fine by me, so all the expense necessary for miniaturisation is wasted for me. If they opted for a larger htpc-casing, they could have invested the savings in a discrete graphics card, which as far as gaming is concerned far outweighs the advantage of having a device the size of a grapefruit. The thermal limitations of such small form factors are really crippling their performance and driving the price unreasonably high.

    Again, this applies only to the field of gaming-PCs/consoles, mobile devices and handhelds are another matter of course. But since this is supposed to be connected to a big screen tv I’m entirely unconvinced by their choice of a “slow but tiny”-approach. Neither am I buying their argument of being able to upgrade due to the modular approach. Assuming, that there really will be a reasonable choice of upgrade-components at some point, we’re still faced with the underlying dilemma, that the design forces the hardware manufacturers to compromise heavily in terms of performance to accommodate the small size. So you’ll probably get a better value (“improvement of gaming experience per eur/gbp/usd”) out of upgrading a piece of hardware for a full-sized gaming computer, than you would by investing in an upgrade for your piston.

  23. lizzardborn says:

    1100 – That price point is impossible… this is top of the line single graphic card PC with ssd or a entry level sli without. I hope this is not the steam box.

    If you really want something cool – create 8GB itx pc with a entry level i5 and a 7870 – this can push 1080p with no issues and for half the price.

  24. milman says:

    Can’t see it being priced that high, for long anyway. Plus Valve and Mr. Economist have devious tactics they can unleash to make a high price point more attractive, Steam has a vast LIBRARY of games after all !

    • Kageru says:

      Valve doesnt “own” that vast library. It’s not a competitive advantage for them in terms of being able to offer exclusives.

      • milman says:

        Doesn’t have to be exclusive’s though, could be as simple as “We know Piston is pricey, but here’s free stuff if you are kind enough to buy one!”. They have lot’s of options through Steam that can be used to sweeten the deal, getting Steam into living rooms is goal 1, rolling around in piles of money comes later.

      • darkChozo says:

        Just to add on to the above, it doesn’t matter that Valve doesn’t actually own the games on their library, they still get 30% of the profits. If they sell the console at a loss they can still make up for it based on the cut they take from third party devs (in fact, that’s exactly what console manufacturers do).

        Not to mention that PC actually has a rather impressive number of exclusives, though I’d guess that the number of couch-ready exclusives is a somewhat small chunk of those.

  25. Tei says:

    Dot it work with reddust, too?

  26. Demiath says:

    I’ve played “hardcore” PC games on relatively expensive rigs for over 20 years now but I still know next to nothing about hardware and the process of building PCs, so in my blessed state of complete ignorance I think the quite literal console-ification of home computers seems like an awfully convenient development (and I mean that in a good sense). My understanding of the business side of things is limited too, however, so I wouldn’t know what the actual, potentially evil incentives are for any of the parties involved (lucrative casual/Facebook games don’t belong on TV screens and console versions of blockbuster titles such as Call of Duty will presumably still sell more than the Steambox version).

  27. Ratchet says:

    I always though/hoped that “SteamBox” was more or less a specification for a Linux based gaming PC. Something OEMs to stamp on their products to show that their hardware and drivers are certified and ready for playing game with Steam in Linux. If there’s an actual Steambox PC then I guess that’s still possible.

  28. spectone says:

    Justify the high price by shipping as the only platform that runs HL3. I know that won’t happen tho.

  29. TT says:

    A basic level pc for 1100??
    Maybe they plan to sell the other half off it , the transformer/ power, for another 1100.
    Anyone willing to pay 1100 for that should be ok with paying double…

  30. Ovno says:

    Please explain how you get to $1100 dollars???

    Cus I could put a pc like that together for about £150…

  31. Frosty840 says:

    I’ll be happy with it only if Valve start letting me sign in to multiple locations at the same time. That’s really the only dealbreaker for me and, from the speed at which Steam gets patched, I don’t expect it’ll be something they could implement in the near future, even if they were inclined to allow it.

  32. KevinLew says:

    For $1100, a user can just buy a PC from any store with the exception of the form factor and get almost the same thing. It’s possible that the cost may be greatly reduced–I’m hoping.

    It’s possible that Valve is trying to break into the “luxury PC gamer” market and offer a massively overpriced system with a sexy design. Sadly, luxury goods are strangely successful in many cases as the rich squander money on items like this all the time.

  33. Stevostin says:

    Way to expensive. It’s the price of my rig, which is far bigger. Light thing are nice but ony if they’re affordable.

  34. mr.ioes says:

    Integrated graphics makes this whole thing useless. I really do hope Valve has nothing to do with this and the steambox is something different.

    • DrHeaton says:

      You should read some of the articles around at the minute on proper tech sites, integrated graphics is the future and we’re already seeing chips released rivalling current generation consoles.

      Its not out of the question that AMD, much like Nvidia with their Tegra 4 announcement earlier this week, have something serious up their sleeve and I wouldn’t put it past Valve to have come to an arrangement with AMD calling shotgun on these if they can convince AMD they’ll sell in volume.

      Just because graphics are integrated doesn’t mean they’re inferior.

      • newprince says:

        “Just because graphics are integrated doesn’t mean they’re inferior.”

        Actually, it does. That’s the entire reason integrated graphics were done away with in the first place. Now, I’m not saying integrated graphics won’t become the norm again, but your statement is ludicrous on its face.

      • mr.ioes says:

        Good look trying to play any modern games on any integrated chip. Doesn’t work.
        I bought a laptop 2 years ago with the newest chip, the one which was advertised to be able to play Far Cry. Well yeah, with 25 FPS, good lord. That was 2 years ago. I guess Intel has made one or two new iterations since then? Well definitly not enough.

    • InternetBatman says:

      If you think real, worthwhile integrated graphics aren’t coming, look at the sales of discrete soundcards year over year.

    • iniudan says:

      And so said people about audio card and integrated audio chipset in the past, now only the audio enthusiast have a reason to buy a dedicated audio card.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        No one listened to those people though. Audio over a CPU is the same calculation and rate and processing requirement as audio over an audio card. Processing power outstrips MP£ encoding or decoding etc by many a magnitude. Our rate of hearing or the audio quality is not outstripping mores law.

        Our demand for higher res images or higher fidelity models (pixels/voxels/effects etc) is though. At least for now. One main reason is that a CPU and GPU actually do different mathematical processes. CPU is great for number crunching and general use, a GPU for specific use and pixel specific type number crunching. Newer GPUs can have different APIs work on them, and newer CPUs can run some of the graphics calculations. But an example of “software rendering” is a great one to show the speed difference produced by the actual difference in the chips.

        That’s like asking a 2 liter car to pull a massive oil tanker, or expect an oil tanker to do 0-60 in 4 seconds. While one is possible to an Ariel atom, and one is possible to an oil tanker, getting a single device to do both is rather a problem.

  35. DrHeaton says:

    Sigh, that price will 100% not be the price of a “Piston”, that’s what the very top end, small sales run, Xi3 machine costs. Purely by guaranteeing a production run in large volumes Valve could heavily reduce the price, especially if they get AMD on board. Plus, you can knock $100 off that automatically for the Windows license.

    Its all irrelevant though, I don’t think this isn’t really Valve’s console, it’ll just be the first of many machines showcasing a Linux based open source Steam OS. I reckon that is where Valve wants to go with this, to launch the ‘console’ version of Android, a platform that can be installed on any number of small form factor ‘console’ PCs so Valve can start raking in money from ‘console’ sales.

    Imagine though, if there’s a raft of cheap (sub £300) small form gaming PCs released for Steam OS along with uber powerful models too it could really shake up the current console market.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Absolutely this. I think Valve is trying to turn Steam on Linux into an Android sort of situation. They’ve hinted many, many times that the Steambox will also have interesting innovations in input hardware, and that has not been shown yet. I’m betting on something like a working wiimote, but in the long run I’d like to see good biometric feedback.

      • DrHeaton says:

        Agreed, like the Nexus range of products I think this is just going to be a showcase for the OS and not a fully fledged console to compete with the PS4/Xbox Infinity (or whatever they call it). Its a tech demo for the OS and I reckon Valve have got it spot on.

        What everyone is misunderstanding is the threat Valve/Steam is under. Yes, Valve is afraid of the prospect of Windows becoming a walled garden OS, a platform they can no longer operate on but there’s other threats too, namely Android.

        Microsoft and Sony see the iPad and iPhone and all the Android devices as competitors for attention taking people’s time away from consoles. Valve though realise that Android as a games platform is a real threat. As limited as the Ouya and Project Shield are they’re evidence that people are already thinking of Android as a potential rival to the Xbox and PlayStation’s of the world. What Android lacks right now is a stable of high quality console standard games capable of running on Android and the computing power to match them. What Android has in its favour is that on one OS you can run your PC, tablet, phone, games console and no doubt TV too before long.

        One OS, all your devices, shared games across everything. Imagine playing a game on your TV against your mates on their tablets and phones, playing the same game on the way to work and being connected anywhere. Taking your game out of the living room to any TV in the house thanks to the integration Android could offer. That’s all possible and sooner than you think.

        I reckon Valve are getting out in front by producing their own OS that can be used on any hardware (£10 says someone ports Steam OS onto a new Xbox within a week of release…) and taking the fight to Android. Sony and Microsoft really risk being left behind as they’re shackled to their hardware. Steam though can launch an OS with a catalogue of games and make a real play for the future of gaming. Steam also has the clout to encourage developers to develop for Linux.

        Also, Linux runs on phones and tablets unlike standard Windows which means something huge. Playing your Steam OS games on mobile devices!

  36. dogsolitude_uk says:

    “Instead I’d like to know what relationship you have with your home PC. Do you build? Would something that gives up your ability to control every component while simplifying the building process appeal to you?”

    For me my home PC is an outlet for creativity as well as gaming: I can use it for bits of web development, coding, editing my photographs, creating graphics, composing music and so forth.

    I like being able to say to myself: ‘right, I’m not getting anywhere with this bit of music, I’m going to play Skyrim instead for a bit’, shut down Ableton, Max and Audacity and bugger off down a dungeon for a bit using WASD+Mouse.

    I also like messing with my home PC. I like tweaking config files and upgrading bits of hardware from time to time.

    Being a born tinkerer and fiddler, and someone who likes being at a desk, I find it very difficult to adapt to consoles.

    I have tried consoles, I really have (had a PS2 and borrowed a PS3), but apart from Shadow of the Colossus and Ico I just could not get into playing on them. There was no sense of immersion, I found controllers really annoying, and trying to play an RPG was a disheartening experience. I’d never played a JRPG until a few years back, and when I did it was just really annoying trying to sort out stats and inventory.

    With the PS3 the first thing I wanted to do was install Linux on it :)

    So yeah, consoles aren’t for me. I can imagine they’re great for when your mates come round after the pub, or if you’re on a bit of a budget or want something to play in bed/from the sofa, but my relationship with my desktop PC is far deeper (geekier!) than just gaming. It’s a different medium to my mind. I’d miss mods, messing about with config files and stuff like that.

  37. Gojiro0 says:

    I’ve been happily building PCs since ever and will continue to do so – I can get a lot more juice sourcing my own components and upgrading piecemeal. I think this sort of device might hold an attraction to non-PC users who want to play PC games, especially if there’s some sort of front-end that hides or customizes the Windows interface. Eh, it’s just not that hard or expensive to slap together an awesome gaming rig these days so pushing this sort of thing is going to be difficult imho.

  38. Yosharian says:

    Everything here hinges on one thing: the price point. If it’s too expensive, it won’t work.

    I’m not convinced, and I certainly won’t be getting one, but it’s neat to see them playing with this kind of tech.

    I have to more or less echo some other commenters in this thread by saying.. get back to work on Half-Life 3, Valve!

  39. newprince says:

    Integrated graphics is a non-starter for me. I want to play PC games on it, after all.

  40. starclaws says:

    I’d only get it POSSIBLY if it is under $200. And then I’d go and buy USB Retro game console controllers for it. I play PC on my PC. I play it sitting at a desk a certain ‘said’ distance away from the monitor. Not on the couch or on the floor. Though it would be good for TV Shows/Movies/Netflix/Youtube/etc and the digital aspect of them rather than hard copy these days. But nothing a netbook/notebook can’t handle that you can still take with you places. Maybe if I wanted one in the bathroom… Sitting down… Certain distance away. Yup. Rather upgrade to plasma though.

  41. Shooop says:

    Does the world really need still another sealed game-box?

    • LintMan says:

      Did you notice the type of screws used to seal the case in the video? It’s the star-shaped kind hardly anyone has. They’re basically saying “we don’t want you to open this thing up”.

      • impeus says:

        They are hardly difficult to get hold of though.

        • darkChozo says:

          Yeah, Torx screws are pretty common nowadays, and there are very good reasons to use them instead of Phillips that don’t have anything to do with tamper protection. If they really wanted people to stay out, there are any number of other screw types they could use that would be much more effective (not to mention that they would probably recess the head and probably use tiny screws).

  42. eartsidi says:

    like Bruce implied I am stunned that a mom can get paid $4256 in four weeks on the internet. did you read this web site http://www.Cloud65.com

  43. Greggh says:

    *looks at teeny tiny PC platform and scoffs*

    That’s nonsense. Everyone knows gamers like their gaming rigs with bright red paint and sized like a Hummer on steroids!

  44. LintMan says:

    There’s really no appeal to this thing for me. I build my own full-size high-end desktop systems and really have no desire to play on a low end system in front of a TV.

    If I *DID* want a system for gaming in my living room, I’d also want it to have full home theater PC (HTPC) capability: BLU-RAY, DVR, streaming video, large bulk storage, etc. And I’d still be building it myself.

    But the target market seems to be for people who want to play PC games but with console “simplicity”. I just wonder how large that market is. And also if this mini-PC will actually be all that simple to use and set up.

    Good luck to Valve, though.

    • newprince says:

      Well, this thing isn’t for me, either, but clearly they have the intention for this thing to run an OS that is Linux based. So I wouldn’t count out a lot of the stuff you said except Blu-Ray playback. I mean, this thing will be hackable obviously, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the HTPC side of things… it’ll be there because the community will make it.

  45. Kohmatohs says:

    The three big console companies know that price is everything in this post-crash world.

    A miniature PC/Steam box can’t compete unless it is in the same price range. A price parity with the next Xbox and Playstation could make the Steam Box a real contender.

    Question is, will the hardware be any different between the three? Will they all be integrated AMD chipsets?

  46. grable says:

    I will continue to build my own thank you very much :p

  47. Fearzone says:

    This was inevitable. I’ve been looking at putting together a micro-itx box for the TV, but heating issues were such that I still have moster-atx case out in the middle of the living room, and except for form factor, it is still going strong.

    But in the mobile age, it really feels like a dinosaur. It is particularly striking when a beast of that size takes twice as long, at least, to boot up, compared to my tablet–when the tablet does nearly everything the PC does, nearly as well, except for high end games.

    So, if this were an open PC and not a platform that only runs Steam, it is something I would think about getting, but I would keep expectations in check when it comes to high end gaming.

  48. Frannk says:

    Oh my gosh. Not only did this video show me the word play from Valve -> Steam -> Piston, it showed me there is word play from Valve -> Steam… all these years it’s been staring me right in the face, duh.

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