Er, OK: Xi3 Claims Valve Asked Them To Make Piston

By Nathan Grayson on March 13th, 2013 at 9:00 am.

My, my. So much trouble over something so small and easily consumed on accident if I'm not paying attention.

The strange and sordid saga of Xi3′s Steambox/apparently not a Steambox/grapefruit of the fuuuuuuuuture slogs on. You’ll remember that Valve publicly denounced the little-PC-that-could (cost $1000) yesterday, which came as a strange turn of events after it was first announced with an investment from the very same Steam-powered empire. Right hand, meet left? Or maybe this was all an evil plot hatched by none other than Nega-Newell, who’s spent the past couple years masquerading as the real deal and making a series of baffling decisions. It sounds just as plausible as anything else, I think, given that Xi3′s now revealed that the rabbit hole runs even deeper. Apparently, it was actually Valve who commissioned them to make the damn thing in the first place.

In a statement issued to Kotaku, Xi3 outlined the alleged string of events that brought us to this point:

“We reaffirm the fact that we received an investment from Valve Corporation (as we previously disclosed during the 2013 International CES trade show), and we did so with Valve’s written permission. Second, we were asked to build a product specifically for Valve, and both companies showcased this product – the PISTON Console – in their respective booths at CES 2013.”

The company then noted that Gabe Newell himself requested Xi3 not disclose details of their business relationship to the public. That did not, however, stop it from hinting very strongly at them. “Just because Valve may not ‘currently’ have any ‘involvement with any product of (ours)’ doesn’t mean that such involvement won’t exist in the future,” said founder Jason A. Sullivan.

That said, Xi3 seems dead-set on steering its own ship with or without Steam’s official support. The company concluded by noting that players will be able to run Steam on Piston no matter what and also pointed out that it doesn’t agree with Valve’s Linux-heavy vision of the future – which is why Piston will run Windows out of the box.

The plan, then, is to continue taking pre-orders en route to shipping Piston at the end of the year. If it’s successful, I imagine Xi3′s Executive VP of Snappy Yet Professional Press Release One-Liner Writing will receive a handsome raise.

“In closing, what Valve does or doesn’t do with its Steam Box will be up to them,” the statement finished. “So Gabe, it’s up to you. The ball is in your court.”

ONLY IT’S REALLY MORE OF A GRAPEFRUIT WHAT NOW GABE WHAT YOU GOT.

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122 Comments »

  1. Phantoon says:

    Well. Huh.

    • AlwaysRight says:

      I know, right?

      • baby snot says:

        Hmm. My speculatornator has spit out this imagined to-fro:

        Valve: We want it to run linux. We want to push linux. We’re porting all our stuff to linux.

        Xi3: Thanks for the dough, but NO.

        Valve: FUUUUUUUUUUUUU!

        EDIT: Please give us a button that says SPAM and then once five or ten people have clicked it that message is deleted. Please please please please please.

        • Jambe says:

          Although I agree with this sentiment overall, mobs aren’t good moderators.

          • Corporate Dog says:

            My suspicion is that the saga went something like this:

            Valve: We want a living room box for Steam that runs Linux. Make us one, that we can put our logo on.

            Xi3: OK. We’ve been working on this particular modular design that you can use for your Box o’ Steam. But in order to make this economically feasible for both of us, we’d also like to sell them under our own brand, running Windows.

            Valve: Sure, sure.

            [Fast forward...]

            Xi3: Here’s OUR box that was previously hinted to be the Steam Box, but isn’t (wink, wink, nudge).

            Valve: We have NO association with THAT box!

            Xi3: Sure you do!

            Valve: Not exactly…

            EDIT: Whoops. Wrong comment replied to. The one above yours…

          • Mctittles says:

            Valve: We want to compete with consoles but our “living room pc” will cost more than consoles. Can you make a tiny pc that will cost $1000?

            Xi3: Uhh…ok.

            Valve: There, now we can leave you alone. Now our $500 console will be middle ground instead of top tier and look more appealing. Isn’t human relative pricing decisions amazing!

          • Joe-Gamer says:

            Mctittles makes an interesting point….

        • tigerfort says:

          Auto-deletion is a very very bad idea. A “spam” button that marks comments for attention by a moderator might be a useful thing, though, if someone at fortress shotgun has time to go through moderating away the dubious meat-like substances in the comments.

          • Llewyn says:

            Indeed. Any article about actual issues would be almost entirely devoid of comments, with everything removed by mini-mobs of the opposing factions.

            Although at times it feels like that might not be entirely a bad thing.

          • Skabooga says:

            In some cases, such a system might work well. Courtesy enforced on pain of mutually-assured destruction.

        • bl33ding_silence says:

          This isn’t about Windows vs. Linux. Remember that Newell publicly said that OS doesn’t matter.

          Let’s look closer at Xi3′s statement:

          “Contrary to Valve’s vision, Xi3 believes that the way to take this to market today is to do so with a Windows OS at the core, coupled with the ability to not just get to one platform/store for games, but to get access to all game stores/platforms. Studios should have the option to go through Steam if they choose or to go direct to the end-user if they so choose. That will be the difference between Piston and other Steam Boxes. You’ll be able to access Steam if you choose, but you’ll also be able to access other platforms as well-all through the Piston Console.”

          It’s obvious what the real issue here is. Xi3 wants Steam as one of the many content distribution channels on their “console”. Valve cannot honestly endorse or invest in something that also supports their competitors. That would be like hitting their own foot with an axe.

          • Nesetalis says:

            I highly doubt any steambox will be limited to JUST steam.
            Its running linux, and unless they some how try to close source their linux and lock it down tighter than an iphone… You will be able to install just about anything on it, with wine, with the linux distro’s package manager, or with steam.

          • zbeeblebrox says:

            The big difference though, is xi3 appears to want a system where all those stores are already loaded and available to the user. Valve would never do that. It would be Steam Steam Steam, but hey it’s Linux if you want to tinker with it and add something yourself go ahead! (lol our business model runs on the fact that you’ll never bother with the inconvenience)

    • hatseflats says:

      It’s not that strange actually. This is Gabe Newell’s vision versus everyday business.
      Newell is thinking along the lines of a small form factor PC. One which can be used as a console but as a regular PC as well. If it’s small, the advantage is that you can easily move it around.
      Now the question is: how small can it get? Will Valve ultimately have to produce a relatively large console, or can they sell a very small one with a larger number of uses?
      That’s why they invested in Xi3: put some money in those interesting products and see what comes out.

      Now, Xi3 of course are thinking along different lines: they probably don’t consider themselves an R&D department but a real company producing computers. Hence, they want to sell their products. Endorsement by Valve can probably help generating sales, so they’re shouting it from the rooftops. Valve of course doesn’t want that, because this is merely an experiment – and a way too expensive experiment. Newell probably doesn’t want people to connect the concept of a $1000 (!) PC to the Steambox.

    • Joshua_Anderson says:

      like Mark said I cannot believe that a stay at home mom can earn $9836 in 4 weeks on the internet. have you seen this web site… http://zapit.nu/312

  2. kregg says:

    I’m out of popcorn.

    But in all seriousness, I really hope that Valve didn’t think they’d enter the console market with a $1000 machine while going “But… but… but… it’s a PC too!”

    Maybe some die-hard PC fans will buy this up, but it won’t dent the console market at all.

    • Nesetalis says:

      of course not.
      They already stated they wanted steam boxes at every range of price.. even under 500$ :P

    • Mctittles says:

      Without a $1000 console out their in the first place they would look too expensive. You need a prime people with a higher number for a starting point in order to sell something.

  3. amateurviking says:

    This all seems very strange.

    • Tuco says:

      No, it doesn’t, and I’m not even sure where the controversy is supposed to be.

      Valve apparently at some point did a certain amount of “exploratory investments” in several hardware companies to see who could come up with the most interesting prototypes.

      Xi3 somehow decided to promote this thing publicly to suggest to the press and the audience that they were making an actual “Steambox”, just to gain visibility and headlines, even being very careful about stating this openly (in fact, they never did).

      Valve, which apparently isn’t too fond of their prototype, made a clarification in that sense, pointing that just because they invested money in that company at some point, that doesn’t make their hardware “an official Steambox” or anything.

      • rei says:

        Exactly. This was clear from the beginning, and I’m sure was reported in such a way on this very site. Right hand, meet left, indeed!

      • Convolvulus says:

        I agree with everything you said except for the part about Valve not being fond of the prototype. Whether they hate it or love it to pieces, their current tack has to do with a former investment becoming possible competition in the same sphere. If Valve is going to make a console-like device, they can’t have consumers thinking they’ve officially endorsed one already on the market.

        • Donjo says:

          It might be valuable for Valve to see what happens when something like this is introduced. Whatever it is they’re making will presumably be quite different anyway, if it’s running Linux.

          • MadTinkerer says:

            The real problem here is that Gabe Newell is not the boss, because everyone is/is not the boss at Valve. Therefore Valve simultaneously officially loves/hates/is indifferent towards the Piston. Hence the real source of confusion.

      • norfolk says:

        I dunno. The whole “ball is in your court” line is provocative for a PR statement. I’d call that strange.

        Butttttttt there is insufficient information to really know what’s going on. Also, who really cares? There’s an overpriced mechanical grapefruit coming out. Valve doesn’t want much to do with it, despite some early investment. Big whoop.

      • Kuraudo says:

        That makes a lot of sense; thanks for pointing this out.

  4. Komm says:

    ..Great, now I have tea all over my monitor AND I’m out of popcorn.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Couldn’t you just use a towel instead?

      • Gap Gen says:

        Hmm. Salted towel or sweet towel?

        • tigerfort says:

          “Yeah, when I’ve had to suck that end for a bit, I usually need to suck the other end too.”
          “Why, what’s in that?”
          “Anti-depressants.”

  5. Dana says:

    I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO THINK, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO FEEL.

  6. Cryptoshrimp says:

    Is this a sort of corporate practical joke? I’m well confused.

  7. Kamos says:

    Well this is awkward.

  8. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Aliens, then SimCity, now apparently Piston. What an year!

    • razgon says:

      What?! We had aliens here?!?! Why doesn’t anyone ever tell me anything.

      • All is Well says:

        We did, but they walked sort of strange and were ridiculed for it, so they left.

  9. Hoaxfish says:

    I can confirm that I am working on Half Life 3… even if Valve and even Gabe deny it. Don’t listen to them, they totally told me to do it.

  10. Low Life says:

    Here’s how I imagine this went:

    1. Valve contacts Xi3 and pays them to figure out if they could build a “Steambox”
    2. Xi3 come up with the Piston for $1000, Valve says “lol no”
    3a. Xi3 still decides to proceed selling the thing, stating that it received investment from Valve
    3b. Valve shows Piston as an example of what the actual Steambox is aiming at
    4. The internet gets all silly

    • Kiya says:

      sounds plausible to me :-)

    • MeestaNob says:

      And we’re done here.

      Hopefully the Internet spreads this summary around the place and we can get on with our lives.

      • indoorsman says:

        Xi3 was around before Valve had anything to do with them. Essentially their business was to come up with a modular motherboard, all they seem to have succeeded on was form factor. By making breaking up the motherboard, it allows them to make everything smaller, which is very attractive for something to put next to your TV.

        Valve liked that idea for a variety of reasons and in parallel the Xi3 kickstarter campaign was just a marketing ploy.

        Xi3 is getting the attention it wants. Thats all the conspiracy there is.

        >>
        >>1. Valve contacts Xi3 and pays them to figure out if they could build a “Steambox”

        *They already could.

        >>2. Xi3 come up with the Piston for $1000, Valve says “lol no”
        *The price is no surprise

        >>3a. Xi3 still decides to proceed selling the thing, stating that it received investment from Valve
        *The machine they are going to sell isnt much different from their exsiting line. It’s just marketing

        >>3b. Valve shows Piston as an example of what the actual Steambox is aiming at
        * Yes but with caveats, that this is one of many companies building machines like this

        >>4. The internet gets all silly
        * I can agree on this. But its not being reported correctly, and that is the problem here. The price is no surprise, the thing that bugs Valve is that Xi3 is acting like they are the exclusive supplier and Valve is pushing back.

        Its pretty clear from this article what was going on:

        http://www.polygon.com/2013/1/8/3850952/valve-meeting-with-hardware-and-content-developers-at-ces-piston-one

    • Sander Bos says:

      Isn’t it more:
      1) Valve wants manufacturers to build hardware according to some spec, that is meant to run steam.
      2) Xi is one of the companies to respond to that challenge, and has a nice purple enclosure of their hardware.
      3) Valve has some semi-formal responses to say that this is the sort of thing they are thinking of.
      4) The press does their usual thing, and makes it much more of a relationship than there really is.
      5) Then the actual price is announced and things are not so rosy anymore, and the same press asks ‘what is Valve thinking’, while all they were thinking was would it not be nice if there is cheap hardware only meant to run Steam.

      • kuddles says:

        I wouldn’t exclusively blame the press. As usual, the internet likes to turn speculation into truth and embellish everything. I heard a lot of shouting about how this thing was “obviously” the Steambox long after Gabe has said it specifically is not the Steambox.

    • Zephro says:

      There’s also the old Xi3 Kickstarter from before the Steambox stuff. Absolutely no mention of Steam on the Kickstarter at all.

      So Valve probably asked them after they’d already prototyped the Xi3, then broke it off.

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      Yeah I’m confused as to why this is being played as some conspiritorial murder mystery in the article when the two statements by both sides don’t contradict each other at all.

      Valve said they aren’t currently working with Xi3. Xi3 said they aren’t currently working with valve but have recieved funding from them in the past.

      The whole “doesn’t mean we won’t in the future” just sounds like a PR curveball to distract from the embarassment of investors pulling out when they see the product you’ve made.

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        I’m sitting at work on my lunch break, bored. Hearing that Gabe Newell kidnapped the puppy of Xi3′s CEO’s daughter and demanded they lie to the world makes my life temporarily less dull and empty. Therefore I choose sensationalism over reality.

        • deke913 says:

          I knew the truth would come out if I scrolled down far enough.

    • Noburu says:

      Kind of how I thought things went as well.

  11. Gormongous says:

    Would I be wrong to hazard a guess that this is some kind of prototype that Valve invested in and/or rejected, which Xi3 has decided to bring to market on its own? That would make sense.

  12. Llewyn says:

    “In closing, what Valve does or doesn’t do with its Steam Box will be up to them,” the statement finished. “So Gabe, it’s up to you. The ball is in your court.”

    Is this written by the same amateur clowns as the Civitas pitch?

    Possible turn of events:
    - Valve approach a number of hardware manufacturers for initial discussions about the Stembox project.
    - Talks with Xi3 go well and they agree that Valve will partially fund Xi3′s proof-of-concept work.
    - Valve don’t like the results of Xi3′s work, especially the price, and terminate the project. They expect Xi3 to keep quiet about the relationship as part of normal business confidentiality practice.
    - Xi3 heavily hint to the press that Valve are involved with Piston. Valve are Pistoff.
    - Valve break their silence to make it clear that they are not involved with Piston at all, which would be true if they’d terminated the project earlier.
    - Xi3 stick their thumbs in their ears, waggle their fingers, pull funny faces and go ‘ner-ner-na-ner-ner’ in Valve’s general direction.

    The only thing that doesn’t fit with this is Valve showing Piston at CES but, since I don’t know a) whether this is true or b) what the circumstances were, I’m going to conveniently ignore that.

    Edit: Damn, Low Life was quicker than me.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Well, Valve showing Piston off to a CES audience is exactly what makes this theory seem less plausible. Neither the 1,000 USD price tag seems to be a deal breaker. Consoles sell at a loss, there should be no reason to suspect Valve couldn’t do the same thing with Piston. On the other hand, Piston is a PC. It can actually be sold with all manner of components, ranging from cheaper versions of the box to the most expensive ones. Users can then upgrade their own Piston, if they so wish.

      • kuddles says:

        On the contrary, I have a feeling that Valve has receded from the idea specifically because they feel they can’t make it affordable right now. I sincerely doubt Valve would be dumb enough to sell a mini-PC at a loss seeing as how the console makers are literally struggling to stay afloat because of this broken model.

      • D3xter says:

        DID they show it off at CES? As far as I know they didn’t.
        They did have dozens of other “Steambox” prototypes up there though by companies that didn’t make such a big deal out of it… http://www.engadget.com/2013/01/09/eyes-on-with-valves-steambox-prototypes/

        On the other hand Xi3 had their own booth, and I do very much also blame the press for a lot of the misinformation going around. For instance here we have someone trying to squeeze out of the Xi3 guy the “Steambox” word and he doesn’t do it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqYaMW8uMNc

        As Gabe has said in that interview with the BBC though, their official hardware will likely be tested in about ~4 months.

        • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

          Yes, the Piston prototype is one of those listed in that article.

  13. RaveTurned says:

    I had already assumed events had gone something like this: Valve funded prospective hardware partners to come up with a steam console, including Xi3. Xi3 came up with Piston, and showed it to Valve. Valve decided it wasn’t what they were looking for, kept looking for other options.

    Xi3 then decide to use the Valve/Steam-box connection to hype their product, despite the fact that Valve hadn’t endorsed their design or given permission for Xi3 to use their name/trademarks in their press releases or marketing material. Valve calls them out on that, and Internet Drama happens.

    Edit: Wow, ninja’d multiple times. I must learn to touch-type. :/

  14. marsilainen says:

    Publicity!

  15. rustybroomhandle says:

    This piece of hardware seems very similar to what the company was producing anyway. It’s very possible that Valve considered it a good fit for their purposes, and even invested money in it. But right now it looks like the company is just using Valve’s name to push their hardware. Hardware that runs Windows by default with Steam as optional component.

  16. Yosharian says:

    LOUD NOISES

  17. Beybars says:

    The plot thickens Dun Dun Dun!

  18. Gurrah says:

    How come you’re always going on about the 1000$ price-tag, their websites clearly states that it costs 899$ in its basic configuration.

    • GallonOfAlan says:

      That’s still about $600 over the odds.

    • Kamos says:

      Isn’t that the discounted pre order price, though? (I might be wrong.)

    • Abtacha says:

      It’s 899$ right now with a 100$ preorder discount, so 1000$ when it’s actually available.

  19. scatterlogical says:

    I actually wonder if this has anything to do with the 25-odd staff that Valve let go the other week…

    Valve are doing some weird shit lately.
    Maybe Gabe is going a little Howard Hughes?

  20. SkittleDiddler says:

    Damage control, something Valve is doing right now.

  21. Innovacious says:

    Valve said a long time ago they will internally be making a steam box of their own but other people will be making their own steam boxes too. Its not a totally closed system where you have to buy valve for the official steam box experience. I think it was around dice that i first heard them say that.

  22. Hrofty says:

    For the same 1000$ (or even less), provided you have some skills with drill and screwdriver you can make something like this:
    http://habrastorage.org/storage2/6e0/d3f/dda/6e0d3fddaac5037a7f4c13f1bf677534.jpg
    Core i7, 8Gb RAM, Radeon HD6970, 120GB SSD + 320gb HDD. 290х210х130(h)mm

    Its middle-end PC, build from standard replacable (and upgradable) PC components mounted on aluminum angles.

    Original link (russian)

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Nice! While not as small as the Piston, it seems about the size of the smaller Xbox360. Which would fit under a TV nicely. (Everyone skipped the DVD/tape sized form factor years ago with the Xbox/PS3 being massive! :P )

    • Joshua says:

      That is not middle end. That’s up into Lamborghini territory.

    • Arcanon says:

      Remove that useless i7, put a i5 3450, and pour the €/$/£ difference into a better graphics card…..that would be even better!

      Also, the card isn’t connected to the PSU, you’d need another couple of cm in width to fit the cables.

      But yea, if you can build your own rig there’s really no point in buying a Piston. Even Alienware’s miniPC is better than that!

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        Remove that useless i7

        This has to be the first time I’ve seen the Core i7 described as ‘useless’.
        I agree with replacing the i7 with an i5 but “useless” really?

        Also according to the site the power for the GPU is soldered directly to the card to circumvent the connectors on the top.

      • Hrofty says:

        extra GPU power connector is soldered to side of the card to make the whole thing lower.
        Sadly, there is no angle PCU->CPI-E connectors on the market.

    • El_Emmental says:

      I like the look of it :) thanks for the link Hrofty

      Having the video card on the outside kinda solve the aircooling issues and looks neat (same with the HDD, no overheating issues there), but it’s also too much explosed to exterior hazards: frequent cleaning required and it’s more likely to break.

      Perhaps adding 2 rails/bars at the corners of the chassis (to complete the “cage”) and a transversal bar+structure holding an easily removable dust filter square near the ventilator could partially fix this (protect the ventilator, reduce the dust, keep the aircooling efficient).

  23. wodin says:

    Has failure written all over it at that price

  24. SurprisedMan says:

    I hope this saga continues in a series of ever increasingly passive-aggressive press statements.

  25. Sander Bos says:

    Now that this is clear (kidding), let me ask who thinks SteamBox will succeed?
    That is to say, the Gabe’s ‘dream’ of cheap hardware from different vendors connected to the living room TV running only Steam on Linux?

    I personally just don’t see it. If the hardware would be cheap, it won’t run the latest games comfortably, and the backlog of titles is mostly DirectX. Is Wine’s support good enough to support that large library (I don’t know, but have doubts). I also don’t understand why Steam’s big picture mode does not even have a media player in it, they should look more at what consoles do besides games these days.

    In the other comments I sort of see a trend of people saying Valve’s interest in this thing is waning. I think the origins of the SteamBox concept is a fear of Windows 8 and its store. I am a happy Windows 8 user but only really use the old desktop interface. But when I occasionally browse the Windows 8 Store catalog though I can see why Valve is less afraid of Windows 8 than a year ago.
    Like it is for the rest of the gaming industry, iOS is the bigger threat I think.

    • Zephro says:

      Define succeed.

    • Sander Bos says:

      Over a million units sold and used as intended (so hooked up to TV running Steam almost exclusively).
      (for reference, over 75 million XBox 360′s have been sold)

      • Zephro says:

        The reference to Xbox is meaningless as it isn’t clear that’s what Valve were ever aiming to do, nor that they aimed at 1 million units or whatever. You can set the goalpost wherever you like though I guess.

        • Sander Bos says:

          You asked for a definition of success, so I picked a relatively random number and put some context on it.

          But yeah if Valve’s aim was to confuse everybody with respect to what they are up to, then it is already a huge success now. It is probably sort of a Chewbacca defense situation, nobody is asking them about HL2EP3 anymore..

    • boe2 says:

      It was never stated that the steambox would run on linux. AFAIK Valve would invest in steambox-compatible hardware (ok, every pc is “steambox compatible”, but I’m talking form factor and hardware ports) and it’s up to the vendors to decide what OS they want to install, windows making most sence since only 2% of the steam library is available otherwise.

      • Sander Bos says:

        You can’t link reliably on this site, but if you Google
        steam box biometrics verge
        you can read an interview where Linux is mentioned more than just in passing.

      • KevinLew says:

        As Sander Bos mentioned, Valve has been very aggressive about promoting Linux as the future of PC gaming. It makes no sense for them to turn on that and then decide that they want to run Windows on their console.

        If Valve really wanted to have Steam running on a Windows-based console, then they could have gone to Microsoft and asked to partner with them on the Xbox 720. Now Valve doesn’t need to develop or market any hardware at all, and Microsoft gets a proven PC game digital distributor and cross-platform compatibility to boot.

    • lijenstina says:

      Linux has already succeed in the smartphone and server area because it was backed by Google, IBM, Oracle, Red Hat. There is no problem if big companies support it.

      There are different ways of doing it – give the operating system for free then make profits through the services like in the case of Google – or the combination of hardware and services and support for the OS which the server guys do. They even sell the OS that is tuned to work well with their hardware. Don’t forget it’s easier to have an free OS for the HW manufacturers that they can ship and customize without paying for the OEM license per each device sold – that gives them a higher margin of profits.

      Of course, that doesn’t mean that Valve will succeed in the the case of the Steam Box, but on the other hand that will make game support on linux better which will, on the other hand, make their user base for Steam bigger.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Are you really asking? Or are you just saying that the idea of a Steambox will fail even though we don’t know much about it?

      • Sander Bos says:

        I’m really asking.
        I think us PC gamer people are (or let me just speak for my self, I am:) thinking why are console so popular, as the breadth of games and their prices are so much better on PC. And the idea of Valve taking the initiative and the promotion of cheap hardware from multiple vendors is very logical and appealing.
        But big picture mode is very dissapointing to me. I have my TV hooked up to my PC (as a second screen with a long HDMI cable), but I never even bother starting big picture mode when I play a game on my TV.
        I think it could succeed, but it would take a lot more dedicated effort than what Valve appears to be putting into it at the moment. So I really wondered what other people are thinking about this.

        • InternetBatman says:

          I don’t think it will succeed unless valve subsidizes the hardware for a year or two, but if they do that they’ll have to worry about people just buying it and using it as a normal computer (which you’ll be able to do).

  26. Wednesday says:

    Didn’t Valve used to make really, really good games?

    When did they stop doing that?

    • InternetBatman says:

      They didn’t. Ask Dota 2 players.

      • boe2 says:

        Ah, the story of dota2.
        Trying to sell an unfinished game, calling it a beta, failing, sending out free invites in order to pad the playercount, see playercount drop almost as fast as it rose, send everyone a gazillion dota2 invites: “see guys? our game IS successful”.

        They went from asking money for beta access to begging players to play. DOTA2 sure showed us a very differend side of Valve.

        • derbefrier says:

          what a bunch of BS its been constantly one of the top played games on steam. Beating heavy hitters like TF2, Counter Strike and the CoD games and its been that way for months and months. If your gonna make stuff up at least try to make it believable.

        • KevinLew says:

          I just checked Xfire, and Dota 2 is currently in the Top 10 of the most played games on the PC right now. In fact, as of this morning, it’s got more current active players than Minecraft. Even if you don’t want to believe Xfire, it’s absolutely true that more players are playing Dota 2 than Team Fortress 2. So stop pulling out lies that Dota 2 is a giant failure because it’s not.

          • boe2 says:

            Ah, the dota2 goons are here, awesome.
            Do you just copy your brethren’s propaganda, or are you just really bad at checking your claims?
            DOTA2 is not even in the top 20 of the most played games on xfire (guess what? Team Fortress 2 IS in there).
            So no…you are full of dung.

          • KevinLew says:

            When I say “Top Ten Most Played Games”, I mean currently. It’s right here on the corner of the page, and they are number 9:
            http://www.xfire.com/games

            I don’t like statistics like “most time played ever” when that doesn’t have any relevance. I’m willing to bet that more people played Tetris or Solitaire than any other PC game ever made.

          • InternetBatman says:

            Dota 2 has 208k current players right now, in what is working or sleeping hours from Ukraine to California. That’s hardly a failure by whatever metric you use.

        • zeroskill says:

          @boe2:

          Oh please, stop making yourself look like an idiot. Dota 2 is a free to play game. The way this is legit financially for Valve is that they are gaining high amounts of new potential customers on the Steam platform. That is how they are making money. The fact that Dota 2 is available, including a pack of cosmetics, as a purchase, was to counter the ridiculous black market prices for Dota 2 invites back when it was really hard to get your hands on one.

          And yes, obviously Dota 2 is an success. How can’t it be. It’s the faithful Wc3 Dota sequel the 10 million strong player base has been asking for, for years.

        • El_Emmental says:

          boe2, you’re being ridiculous – I don’t even have a Dota 2 invite (ha !), I can’t enjoy MOBAs and I’m barely following the news on Dota 2, but I know it’s a clear success.

          Thinking the spam of Dota 2 invites is because the game isn’t successful makes you sound like a tool: like someone else said the black market became an issue, and once your game is more polished (don’t try to say Dota 2 is an unfinished, unplayable “beta”, you don’t even need to run the game to know such claim is complete BS) you need to bring more and more people in it to grow a playerbase, thus opening the floodgate.

          They used the “invites” to see how the game would spread if it was based on social sharing and if it would help the players meet and play with other players/group of players (rather than the usual “playing alone, getting rejected” experience) and from what I saw around me, it worked a little bit: I see more beginners being taught the basics of Dota 2 by the players/group of players who provided the invite.

          • Malibu Stacey says:

            I see more beginners being taught the basics of Dota 2 by the players/group of players who provided the invite.

            Pretty much this. I’m the perfect example of that. Never played a DotA-clone in my life until February last year when friends got some invites to share. They taught me everything about the game & now it’s my most played (and watched) game.

        • Malibu Stacey says:

          see playercount drop almost as fast as it rose

          I’ll just leave this here http://store.steampowered.com/stats/?l=english

        • Aubron says:

          http://store.steampowered.com/stats/

          I would check your figures there, bud.

      • Ilinx says:

        As a recent DOTA 2 convert, I say AMEN.

        And also yes, Valve do still make exceedingly good games.

  27. boe2 says:

    You want a steambox you can place below your tv?
    Buy a gaming laptop. Problem solved. It’ll most likely have better specs too.

    • Arcanon says:

      Gaming laptops are horrible for their price, if it’s meant to stay in the living room just build a microATX machine by yourself.

      If this isn’t what Valve wanted, I’m really curious to see what the actual Steambox will be.

      • boe2 says:

        fair enough. Point is that steamboxes are already available for those that really want it, thus preordering this makes no sense whatsoever :)

      • uh20 says:

        yea right, go mini-ITX
        those things are adorable.

  28. zeroskill says:

    Valve should sue the hell out of Xi3 for trying to make the public believe Valve has any involvement in this bad product. They are hoping by dragging Valve’s good name on the PC market into this mess, they maybe sell 2 units of this piece of inferior hardware.

    Unfortunately, many internet sites have been indirectly pushing this confusion by not providing actual facts and throwing the term Steambox around the place like it is an actual term that exists. Steambox isn’t a thing. Get over it. It’s made up by the media and the fans.

  29. ShockLobster says:

    Regardless of who told who to make it, there’s better ways of spending $1k and getting a competent gaming computer. The Piston looks like it’s trying to already cash in on an Alienware-esque reputation without the hardware.

  30. Beernut says:

    I still don’t know who this could be marketed towards. The only groups that come to mind would be “people-who-enjoy-a-really-bad-performance/price-ratio” and “people-owning-only-grapefruit-sized-cupboards-to-put-their-tech-stuff-on”. It seems to be more of a tech study rather than a product aimed at a particular demand or need.

    • El_Emmental says:

      The people behind the Xi3 think people buy consoles over PC only because of the size/place in the house of the hardware device required to play games, when anyone who’s into gaming long enough to see two generations of consoles know it’s only one the of reason, and FAR from the sole reason.

      People also buy consoles over PC for the smooth experience:
      - no need to upgrade or look at specs (only upgrades are the new generation of consoles, who have a separated name and are marketed strongly enough so people understand the PS2 isn’t the PS3, the Xbox isn’t the Xbox 360).
      - device is broken ? => RMA (warranty) or buy a new one (less than 30 minutes of search required to choose your version – and making the “wrong” choice still gives you a fully functionning device that’s able to run your games).
      - UI is the easiest-to-use/efficient ever (= put disc into device, launch, play).
      - the gameplay experience is seamless/not painful: no (with a few exceptions) obscure, unforgiving learning curves.
      - game experience IRL sharing is facilitated (splitscreen, TV+couch environment)

      That’s why Valve’s Steambox is a very ambitious project:
      - they need to work a lot more on the UI, stability and ease-of-use of the device (including the OS). Laugh all you want, Apple and consoles systems can be used by anyone, without any training/prior knowledge.
      - they need to make replacing/repairing the Steambox a task not requiring more than 1 hour of online searches. The diagnostic must be fully automatic, and be included “inside” the OS (normal software) and in its DOS/secondary Diagnostic OS selected on boot if an error is detected.
      - they need to somehow get many major devs to make an heavily optimized “Steambox” version that isn’t a dumbed-down (in graphics/complexity) version of their game. They need to make the devs make a PC version, a Steambox version, a Xbox 360 version and a PS3 version. Unless the Steambox is a hugely massive success, I don’t see it happening much.
      - they need to carefully plan their “upgrade-kits” and properly market them to people, so they know what to buy (and how much it costs) for which games.

      EDIT: had to run, this post is unfinished (imo)

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        - they need to somehow get many major devs to make an heavily optimized “Steambox” version that isn’t a dumbed-down (in graphics/complexity) version of their game. They need to make the devs make a PC version, a Steambox version, a Xbox 360 version and a PS3 version. Unless the Steambox is a hugely massive success, I don’t see it happening much.

        Redundant. Big-Picture mode in Steam already exists & is the software precursor to the hardware “Steambox”.

        • El_Emmental says:

          Not really – I know what you mean, and making a “SteamBox version” is much more easier if you already have a PC version. However…

          Let’s say the SteamBox can run any recent game at 60 fps with “High” settings. So far, so good.

          Fast forward two years later: both the PS4 and the new Xbox are released and stable platforms (growing faster than the PC, again), the PC probably got the DDR4, all mid/high-end video cards have 2 GB of VRAM (at least), and we’re getting a few 4K-ready games. The SteamBox has to lower the settings to get 60 fps.

          If the SteamBox is not able to run 4K (or an upscaled 3K, like we had the HD-Ready (720p) to fool the customers / offer cheaper HD monitors), not able to have a game looking as good as the heavily optimized PS4 and Xbox 720 versions, not able to run 1080p 3D games on 3D monitors, then why buying it ? You’re not getting the consoles-version optimization, nor the possibilities of the PC version.

          That’s where the aging SteamBox – unless it has upgrade kits (and even then, you’re asking people to open it and change components – without breaking anything), is doomed to become a “weak PC rig” in 2 years, and be left there by the devs (who aren’t going to optimize their games for the very small % of gamers owning a SteamBox).

          It’s not an issue for PC gamers who already assembled their PC (or got it assembled by someone else), but it’s gonna be a problem with users expecting it to last as long as the consoles: if you need to buy the latest SteamBox every 3 years (to play the games as they’re being marketed to you, and played by your peers – on their PC or consoles), while you only need to change your console every 6 years (for that satisfying experience), then the consumers won’t be too excited with the SteamBox.

  31. uh20 says:

    valve is talking about their own steambox reveal in 3 to 4 months, so theres still some time to kill before they talk about anything.

  32. ChiefOfBeef says:

    We should wait and see how this unfolds rather than interpret reported events to cast Valve in a better light, just because Gabe Newell is the PC gamer’s Santa Clause.

    Even St Nick has been known to destroy the odd orphanage.

  33. ScubaMonster says:

    I had actually called this when Valve first claimed they weren’t involved. It was a simple PR move to distance themselves from the backlash against the pricing. I highly doubt you could move ahead and produce a Steam box without Valve’s permission. You’d be nailed to the wall in lawsuits. Now it makes them look even dumber. I like Valve, but this whole console dabbling is one huge disaster.

  34. ScubaMonster says:

    “it doesn’t agree with Valve’s Linux-heavy vision of the future – which is why Piston will run Windows out of the box.”

    Well that’s the final nail in the coffin. They can take their $1000 Windows box and shove it. Only reason they don’t want Linux is probably because it’s harder for them to monetize certain aspects of it.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Or more likely, they would have to write drivers for their grapefruit & can’t be arsed doing it for anything other than Windows.

  35. Grey_Ghost says:

    Probably as a prototype that they deemed unworthy to proceed further on.

  36. kshade says:

    Looking at the weird, botched marketing Xi3 did (we don’t care!, and the way they’ve done interviews before that) they seem a bit bumbling or even shady.

  37. valczir says:

    “[...] pointed out that it doesn’t agree with Valve’s Linux-heavy vision of the future – which is why Piston will run Windows out of the box”

    So that’s why they expect people to pay $1000 for a pile of crap. They’re targeting the average Joe.

    Sorry, Xi3, I’ll wait for a steam box from people who have a desire to change things for the better, instead of just continuing to push outdated, crusty, bloated crap for exorbitant amounts of money.