Valve’s Steam Box Still Happening, Showing Next Week

By Nathan Grayson on September 17th, 2013 at 9:00 am.

To hear Valve tell it, the mega-developer’s Seattle lair is a boundless, endlessly blossoming field of creativity – not some rigidly structured hive of hirings and firings. People clamber into the top secret treehouse, and then they affix themselves to whatever project strikes their fancy, or so the story goes. But it’s a bit tougher to bite those claims hook, (company) line, and sinker when not-so-good-old-fashioned layoffs strike. Earlier this year, Valve let go of around 30 employees, many of whom were allegedly involved in hardware and Steam Box endeavors. Rumblings suggested the sudden turn of events signaled a change of focus for Valve, but all we got beyond that was the world’s longest “no comment” from Gabe Newell. As it turns out, however, Valve’s Steam Box survived the Great Valve Purge of ’13, and now some sort of reveal is just around the corner.

Gabe Newell recently gave a talk during LinuxCon in New Orleans, and there he reiterated modern day Valve’s biggest mission statement: openness. Linux, he further suggested, remains a key piece in a puzzle that the likes of Microsoft and Apple have decided to chuck into the broom closet in favor of jealously guarded proprietary systems. He noted that it’s especially apparent in the strange divide between playing games on our PCs versus in our living rooms.

“Right now, you’re sort of in this bizarre situation where as soon as you sit on your couch, you’re supposed to have lost connection with all of your other computing platforms. It’s like ‘Ah well, just buy your games all over again’ and the input methods are incompatible and… yes, you can have music but you need to buy it from us rather than somebody else.”

“We thought that was just an incorrect way.”

And thus, Steam Big Picture mode was born. That, however, was only phase one. Now it’s time for PCs to supplant walled garden living room boxes, but via a form factor that’s maybe a bit less, er, monolithic than the towering monster machines we’re used to. “The next step in our contribution to this is to release some work we’ve done on the hardware side,” said Newell. “Next week we’re going to be rolling out more information about how we get there and what are the hardware opportunities that we see for bringing Linux into the living room and getting it even more unified with [other devices].”

So basically, Valve wants all devices – PC, consoles, mobile, etc – to both remain open and play nicely together. That’s quite a tall order, but Newell and co don’t often release a project from their gurgling synthesis tubes unless they feel like it’s got a very, very good shot at success. Time will tell, but in this case it’s a pretty narrow gap. I’m just about to fire up the ol’ Speculatron, and I plan to roast marshmallows in its “hmmm”-ing and “harumph”-ing glow until next week. Here’s hoping for the best.

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124 Comments »

  1. boe2 says:

    It’s a really noble goal and I salute them for trying.

    However, despite there being some good linux compatible indie games lately, the harsh reality is that the vast majority of the steam library is not compatible with Linux.

    Yes, I know there is stuff like wine/cedega, but that is far from flawless. I guess we should hope that Valve integrates it’s own cedega-esque solution into Steam.

    • Arnvidr says:

      I would think a wine/cedega solution is exactly what we should NOT hope for, if the goal is to get Linux to a more viable state as a gaming platform. The platform itself needs to become easier for developers to bring their games to. As the Linux Steam library continues to grow, that is where you’re moving towards.

      As the library grows, more developers see it as viable, as well as more gamers finding it usable. Synergy. Hopefully it’ll lead to a more open industry.

      • Vinraith says:

        I’m curious how Valve continuing their march toward total hegemony by locking down the hardware market leads to a “more open industry.” All Steam has ever been about is closing the industry and the platform, if the Steam box is successful you can expect more of the same.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          All Steam has ever been about is closing the industry and the platform,

          I’m not trying to pick on you or anything, but people need to stop with this shit. Really? That’a all that Steam has ever been about? When Valve was looking into making Steam, “we want to close the industry and platform,” was their primary goal? And you know this because…

          This is like everyone who comes out to try and tell the Humble Bundle folks what the real point of Humble Bundle is. As if the droves of opining idiots are the ones who know better than the actual creators.

          Fact is, Valve went to Yahoo, MS, and pretty much everyone, and asked them if they had anything like Steam in the works. Everyone said no. Valve asked if anyone would be willing to partner with them to build it. Everyone said no. So, Valve did it themselves. And they did it because they wanted a program that would automatically deliver updates, better anti-cheat, and eventually selling games digitally.

          How do I know that’s what Valve wanted? Because, I don’t have to make inferences nor broadcast assumptions, I can directly quote it.

          Q: When developing Steam, did you make a conscious decision to look at what Microsoft was developing with Live and try to match that?

          Doug Lombardi: You know, we went around to Yahoo, Microsoft…Who else was around at that time? Probably Real Networks and anybody who seemed like a likely candidate to build something like Steam.

          We basically had our feature list that we wanted. We wanted auto-updating, we wanted better anti-piracy, better anti-cheat, and selling the games over the wire was something we came up with later. But we had like real world problems because Counter-Strike was getting huge and we would release these updates that would knock the 70 – 80 thousand simultaneous players right down to zero and it would take 48 – 72 hours for it to come back up and that was like this huge anxiety roller coaster that we would take every two or three months.

          It also limited our ability to put those updates up because of that. It was like…”Well, if we’re going to turn the lights off for 48 hours in the player community, the update needs to be worthy of that.” So, you had to bundle up the things you were going to put up in the update or you’re going to pull it out because you didn’t want to take the roller coaster ride. So that was really the impetus to why we did [Steam].

          We went around to everybody and said “Are you guys doing anything like this? We need this for our games, and therefore other people are going to need it someday soon.” And everyone was like: “Blah, blah, blah…That’s a million miles in the future.” So we said “We need it now” and everyone said “Well, we can’t help you.”

          So we just went off and started doing it. Once we pick something we just start going after it and we’re not really too concerned with what other people are doing because that’s just an easy way to get distracted.
          http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/the-last-of-the-independents-

          • Vinraith says:

            You’re right, that second line was inappropriate hyperbole. My apologies, this whole thing is a profound source of frustration and sometimes my temper gets the better of me.

            The fact is, more games go Steamworks with each passing season. Whatever Valve says steam’s about, in practice there are more and more games that require Steam to function. With Valve in the hardware space, is it really so unreasonable to anticipate similar locking down on that front?

            Even if you believe Valve is a force of pure benevolence right now, surely you don’t want a single company to have this much control over your game library?

          • Apocalypse says:

            Vin ask yourself why more and more games prefer to use the steamworks. The framework is open, you are free to use those tools, easy implementation of so many common features that game publsher or game studio wants.

            Steam Cloud, Stats & Achievements, User Authentication & Ownership, Matchmaking, Community features (including chat, forums, friend lists, groups, communities, social networks, trades, …), Peer-to-peer networking, Valve Anti-Cheat, Voice chat, network code, DRM, user specific exe-file generations, …

            All those features and more is included in the steamworks framework, developers do not need to reininvend, support and maintain these parts of their game, because valve offers all this already, couple this with modern engines like unity and you can imagine how much work can be saved and how much more focused a studio can actually work a game instead of stuff around the game.

          • Vinraith says:

            Yup, it’s convenient for the devs and (at least nominally) convenient for users. It’s still handing over control of your gaming library to a single corporate entity, though, and that’s still a transparently bad idea.

          • Apocalypse says:

            Valve themselves consider since some time to open up steam and establishing it as on open API to remove their own control over it. Steam as an open standard for digital distribution instead of a valve controlled platform.

            Still so far they have no working solution for such a transition.

          • Vinraith says:

            Forgive me my well-earned cynicism, but I’ll believe that when I see it.

          • Apocalypse says:

            What part you have trouble believing? That Gabe was talking that this would be a good idea or that Valve actually doing it?

            Keep in mind, even if Steam becomes just an API, Valve will still get their cut for every sale made via that API. Valve wants to profit from open platforms.

          • sparadox says:

            I’m going to have to agree with Vinraith here. While I have something like a hundred games in my Steam library because of the sales and such, I’m not really comfortable with the amount of control Steam has over my gaming library. A few months ago I had no internet because I was moving, and I accidentally drained my laptop. Upon restarting it Steam could not certify my credentials because I was offline and wouldn’t allow me to enter offline mode to play. I had to do a trial and error for each individual game and Steamworks definitely locked me out of a fair number single-player games I had purchased. And although I do enjoy the convenience it’s a little troubling how easily I can lose access to all those games.

        • Malibu Stacey says:

          Never go full Vinraith.

          Oh wait…

        • MadTinkerer says:

          stupid_mcgee, it’s okay, it’s okay. It’s just Vinraith. Vinraith is never going to be happy with Steam. It’s okay. Just relax. ;)

      • Tams80 says:

        Well what we really want is OpenGL to become the standard rather than DirectX. The maintainers however, aren’t focusing on the gaming uses for it.

        • aiusepsi says:

          The maintainers of OpenGL are the Khronos group, you can look at their membership on the Khronos website: http://www.khronos.org/members/ Right up at the top level are companies like Nvidia, AMD, Epic Games, Apple and Sony, all of whom have good reason to be interested in keeping OpenGL good for gaming. Valve, EA, Oculus and Unity are on the next tier of members down.

    • Teovald says:

      That’s a very fair point (and also true for MaxOsX : only 1/3 of my library is officially compatible, but many games (AssCreed 2, Shank 2, …) are supposed to launch but have showstopping bugs ( like known crashs at startups that have not been solved in a year).
      Let’s give a chance to Valve though, they are probably the only company able to kickstart gaming on Linux.

      • Grey Poupon says:

        Their only real power in the industry comes from Steam and they won’t be crippling themselves by dropping Windows gaming. Granted they’ve got a better chance to make it happen than most, but I think they’ll be able to step on Nintendo’s toes a bit if anything. Microsoft having XBox is too big of a deal in the gaming market. They’d need to get Steam Box to be considered a “hardcore console”.

        It’ll surely improve gaming on Linux if they do even a half decent job with it, but I really doubt it’ll be anything revolutionary.

    • InternetBatman says:

      They have an advantage by marketing this as a console. Consoles do not have to have a ton of games working at launch.

      • Aaarrrggghhh says:

        And this console already has over 100+ games working on Linux. Granted some of them are only smaller indie titles but some of them also are bigger productions. And some AAA titles like Metro:Last Light, the new Tropico or Football Manager are coming to Linux too. Paradox is also porting older titles to Linux, so the newer will most likely be available as well. For me it looks like Valve is “pushing” the smaller devs and publisher which still do AAA to AA titles to publish on Linux. And this might exactly what they need. A n exclusive library you cannot get on any other console.

      • Tom Walker says:

        The main thing I want to know is how they are going to make it compete with building an entry-level games PC and installing Ubuntu on it.

        Because that’s a system where you’re not even paying for your assembly or setup. Can they really get the hardware that much cheaper?

        • InternetBatman says:

          They can mass order parts, which’ll partially make it cheaper, and they can ameliorate some of the cost by giving steam wallet money with each purchase. Also, if you buy parts and build your own machine, they’re probably not targeting you with this.

        • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

          I’m pretty sure they’re not trying to compete with that market. The number of people with the knowledge and inclination to do that is much smaller than the number of people who want a box that plays games. And even in that market, Valve would only be losing the small slice of profit from the SteamBox, not the much larger slice they get from those people buying games on Steam.

  2. Stevostin says:

    As apparently Occuslus Rift is quite the thing I wonder if Steambox future shouldn’t rather focus on it than on a TV. I don’t have a TV (have you seen what they’re airing on it ?!) but I do consider getting myself an occulus.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Sure, I’ll grab one in a Steam sale and name it Occulus Thrift.

      • jkz says:

        I’ll get someone to buy me one for Christmas and call it Occulus Gift.

        • Rao Dao Zao says:

          I’ll nudge it a few centimetres over and that’ll be an Occulus Shift.

          • joedpa82 says:

            I’ll hook it up on my pc to play that good MMO with portal and call it Occulus Rift.

          • Koozer says:

            I’ll use mine to pan for gold and call it the Occulus Sift.

          • gunny1993 says:

            I ordered an OR but it never arrived, now i’m oculus miffed

          • InternetBatman says:

            If somebody moves mine I’ll be Oculus miffed.

            [damn]

          • darkath says:

            I’ll watch animated shorts with it an call it Occulus GIF

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            I’d wait for the rumoured Oculus Drift meant to be a freebie with Manic Miner 2018

          • belgand says:

            I hornswoggled some rubes out of theirs in a rather clever Occulus Grift.

          • edwardoka says:

            I had one but a big bully named Tannen arrived from the past in a time machine and stole it. I’ve been Oculus Biffed.

          • phuzz says:

            I had one but it smelt really bad, that’s right, my Occulus whiffed.
            In order to send it back, I had to pick it up off the floor, so I did my Occulus lift.

          • Hodge says:

            I was lucky enough to try one of the prototype ones that did experimental positional audio stuff, so it was wired for sound. You could say that I was Occulus Cliffed.

          • spleendamage says:

            If I got one for the end of each of my 8 arms: Octopus fists

          • ResonanceCascade says:

            I’ll use mine to write pamphlets for the Whigs and call it Oculus Swift.

          • thecat17 says:

            I’ll mod the device to produce smells and call it Oculus Whiffed.

          • spleendamage says:

            - Hey! The box is empty… I’ve been Oculus Stiffed!
            - I’ll tie mine up to the pier, it’s my Doculus Skiffed
            - “Oh woe is me, I’m not true HD!” my Oculus sniffed.
            - All shined up, it’s an Oculus Spiffed.
            - I’ll take it to the salon and get it Oculus Quiffed

    • Rooster says:

      Oculus Rift is great but it won’t work for everything, you’re still going to need a monitor/tv. Traditional RTS or anything text heavy for example just wouldn’t work.

    • DrScuttles says:

      Agreed, I’d rather buy an Oculus Rift than a TV. But then I’m vaguely turned on by the idea of merging with the machine consciousness and controlling robot duplicates to carry out my will and explore space and time forever.

    • frightlever says:

      I’ve got an expensive set of 7.1 headphones which sound amazing. I almost never wear them because they’re uncomfortable after a fairly short amount of time. I’m excited about the OR but I don’t expect to be doing the majority of my gaming on one.

      Also, there’s lots of good stuff on TV and it’s hard to knock watching TV/movies or even playing games while slumped on a sofa.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Sounds like you bought a pretty bad pair of headphones then, comfort is the most important part of good gaming headphones.

        • frightlever says:

          One of these:

          http://www.corsair.com/vengeance-1500-dolby-7-1-usb-gaming-headset.html

          I asked if there was a headset made out of whispers and fairy dust but they insist on using metal and plastic which are physical objects. Stupid designers.

          Oh, and it does sound great. It was a Tom’s hardware choice back in the day.

          EDIT: Also, don’t think I’m anti-OR. I’m getting one as soon as the retail version is available. But you’re nuts if you think you’ll be wearing it for hours on end.

          • gunny1993 says:

            Heh … I was actually going to get those a while back. Glad I spent the extra and got a pair of Astros XD

            And yeah, i get your point. Unless antigrav has been invented whilst I was asleep I can’t imagine the OR being great on my neck.

          • rei says:

            Well, I wouldn’t put it past Carmack.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            By any chance did they call you wingnut at school?

          • deadly.by.design says:

            I just bought a pair of Corsair 1500s last month and they have been great so far. Even better, between an Amazon sale and a leftover gift card, I got them for $28. Another friend had recommended them, and I’m happy so far. I did read that a fraction of their user base has an issue where the channels will suddenly reverse, but I’m hoping it’s just a case of sqeaky wheels on Amazon reviews.

            R.I.P., trusty Plantronics DSP 500 set whose mic stopped working on my PC. The weirdest thing is that the mic still work when they’re plugged into my wife’s laptop. I tested it on 5 or 6 different hardware setups, both PC and Mac, and the mic only works on hers. So weird. But anyway — it was an excuse to get a new headset.

      • Low Life says:

        I got a pair of AKG K701s and they’re so damn comfortable, I can wear them an entire day without any problems. But they are the first headphones I’ve had for which this is true, so those things can be a bit tiresome.

        OR, however, is entirely different, as it blocks the entire vision so you can’t do anything else than play the game. That alone will make it very situational – great for immersion, bad for extended gaming sessions. And of course it won’t be as comfortable as a good pair of headphones due to the weight distribution.

    • Bull0 says:

      Funny thing about Oculus Rift; since it’s a peripheral for gaming, it’s possible to bring it up in almost any comments thread

    • fish99 says:

      Honestly I think widespread adoption will elude VR devices for a long time. I’d be very surprised if even 1% of PC gamers pick up a Rift, and most of those who do probably won’t use it very often. I also think it’ll be hard to get a lot of publishers/developers interested in supporting the Rift because 1) they will always see consoles as their financial priority, and 2) Rift owners will always been a tiny proportion of their market.

      Taking stereo 3D as an example, there’s lots of good ways of getting stereo 3D on PC now, but the take-up by consumers has been very very slow, and hardly any developers care whether their game works correctly in 3D. And before people say ‘oh that’s because 3D gives people headaches’, remember the Rift is also stereo 3D, so it’ll have the same issues, plus potential nausea from the disorientation.

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        I bet the Rift moves a cool million units in its first year, if not more. I have a lot more faith in that than I do in the Steambox and Linux gaming becoming a major part of the market any time soon.

  3. Lobotomist says:

    Just imagine Steam takes over standardizing Linux ? Creating DirectX for Linux , making friendly user interface ?
    It would totally pay out for them…

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Don’t need DirectX. We need devs to develop for OpenGL and other open standards instead.

      • Lobotomist says:

        I said directX because i have read somewhere that you can run most PC games with some kind of directX emulator on Linux…
        Dont know if its true…

        • rustybroomhandle says:

          WINE abstracts DirextX, but all that reverse engineering is time-consuming and performance is not always great.

          • Aaarrrggghhh says:

            Not to mention that newer Wine updates also tend do break games, so you need to create a new wine “bottle” for every game. There are tools to make this easier, but it still can be a pain to use.

      • Apocalypse says:

        What is the open standard for networking? What is your open standard that replaces xinput, what replaces DirectInput api, what is your open standard in games that replaces DirectWrite, what shall replace DirectSetup

        And even for openAL which can replace direct sound, we have the problem that the open standard lacks features.
        Clearly today OpenGL is superior to direct3D. but directX is more than just direct3D.

        Non the less directX is no magic and can be replaced, hundreds of Linux games show this.

    • bstard says:

      Standard linux kernel based distro’s are not gonna happen, thats like asking to go back to a standard PC model.

  4. 1Life0Continues says:

    Wouldn’t it just take convincing developers to use OpenGL as the API instead of DirectX? Or at least support both? I mean, IIRC OpenGL is a more powerful tool that doesn’t impose restrictions on what language can call upon it, meaning much more variety in development environments. Or do I have this wrong? I’m no programmer. Not to mention, it seems Microsoft isn’t keen on PC Gamers anyway, so wouldn’t coding/porting to OpenGL make more sense profit wise?

    I look forward to seeing what VALVe can do. The walled garden Microsoft is constructing around our ears is starting to block out the sun of free computing, and I would like to break free of that ASAP.

    • FrankGrimesy says:

      Sorry, this is wrong. OpenGL is a C language API definition. It is a bit easier to port other language bindings to a C API then to the COM API used by DirectX, but this is not the problem for Linux adoption. And OpenGL is not more powerful then Direct3D (the directly comparable component of DirectX). From the feature-set they are comparable.

      On another point, the MS plattform is much more developer friendly for professional user mode programmers. You can see that at the point of ‘we need to make better debuggers’. GDB is a cruel joke. The debugger(s) in Visual Studio are such great tools. Visual Studio as an IDE is just miles ahead. And so on …
      The open source nature of components makes the Linux platform in easier to develop for (in certain parts).

      • 1Life0Continues says:

        Ah. Thank you for clearing that up for me and elaborating. As I said, I’m no programmer.

        I do hope something can be done though. Perhaps VALVe have developed a better toolset for debugging and a standardised SDK for use on their platform? That would make the most sense wouldn’t it?

        I’ll stop saying things now.

      • byteCrunch says:

        I’m sorry Visual Studio is a horrible IDE with a great debugger. Nothing wrong with GDB, it just lacks a good front end. Though Eclipse/Netbeans/DDD provide more than usable GUI wrappers around it, but to be fair if your messing around with C and afraid of using a CLI debugger what are your programming in a language like C for.

        • boe2 says:

          Having worked with all IDE’s you mentioned (except DDD): That made no sense at all. Or is it just about hating popular things?

          • byteCrunch says:

            Yes I am one of those, yep a hipster programmer. No I don’t like Visual Studio by virtue of the fact that I don’t think it is very good for the part of writing the code. But no I must not like it because it is popular.

            DDD isn’t an IDE, it is a front-end for a wide selection of debuggers.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Nothing wrong with GDB

          You have never used GDB with a multithreaded program.

        • FriendlyFire says:

          I’m sorry but that’s laughable. You can easily develop C/C++ programs without having to ever use the command line, thank you very much. It’s not because Linux is designed in such a way that not using the command line for a day is nigh impossible that it’s necessary.

          Also I find your claims of Visual Studio being a poor IDE rather unsubstantiated. I’ve used a fair few IDEs and Visual Studio easily comes out ahead. If you’re the kind of guy who’d rather use emacs or vim, then meh.

      • Mctittles says:

        I could have a program written and debugged in Code::Blocks by the time Visual Studio finished booting up.

        • fish99 says:

          4 seconds? That’s how long my Visual C++ takes to fire up.

          • chargen says:

            Visual Studio isn’t really the best place to start if you want to provide examples of Microsoft’s inferiority.

    • InternetBatman says:

      OpenGL is not the problem, it’s already looks like a value due to the fact that Android uses a modified version (and I’ve heard but can’t verify that the Sony API is a very modified version). The problem is getting all the middleware technologies to support linux. That’s things like sound and physics.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        There’s a bit of a difference between DirectX and OpenGL. I’m sure I’m not alone finding DirectX just nicer to work with. There are more debugging tools for it, they’re usually better, more stable and more accurate. I also prefer DirectX’s object oriented model to OpenGL’s C-style API, which can quickly get very messy.

        I suppose that’s to each their own, but *good* tools is what the entire opensource stack lacks.

        • InternetBatman says:

          In the speech this came from, Valve said they’re currently working on / top priority is debuggers.

  5. rustybroomhandle says:

    Gabe seems pretty certain they can solve the 1% problem. I’m very curious to see what the plan. Becoming an OEM seems to be step 1.

  6. Rooster says:

    Linux has some massive limitations as an OS for an open platform living room device. No (or extremely limited) Blu Ray or Netflix for starters.

    • gunny1993 says:

      huh? Why couldn’t Linux run Blu Ray, it’s just a DVD Format.

      • frightlever says:

        The authentication and encryption used with commercial Bluray wouldn’t be open source.

        • gunny1993 says:

          Hmmm, i’ll take your word for it.

        • Apocalypse says:

          You can use close source software just fine on Linux.
          You can use open source software just fine on windows.

          I don´t see how this is relevant, if Gabe wants he can integrate a Blu-Ray Player just fine into steam, he just have to pay about $10 per Steam installation as licence fees. In the case of a steam console this is a reasonable amount of investment. Heck, I would buy the blue-ray update for steam with pleasure for $20 if it does give me a decent working blue-ray player on my pc.

      • Werthead says:

        DVD is an open format but Blu-Ray is a propriety one, owned by a bunch of companies including Sony, Samsung and Panasonic. That’s why they had the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD wars back in 2006 or thereabouts, which Blu-Ray won. If you want to include a Blu-Ray on your machine, you need to pay the companies a whole load of cash. This is why Sony are smirking over X-Box 1 having a Blu-Ray player, as it means Microsoft has to give them a lot of money for it.

        This is also why you can’t run Blu-Rays from Windows Media Player, and why the only software that does is quite expensive (as they need to pay Sony and the other companies for it). There’s no reason you couldn’t have a Blu-Ray player for Linux, but someone would have to pay Sony and co. for it which might go against the whole Linux ethos.

        • gunny1993 says:

          Ahhh, that makes sense, thanks for the info.

        • Radwulf says:

          There is no reason why proprietary or non-free software can’t be used on a Linux operating system. Even in the Linux community only a minority are free software puritans. The main problem seems to be that the companies behind Bluray refuse to grant a licence for software on the Linux platform. I’m not sure why. Until then there is MakeMKV.

        • Apocalypse says:

          And with a lot you mean less than $10 per blu-ray player and a few double digit cent per disk.

    • frightlever says:

      Listen, that no TV guy was crazy up there, but really, who cares about Bluray?

      Netflix is on Android and pretty much anyone that actually uses a Linux PC on a day to day basis uses closed source apps and proprietary standards on it. It’s not like Steam is going to do away with its DRM.

      There’s open and there’s OPEN. I’d guess this will be open.

    • boe2 says:

      People still watch blueray then? You get a device that is capable of streaming pretty much anything and can run XBMC within Steam.

      • Nucleus says:

        Well, whats the point of having a HDTV if you’re using it to watch low-bitrate streams? Bluray format still is the most viable choice for home video if you care about quality.

        • Strabo says:

          Didn’t hurt he XBox 360 much that it didn’t have a Blu-Ray player. Really, a decent Blu-Ray player costs 70-100 € and will be easier and faster to use than a Steam Box doing the same thing on the side. Not to mention that the majority of people who don’t really need Blu-Ray functionality would have to pay for the license and the drive for nothing. Because games obviously won’t be installed over a optical drive with something that’s a Steam box. It’s different for XBox One and PS4, which use the drive for the game discs.

          • FriendlyFire says:

            People bought the 360 as a game console. I’ve almost never seen anyone using it as a video player; for that, they’d either stuck with their old DVD player or got a PS3.

      • Werthead says:

        Of course they do. Blu-Ray is true 1080p, has lossless sound and can also include 3D and, in the future, is still big enough to take 4K images (which is why, along with the likely inevitable move to digital only, there is no likely successor format on the horizon).

        Digital downloads will reach that stage eventually, but it’s still years off. Right now they’re at the ‘okay’ level, but audio/video quality is not up to Blu-Ray standards.

        • InternetBatman says:

          What you meant to say was that streaming will eventually reach that point, downloads are already at that point. And that puts physical media in a weird place. People have to care more about quality than waiting, but have to care enough about waiting so that they would rather buy a special piece of hardware and take thirty minutes to go buy a physical copy than wait an hour to download a few gigs.

          That doesn’t sound like a huge market or much of a gamechanger.

        • hungrytales says:

          Who the fuck needs Blue Ray anyway?

          • dE says:

            Going by local media stores, not a whole lot of people. There are entire shelves filled with DVDs for dozens of meters. And then there’s a tiny box somewhere off in the corner with a few Blue Rays that might as well have a sign up that reads “we’re sorry we exist”.

          • Werthead says:

            Anyone who cares about watching movies and TV shows at a high visual quality.

            Sure, if you don’t care about quality you can stick with DVDs. But it always baffles me when I see people with big, quality 42″+ HD TVs with a ten-year-old DVD player stuck underneath.

            As for market share, most visual effects-heavy films and TV shows now sell more than 50% of their copies on Blu-Ray (GAME OF THRONES’s first season blew threw the 50% barrier for the first time for a TV show, which was a big moment in Blu-Ray sales). US market share of households with Blu-Ray players (or PS3s) also reached 60 million (out of 120 million households) earlier this year, meaning 50% penetration. Blu-Ray player prices have now switched to near-parity with cheap DVD players, meaning there is no longer any real cost reason to buying DVD players at all, and I’d expect to see them phased out in the next few years as obsolete technology. DVD sales still remain high (though dropping), however, because there’s a lot of titles where people don’t care about visual quality. You’d definitely want THE HOBBIT on Blu-Ray but probably not a HANGOVER movie or a romcom. There’s also a lot of older stuff that is only available on DVD.

            As for the anecdotal evidence, that’s interesting but my local HMV has now dedicated about 30% of its disc section to Blu-Rays, which is tracking with the ones I’ve seen elsewhere. The fact that even the supermarkets now have their big standees at the front of the store for the latest big release (IRON MAN 3 last week, FAST AND FURIOUS 6 this) divided 50/50 between the two formats is also rather telling, I think.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Steambox doesn’t have any optical media at all for hardware reasons (cheaper, less heat). Netflix is more of an issue, but they wrote an app for every other console, so this could push them over.

      • chargen says:

        You don’t know what the Steambox is yet, Batman. I hope you are thinking of that little overpriced cubey-thing that those scammers tried to pass off as a “Steam Box”.

        • InternetBatman says:

          GabeN has talked about how hard it was to convince vendors to not include optical media in the past.

    • Lemming says:

      Well the blu-ray issue is moot, as this will almost certainly be a digital media-only affair. And as for Netflix, well there are other services that do the same thing they do. Regardless, I think this is predominantly about a gaming platform, rather than an all-in-one media hub.

  7. Radiant says:

    “We’re going to bridge the gap between the couch and the pc by making you buy another pc!”

    Gabe y u do dis?

    • frightlever says:

      Logic dictates they build the PC into the couch, then you’d only need to buy a new couch. Which will be an easier conversation for most husbands to have.

      • Radiant says:

        That would never work.
        Subconsciously unplugging the couch would be the first thing I’d do before plugging in the hoover.

        Also would I need to family share my steam library with the couch?

        So now not only do I have a new pc and a new couch I also have a new brother.

        Three new things that need to take up my precious hdmi inputs.

  8. Balanuir says:

    Frankly, until they have solved their customer service issue, I won’t touch such a thing with a 10-foot-pole.

    Being locked out of your purchased games on the PC sucks a ton, but you almost certainly have other games you didn’t buy via Steam that you can play during the MONTH or so it takes their completely clueless tech support to sort it out. IF they do that at all.

    But having your living room shut down and no reasonable expectation of a fix? Yeah, sure. Not going to happen, Valve. As long as the BBB gives you a massively deserved F rating, anyone who buys this must be an utter imbecile.

    • baby snot says:

      From earlier reports I was under the impression the hardware wont be locked, you can chuck whatever OS and software you want on it.

      • eisbehr says:

        Gaben said in an interview (I think the verge exclusive one) that the official Steambox will be “more controlled”, probably more like a traditional console. While other manufacturers are free to make theirs as open as they want.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Valve are not a paying member of the BBB — they don’t get the benefits of “quick ratings clearance” that so many other larger companies enjoy. As much as I personally think Valve deserve an F rating, you have to take their non-membership status into consideration when it comes to critiquing them in that area.

  9. melnificent says:

    Put in Qjoypad and it’s compatible with every game that has linux support… admittedly it’s not the ideal way to play some games, but it’s a start.

  10. Werthead says:

    I always thought the ‘mini living room PC’ route was interesting but ultimately futile: as tried several times (including on RPS a few months back), it’s difficult to impossible to make a good, small PC for a cheap price which retains the benefits of PC customisability and expansions.

    A more productive line of enquiry would surely be some kind of streaming device which is able to transfer images from your main PC elsewhere in the house to the TV, and transfer control inputs back all at an imperceptible lag.

    • Radiant says:

      Exactly. Too many companies trying to stream games from a data centre to the tv but damn it I have a games machine I’ve named “tiny god” in the other bloody room.
      Stream from there please thanks.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      Steam beat you to it ;o)

    • hungrytales says:

      Every time I read this on RPS I can’t comprehend how come nobody heard it’s already there. Kainy (http://www.kainy.com/). You’re welcome.

    • Morte66 says:

      My PC is in another room. I have 5m DVI-D + USB cables running into the lounge for monitor/peripherlas. Presto, invisible and silent PC.

      I gather Windows 8.1 is going to support wireless monitors…

  11. Metalhead9806 says:

    People are getting hung up on this Linux support… honestly Valve is just selling you the hardware. You can easily load up Windows on this thing and install Steam just like you would a normal PC.

    I’m less interested in the box itself than i am the peripheral designs Valve has come up with as a Controller and wireless keyboard/mouse solution that i can use on my sofa has always been my biggest hurdle when taking the PC into the living room.

    • InternetBatman says:

      It’s probably just gonna be analog based. Think about the typing in big picture mode.

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  12. aliksy says:

    My apartment is already set up so the PC is in the main room, and I could play from the couch if i really wanted to. I am not the target audience for this stuff.

    • Frank says:

      Ditto. I don’t mind having my PC within wiring distance of a TV and don’t expect that to change. Fewer computers in my home ftw.

      • MacTheGeek says:

        My HTPC exists because I didn’t want to repurpose my PC, or my wife’s PC, or either of our laptops. I live by the code of “more computers FTW”.

  13. waltC says:

    Newell is really waxing strange in his latter years. OK, so he’s speaking to a Linux group and trying instill the troops with a modicum of hope, and he makes mention of a mysterious something-to-do-with-Linux that he will be revealing “next week” sometime. S’ ok, why not just go ahead announce it now a week early at this Linux gathering? Hello?

    But he can’t because he doesn’t really know what it is! Yet. Huh?

    • iniudan says:

      Pretty sure he just announcing new announcement next week due to the fact, that video game related news are usually not keeping an eye on something like LinuxCon. Now, due to this announcement, most gaming and hardware news site will be keeping an eye on Gaben next week.

    • Werthead says:

      This is the New Thing: having an announcement which pre-announces the announcement for the following week, or a trailer for a trailer coming the following fortnight.

      Soon we will have announcements for trailers which trail announcements announcing the actual trailer.

  14. wodin says:

    A cloud system box most likely..one that will stifle future tech development and our hardware will slow to a crawl as it wont be upgradeable as our good old PC’s..sounds great?

  15. pupsikaso says:

    I just wish it’s not going to be some kind of “gaming” 3D TV.

  16. JP says:

    Everyone’s assuming they’re going to talk about the box itself, but my guess is they’re going to talk about a controller.

    Writing this down now so I can be smug about it later.