Steam Machines: Valve Announce Hardware

By Adam Smith on September 25th, 2013 at 6:01 pm.

Following the SteamOS announcement on Monday, time has been ticking away, as it has a tendency to do, and we now find ourselves on the farside of Valve’s second announcement. It’s a Steam-powered Box! A group of them, to be more precise. And, boy, am I glad it is, because I wrote this pre-jump section of the post an hour ago, having spent the day polishing my crystal ball. If, like Brad Pitt, you want to know what’s in the frickin’ box, join me below for a brief tour.

Everytime I write SteamOS, I imagine a terrible breakfast cereal.

Anyway, on with the show.

So, what is in the box? We don’t actually know yet because there will be several to choose from.

Entertainment is not a one-size-fits-all world. We want you to be able to choose the hardware that makes sense for you, so we are working with multiple partners to bring a variety of Steam gaming machines to market during 2014, all of them running SteamOS.

Three hundred lucky people will get to fight in the shade test out prototype versions of the Steam Machine and can do so by following the instructions at Valve’s new page.

While these products are still in development, we need your help. As always, we believe the best way to ensure that the right products are getting made is to let people try them out and then make changes as we go. We have designed a high-performance prototype that’s optimized for gaming, for the living room, and for Steam. Of course, it’s also completely upgradable and open.

To be in with a chance, you’ll need to follow the instructions before October 25th.

Exciting? I reckon it is. But is it a PC? What’s inside?

We’ll tell you more about it soon. Remember, there will ultimately be several boxes to choose from, with an array of specifications, price, and performance.

Thanks! I guess it’s locked down to SteamOS though and you’ll arrest me if I fiddle with it in any way? Oh. There’s a FAQ question for that.

Can I hack this box? Run another OS? Change the hardware? Install my own software? Use it to build a robot?

Sure.

Prototypes will ship this year and the Machines themselves, with a range of specs and from a range of manufacturers, will be released from 2014 onwards. One of those, from what I can gather, will be based on the prototype and built by Valve themselves.

We’re conducting a beta of the overall Steam living-room experience, so we needed to build prototype hardware on which to run tests. At Valve we always rely on real-world testing as part of our design process. The specific machine we’re testing is designed for users who want the most control possible over their hardware. Other boxes will optimize for size, price, quietness, or other factors.

Interesting times. Friday’s announcement, the final of the batch, may well be to do with input devices rather than bundled games.

…Steam and SteamOS work well with gamepads, too. Stay tuned, though – we have some more to say very soon on the topic of input.

Virtual reality? Or maybe motion control is back!

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184 Comments »

  1. Anthile says:

    So it continues.

    • dangermouse76 says:

      Also dangermouse76 if you wanna add me on steam you need 10 friends minimum, sorry to barge in on your post sir or madam. Love the suit !

    • SuicideKing says:

      Has anyone read about this leak on 4chan? No? Take a peek, was out quite a few hours ago.

      • cunningmunki says:

        It looks legit until you get to the bit about Friday’s reveal being Source 2, which is contrary to today’s comment about the next announcement being an ‘input’ device. Plus, Source 2 doesn’t fit the ‘living room’ theme of the reveals, really. Unless all that’s just to throw us off the scent, of course.

        A game bundled with NVidia cards, eh? Be still my beating Half <3

        • Deadly Sinner says:

          He also said that they were releasing a reference design, when Valve only revealed the fact that they are working on custom hardware.

          • bills6693 says:

            Also, more minor, he said that ‘You are free to build an 800 pound machine’ according to the article. Yet in the US, where Valve and I thought all its core employees are, I seem to recall some kind of rebellion and some kufuffle about having dollars or something like that.

            Did silly imposter forget which country they were suppost to be in? Of course it could be a british valve employee in the UK but that seems unlikely. I don’t even think they have an office in the UK.

          • jrodman says:

            I am a dumbo; I read “800 pound machine” like “800 pound gorilla”. Which is not its price, incidentally.

          • Low Life says:

            Are you telling me I’ve set my gorilla funding target way too low?

          • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

            @Low Life: A classic mistake. Most gorilla funding attempts can barely cover a chimpanzee, or at best, an orangutan. The trick is to take your first gorilla estimate and then add a gibbon; Even then many find they have accidentally funded a baboon, which is a rookie mistake of the highest order.

        • kael13 says:

          The thing is, it was right about the hardware announcement.

          • jamesgecko says:

            We’ve known about the steambox hardware thing for months and months, though. There wasn’t really any new information in today’s announcement, just official confirmation.

      • jrodman says:

        <pedant> peek. </pedant>

      • SuicideKing says:

        Hey, take a chill pill peeps.

        I just thought it was worth a look. Nvidia’s pretty much confirmed that it’s their tech being used to stream, so that’s another thing the leaker (lol) got right.

  2. Njordsk says:

    Still trying to figure an application for what they’ve shown other than trying to annoy sony & crosoft.

    • Stochastic says:

      I’m guessing they’re pushing this initiative because 1) they want to bring PC gaming to the living room for the mainstream and 2) Valve don’t want to be limited by Windows’ push towards creating their own walled garden/app store. This could also help make PC gaming slightly more affordable and accessible.

      I’m just happy that we’re moving away from being so dependent on Microsoft and DirectX. The smartphone market has shown us what happens when consumers have more than one choice.

        • airmikee99 says:

          You really think phones today are shittier than they were 10 years ago?

          Did you just barely start using phones yesterday?

          • bills6693 says:

            I don’t have a smartphone. I love my nokia to bits. No colour on the screen (well, the green backlit screen is technically one colour) and no camera. But I don’t need a camera, or music, or e-mails or anything on my phone, and it is a lot smaller than a smartphone (not some wide, tall touchscreen, no mater how slim), its battery lasts a week, it refuses to break no matter how many times I accidentally drop it/soak it/hit it.

            I know I am in the minority – and a very extreme minority for my age group, too – but I just love my phone. I have an ipod touch (2nd gen) and to be honest, I only use it for music and to read the news. I just don’t find it very useful, even if it were to be a phone too, since it has a much shorter battery life, many more failing points (freezes, crashes, etc), and is just too large to have me want to take it anywhere.

            I feel I don’t need pointless games and apps to do random things with me at all times. If someone e-mail me they don’t need an instant reply, and the same on facebook. And I’d rather have my phone, which I like to have since I can go away for a long weekend without a charger, is small and durable, and doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg for a contract.

          • drewski says:

            That’s all fair enough, but it doesn’t mean mobile telephony has “gone to shit”. Of course, it’s impossible to see where phones would be if Android hadn’t been created to compete with Apple, but I find it difficult to believe a Jobsian monopoly would be better for consumers than the proliferation of fast, cheap, powerful Android phones.

          • Ninja Foodstuff says:

            I meant with respect to the app stores, not the hardware.

        • airmikee99 says:

          So the app stores went to shit after customers were given more than one choice? I still don’t follow how that makes any sense at all. What’s your basis for comparison?

    • thecrazymunchkin says:

      Makes perfect sense to try and get market share from consoles; obviously steam is miles ahead of PSN / Xbox marketplace, and in theory the boxes should be just as upgradeable as PCs. Makes less sense if they’re trying to preach to the PC crowd. I’d rather move my PC to the TV / use a massive HDMI cable than fork out the same money again that I’ve spent on the computer, for probably less useability

      • kekstee says:

        I guess people who invest a ton of money in their PC setup are not really the target audience for a living room console-HTPC. But just think of all the people who do own a laptop, big TV and console to game casually. That’s the bigger market and what they are after.

        • thecrazymunchkin says:

          That’s my point – assuming that the key stuff is in place (decent price / performance / looks etc.), it’ll do well. I know that if I were on console, looking towards ‘next-gen’, then this would definitely be top of my list in terms of things to check out. However, I can’t really justify paying £400+ on something that’ll ultimately be at best on par with my current PC, and I’d wager that quite a lot of the current non-casual PC gaming community will be in roughly the same place. There’s also other stuff to consider – FPSs (mainly CS / Battlefield) constitute a large part of what I play. That’s just not possible on a sofa, provided we don’t see something miraculous for what we’re assuming is the controller announcement in a couple days.

          Having said all that, steam OS is really interesting to me, especially if the performance increases are as dramatic as they’re hinting

          • cunningmunki says:

            I play FPS from my sofa. Controller in left hand, mouse in right. Gives me terrible ‘mouse-shoulder’ though.

        • bills6693 says:

          Right. I’m a person who owns a laptop, not a desktop. I don’t have a big TV or a console, but I would like a better computer to game on. I’d certianly consider this if the price was reasonable – say a £400 box with good specs – although I feel its a bit optimistic.

          But ultimately no, its not current PC gamers, or at least its not hardcore PC gamers with decent rigs, that are the target. The target is probably twofold – console gamers, and PC gamers that have low-end machines. If they can provide a higher end machine for owners of crappy laptops or desktops, for a reasonable price – which has been for the longest time the biggest barrier to owning a good device for many people – then you could see a lot of uptake there too.

          Heck, if it were £4-500 for a good machine, better than one I could build myself for that (after all, standardised and produced in bulk, possibly subsidised by steam) I might buy one and just plug it into a monitor and use it with a KB+M. If this offers me better value than building my own desktop, I could see myself easily going down this route. They’d have to work hard to do that, however. The price point will, I think, be their biggest barrier in this entire endeavour.

          • Volcanu says:

            You’ve pretty much summed up my thoughts on a Steam Box.

            I have to say I struggle to see how they will achieve a competitively priced prodcut that delivers comparable power and optimisation to the next gen consoles, when its being built and sold by third party hardware manufacturers. Microsoft and Sony sell their consoles at a small loss and then make their money from a long tail of software sales.

            Im interested in this for sure- my laptop allows for ‘casual’ PC gaming and I’ve been flirting for a while with the idea of getting back into serious PC gaming but am somewhat hesitant to spend £1,000+ on a decent desktop set up

          • bills6693 says:

            Right.

            The one thing that might happen is that perhaps Valve will actually subsidise these machines. I mean, you’ll still be buying valve games on them. For which they get 30%, so think how much money valve makes of every single gamer, even ones like me that tend to stick to on-sale 75% off games. And valve strikes me as the sort of company to do that, play that even longer term game.

            Also, you’ll be buying there awesome controller/input device they are announcing tomorrow. Possibly several of them (if you are a console convert, and want a machine you can use to sit and play with friends).

            But yes, they will probably struggle to maintain a competitive price. Although honestly I’d be happy to pay the same or even slightly more for a steambox than a PS4 when I can use my whole steam library on it!

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Valve know many, many steam customers also own consoles. Valve know these people own consoles because they are not getting all their gaming needs met through PC gaming alone. Valve know that if you own a console, you are presumably spending money with people who aren’t Valve to buy games. Valve want to meet that unmet need so that you spend more money with them.

      Fin.

      • ocelot113 says:

        Almost Fin. Their ultimate goal is to get a majority of gamers on their boxes; notice box”es”. They flood the market with gaming systems in an attempt to split the 3 giants (Nintendo, MS, Sony) player base. If they can get more on their lets say 3-5 consoles that run Steam OS, developers will begin to build games primarily for SteamOS (Linux). When that happens people will scream for SteamOS on the 3 current giants platforms and then, Valve wins. Well, we all win. No more exclusivity, no more first party holdouts. All games on all boxes, because they are all running a uniform OS, plus “cross-platform” SteamOS consoles and SteamOS PC’s.

        Right out of the gate this will be an appealing proposition for developers as making a game on SteamOS will cater to 2 markets at once, when the SteamOS takes root on PC and several consoles.

        • Devan says:

          Appealing for developers, perhaps. But first-party will not be willing to give up the control they have no matter how much customers ask for it.

          • ocelot113 says:

            If it means they go out of business they will. It’s the LONG term goal, might never happen, but I’d imagine dismantling the titans exclusivity is a part of the “freeing gaming” that Gabe Newell preaches. The properties currently owned by MS and Sony, you are right, will go to the grave with them but frankly, this strategy is freeing devs to not have to go exclusive in order to get their games to the masses. I would imagine that may be enough for future titles to stay away from signing exclusivity deals.

        • waltC says:

          My favorite quote, and the one I thought the most telling of them all:

          “I’m pretty happy with my PC Gaming setup, do I have to buy a new piece of hardware now?

          No. Everything that we’ve been doing on Steam for the last 10 years will continue to move forward.

          Of course it will, and developers will continue to develop games for Windows at the rate of at least 100-1 over “SteamOS.” (This might be a tad optimistic for Steam OS.) If Valve for any reason shut down “business as usual” the company would be filing Chapter 11 in a year, maybe less.

          It will be very interesting to see what Valve can do with a Valve OS, however. I have to imagine that doing a SteamOS will be a task an order of magnitude more intricate and complex than developing Half-Life 3. (Which I would kind of like to see.)

          Wanted to add, what do you think SteamOS will be? Based on what Valve’s already done so far, my guess is that it will be Ubuntu 12.03+ with a colorful and dramatic Valve-themed front end.

          Had to edit again to add this quote which I didn’t see originally:

          “What games will be available during the beta?

          The nearly 3,000 games on Steam. Hundreds already running natively on the SteamOS, with more to come. The rest will work seamlessly via in-home streaming.

          OK, that settles it–it’s Unbuntu 12.03+ with a Valve-themed UI, and I would imagine some Valve tweaks to OpenGL. Do you see the marvelous duplicity in this Q&A? First Valve says “nearly 3,000″ Steam games in answer to the question of how many Steam games will be available during testing, but then backtracks completely to whittle the real answer down to “hundreds of games” (read: their present cache of Ubuntu 12.03+-compatible Linux games) with “the rest” of the 3,000 games playable on Steam OS only via “in-home streaming.” (Translated: you still have to have a Windows PC to access the vast majority of Steam games–whether you stream to SteamBox or you don’t.)

          Again, I wish Gabe would wrap his mind around HL3 instead of trying to do whatever it is he’s trying to do…;)
          As usual with Gabe-isms, clarity is in short supply, unfortunately.

          • Lemming says:

            Is it really duplicitous though? This is just the first step. Once people are buying the things and actually using them, you get more developers on board and that drives more linux compatibility, with SteamOS at the forefront. What works in SteamOS isn’t going to be a million miles away from any other Linux distro.

            If Valve are happy to put their nuts on the line, then that all but seals Linux’s fate as a viable gaming platform. It’s not as if they were ever going to use Ubuntu Desktop or Mint for a living room set up is there? What the punter doesn’t know is going on behind the glossy front, will be the parts the Linux hardcore will be reaping the benefits of.

          • drewski says:

            I don’t think it’s duplicitous at all – they’re being pretty up front about the fact Steam titles will mostly be available through streaming, not native SteamOS support.

            Let’s face it, the majority of people who buy this thing will already have Windows based machines of some description. They’re not targetting the Wii market of grannies and Mums here.

      • zain3000 says:

        I don’t think they’ll actually base thier OS on Ubuntu LTS. Seeing as how an OS like this would require rock-solid stability (not a dig at Ubuntu, just a fact) I’ve heard others surmise that it could be based on Debian. All conjecture at this point, I add… we’ll know more when they release the OS (and source code).

    • Marik Bentusi says:

      - console-like prebuilt with all PC advantages (especially openness as they like to repeat) for people looking for new hardware for the next gen
      - upcoming hardware announcement that might actually be interesting to people that already own a PC, such as a biofeedback sensor coated controller feeding the L4D3 Director that can be bundled with SteamMachines for relatively cheap in 2014

      • fish99 says:

        The SteamBox itself doesn’t have all the advantages of a (windows) PC though, because without also owning a windows PC to stream from it can’t play >90% of games currently on Steam, it can only run the few hundred with Linux support. It also can’t run most of the vast library of windows software.

        • frymaster says:

          the vast library of windows software bit doesn’t really matter, since I’m not planning on using Word in my living room regardless of it it’ll run

          I agree that Linux has less games, and I don’t think streaming will totally cut it (though you could buy a steam box and install windows on it). However, a lot of the games that DO have a Linux version are the arcade-style indies that lend themselves well to the console. I’m not going to play total war in my living room either; I might just play The Chaos Engine…

          • fish99 says:

            I can assure you lots of people use more windows software than just Word :) I regularly use Ableton Live, Unity, Visual Studio, 3DSMax, Photoshop etc (I’m guessing most of those don’t work on Linux but honestly I don’t know, Visual Studio surely doesn’t though). And I also play a ton of games that don’t work on Linux.

            The only point I’m making here is that it can’t be claimed that a SteamBox has all the advantages of a Windows PC, it clearly doesn’t. TBH the way Valve are describing it, SteamOS doesn’t even sound like a fully featured OS, it sounds more like a linux shell running only Steam. Until they give some actual details who knows though.

          • uh20 says:

            there is “enough” software to fulfill a user, they just go under different names.
            libreoffice is your office-stuff, krita is your photoshoop/painter, blender is your 3d modeling, kdenlive is your video editing, code::blocks for scripting, etc.
            practially all the software is free, which is nice to know, but they still lack a little bit of the robustness of their counterparts, as well as there being a few windows apps that dont have a linux version yet.

            i dont think there is any good music studio set up yet, however there is ubuntu studio that sets up several apps and sort of morphs them into a full studio

          • drewski says:

            “SteamOS doesn’t even sound like a fully featured OS, it sounds more like a linux shell running only Steam.”

            I agree, but I don’t see how that’s a problem for their target market. It sounds like it’s designed to be part of a networked content system.

        • Lemming says:

          More will follow sooner than you think, and don’t forget this is linux. People will make their own software for it. I can foresee a whole bunch of emulators for older console games turning up.

    • Reapy says:

      Announcement 3 == PS4 using Steam as distribution platform! I’m calling it!

      • airmikee99 says:

        Why would Sony allow one of their biggest competitors in terms of digital distribution onto their platform?

        • Apocalypse says:

          Why they allowed them to publish Steam on the PS3?

          • airmikee99 says:

            I guess I just see a huge difference between putting Steam on the PS3 and letting people purchase games through it, and putting Steam on the PS3 to let people buy 2 games from it. Last I checked, only Portal 2 and CS:GO are on PS3 Steam, hardly worth mentioning, considering that accounts to less than 0.0000001% of Steams library.

          • Apocalypse says:

            0.07% ;-)

    • fish99 says:

      For me, already owning a PC, a desk and very comfy office chair, and preferring mouse/keyboard in most games, there basically is no application for any of this stuff. I don’t even want to play games in the living room, and TBH I don’t see why Valve are obsessed with moving PC gamers into the living room where the PC will have to fight over access to the TV with the rest of the family (who don’t want to sit watching you play Skyrim for 300 hrs).

      A big TV at normal viewing distance takes up way less of your vision than a monitor sat at a desk anyway.

      • belgand says:

        Well, for one thing I have a much, much better sound system in my living room. My PC has a decent little set of Logitech 4.1 speakers that I’ve had since ’02 or so, but my living room has several thousands of dollars worth of audio equipment. There’s also the issue that for games with local multiplayer crowding around the PC is a bad idea. And local multiplayer is great for smaller, casual games that you play with friends and significant others. Rather than everyone bringing over their high-end PC or just staying at home and playing online (which is almost as much of a hassle as just meeting up in person) you can just sit down and play from a single copy of the game.

        I was a PC-only gamer for a very long period of time, but I came back into owning consoles about a decade ago for various reasons. There are certain scenarios where they still make sense. Sadly, a big one of those is being able to play exclusives that aren’t on PC and Steam isn’t going to be able to crack that yet. For the time being a PC and a Playstation still make the most sense for maximum gaming options.

        • fish99 says:

          Well, everyone’s different and everyone enjoys gaming in a slightly different way. For me I play late at night, so headphones are a must (I have some nice Sennheisers), and I wanna be immersed in my games, so that means being away from the distractions of other people, usually in the dark, preferably using 3D Vision (nvidias stereo 3D glasses), and at a desk using a mouse and keyboard. To me that’s gaming nirvana.

          Other people would rather be sat on the couch with their mates drinking beer, or sat with their girlfriend while she pretends to be interested :) It’s all good.

          As for multiplayer, it’s either LAN, or we have the consoles for split screen.

      • Lemming says:

        Think of it instead as a driving force for making Linux gaming viable. The more that happens, the less likely you are to be tied to Windows for everything.

      • bills6693 says:

        Well honestly, I don’t think they are.

        I think they are trying to target two audiences here, and those two audiences are not the current hardcore PC gamers with cool rigs.

        Firstly they are targeting console gamers. They are trying to grab them before they invest hundreds of pounds in new next-gen consoles, too – otherwise I suspect the announcement would have come later, with more details, but they have rushed it to grab those who have not yet pre-ordered but will probably buy a next-gen console.

        Second, they are targeting those with low-end PCs & laptops who want to game on PCs but there is too high a price barrier for them to get a proper gaming rig. They might actually be providing a cheaper, effective gaming machine, that you can use your steam games and steam on. I fall into this category. I might consider buying a current-gen console (esp with plummeting prices with next-gen) if it weren’t for the fact that I can’t use my steam library and get games at awesome prices on them. This steambox thing might be perfect for me, if they can give a good price for good performance.

        I think the confusion arises because those that are most interested in these announcements ARE the hardcore PC gamers, but those are also the ones least affected by it, and least likely to be buying anything like this.

        Perhaps the friday announcement on input methods will be more relevant to core gamers, but SteamOS and steambox are not.

    • Buffer117 says:

      At the minute I have a good PC in an offfice room and a PS3 in the livingroom. I spend majority of my time playing on the PC in the office room, 95%+ games I own are on PC, and if a game is cross platform I always buy the PC version as it’s usually A) Cheaper B) Better. I have the PS3 for it’s exclusives and for the sociable non online element it provides playing two player couch games.

      I’m loving this idea and I will get one. The strategy and FPS games I have on PC I will always choose to play them in front of it, but actually there are a load of games I use a controller for that in all honestly I’d rather be sitting in front of my expensive TV on the couch playing but I bought them on PC. Franchises like Batman, Dirt, FIFA, NBA, AC etc. maybe I’d even include GTA in that. Plus loads of cool idie platform titles like Mark of the Ninja, Limbo etc.

      All those games look better powered by my PC but I would rather they were on my TV than the monitor without a 20m HDMI cable or rearranging my house. Thats my two cents and thats why as a die hard PC Gamer first and foremost I will be getting one.

      The only worry I have is when Microsoft went into the console market they seemed to lose any focus they had for PC gaming, I hope Valve continue to support PC gaming in its entirety if this is a success and not focus solely on their SteamOS platform.

    • SuicideKing says:

      I wish I could do something that annoys M$…

  3. Stochastic says:

    At the bottom of the page, Valve writes, “we have some more to say very soon on the topic of input.” Could this be Friday’s announcement? Speculate away!

    Also, nice job polishing your crystal ball, Adam.

    • otzenGulasch says:

      Very likely. In the Hardware betatest agreement it also says “developed and produced prototypes [..] including a set-top box running custom software and a game controller”

    • cunningmunki says:

      God I hope its that controller they patented. I would kill (spiders) for one of those.

    • darkChozo says:

      Instead of using a traditional controller, the Steambox will be controlled by feeding money into the mouth of a life-size rendering of Gabe Newell’s head. Valve’s research into biometrics will be leveraged to allow the Gabemote to sense fear.

    • Viroso says:

      No. Let me explain you why.
      http://store.steampowered.com/livingroom/

      First picture

      ()

      That was the OS.

      Second picture

      [() ]

      OS boxed in, that’s the hardware

      Third picture

      ()+()

      So mysterious. Analog sticks? Breasts? No, all wrong. What do those circles look like? Could they maybe look like DISCS?! Two of them. TWO DISCS. What Valve game never got a sequel, that game with a bunch of discs everywhere.

      That’s right. Friday the Internet explodes.

      • realitysconcierge says:

        I know you’re being silly, but shouldn’t it be OS + OS?

        • Stochastic says:

          I was just thinking that. Hmmm…

          As an aside, has anyone here ever actually played Ricochet?

          • Viroso says:

            I did once. All servers were empty save for one that had two bots. Just two bots fighting each other forever, and they’re still fighting right now as we speak.

          • Synesthesia says:

            The winners of the potato sack pack had impromptu sessions of ricochet. Fun times! Maybe we can get a rock paper ricochet group going?

          • Smashbox says:

            @ Viroso

            That’s my new favorite image ever. For real

        • 2Ben says:

          Surely you don’t mean…. no… not.. a Beowulf cluster of SteamBoxes !

      • phuzz says:

        Yup, I called that the other day in an email to a mate.
        Ricochet 2 FTW!

      • vivlo says:

        well, all we needed to know about those 3 announcement is that… there are 3 announcements. 3. Does that 3 ring a bell ? Hmmmmmmmmmmm ??

        • darkChozo says:

          I think that means that the last announcement will never be made.

          (joke stolen with respect from some Kotaku commenter, wherever you may be)

    • muffinmonkey says:

      The o+o is a standard gamepad, tennerbets. Look at the SNES style controller on the floor in the picture, it looks like that. I’m not saying that the gamepad they release on Friday will look like that, just that’s what I bet the symbol is.

      As for everything else, I think this is the best thing we could have hoped for. It’s exactly what Yahtzee was talking about in this article, turning consoles from religious icons kindly granting you access to games into DVD players:
      http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/extra-punctuation/10127-The-Upcoming-And-Pointless-Console-War.2

      I think it will be interesting to see how closely Valve control these things (if at all). My PC hating “friends” often claim that they like consoles because everyone has the same hardware, will this please them or will it just look like another gaming PC in disguise? Time will tell.

      • Gamboni says:

        I initially thought gamepad too, before () turned out to be SteamOS. Now I’m thinking we’ve established that () means software, as today’s announcement was [ () ] i.e. software inside a hardware box. So that would make () + () two pieces of software. My money is on two game announcements on Friday.

      • SuicideKing says:

        Plus they’ll “talk about input very soon”…

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Hoping so very very hard that they announce this bad boy.

        There’s been a couple of studies showing that gamepad-with-trackball, after a short adaptation period, is just as effective as mouse-and-keyboard. I’ve been wanting one for ages–mouse precision with gamepad convenience, best of both words!–but every time someone tries to bring one to market, everyone moans about how it looks too confusing and they don’t get enough preorders/Kickstarters/whatever to fund the initial run. Valve has the money to just go ahead and make the damn thing for the SteamBox, with the modular sticks for gamepad fans and a keyboard-and-mouse option for old PC gamers. Once it’s out there and people are using and reviewing it, I think it’ll explode.

        And even if it doesn’t explode, at least I’ll finally have one.

  4. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    “We are doing what you expected us to do for many years.

    We have no other details at this time.”

    *crickets*

  5. pilouuuu says:

    I love this especially for the fact that Microsoft has been doing everything to doom PC gaming. Hopefully Valve will make a great deal of money with this and Microsoft will notice they have been missing out for not supporting gaming as they should.

    And hopefully Valve knows that for making their system successful they simply need to make Half-Life 3 a Steam OS exclusive game.

    • Horg says:

      ”And hopefully Valve knows that for making their system successful they simply need to make Half-Life 3 a Steam OS exclusive game.”

      That would imply that Valve wanted to migrate their PC customers to the Steam box, instead of carve a niche in the console gamer market. I don’t think they will want to hurt their already profitable, and primary, PC business by depriving the platform of HL3. The objective is probably to attract new Steam users rather than screw with existing ones.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      I would love to see MS eat shit as much as anyone but i cant see anyone cancelling their pre ordered xbone (or ps4) so I doubt its gonna hurt them that much. I think the ppl who want consoles will still buy em but a different crowd of ppl will want these.

    • darkChozo says:

      My guess is that Valve won’t release an exclusive game for the SteamMachineBox, at least not one from an existing series. That would alienate way too many people that currently support their core business.

      What they may well do is to release either a feature or a new game built around a feature that is in some way tied to the SteamBox. Say, if they do the whole biometric controller thing, they might release a spooooky game that changes based on how scared you are, and make it a SteamMachine exclusive.

      That, and some TF2 hats. No points for guessing that they’ll put out nouveau-earbuds for this.

    • varangian says:

      Making HL3 (if that’s what’s coming) a SteamOS exclusive would be the dumbest thing Valve could do as it would merely have them doing what Microsoft/Sony do by trying to force people to buy hardware just to get to play a particular game. Something that pisses many people off. HL3 may be a big deal for many of us but on its own it wouldn’t get that many people rushing out to buy a SteamBox. A smarter move would be to release it for all platforms but out compete the opposition by making it less expensive on SteamOS/Linux (which it should be anyway as there’s no licensing to pay) and have the SteamBox(es) as capable but cheaper than their console equivalents. Which will be the trickier thing to pull off but by no means impossible.

      • Rikard Peterson says:

        SteamOS exclusives is not only dumb – it’s also contrary to how Steam has been dealing with multiplatform games and SteamPlay. Buy once, and play it on any platforms. I have hopes that this’ll only be a good thing, and encourage multi-platform (Windows+Mac+Linux) PC games.

      • Sharlie Shaplin says:

        Maybe it will be more like “Half Life 3 enhanced edition! Only on SteamOS” rather than exclusive.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      ”And hopefully Valve knows that for making their system successful they simply need to make Half-Life 3 a Steam OS exclusive game.”

      Because if I want to play a game I don’t just want to run an application in the background, I want to have to boot a completely different OS!

    • SuicideKing says:

      I don’t think Valve will do exclusives. Might have bonus features and all but i really doubt it’ll be exclusives.

  6. kwyjibo says:

    No price. No spec. No firm dates. No partners.

    This announcement is nothing more than a prize draw.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Pretty much this. Congratulations Valve, you announced what everyone knew already.

      • dahools says:

        A prizedraw where I need to find 9 more friends to enter!

        Where am I going to find that many in 30 days! Next they will be asking me to play with them, I dunno these companies expect so much from us mere mortals. What do they give us in return? A digi badge, hopes and dreams? Pfth…

        • darkChozo says:

          Jokes aside, there’s almost certainly going to be a billion “add me so I can get into the Steambox beta” threads/Steam groups/Steam community post watsits, so lack of social skills is not an issue.

          • dahools says:

            I bet they started the second the news came out. A steam box is not aimed at me but I will keep my ear to the ground on steam OS if they can start eeking extra frames out of hardware for games where windows cannot then I may consider a dual boot if it will enhance my games but other than that. Not interested in big screen livingroom stuff.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            I generally hate everyone else, and the rest of the Steam community is well aware of that fact, but I somehow managed to get around thirty or so invites in the space of ten minutes.

      • cunningmunki says:

        Hey at least they announced it! Could have been like you-know-what.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Given it’s arbitrarily upgradeable and “hackable”, it sounds like it’s…just a prebuilt PC. It might be one that you’ve got a good chance of games being tested against (until you upgrade it), and it might look pretty or be good value or whatnot, and that’s all fine, but ultimately it’s just a PC.

      • cunningmunki says:

        And you expected what, exactly? That’s like saying “its just a phone” when the first iPhone came out, or the first Android device.

        • LionsPhil says:

          No, no it’s not. The iPhone was more of a PDA for starters, and took some “bold” design decisions, like its shortage of buttons.

          (The first Android device was totally a Linux-because-its-cheap copycat effort, though, so that one kinda fits I guess.)

          • cunningmunki says:

            Ok, bad example. The thing is, there is no “it”, there will be loads of devices and options. There will be anything from small devices like the Nvidia Shield or the Razer Edge (which probably weren’t built to run Android or Windows, they were built to run SteamOS!) all the way up to the usual monster PC towers, and all sorts of things in between. The definition of “PC” will blur even further, and eventually fade and become an obsolete term. There will just be mighty STEAM MACHINES (and teeny steam machines too).

  7. RedViv says:

    I welcome our steamy robot overlords.

  8. DrScuttles says:

    Yes Valve, of course I will jump through your hoops and click your little buttons just to add myself to the thousands and thousands and thousands of others all clamouring to get sent a Steambox for the beta. But what’s this? You need 10 friends? Discrimination against the Johnny No-mates I say. Discrimination!

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      What I don’t understand is why they would even announce this as a “contest.” They are looking for a very specific type of user. If nobody currently using Steam meets all of the criteria without having to force the issue, then they are either asking the wrong demographic to test the device or have designed a product without effectively considering their userbase.

      EDIT: It’s not really a contest, I realize, but that’s kind of how they are framing this. DO THESE THINGS AND GET IN THE BETA.

      • darkChozo says:

        It’s probably 25% wanting actual feedback from people who follow these things, and 75% hype campaign. Note that several machines are going to people who have made major community contributions (ie. people who probably can reach lots of Steam/Valve fans), and this:

        Will beta testers be allowed to share info about their experience and post pictures and opinions online?

        Yes, that really is the whole point. The input from testers should come in many forms: bug reports, forum posts, concept art, 3D prints, haikus, and also very publicly stated opinions.

        • ResonanceCascade says:

          Yep, hype campaign. Valve are geniuses when it comes to getting the community to do their promotions for them.

          Also, I think the idea is pretty cool. It’s totally unnecessarily for me right now, since my HDMI cable stretches to my TV, but next week I’m moving into a house where the living room will way too far from my PC for that. Makes the option of a $300-$400, small, quiet unit seem pretty nice to have.

      • DrScuttles says:

        In fairness, the criteria aren’t too specific. Join the group (they do that for every beta I think), have a profile, have used big picture mode and have at least 10 friends. There must be way more people who already fit that category than they have open beta places before they even made the application process public. Hell, there’s already 12,000 people to choose from.
        But yeah, I’m going to DO THOSE THINGS because I hate myself a bit. Just like the other badges Valve made me do things and click for just for a shiny thinger on my profile. Sigh.

        • jonobarel says:

          But yeah, I’m going to DO THOSE THINGS because I hate myself a bit. Just like the other badges Valve made me do things and click for just for a shiny thinger on my profile. Sigh.

          No, you’re going to do those things because “Free SteamMachine is Free”.

          • lizzardborn says:

            No it is because Steam OS + Steam Machine earlier than the rest. And if SteamOS picks up steam (and OS) these will have a chance of becoming high value collectibles (like working Apple 2 nowadays)

          • Apocalypse says:

            Except is not. Valve will not pay any taxes on the machines and valve can take away those beta testing machines anyway time away from you. You do not own them. (Which is good, as you don´t have to pay in this case taxes for them)

    • kikito says:

      I find myself looking for a gamepad emulation for mac now. You just have to spam people.

  9. Bimble says:

    Steamos taste like pain

  10. jonfitt says:

    What’s in the box?

  11. Jomini says:

    Wow, a pre-build PC with a valve logo on it and a pre installed Linux distro that lets me play perhaps 20% of my steam library.
    Can hardly contain my hype.

    • mpk says:

      *All of your Steam library, apparently, because streaming.

    • Stochastic says:

      I’m guessing this probably won’t be something you’ll want to own in 2014 just like Steam wasn’t something you really wanted to use back in 2004. But given enough time and determination, Valve could turn this into something more than just a Linux-based living room gaming PC. Only time will tell.

      • Drinking with Skeletons says:

        You just know that they’ll tie something to the Steam Machine (such an awful name, by the way). Half-Life 3, Left 4 Dead 3, Portal 3, Team Fortress 3…wow, Valve’s got a lot of potential third entries. Anyway, they will have an exclusive. If nothing else they’ll tie some major feature to it.

    • SuicideKing says:

      My understanding is that it’s supposed to complement your gaming rig (which is why streaming is so key).

      Plus they appear to have other multimedia content in the pipeline (music, videos, movies? , etc).

    • J. Cosmo Cohen says:

      Curb your enthusiasm, Jo.

  12. dangermouse76 says:

    Personally it will be about finding out if it fits my usage scenario. I game in the living-room on a projector ( just me and the wife at the moment ) Laura is off doing her own thing or laughing at me play. All this runs from the computer which of course also has a monitor attached as well.

    My PC at present is my home server, both laptops can run music and movies etc through shared files on the PC’s second HD. So for me If a Valve box does all this plus web browsing It would be fine. I can stream the games that wont be on linux as yet from the old computor which is fine for now. If it takes off that would be a transitional issue anyway, that time will remedy – if they get the titles that is.

    Frankly I am up for it, if the games follow. My PC is a media hub at the mo with the Adobe suit used for editing photos and film. I would be happy to have a linux hub and a have my work pc separate.

    For me it’s not about , it cant play my windows stuff, it’s about can they create a platform where in the future my windows games will be something I am digging up my PC to play.

  13. kazriko says:

    I’m interested in the SteamOS, though I’d probably build my own system for it.

    The question is, are these Steam Machines PC enough for RPS to continue covering them? :)

  14. Stevostin says:

    Well it’s all exciting & good, but TV and mouse doesn’t work well together. OTOH Valve only make mouse games. I can’t wait to see what they come with.

  15. lowprices says:

    Friday’s announcement is that Half-Life 3 was cancelled 5 years ago. They just never got around to mentioning it.

  16. Enkinan says:

    There is not a whole lot of new info here. I’m still reserving judgement until the majority of the details are available.

  17. A Dangerous Sloth says:

    I don’t think some people are getting what Valve is trying to do here. This isn’t important to most of us here, because we have gaming PCs already (well, at least right now it isn’t, it could lead to more Linux support and development, which would be a good thing IMO), this is mainly a move to get the console peasants to make the jump to PC. They are providing them something they are used to, a PC with an interface and OS designed just to play games and use a gamepad, aka a console. The more people who play PC, the more people buy from Steam, which means Valve gets more money. They are just trying to provide a simple, easy, not intimidating way for console players to make the jump to PC, without any knowledge of the PC. Depending on whether or not this takes off well, it could be a very important thing indeed.

    • airmikee99 says:

      I think you nailed it. Steam isn’t trying to get hardcore PC gamers to buy a Steam Machine, they’re trying to get console gamers to give up their boxes and switch to PC gaming on a Steam Machine. Most of the console kids I know are scared of PC gaming, drivers and upgrading components just terrifies them, they’d rather wait for a new iteration to upgrade their hardware. I think this is Valve’s attempt to calm those fears and let them see that PC gaming is the same thing as console gaming, but with more options and better results.

      • fish99 says:

        Surely to get that to work they need to get Linux support much more widespread, and they don’t have a way of doing that except through the passage of an awful lot of time (because anything that isn’t still selling very well won’t get patched to work on SteamOS).

        • airmikee99 says:

          The passage of time has already started though, Gabe Newell of Valve and Linus Torvalds of Linux have been pushing developers and manufacturers to support Linux better. Nvidia finally got off their butts last year after Linus said, “F*** You, Nvidia,” and AMD just released a new Linux driver last month.

          We’re not witnessing the beginning, we’re already in the middle part of this process.

          • fish99 says:

            I don’t know how you judge this to be the middle when a large majority of Steam games don’t work on Linux. Yes in the future Linux support in new games will be more common and eventually standard, but if you’re trying to sell a SteamBox to console gamers next year, for probably double the price of a next gen console, and then telling them that >90% of the awesome library of existing PC games won’t work on their SteamBox, I just don’t see people jumping at that.

            I think Valve are playing a much longer game, they’re sewing seeds for 10 years down the line.

          • airmikee99 says:

            RE: fish99

            It is a long game, but I don’t think you appreciate how long it has already been played. I’ve been waiting for a version of Linux that will let me play my games ever since I made the mistake of purchasing a copy of Windows ME. The difference today is that no other entity has had the resources that Valve has to make Linux gaming possible on a wide scale.

            I’m not saying Linux gaming is going to become viable over night, or even next year, or even the month after the Steam Machine is released.. but it’s definitely not going to take 10 years.

    • benjaminlobato says:

      Also consider the situation five years from now when the XBOX1/PS4 are only halfway through their life-cycle. If you want to play the latest AAA games on your fancy new 4k TVs at full resolution and 60 fps, you can either lug a clunky desktop PC tower out into the living room, or use one of these console-like steam boxes. The target audience probably isn’t RPS readers, but it seems like there could be a potentially huge market for something like this.

  18. Subject 706 says:

    Hmm, interesting. I have a small, fairly low powered htpc under the tv, which I use mainly for xbmc, and sometimes Steam big picture, though it can only handle fairly light games or it’d catch fire. I’d gladly toss out Win8 from it and replace it with SteamOS, if it means I could instead stream games from my much more powerful desktop computer.

    And what’s with all the negativity on the tech articles lately? Reading the 4K monitor article you’d be forgiven for thinking all of RPS’s readers dream about the good old days when 640×480 was all the rage. The SteamOS article was even worse. RARGH THIS DOES NOT FIT INTO MY SPECIFIC USAGE SCENARIO SO IT IS WORTHLESS! – pretty much summed up the responses to that…

    • Reapy says:

      I have the exact same set up. Got a cheaper XBMC geared HTPC, can play some games, but not anything that requires beef. Will most likely be dropping the steam os on it.

    • cunningmunki says:

      Spot on. Most of the comments are about why it doesn’t suit them, without even considering the potential and possibilities.

  19. jonobarel says:

    Just as a precaution, I read the TOS of the Beta.

    This one’s kinda significant, in case anyone was planning on selling theirs on eBay or something (emphasis mine):

    The Beta Products will remain the property of Valve, and We may require You to return the Beta Products to Us upon request at Our expense (for example, without limitation, if such return is required to comply with regulatory restrictions, or if we feel it would be useful for us to examine the Beta Products to confirm or reproduce defect or errors that You identify). For this reason, the Beta Products are not for resale.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Kind of expected for beta products. It’s not a comp to “win” the box, it’s a comp to test it out.

      Though, if they want to throw £500 my way, and a bit of aluminum and a CNC/engraving machine to make a neat Steam box, I’m happy. ;)

  20. Lemming says:

    I’m hoping announcement 3 is a decent bluetooth keyboard/trackball combo that can sit comfortably on the lap. Releasing a joypad would just seem a little pointless given the variety already out there.

    • Radwulf says:

      The gamepad is actually the main reason I’m interested in the Steambox at the moment. There may be a large variety of options out there but they have terrible plug and play support for Linux. If it means I don’t have to fiddle with xboxdrv terminal lines to get it working properly I’ll happily buy a Steampad.

      • Lemming says:

        Given it’s running a SteamOS version of a linux distro, I just assumed they’d have the compatibility issues for pads sorted so anyone can just plug one in via USB? I’ve probably given them too much credit, though.

      • cunningmunki says:

        You’d be surprised how few options there are for PC controllers, and believe me, I’ve hunted high and low. There are only two, TWO, wireless controllers available for PCs, and only one is specifically for PCs, because the other one is the X360 pad. Isn’t that incredible? Its no wonder Valve have always endorsed the Logitech F710, it’s utterly unique!
        I can’t wait for the Steam controller with swappable trackballs and analogue sticks. If that’s not Friday’s announcement, I’ll be crying into my tea.

  21. iniudan says:

    I admit signed up for the box right away, once I saw you actually have right to modify hardware and software on the prototype, unless they change their stance from the FAQ. Without mod right I admit I might simply not have troubled myself to sign up.

  22. purdz says:

    To all the people saying they should make HL3 a SteamOs exclusive that would be totally insane and stupid and against everything they are about at the moment. They are moaning that Windows is becoming a locked down experience and in recent years they have been at the forefront of bringing Mac and Linux users into the fray, mainly for commercial reasons I’m sure but why after all this work would they then say oh btw you need to use this one box with this one OS to play this game. Think about it, it makes no sense.

    When/If HL3 does get released it will be on all platforms and probably even PS3/4, anything else doesn’t make sense.

    Either way I’m looking forward to seeing some of the steam box’s, a dedicated gaming box for the TV to occasionally move away from the PC without losing access to all my favourite games on those lazy Sunday afternoons sounds great.

    • Radwulf says:

      Steambox will probably be promoted through some form of exclusive which will only be available to Steam users regardless of Steam platform. It may then be released to the consoles after a year or two. Valve did this most noticeably with Half Life 2 and Steam.

    • TormDK says:

      Steam is already a locked garden store front. I fail to see any significant change with the SteamBox release.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Yeah, my thoughts exactly.

      • dirtrobot says:

        No but hey you guys, it’s win 8 – it’s destroying pc gaming! Gaben said so! All of his chins said so!

        Man I remember steam being the biggest piece of putrid DRM crap trojan horsed by one of the worst ‘old school’ shooters called half-life 2 which was responsible for the hollywoodization of shooters.

        And people get upset over Origin and consoles. This is like the worst possible combination of those two ideas.

  23. SkittleDiddler says:

    Does anyone else just feel completely ambivalent about Valve announcements anymore? They all feel completely empty without, you know, actual information.

  24. thekelvingreen says:

    For some reason — and I know it’s silly — I’m reminded of the 3D0.

  25. DrManhatten says:

    The only thing that Valve has compared to Microsoft and Sony is DRM. No thanks! Having multiple hardware specs is exactly the main problem PC have compared to consoles. Obviously Valve is too thick to understand that problem.

    • Apocalypse says:

      Indeed, they are to thick to get this, they even embrace is, they even say that this in an advantage to be be forced in the year 2013 to play on 720p and even below.

      Ridiculous those guys at Valve, right? I mean, 900p is more resolution than one one might ever want to play Ryze on? Who even has displays that support such high resolutions anyway? As well it is very important to note, that the human eye can not see more than 30 FPS anyway and that I always want to most eye candy possible to play at, so low cost machines for little indie titles are completely useless either.

  26. HisMastersVoice says:

    The last announcement should be Source 2 with native Linux support.

  27. particle says:

    Until someone comes up with a better control configuration that is as precise and as quick as a keyboard and mouse I’m not moving to the living with any type of console/machine. Controllers are a step down from the freedom and quickness of a keyboard and mouse why would I downgrade just to sit on my couch?

    Have fun being in the pile of consoles that are all the same to me.

    • airmikee99 says:

      “Am I going to be using a mouse and a keyboard in the living-room?
      If you want. But Steam and SteamOS work well with gamepads, too.”

  28. Tayh says:

    Sheesh, could you guys possibly worship valve any harder?

  29. Apocalypse says:

    I got so far 2 of 3,
    my last guess is source 2 and one unannounced game.

  30. Riley Lungmus says:

    I feel like it’s an interesting discussion.

    My rig set me back about 1,400$ when I bought it three years ago. A wonderful investment, assured.

    Certainly, my vast library of Steam titles also includes a vast number of local co-op and competitive games.

    I don’t know about y’all, but my PC is on a desk in my bedroom. The only appropriate seating is my bed. Some people get wierded out by that.

    A more pressing issue is that maybe three people can fit on that bed to all play a game, rather than the four it would take to truly have an interesting Legend of Dungeon party.

    Steam Box may not be for me, not yet. Perhaps when I’ve expanded my family to have kids, I’ll want a better solution to apply PC gaming to the living room, where the whole family can participate.

  31. I Got Pineapples says:

    Hey, remember all the stuff you hated about the Xbox One?

    Well, it’s back! Only with creepy PC Man Stockholm syndrome.

  32. Kong says:

    My custom built machine is connected to my workplace and via HDMI cable and 3 USB extensions to the living room. Whenever the woman and the kids are gone, the couch is mine from which I play. With a flick of the switch.
    Any new ideas for comfy upgrades are welcome. Especially from Valve, who provide me with an abundance of great entertainment. Since I gave up on hunting imported games in boxes and evolved from postal dinosaur into the digital age.

  33. Simes says:

    Should have called it the Steam Engine.

    • cunningmunki says:

      I thought that, but I think I prefer Steam Machine now. I’m sure they’re saving “engine” for something else.

  34. bad guy says:

    What would Linus Torvalds say?

  35. The Random One says:

    I can’t wait for the third announcement. To be delayed indefinitely.

  36. PixelsDontMove says:

    The logic so far:

    O = Software.
    [O ] = Software in a box.
    O+O = Software + Software.

    It may not be Half-Life 3 confirmed, but it may be Source 2 confirmed. It is definitely not a controller, it breaks the current logic of the announcements. A controller will be announced later on, the hardware is still in prototyping as they mention.

    The circles could bring your conclusion to O+O+The surrounding circle = 3. But I hope not, the internet can not handle the traffic it would produce. I just hope GabeN quietly enters a Greenlight submission.

    • The Random One says:

      The more I stare at that the more I’m convinced it’ll be an Oculus Rift related announcement.

    • darkChozo says:

      I’m not totally sure where the O = Software in general thing comes from, other than HL3 wistfulness. O = Software is an unsubstantiated generalization; thus far, O = SteamOS is just as consistent and is way more specific. Therefore, O+O logically evaluates to 2*SteamOS, meaning they’re either saying you can dual boot into two instances of SteamOS or that they’re already announcing SteamOS 2.0.

      (alternatively, something about distributed SteamOSBoxMachines talking to eachother about something, but that’s boring)

  37. S Jay says:

    Steam engine.

  38. Panda Powered says:

    All this competition for a spot under the TV is going put Ikea out of the TV bench market.

  39. Crane says:

    This is picky I know, but it annoys me:

    There’s a FAQ question for that.

    Either you read that aloud as “There’s a eff ey kyew question for that,” in which case it should be ‘an’, or you read it as “There’s a frequently asked question question for that,” in which case you shouldn’t have the second ‘question’.

  40. fenriz says:

    Nice, so Valve are literally programming a sort of “house management program”?

    so eeeer a virtual butler?

    How next gen is that?!

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