Valve Deny Steam Box Rumours, Talk Up Big Picture

Following rumours circulated by The Verge, Valve has told Kotaku that they are experimenting with biometrics and connecting PCs to TVs. However: “All of that is stuff that we’re working on, but it’s a long way from Valve shipping any sort of hardware.” Marketing VP Doug Lombardi said: “We’re prepping the Steam Big Picture Mode UI and getting ready to ship that, so we’re building boxes to test that on.” Lombardi denied that the boxes were prototype of a home console, and instead suggested it was simply a part of the current Steam development process, allowing them to make it easier for us to play PC games on our TV. It’s not a denial that Valve would ever head in that direction, and they’ve reiterated that they might ship hardware eventually, but the purported “Steam Box” (okay, Steam Engine, if you like) looks like hot air for now.


  1. Valvarexart says:

    What is the “Steam Big Picture Mode UI”? Something I missed?

    • guitarmy says:

      some kind of tv/couch-mode, where you supposedly can control steam and the launching of games with a gamepad. And I guess they have also implemented some asthetic changes…

      link to

    • Hakkesshu says:

      I think it’s just an upscaled UI/control interface for people who use a TV output.

      Edit: Beaten!

  2. Gap Gen says:

    It’s probably vapourware anyway.

  3. Gozuu says:

    I can’t say if a “Steam Box” is even necessary to use my TV Screen to play PC Games? I can do this right now. It’s much like this internet-feature on the new LED-TV’s. I’ve never used this feature. When I go to my TV, I watch TV-shows, movies or the news. When I want to browse the internet, I have my PC, Laptop or Tablet.

    In my home, there are different tastes in TV-shows and movies, so we don’t always sit in the same room and trying to bring it all together, which seems to be the idea of this Steam Box, seems like an odd idea to me.

  4. freakoftheuniverse says:

    Considering that the Biometrics can’t really be done with a software patch, I’m wondering how successful they’ll actually be in the real world. I mean, I’m all for the AI Director knowing when I’m stressed out due to zombies and when I’m actually inebriated due to wines, but when you live in an overpriced backwater( like my beloved Australia), you’ve really gotta wonder if it’s worth purchasing. Or rather, if it’s going to be a huge flop.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Love it or hate it, I really think Biometrics will be the next motion control. Both Nintendo and Valve have been looking at it, and it just opens a ton of possibilities. I think right now, the problem is with finding a relatively inconspicuous way to gather the data. It probably won’t come through your hands, and headsets have a bad rap.

      • Brun says:

        There’s nothing to say that that sufficient data can’t be collected from your hands. You can, at the very least, get pulse. Next time you go to the gym look at the ellipticals or exercise bikes – if they are electronic typically they will have these metal hand grips that you can hold onto and the machine will display your heart rate. No reason that technology couldn’t be adapted into the grips of a gamepad or mouse.

        The real challenge will be figuring out ways to use that data meaningfully, and in a manner that is appealing to the user. Personally I love the idea of using it to control an AI director. However, that’s a pretty subtle use of the biometric data. Part of the reason that motion control was so successful is that it was appealing to the casual player who doesn’t understand how all of this technical video game stuff works. Motion control fundamentally altered the way that games were played, making them intuitive, and the differences between traditional control schemes and motion control were obvious and understandable almost immediately, even to the uninitiated – a sort of “wow factor.”

        Valve will need a way to make their biometric gadgetry appealing to everyone, by figuring out a way to convey in a very obvious manner the difference that having that data makes.

  5. Jezebeau says:


  6. WhatKateDoes says:

    With Valve seemingly willynilly confirming or denying stuff.. maybe someone should say 3 outrageous questions to them about something but whisper the 2nd one as “..and Half-Life3?” to see if they slip up and accidentally confirm or deny something about it – like those old Elmer Fudd/Daffy/Bugs cartoons: “Duck season!” “Rabbit season!” “Duck Season!” “Rabbit Season!” “Rabbit Season!” “Ha! DUCK SEASON! SHOOT!” *hwaah-hwaah-hwaa-hwaaaaaaaaa*

    • Llewyn says:

      Be vewwy vewwy quiet. We’re hunting Fweemans.

      • Gap Gen says:

        I am now imagining the G-Man saying “What’s up, Doctorrr Frreeeemann?”

  7. AbyssUK says:

    Well just yesterday I was using steam to play psychonauts on my media pc a REVO R3700… and i was annoyed at how uneasy it was to use steam with my pad.. also its adverts/store etc just arn’t setup for 1080p displays… everything is too small.

    I was going to setup XBMC to launch my steam games.. but now i’ll wait and see

  8. Optimaximal says:

    Can anyone point me to the case that Greg Coomer used in his build?

    link to

    • roryok says:

      Looks quite like the Zotac zbox, although it’s not that.

      link to

      Same motherboard – a z68 – could be a custom made case?

    • Contrafibularity says:

      It looks like one of 50 bland mATX, mini-ITX or HTPC cases.. frankly there are a lot more attractive cases to be found in the small form factors.

      At any rate, it looks nothing like the zbox?

  9. Hazzard65 says:

    I’m telling yeh. they are going to move into streaming like Gaikai and onLive. That’s what I think.

    Steam on your mobile is a precursor, and test bed for the platform in my opinion.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      It’s more likely that now android can run truly native code, they’ll be rolling out steam play to android.

  10. Alexandros says:

    Joshua Topolsky who broke the story said that he’s seen more than he is allowed to comment on. So, unless he was lying through his teeth (which Idon’t think he was) then I’d hazard a guess that someone let the cat out of the bag prematurely.

    As soon as Steam Big picture mode is launched, I can see a lot of manufacturers coming up with living room pcs with Steam preinstalled and set to start automatically during boot. Throw in a controller in the package and there you go, Steam “console”

    • Skabooga says:

      It would sort of be like third-party consoles. What a novel idea!

    • radioactivez0r says:

      I’m not sure it counts as “breaking” a story when there are zero verifiable facts involved. It’s easy to say he wasn’t allowed to write more, but considering nobody was quoted, I still find it hard to believe overall.

  11. Kadayi says:

    Seemed to be a case jumping to conclusions in the original report. No doubt for testing purposes they made a few custom boxes for ease of use because they wanted to replicate the ‘living room’ feel, Vs just connecting a tower to a TV.

    There’s the potential certainly that when they perfect Big Picture Steam, we might see some third party hardware manufacturers like Alienware or Razer build a living room friendly (quiet as a mouse) specific PC designed to cater for it, however I’m not seeing it as anything more than a niche market.

    Personally I already have a fully functional steam box (like every other steam user), so I’m failing to see the incentive to buy. If people want their PC connected to their TV they’veof done it already (though big picture mode will make life easier for them).

    • Brun says:

      “Living Room friendly” means quiet as a mouse? I guess the Xbox 360 isn’t living room friendly then, since it sounds like a turbine every time it turns on.

      • KillahMate says:

        X360 isn’t living room friendly, no. The old models at least.

        Incidentally, in my opinion (and disregarding the fanboy holy wars) the XBox 360 is merely a fraction less nerdy in comparison to a gaming PC. All the flag bearing XBox franchises, and the most popular third party stuff, are massively nerdy FPS and TPS hardcore games (Halo, Gears, CoD…). The use paradigm up until very recently was closer to a PC than an appliance.

  12. cjlr says:

    If they denied it, it MUST be true! That’s how all good theories work. I learned that from decoding the messages hidden in government contrails.

    Ahem. I still think it’s a terrible, useless idea though. Who precisely is the market? Console gamers? They already have consoles. PC gamers? They already have PCs, and they can already hook them up to TVs whenever and however they want (especially when the promised new UI is implemented). People who would gladly give up a little control to gain a little “ease of use”? I hate those people, and they will gain neither and lose both.

  13. AbyssUK says:

    Now what if the steam box was just a wireless way to get your gaming rig on your tv, with sound/controls/image…. that would work…

    like onlive…but over a lan / wlan…. can you get this already ? I want it

  14. zombienifty says:

    The only thing Valve should be working on is a new Half-Life Game!

  15. _PixelNinja says:

    To me, the Steam Box is a press fabricated project — as I see it, this is a rumor which got completely out of hand after Gabe, in the Penny Arcade interview, evoked the idea of producing hardware if it becomes necessary at a given point in time for Valve to remain competitive.

    The PA Report: Valve’s Gabe Newell talks wearable computers, why consoles should open up, and game ownership