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Bigger Picture: Valve Hardware Beta To Begin Next Year

The number one selection criteria for the beta will be that you have an exceedingly blue and atmospherically lit room.

Valve’s designing its own hardware. This has been known – in various forms – for quite some time. But, more and more, it sounds like Gabe Newell’s mighty lair in the (kinda occasionally) frigid wastes of Bellevue, Washington is converting into full-on Santa’s magical toy shop mode. Admittedly, wearable computing‘s still the stuff crazy future fever dreams are made of, but in the meantime, Valve’s churning out prototypes right and left. Its goal? “To make Steam games more fun to play in your living room.” And, according to a new report, a lucky few of us will get to continue Steam’s slow-but-sure conquest of our homes as soon as next year.

Valve’s Jeri Ellsworth apparently “lit up” while telling Engadget about her team’s current projects – which, of course, suggests that one of them involves incorporating bioluminescence into human beings. Apparently, though, no option – “from Phantom Lapboard-esque solutions to hybrid controllers” – is out of the question in Valve’s quest to bring PC gaming into the living room. Currently, Ellsworth’s team is working “in tandem” with Steam’s Big Picture mode, so clearly, Valve’s sticking to its usual “slow-and-steady wins the race” gradual rollout tactics on this one.

The beta for the first part of Valve’s multi-shot hardware salvo is set to kick off sometime next year, and it’ll see prototypes make their way into players’ hands via some variety of Steam selection process. As for what it’ll include, that’s anyone’s guess at this point. According to Ellsworth, Valve’s churning out all manner of prototypes every day, but – if nothing else – it’s also documenting the whole process. So perhaps at some point, we’ll get a sneak peek inside the mad science factory.

This, though, is certainly a grab at an audience that formerly shunned PC gaming. That said, are you at all interested in having PC gaming claim dominion over your living room? Also, for you, at what point does this kind of thing stop being a “PC” experience? Do alternate control methods, bigger screens, and the like take away from that? Or is it, at the end of the day, about openness, freedom, and options more than perspective, location, and control scheme?

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Nathan Grayson

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