Steam Box Madness: Questions We Need To Be Asking

In the span of a week, the Steam Box went from a taut, near-undetectable assemblage of whispers on the wind to the talk of the town. (It is a humble, off-the-map town called Internet. You’ve probably never heard of it.) Xi3 announced a thing, Valve hinted that other folks would soon announce other things, and then Gabe Newell talked up Valve’s own thing. There is, in other words, a lot going on here. But there’s also still quite a bit we don’t know, and that’s as good of a place to start as any. So right then, let’s put on our sleuthing hats, start speaking in horrifically nonsensical noir-isms, and get to work.

Is this still PC gaming? — This is the elephant in the (living) room, but by and large, I think the answer’s yes. Between expansions to both Workshop and Greenlight, mods and indies – two of PC’s most formidable modern cornerstones – are solidly represented on Valve’s flagship. Moreover, Gabe apparently wants to turn the whole thing into some zany user-driven wonderland, which is pretty much the opposite of console/mobile/tablet gaming’s generally closed-off, proprietary approach. And hey, speaking of open and closed…

Will there be one Steam Box to rule them all? Does that matter? — This one’s a toughie. On one hand, Valve’s initial push seems to be aimed at spreading Steam’s reach far and wide, like a parade of infinitely multiplying bunnies or a plague. But, on the other, Valve’s Linux-based, biometrically controlled sci-fi dream machine is waiting in the wings, and it very well could be a game-changer when it finally decides to pounce. Really, it depends on how open Valve is with the tech it’s developing in-house, as well as how much it continues to push other boxes as viable alternatives. So basically, are Piston and its ilk just appetizers for Valve’s main course, or is the aim to create a menu so expansive that everyone will be belching in satisfaction when it’s all said and done?

Are Steam Boxes even for us? — Yes and no. I mean, speaking personally, I’m not super-interested in owning one. I already have a fairly beastly machine (I mean that; it has cooling spines), and it’s become fast friends with my television. Admittedly, the small form factor’s enticing, but not $1100 enticing. However, therein lies the rub: I don’t see 14-Year-Old With Profound Rage Issues or Mom Who Accidentally Became A Halo Addict After Son Went To Bed shelling out that kind of cash for a gaming device – even if its mighty graphical muscles and dazzling array of options make Sony and Microsoft’s offerings look like an abacus that catches on fire anytime anyone counts higher than three. That goes double for the numerous folks who mainly use these things for Netflix or some other TV/movie streaming equivalent. Odds are, however, some other manufacturer will introduce a more affordable low-end option. Then things will get interesting.

Is this even competing with consoles at all? — Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3? Pfft, no. But that’s because those two may as well already be snug inside their Viking coffins, wreathed in unquenchable flame for all eternity. They’re from a different era – before PC gaming was reborn and mobile/tablet devices surged – and it shows. The real question here, then, is what Microsoft and Sony will offer up next, and whether their soon-to-be-announced devices will embrace the cyberfuture we now inhabit or flee into the safe, un-circuited arms of What’s Always Worked. Even then, though, the next PlayStation and Xbox will presumably be flying solo. That is to say, Microsoft and Sony will manufacture them, and that’s it. No third-parties on the hardware side. So it’ll be a vastly different type of horse race – more akin to Android vs iPhone than the classic console wars of yore.

What about the cloud and other streaming tech? — Ooooo, good question. Gold star for you. Steam’s embraced the cloud, but only for saves and things of the like – not full games. I think Valve would be pretty foolish to ignore that still-not-entirely-paved pathway to the future, though, and – since Valve’s a smart company – I doubt they are. But right this very second, Steam’s not called Stream for a reason, while rumblings from console land suggest a big time focus on streaming for this go-around. I mean, let’s not forget that Sony owns Gaikai now. I’d hop on a plane and find a way to ingest a real cloud if the next PlayStation didn’t incorporate David Perry’s cloud service in some way or another.

What about mobile and tablet tech? — Another good question! I will now name a real star after you, pending expense and my ability to forge a certificate of authenticity. Assuming Valve’s as intent on turning Steam into a kind of game-centric OS as it seems, I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t expand to mobile platforms and tablets. I mean, a Steam mobile app already exists, though it doesn’t actually sell games for those platforms. But in the future? Who knows? I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility.

Linux? Really? — Here’s a potential stumbling block. Yes, Valve’s doing its damndest to bring Steam’s crazy, penguin-obsessed cousin up-to-speed with our gamerly ways and customs, but pickings are still pretty slim at the moment. Obviously, that will improve over time. But how much? It’s tempting, after all, to claim Valve is offering living-room-bound miscreants the sum total of PC gaming’s expansive bounties, but that’s simply not true yet. Will it be by the time Linux-based Steam Boxes enter the big picture? Well…

What about Valve’s other hardware projects? — Let’s not forget that the Steam Box is far from the only thing lurching through the darkest depths of Valve’s laboratory, still slick with gelatinous mucus after its birth from some pulsating mega-brain. Wearable computing, especially, has been a hot topic in Valve’s less Steam-clouded regions, and the mighty PC overlord’s pointed its peepers in virtual reality’s direction as well. When/where will these projects be applied? Honestly, it’s anyone’s guess at this point. But obviously, the crossover potential’s quite tantalizing – though potentially riddled with unforeseen complexity. I mean, Oculus Rift’s demonstrated the potential of VR with games, but what about wearable computing? How will that even work? Could we take our games on the go in some fashion and then beam them back into the living room using R2-D2 space magic? The future’s exciting, definitely, but it’s also very, very confusing.

Do we really need biometrics and whatnot? — As far as crazy hardware projects go, this one’s at least a bit more concrete. Gabe Newell’s explicitly stated that Valve’s working on a biometrics-based controller, and that he’s hoping to see it enter our hearts (hopefully figuratively, possibly literally) around the same time as the One True Steam Box. Once again, though, it’s tremendously difficult to say where games will factor into this equation. Most recently, Newell mentioned eye-tracking as one key element of his controller that knows you better than you know yourself, but in the past, he also touched on skin galvanic response, heart rate, and EEG implants inside human skulls. Mainly, though, the goal seems to be a highly detailed measurement of player feelings, which in turn allows both games and other players to react accordingly. Is someone outrageously pissed? Maybe the game will subtly shift its own difficulty or – if it’s multiplayer – alert nearby friends, family, and tropical natives that you’re about to blow your top. Those are only ideas, though. Who knows what mad science Valve’s got weaving wires through its veins?

Moreover, there’s the matter of simplicity. Valve has so many big plans. That’s not necessarily a bad thing by any means, but bringing new people into the PC gaming fold means easing them in – not tossing up a fluorescent forest of signs that read “You must be this much of a cyborg to ride.” In that respect, then, it’s a good thing that the initial round of Steam Boxes looks to be fairly no-frills. People get Steam in their living rooms. Done. They’ll hopefully have time to learn of indie, mod, and user-driven wonderment before biometrics, VR, and potentially wearable computing enter the picture. Well, assuming those things ever make it to market in a publicly consumable form at all…

Will Valve’s box ever come to fruition? — Honestly? Who even knows anymore. Valve’s got tons of crazy future projects in the works, and it’s not a company that lets substandard efforts tarnish its monolithically monosyllabic name. For all we know, Newell and co could decide that none of these products meet their lofty expectations, or some wild industry shift no one saw coming could send Valve hurdling in an entirely different direction.

Do we want Steam ruling the world? — Steam’s basically unopposed on PC, and a lack of competition tends to breed complacency in, you know, human beings. So far, however, Valve’s consistently expanded and improved Steam’s functionality despite lacking a young upstart hot on its heels. Obviously, that bodes well overall, but things change. If Steam expands to, well, pretty much everything ever, it stands to become some nearly ubiquitous gaming OS. And, I mean, I like consistency between platforms as much as anyone, but I like options a lot more. Case in point: Greenlight. It’s still not particularly great, and Valve struggled with indie game selection long before that, too.

Sure, Valve’s essentially letting hardware partners do what they want with Steam, but it’s still Steam. All that said, a dystopic Newellian Empire’s highly unlikely, because that’d take an insane amount of time, work, planning, and luck – and that’s assuming the industry somehow doesn’t evolve in another crazy new direction in a couple years like it always does. Also, anti-trust laws are a thing.

Will Half-Life 3 come out on Steam Box? — No. Stop asking.


  1. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    It’s more expensive than a Mac mini. I rest my (cubioid) case.

    • Kobest says:

      No worries, it’s been stated that the actual Steam box will not cost that much. IRCC that’s the top-end Xi3 price tag and those machines are different from Valve’s Yet Another Step Towards World Governance.

      • HexagonalBolts says:

        For that amount of money you could get a perfectly good normal PC, heck even a very good normal PC given that most PC games’ requirements are rather low because the majority of games are built with outdated consoles in mind as well. If they were going to charge that much it would be an incredible failure. You can see that just looking at the steam surveys and the obscene amounts Nintendo gets.

    • f1x says:

      but the mac mini is…. crap?

      a question out of total ignorance, can the mac mini be conected to a regular typical usb TV?

      • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

        USB TV? I don’t know what you mean. But the Mac Mini has HDMI, so you can connect it straight to your TV. And it has USB, so you can plug in mice, keyboards, and gamepads. (OS X’s support for gamepads is a bit poor however)

      • f1x says:

        yeah HDMI, sorry, dunno what I was thinking

        actually I was thinking about my own tv but couldnt remember what the fuck ports it had ;)

        still, connecting a mini to a TV wont be too productive, for gaming thats it

      • Ninja Foodstuff says:

        no, it’s actually quite good, if you forgive the integrated graphics (intel hd 4000). I have one from 2009 instead of a TV, connected to a projector. It’s rather wonderful.

        • f1x says:

          I believe you ;)

          I was just thinking if it was fair comparing it to the Steam box

        • Hatey says:

          But isn’t the Steambox also gonna have an integrated chip?

  2. PopeRatzo says:

    You couldn’t leave it alone, could you? You just had to mention the Game that Must Not Be Named. I had almost forgotten, had gotten on with my life, but now I again have begun to despair ever seeing Half-Life 3.

    There, I said it. You and your “Steam Box”…

  3. Minsc_N_Boo says:

    Damn! I naively expected this to be competitively priced against the consoles….. As it is just as expensive as a PC – why not just get a PC?

    • Kobest says:

      Don’t worry that’s not the actual price. Think about it, would Valve come out with this before looking at the plain numbers and seeing that at this price tag it’s just not worth it? :)

      • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

        The Piston computer is not Valve’s steam box. There’s nothing substantial to connect it to Valve’s efforts. But everyone in the tech press jumped on it as if it was, so have helped to create this confusion. I guess XI3 wins, because they got the piles of attention they wanted.

        Ignore Piston. It’s not the Steam Box you’re looking for.

    • Baines says:

      Consoles can be sold at a loss. That isn’t going to happen with PCs. On the other hand, PCs can possibly be *made* at lower costs. That really depends on the manufacturer(s), though.

    • skorpeyon says:

      One reason is that a PC would look HORRIBLE on my entertainment center. But I agree, the smaller form factor would not be worth the significantly higher price.

      • Razumen says:

        With HTPC cases that look just like any other home theatre box, I fail to see how this is at all a viable argument anymore.

      • Derppy says:

        I guess it’s a personal preference, but I think my game consoles (PS3 and Wii) are the things that look terrible and distracting around my TV.

        The amplifier and HTPC sit there just nicely, being pretty minimalist blocks with the same color and dimensions, not drawing any attention to themselves.

        Thank god i don’t have to stack the stuff, because PS3 has a rounded top and Wii would probably just break instantly. Someone slap the people who think these are fitting for a home theater.

  4. thesundaybest says:

    Built a rig when I went back to Canada – cost me around $750 and then I put it my suitcase. The size is cool but it’s not worth the price.

  5. fitzroy_doll says:

    I like the mental image of Valve “hurdling” in a new direction, Colin Jackson style.

  6. hatseflats says:

    “Admittedly, the small form factor’s enticing, but not $1100 enticing”.

    It won’t be $1100, most likely. Xi3 announced the Z3RO Pro at CES, which costs only $400. It uses a cheap low-voltage AMD dual core, but AMD’s better APUs (CPU with integrated GPU, which is very likely what we’ll be looking at) aren’t that much more expensive (we’re talking about $60-$80 more or so).

    Xi3 should be able to offer a small PC with an AMD APU (likely to be the next generation Richland APUs, with a TDP of 65 watt or less) for no more than $550-$600. By cooperating with Valve they can hope to sell many of them to spread their development costs. Making them more expensive would price it out of the market.

    • f1x says:

      For around 500$ and if it really is as open (in terms of software) as Gabe claimed
      then we are talking about a very serious thing

    • ArthurBarnhouse says:

      I really do wish people would stop saying “it costs $1100” as if that’s a true fact stated by Valve. The price hasn’t been announced yet and saying $1100 as if it’s already been confirmed means some people will never look at it again when it’s announced.

  7. rustybroomhandle says:

    Regarding Linux. Valve is unlikely to get OEM licenses for anything other than Windows 8, so that’s not going to work. They pretty much have to make the Linux thing work, or not even try.

  8. Teovald says:

    ” Steam’s basically unopposed on PC, and a lack of competition tends to breed complacency in, you know, human beings”
    Very true for the Steam client app. On both windows, macosx and android it seems like their devs decided that it was good enough and stopped working on it.

  9. snv says:

    Is this still PC gaming?
    Nathan Grayson did not mention the (in my eyes) main factor: The Gamplay
    Since this will probably be aimed to be used with big picture mode and a controller, and controller centric games, it will also aim at games designed around a very limited UI.
    This has always had a major impact on the game design at whole.
    Therefore i do not expect that the games for the steam box can still be considered PC games.

    • uh20 says:

      to me, and i think what rps stands behind as a proper definition of PC gaming, is any computer which has no software restrictions and can play games well, thats it, so basically the piston fits in this catagory.

      gaben in discussion said “it’s not a locked box by any means” (i see what he did there) and had said that you could even install windows on it.

      what software will it come with???
      probably a stripped down linux with a good big picture mode, and a lot of preinstalled stuff.
      cross your fingers that it does not completely destroy the chance to just normally log into a desktop though (like some sort of hotkey before big picture boots up)

    • f1x says:

      I consider myself a PC gamer, and I like to play mostly with my gamepad, humm that sounds nasty

      to be honest I dont know when gamepad became the forbidden thing or the taboo, anyone remember the word “joystick”? yeap, nasty aswell

      About UIs, a well designed UI can work perfectly with either gamepad or keyboard+mouse, while a bad UI will always be bad,
      I think what you are trying to say is rather that some generes like RTS games are not too suitable for gamepads, which is true, and that trying to simplify a RTS game UI to fit a gamepad is gonna go wrong, which is also true
      but then platformers and (posibly) driving games will play better on a gamepad

      Sometimes I think that the whole gamepad vs keyboard+mouse thing becomes an excuse to do over-complicated UIs that are actually just poorly designed

      • snv says:

        The difference between Joystick and gamepads was that a joystick is usually used additionally while a gamepad is used exclusively. That means not just that menus become bad (consider Skyrim) it also leads to gameplay changes.

        – You have to limit the amount of possible actions to the amount of buttons. Instead of a shortcut to open up the Inventory you first have to navigate through the pause menu. So menus not only suck they have to be used more often.
        – Games now often use a Stance or Mode or what you want to call it. If you are fighting, this button does this, if you are climbing the same button does that and if you are running it does something different again in both cases. Then you streamline the interface and everything you do to progress the game gets bound to the “use” Button. This leads to the “Press E” for anything effect.
        – Practically all shooters now use a spray-salvos-and-be-lucky-to-hit mechanic instead of precision aiming, because you can’t do the latter with a pad quick enough.

        But its not just the input, the output gets worse too:
        Even with HighShinyFullHD or whatever its called next, if you sit on your couch the Information displayed to you has to be scaled larger. This leads to less Information conveniently displayable. So you make your game either ambiguous because you hide/omit data, or you make it simpler.

        Of course there are games where the pad is better. But a lot of them are so, just because they are simply designed in a way which sucks if you do not use a pad, and could be better if done properly for mouse and keyboard (for example GTAIV or XCOM) or a Joystick instead of a pad in Flight games (i mean arcadey ones, since this is obvious for sims), or a wheel in driving games.

    • Createx says:

      If it’s Linux, you will be probably free to do whatever you want. Most distributions let you choose your graphical interface (GNOME, KDE…) on launch and they are very friendly towards multiboot. I don’t see the SteamBox being any different, even if the preinstalled system is Steam For Gamepads. I’d assume that it will be based off a big distro like Ubuntu or Debian, perhaps with a custom graphical layer, so you’ll probably be able to install any common Linux program on them anyway.
      Newell said it will be “open”, so I guess you should be able to do all these things right of the bat, but even Valve decides to be evil on this one, I’m reasonably sure that someone will have it rooted in a matter of days.

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        Well, despite several hours of trying, I still can’t get the Steam beta working on Xubuntu, so I’m predicting Gnome.

        • ObiDamnKenobi says:

          Strange. I got the steam Linux beta to work right away under Mint 14, which is based on Ubuntu 12.10 even. Officially they’re saying only 12.04..

    • SuicideKing says:

      Well, if it follows the IBM PC spec to at least including a x86 CPU on an ATX-derivative board, then yes, it’s a PC. If it’s got a 14.3 MHz main clock driving the mobo and a 32.7 MHz RTC, then yes it’s a PC. As a result, yes it’s PC gaming in a technical sense.

      Simply using a game pad doesn’t mean a thing, i sit in front of my desktop and use a controller for games like Sleeping Dogs and Batman: AA.

      BUT, if the rumors are true, and the next-gen consoles are very slightly modified PCs, then i guess you will have:
      Tablet PCs
      Console PCs or PC Consoles = PS4, Xbox 720, Steam Box, Piston and all the others.

      I think the key distinguishing factor b/w the traditional consoles and stuff like Piston and Steam box is that you CAN attach a mouse and keyboard to something like a Steam Box and expect the peripherals to work, while the Xbox/PS won’t.

      • newprince says:

        Finally someone mentions ATX. We can’t overlook the motherboard factor in defining a PC, since really that’s what enables you to swap out hardware to your choosing, and that even indirectly effects your software choices (you have an ATX board, guess what? You can install whatever). Consoles won’t have ATX boards obviously, so that’s an easy “no, it’s not a PC”, even though MS consoles tend to come close. Laptops are a bit more closed, but everyone is familiar with how PC-like they are. Something like the Surface Pro, however, is a bit trickier. It’s like… a watered down PC stuck into a tablet.

        Steam Box will have this micro ATX board, but I’m interested in this part of the market becoming more robust. Micro ATX for HTPC has always been nice, but it’s still niche, and I’d like to see tiny ATX boards become a more popular way to build a rig. Trouble is, computer hardware manufacturers would have to help out a lot.

  10. The Random One says:

    “controller that knows you better than you know yourself”

    I misread that sentence as “controller that knows you better the more you touch yourself”. I choose not to offer commentary on that.

    OT: the only thing that would make me excited would be modular pieces that even a dummkopf like myself would be able to put together. I came to the promised PC land from the console wastelands just recently, and I’m terrified of messing with my PC’s components and ruining the bloody thing. What I’d love more than anything would be a PC like box that I could snap a new video card into as easily as putting that strange expansion pack thing on a N64. Actually I’d prefer if it ead easier and I didn’t have to go fetch a spoon from the

  11. D3xter says:

    “Is this still PC gaming?”
    As long as it is still a PC in the sense that you can install software on it and similar (which I believe Newell said you could), also use different shops like GoG or GamersGate and it isn’t a closed-off proprietary platform, yes it is. I very often connect my PC to a TV, projector or similar display devices and I also got a Wireless Controller for certain types of games. It doesn’t make it *not* PC gaming.
    I do have the concern that even the somewhat battered/dying PC Gaming (wink wink): link to which is highly diluted by console ports using Controllers nowadays might get even worse if SteamBox gathers a sizeable market and we’ll get even less games playable with Mouse+Keyboard (like proper PC FPS games, RTS, Simulation etc.).

    “Are Steam Boxes even for us?”
    Not for me, I have my upgradeable PC that I can connect to any sort of display device and I’m fine with that one.
    I think they’re largely trying to tap into the console market and somewhat compete with Microsoft/SONY. Microsoft at least apparently is already preventatively shitting its pants: link to
    I don’t think Xi3’s price is going to be exemplary for the whole “Steam Box” thing, especially since a custom-built PC for ~$600 will likely outperform it.

    “What about the cloud and other streaming tech?”
    “The cloud” needs to die, it’s mostly just marketing talk for a long gone era of computing where people would use dumb terminals connected to a mainframe, that shouldn’t be relevant anymore since technology is always progressing, getting smaller and cheaper and even tablet-based systems using the likes of Tegra4 will soon be at about the level of the last generation of consoles. It is further a perfidious attempt to wrest total control over any sort of content from the consumer I will have no part in, I’d rather stop gaming altogether.

    “Linux? Really?”
    I certainly damn better hope so, it’s the best possible solution and would cut Microsoft out of the equation long-term (another reason why they’re likely shitting their pants), they can’t remain Windows-based and not be dependent on whatever Microsoft decides to do next. They could likely close off the system further or disallow other shops in their ecosystem in the next iteration of Windows and it’s kind of a ticking time bomb for Steam and other businesses. Separating from it and going Linux will only benefit anyone, especially since Steam/Valve (nor anyone else) can own Linux and if they turn bad at any point they did everyone else a great service.
    They are apparently already working on some sort of easy to use Direct3D to OpenGL conversion API that most developers could use. And they just have to pave the way with their “Steam Box” and some of their upcoming games like Half Life 3, Portal 3, Team Fortress 3 and whatever else might follow their new Source Engine and prove that it works.

    “What about Valve’s other hardware projects?”
    I’m more excited about the Oculus Rift coming up soon, than anything else Valve has alluded to. I’m not going to let them measure my heartbeat or anything like that either.
    I thought it was a stupid idea and possibly an invasion of privacy when Nintendo tried it, I don’t think much differently now.

    “Do we want Steam ruling the world?
    I’d rather them than Activision Blizzard, Microsoft, EA, UbiSoft, SONY or a number of other corporate entities at the moment that don’t particularly keep you guessing if they’re out to screw you or not, but scream it in your face.
    That said I still don’t like some of the moves Valve is making, most notably for instance recently the entire EULA and keeping games hostage thing, trying to prevent VPNs and to regionalize parts of the world like Microsoft and other shops (instead of handling it like GoG) as well as their increased interest in Monetization or more recently the hat RMAH.
    As mentioned before, if their exploits into the Linux sphere are successful everyone is going to benefit from it though, even if we have to rid ourselves from Valve one day. xD

    Anti-Trust laws unfortunately don’t seem to be as much of a thing as they were 10-20 years ago though or some companies would already be knee deep in lawsuits.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Direct3D is not the biggest problem with porting, it’s the wide range of other third party libs for stuff like physics, sound, video etc.

      • D3xter says:

        It kind of is. Or any other parts of software owned by Microsoft at that (like DirectSound). They’re already working with the likes of Nvidia and AMD/ATI on their Linux effort and I don’t think it would be very hard to convince most 3rd parties to offer support if there is a big commercial push behind it.
        Microsoft on the other hand will never comply, since they have too much to lose.

        • Kaira- says:

          No, D3D is not even close to being the biggest hurdle. Proprietary 3rd party libraries (and replacing them) are the biggest hurdle easily. If you planned multiplatforming your code from beginning, porting will be easy. If you didn’t… a long and painful road ahead.

          • D3xter says:

            I don’t think you get what I’m saying. I wasn’t talking about the effort of porting a specific game, but the possibility of it. If Linux becomes a real viable alternative most of those libraries and APIs will do a port. Several engines for instance like Unity or Unreal have already added support recently.

            What is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN under any circumstance is you seeing DirectX or DirectSound being used on Linux instead of OpenGL or OpenAL.

      • uh20 says:

        porting vessel for linux and mac was one big bloody mess because of the physics engine, not only d3d.

        the game is still bad, it has no multithreading support, theres visual bugs, and its like your playing the game in slow motion (and i have a nvidia 670 so that kinda says something about the performance)

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      You can’t (currently) use stores like GoG and GamersGate on Linux. Does that mean Linux isn’t a PC OS?

      Being facetious of course. GoG will no doubt have Linux support just as soon as they can port the Witcher, and the Humble Store works fine on Linux. But it’s worth noting that, even if this thing is a full featured PC, it’ll be a PC that works quite differently to the ones people are used to.

      • Kaira- says:

        GamersGate distributes Linux-binaries for games that have them.

      • Createx says:

        And GoG distributes many games with emulators like DosBox already, which you can run just fine under most Linux distros. And honestly, I think GoG will jump on the Linux Wagon in a blink if the SteamBox gets big.

      • ObiDamnKenobi says:

        Sure you can use GoG with Linux. It’s just that the games don’t run (natively), but the shop itself works fine. I’ve downloaded and installed several gog games and run them under wine. Desura has a Linux client, although the selection is of course sparse.

        I’ve used steam for Linux a bit and it’s not bad, but it still need some work. I’m excited for crusader kings 2 fort Linux though. That’s one of the few reasons I have to still boot into W7!

  12. Ross Angus says:

    Weird. What with all the dollar signed in this comment thread, my internal Spam filter keeps giving me false positives.

  13. InternetBatman says:

    I disagree entirely on the premise that it’s not competing with the x-box and playstation, and think the author’s dismissal shows either a lack of critical examination or sarcasm I missed. It’s a box that hooks up to the TV and plays games, who do you think they’re competing with? Why do you think Valve is pushing Linux so hard? Why are they even entering such an unfriendly market?

    Major OS companies are trying to lock people into one system. MS is clearly trying to make Windows a sub-based service with an integrated store. An integrated store quickly gives MS market dominance over steam in the eyes of publishers, just by virtue of the number of people that have it installed.

    Gabe Newell has said repeatedly that games push new technology. He’s trying to use Steambox as a wedge to push people off of Windows, just as MS is trying to use the x-box as a way to lock people into Live.

    And make no mistake, the dominant competition will be between the x-box and the steambox. The PS3 has a natural advantage of being from Japan and getting a majority of the Japanese games that come over (that aren’t from Nintendo). X-box and Steambox will both be Western focused consoles with a heavy emphasis on online services.

    • Frannk says:

      Indeed, if my PS3 is in it’s Viking coffin then call me a Viking and dead!

      I love PC gaming. I love Console gaming. I don’t follow 360, but some of the games coming out this year on PS3 will rival anything on PC in their genres (Beyond: Two Souls and The Last of Us are 2 that come to mind.)

  14. hazard says:

    So Intel has these tiny book-sized PCs called NUC (Next Unit of Computing) — i3 CPUs, HDMI, USB. Do people just stick this behind their TV and call it a steambox? If not, what stops you? Is it the CPU power? Weak GPU? Zotac makes some as well. I guess the additional cost of the OS needs to be factored in… but to me these seem plenty fine for a dedicated ‘big picture’ steam box.

    • Skabooga says:

      I think this is a fair point: if a Steambox is simply a small computer that you can plug into your television and play your games on, don’t we already have this?

      • SuicideKing says:

        Heck, i have a BIG computer that can plug into my TV!

        When i have friends over i actually do that.

  15. povu says:

    Valve is in the unique position that it can sell a PC at a loss and make up for it through Steam sales. It wouldn’t surprise me if the $1100 Steam Box will actually be a bit cheaper.

    • uh20 says:

      once again, that was only the high-end model, please stop saying that evil number before others get idea’s that it actually will cost that much

      (it wont, i would be suprised if its more than $500)

    • Hatey says:

      Nobody is in a position where they can sell an open PC at a loss or even heavily subsidized, nobody. If it’s open (just a pc) then nothings stopping me, your grandma or any company from buying them and turning right around and used them for anything but buying games of Steam.

      A quicker way of bankrupting Valve would to just give away cash at the HQ, then you don’t have to bother with manufacturing and shipping stuff.

  16. I Got Pineapples says:

    Does anyone think the Steambox isn’t going to be horribly crushed beneath the weight of the Next Gen X-Box and PS4?

    Putting aside the RPS PCmens tendency towards the narrative of mighty champion of PCmens Gabe Newell heading to show the consolemens how realmens do it, do people seriously think this is a contender?

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      It’s going to be tough, given that they really need to both:
      a) get to market first and,
      b) be more powerful than the competition.

      Are Valve anywhere near rich enough to pull an original XBox with this, and effectively lag behind for an entire console generation while they build their infrastructure and credibility?

      • I Got Pineapples says:

        I mean, to be brutally honest, even openess is a strike against it. The console is gaming as appliance. Variability fucks that up and divides the market.

    • milman says:

      Xbox & Playstation will crush any Steam box in sales figures, really no doubting that. This project is a slow burn though, gamers will dominate initial sales but over time it will creep into family rooms around the world once it’s major advantages become more glaringly obvious to the average family. Valve probably has much more capacity to let this evolve than we think, embracing the likes of Xi3 and others(?) is sharing the burden, they can focus on shifting units of the “official” Steam box to it’s core gaming Steam users while others infiltrate the mainstream. Steam still ends up on TV’s and that’s where the money is.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I don’t. They’re coming into the market with a userbase that’s two thirds the size of the other two.

      The real questions are hardware and developer support/ games. Ditching optical media means a smaller market, but it also means they can do more with the hardware and lower the price. So you have a smaller, quieter, biometric enabled, faster box that could quite possibly be cheaper and break down less. If Valve subsidizes the price of the console, it could have a very competitive offering price, and they might not even have to do as much.

      For developer support, Half-Life 3 might come on it. Patches will be free, and Valve already has an equivalent relationship with most major publishers (they’ll probably have to make some concessions to EA though). They won’t get the Japanese games of the PS3, but it should end up roughly equivalent to the x-box, especially if they can get Epic on board. It will come with a widely-played free FPS on it. Then there’s the indies, where Steam is far more competitive. Oh, and it could possibly have Wasteland 2 and Project Eternity on it.

      I think in the end, sales will come down to how much Valve is willing to subsidize the hardware, how good the biometric controls are, and how much they advertise.

      • dirtrobot says:

        There’s no way half-life 3 will run on a miniaturized PC that costs under 500. Miniaturization demands a premium price in electronics, usually on parts that are not mass-produced to the scale of being discounted. Nor will Valve be able to afford a loss-leadership position in the market, it’s not nearly as big as MS or Sony.

        MS and Sony also benefit from being able to make their stuff SUPER optimized because they can count on the hardware, unit-to-unit being the same. If Steamboxes come in all sorts of different chip-flavours, then that’s yet ANOTHER strike against a mini PC running decent ‘current gen’ games.

        I’m not saying I’m absolutely positively right, I definitely welcome any dialogue relating to these points.

        • InternetBatman says:

          Valve is a billion dollar company by most estimates, and they have a bit less to subsidize since they don’t have an optical drive. If they have two billion in cash reserves (which is probably high, but no one knows what they have in reserves) and get 50 million in ownership, they could uncomfortably afford to subsidize the hardware by about 80 bucks a device. This computer is small, this is also not Valve’s steambox, so you can’t assume its miniaturized. or that the Valvebox won’t be the standardized device that allows them to do the same thing.

          That’s not counting the money they get from new customers buying games on the Steambox.

        • wireless says:

          Source 2 (or whatever the new variant is) will still likely be optimized for the low end, and I would expect Valve to throw some special features in for their Steam Box, like biometrics and Half Life 3. If they launch with HL3 or Left 4 Dead 3 or whatever, they will get a ton of attention drawn to the Steam Box, and considering they will still have Steam, their free to play catalog, indie selection, etc., players will take notice.

          And if they offer any or all of their Linux API’s, publishers will have easy access to an extremely open platform. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they tied it to Steamworks somehow. I can see plenty of publishers jumping on that, if it lowers the cost to port but opens up a new market.

          Possibly the biggest problem is their most devoted audience is already in their system; just not on the Steam Box. But if they offer something that works with our gaming pc’s, I could see people shelling out 200 for biometrics or better streaming support.

          And for the loss-leader thing; Sony and MS operate at a deficit for years selling their consoles. Valve is using various partners, and will always be making money due to Steam. If anything, they’re in the best position to operate at a loss, because they will get players into the Steam system and don’t have to worry about used game sales and all that.

  17. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    Where is the Staring Eyes tag!?

  18. Michael Fogg says:

    Pfft, Wearable computing. Edible Computing, now that’s the future!

  19. Tiax says:

    “They’re from a different era – before PC gaming was reborn and mobile/tablet devices surged ”

    I might be asking that out of total ignorance, but when exactly did PC gaming died and when was it reborn ? Also, why ?

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      It died when gaming companies realised there were broader demographics than ‘guys who could afford expensive office equipment to play games on’

      It came back to life when it started getting console ports when it wasn’t too inconvenient.

    • I Got Pineapples says:

      To put it in perspective, PC indie gaming darling Minecraft has sold significantly less copies on the PC than it did over Xbox LIve.

  20. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    Valve are throwing away time/money on this most PC gamers will use their own hardware regardless the main reason they are even doing this is because of Windows 8 & the App Store. It will just become another in a long line of failed products Valve should concentrate on making a new Half Life……..

    • whatfruit says:

      But this isn’t really for PC games is it.

      It is for those who want to play PC games and all of these fancy mods,indies and other wonders they keep reading about but who panic when asked to enter the control panel.

      PC users will stick with what they know and Valve already has them covered. But valve can see the huge console market and knows that it can at least get its feet under the table with those who are not satisfied currently with the way Sony and Microsoft are treating the core audience.

    • Cross says:

      Do you honestly think Valve would be making this if they didn’t think it had promise? Gabe newell has been quoted with saying that he was “surprised” by the sheer amount of people who took to using big picture with their TVs. There’s more than likely a market for this, you just aren’t part of it. But about that Half-Life, that sure would be nice…

    • InternetBatman says:

      I don’t think Valve has that many failed products (besides the fairy game).

  21. Stevostin says:

    My 2 cents : this is journalist fire, but the truth is $1000 price tag + linux based = niche market and Valve knows it. And that’s why they’re playing it as low as they can : they just stopped hiding some stuff. But they’re doing it in a completely different ways than console maker. They just let it happen, grow gently, improve it in the process while there is a smaller user base, and then if it goes well push it more. I don’t know if it can work, I bet even they don’t know, but one thing they’re doing is controlling the costs and attracting attention, so in a way, that’s already cost efficient. Smart company, as you put it.

    Oh, and if you remember, that’s exactly how they imposed steam. Few seem to remember here but first 2 years of steam weren’t great. But Valve can be patient, when they’ve decided something.

    • newprince says:

      I was about to bring that up :P I was PISSED when I had to install Steam when I got Half-Life 2. It took a long while before I actually liked Steam, then loved it. Now I still use it as my game library of choice, but… more because it’s the only real option and I can’t deny its convenience.

  22. TheRaven says:

    I want to know why no one is asking the big question…………. And that is:

    Will Valve pull the ultimate of Dick moves and make Half Life 3 a “Steam Box Exclusive” to get their new system off the ground???????

    • whatfruit says:

      I doubt that they would do that since that would alienate their customers and also make it finiacially unviable since they will not get a large enough install base at launch. THe more likely approach valve will take is that Half Life 3 will be a PC/Mac/Steam Box exclusive.

      I can see Half Life 3 though being bundled with a steam box.But right now this is all speculation and hearsay we won’t know anything concrete until Gabe speaks. I doubt we will get any serious announcment for how the steambox will work until after this years E3, Sony and microsoft will have put their cards on the table and valve can evaluate if it can compete or at least disrupt the two big dinosaurs.

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      Not to mention technically infeasible. From all we know the SteamBox is still a PC, so exclusive in what sense?

    • InternetBatman says:

      I doubt it. They have a history of making their products available cross platform on Steam. I doubt it’ll go on the consoles though.

    • jhng says:

      The obvious approach would be to make HL3 PC/Mac/Linux only and then use it to pull sofa-people from consoles onto Steamboxes by coming in mid-2013 by which time there will be very little draw for people to buy new consoles and the next-gen will still be some time off.

      Valve don’t need to pull people from PC onto Steambox because they already have our money through Steam. To up their game they have to pull people from consoles onto a more open platform where they can get in with Steam. Hence Steambox. With the overstretched console cycle, now is the time to do it. And if they don’t leverage HL3 to the max, they are totally mad. (presuming it exists…)

  23. trjp says:

    The BIG question still remains “If Valve are serious about making a Linux-based Steam Box” – which is what most people seem to think they’re doing – how many people give a shit?

    What percentage of existing Steam games work on Linux now? <1%??

    There's NO way Valve could get that number above a few % without deleting most of their catalog (perhaps that's why they keep selling it for pennies?) – maybe they've worked-out a way of getting 'legal' Windows emulation on there, but I doubt it.

    Linux-based gaming has been tried before and failed horribly horribly – it's a standing joke tbh

    As a game developer, you have to target certain platforms and right now that means

    AAA/AA Game – Xbox/PS3 and maybe PC/Wii-U
    Bigger Indie Game – XBLA, PC, PSN
    Smaller Indie Game – iOS, PC, Android, XBLig in roughly that order

    There's some overlap there but that's basically how it is.

    A Steam-based Linux box would appear at the end of any of those lists, if at all – there are major issues in terms of even choosing software libraries/hardware chips to target – even if Valve somehow come-up with a benchmark Linux hardware config/software library selection, they have to sell that to the developers (and to the makers of middleware products like UDK, Unity et al)

    Another platform, at this point in gaming – is going to be a hard sell – esp with

    a – iOS having torn a massive hole on the trad. gaming market
    b – MS and Sony both close to talking about their next-gen platforms
    c – Microsoft distracted by a stupid tablet no-one wants to buy

    Part of me wants to think "Valve having something clever up their sleeve – a licence to use W7 in some way – a legal form of WINE" – then I look at Greenlight and I think "or they could just be trying to make to dance for no reward"…

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      “which is what most people seem to think they’re doing” – No, it definitely is what they’re doing. Can’t tell you who gives a shit, but I can tell you don’t. ;)

      And WINE is not illegal, what gives you that idea? Companies like Codeweavers and Transgaming make a healthy living off WINE-based products.

      EDIT: And re Unity and UDK. Unity already builds Linux binaries just fine, and Dungeon Defenders on Linux is an Unreal Engine 3 game.

      You are right though in that there will be some convincing of developers needed.

      • trjp says:

        WINE is a minefield of legal issues both but end-users and for developers targetting it.

        Simply offering to sell a game which works on WINE could leave a developer open to prosecution as they don’t necessarily have the right to distribute MS libraries to non-MS licensed platforms.

        It’s a massive mess and I can’t really see a company like Valve wanting to get involved in it.

        Steam is basically a mixture of a shop and a library (buy games, store games to play later) – by pushing it onto a platform where the games don’t work you’re doing something bonkers.

        It’s akin to a major bookshop chain deciding only to stock books in Norwegian and you not living in Norway…

    • zeroskill says:

      Also, I don’t quite understand the reasoning behind this for Valve.

      The most popular PC games are all unfit (with the exception of maybe Skyrim) for living room gaming considering that, the likes of Starcraft, Dota, League of Legends, any MMO including World of Warcraft or Guild Wars, or any Multiplayer FPS basically require you to play them with mouse and keyboard.

      Without even getting into the Linux question.

      • rustybroomhandle says:

        There’s an option ion Steam to show you all the controller-supporting games. My own library would likely do poorly with that filter though, with the Paradox pack I picked up in a Steam sale now occupying a big chunk of it. :)

        • zeroskill says:

          And so would mine. Sure, there are games out there on the PC and Steam that are perfectly fit for controller use, Super Meat Boy, Mark of the Ninja, but is it really worth buying hardware for? Looking at myself, the games I put the most hours into last years would clearly be Dota 2 and Guild Wars 2. And I feel those types of games are doing quite well on the PC.

          Just wondering about the thought process behind this entire moving into the living room with the PC thing. Don’t get me wrong, I like playing video games on my TV with a controller and just chilling out with some Mark of the Ninja. But I think this is not why most PC gamers are PC gamers. Without wanting to sound like a “know it all”. But if you look at the biggest player bases on the PC, it’s mostly games designed with keyboard and mouse in mind.

        • trjp says:

          As an aside, I noticed that if you have Steam running, have the latest MS Wireless Drivers for the 360 controller installed and hit the ‘guide’ button on your controller, Steam boots ‘Big Picture’ mode

          Yes, even if you’re in the middle of something else and just dropped your controller…

    • jhng says:

      Except that new platforms do happen — and typically they never look like a good idea at the outset. Was there not huge scepticism about Xbox when Microsoft first went down that route? And similarly about Android, and Google branching out into the mobile sphere.

      We don’t know what kind of back up Valve have got on this — buy in from a business like AMD might mean a lot. But if anyone has the nous, experience and incentive to get an open platform attached to people’s TVs then it is Valve. Let’s wait and see.

  24. Pindie says:

    With Microsoft abandoning PC as a platform and EA Games being insufferable twats it’s not like Steam has any competition.
    As silly as it is they are the only company that has enough investment in PC gaming that it makes them want to push it forward.

    • trjp says:

      Bringing out a linux-based console would not, in any way, “support PC gaming”

      Almost everyone who ‘PC games” does so on a system running Windows – if they bought into this device they’d no longer be PC gamers really, would they?

      No more than people who play on 360 (which is essentially PC hardware with a custom game-focussed OS) are…

      • Snakejuice says:

        Congratulations on getting every single sentence of you post wrong.

        “Almost everyone who ‘PC games” does so on a system running Windows – if they bought into this device they’d no longer be PC gamers really, would they?”
        They would, a PC is about the hardware (x86) and the freedom to use your own hardware as you see fit.

        “No more than people who play on 360 (which is essentially PC hardware with a custom game-focussed OS) are…”
        No, just no. The 360 does NOT use PC hardware (x86). The first xbox kind of did tho.

        Next time, get your facts straight before trying to use them in an argument.

  25. rustybroomhandle says:

    Just a thought for Nathan Grayson, and RPS in general, I guess. Instead of giving us a list of 10+ questions we should be asking, why don’t YOU ask Valve these questions, and come tell us what they answered instead?

    It would be the most journalisticest thing to do.

    • lijenstina says:

      Maybe Valve employees do read RPS. Well, at least, until the last question when they’ll spontaneously combust leaving almost no one to work on Ricochet 2.

      • zeroskill says:

        They do. We already had some Valve folks commenting even.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Valve will eventually answer all the questions, in the form of a zillion press releases.

  26. Kamos says:

    “Is this still PC gaming?”

    Can I install any OS? If so, then yes, this is PC gaming, in my opinion. What makes the PC the PC is the fact that it is open to all developers (in some form), even if they can’t get their creations into one or another specific digital distribution platform.

  27. jonfitt says:

    But am I not alone in not wanting any more gaming boxes no matter the size? I want more ways to access the powerful PC I already own, not a compromise system to use in another room.

    I want a thruming box of netherworld power locked in the attic, and then the ability to access it with zero latency from the sofa, ipad, or desktop monitor. I want GaiKai for LAN.

  28. newprince says:

    I’m all for Valve working on this, because a wonderful side effect will be, finally, viable high end gaming on Linux. I have never really loved Windows, but it’s been relatively stable as a platform to launch games and not get in my way much. But that has ended now with Windows 8, and I refuse to support them anymore. I will keep Win7 until it is no longer feasible, and I hope in the meantime Valve gets more and more people to take Linux gaming seriously.

    The hardware is interesting, but I only see it as an option to me if hardware really gets on the ball and micro boxes become a reality (and cheaper). I realize they will always be a bit more expensive than your normal ATX rig, which is fine, but I don’t want to pay such a huge premium for merely a smaller (and prettier) form factor. I’m also concerned about heat issues, but Intel and hopefully GPU makers seem to be on to the idea of smarter voltage and whatnot.

    Any way you slice it, it’s exciting to be in the PC game space, as always. iOS is stagnating as a gaming platform, Android is promising but is still not looking into the high end… Valve seems to be the only one with their finger on the pulse.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Don’t forget that the Steambox has a definite advantage in one heat issue, there’s not optical media.

  29. newprince says:

    Oh, also, just wanted to say that I really hope Valve doesn’t make its own distro or worse a fork of Linux. Or make Linux users have to use those to run Steam optimally for Linux. It will be very tempting for them to do so, as they will be afraid of Windows users who have never touched Linux before.

  30. stupid_mcgee says:

    Steam’s basically unopposed on PC, and a lack of competition tends to breed complacency in, you know, human beings. So far, however, Valve’s consistently expanded and improved Steam’s functionality despite lacking a young upstart hot on its heels.

    Well, except for the lurching, reanimated corpse that is the The Software Client Currently Known As Origin. But they don’t believe in sales. Because lots of people buying stuff at a discount cheapens the IP. The IP is no longer as valuable once the plebes have gotten their grubby paws upon it.

    • Kamos says:

      Once upon a time there was also Impulse. It was light weight and responsive. It let me do what I wanted with the games I paid for. I had some games in it. Don’t know what happened to it since then.

      Steam is still heavy and clunky after what, ten years of development? They should really hire some designers. Seriously, maybe just flush their app and begin anew. I have a notebook page filled with stuff I wish Steam would do. For instance: I’m often in a group chat in Steam with five or more people. How do we find out what games we can play together? We had to create a google docs spreadsheet for that.

      I reckon I could add that to Steam myself in an hour if I had access to the code. Apparently, they either can’t be bothered or they are out of ideas. They already *are* complacent. I wish RPS would pick up the flag and ask Valve to get their shit together.

  31. markcocjin says:

    You don’t understand Nathan. Valve is not one thing. Gabe is not some cult’s messiah.

    Valve is a community of entertainment professionals living in this world where they are safe. Gabe is merely the custodian. Whatever happens in Valve happens because it’s being allowed to.

    They’re figuring things out freely. Where they are safe from those who have no valuable role in the entertainment industry’s future.

    Okay they’re a cult. And Gabe’s a messiah. At least he’s not Valve’s messiah. It’s the internet that worships him.

  32. sicbanana says:

    On a completely different note:

    May I please redesign this abomination? I mean, it’s nice that you can park a car on it, it’s sturdy, a simple aluminium strand casting and all that, but come on… this can’t be the best design someone could have come up with. I’m obviously talking from a designer standpoint here, so the technical features don’t concern me all that much at first hand.

    So here’s another formal approach for you: If you can get everything so small it fits into your hand and you also need some kind of casing for all the electronic wizardry, why not make it a simple box then? And i’m talking about a elegant, minimal, matte cube here! Maybe even in your favorite color! Wouldn’t that make much more sense? ;)

    If I were Valve, well, I wouldn’t put my logo on this lump of aluminium…

    “Good design is as little design as possible” – Dieter Rams

    • yrrnn says:

      I agree, a nice simple straight edged box shape would be beautiful. But fortunately, this is just one Steam machine being developed by Xi3, using the design of their current products, and it’s not Valve’s official Steam Box.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Maybe it’s easier to grab this way? Maybe they actually like this shape? Maybe they want their object to be visible rather than disappear in the background?

      “Less is a bore.” – Robert Venturi

  33. Mokinokaro says:

    One big issue I find with the Steambox is that it’s going to have a heck of a time competing with the other consoles for two reasons:
    1. Disc-based games over solely digital releases (many places have limited internet or internet with bandwidth caps.)
    2. Online DRM (current consoles do not force you to be online all the time, Steambox will if it’s based on the current version of Steam.)

    You also have the issue of convincing developers to go to Linux, when DirextX is a hell of a lot easier to work with than the buggy and programmer-unfriendly openGL “standard.”

    My prediction is that Steambox will barely make a dent in the Windows machines are simply the huge majority and it’s a very hard sell to convince most gamers to buy a Steambox where their library will be severely limited (yes, I know you can install Windows on it, but why buy Steambox if you have a perfectly good gaming PC already.?)

  34. yrrnn says:

    I find the idea of a console-like Steam Box very exciting. I can picture myself getting such a device for my living room to complement my gaming PC in the study. I really like the idea of playing a game on my PC or couch, pausing it, moving to the other steam machine, and continuing playing the exact same game relatively seamlessly. That is incredibly appealing to me. I also like the increased attention that this will inevitably bring to Steam, and that can only mean Steam versions of games becoming higher priority for developers.

    I was kind of hoping that Valve would just release one controlled Steam Box, made by them, instead of going down the Android route – it just seems like one standardized box would have been simpler for consumers and developers, but they’re obviously not doing this, so hopefully the other route works too.

    As for the Valve Steam Box running on Linux, hopefully this will put pressure on developers to make their games compatible, and it won’t be much of an issue for future releases. This doesn’t really fix the back catalogue though. I wouldn’t be surprised if Valve is working on some kind of built-in Wine-style emulation that will allow Windows games to run on the Linux machine. That would be ideal, and of course then future releases can run natively.

    I think with a decent controller (and some kind of solution for mouse and keyboard), some basic multimedia features (at least a way to play movies off a hard drive or even to just launch XBMC or something), a sizeable catalogue of games available on release and a simple way to launch them (no Uplay or Games for Windows BS), and a low enough price, the Steam Box could actually give the next generation of consoles a pretty decent run for their money.

    I also think some kind of setup like the Wii U gamepad or even the NVidia Shield that allows you to play your games from anywhere in your house wirelessly is a pretty cool idea. Granted, if you already have two gaming machines in two different rooms that might not be necessary.

    Also, I wouldn’t put it past Valve to announce Half Life 3 when the Steam Box is released. It might be a long shot given their track record, but if it is ready in time, it really would make sense. A massively hyped launch title would really help initial adoption of the Steam Box, and would put Valve front and centre in the gaming media spotlight. And after all of these years and the constant questions they get, I think it’s a pretty sure thing that they still plan on making it, and have been constantly revising and revisiting it since announcing HL2 Episode 3 all those years ago. It just hasn’t arrived because they’re not happy with it yet.

  35. Alecthar says:

    It’s interesting to me that Nathan mentions the possibility of the device being used for Netflix or other content streaming. Netflix requires emulation of Windows plugins to (barely) function, and currently that package is only available on Ubuntu. Other online streaming sites that utilize Flash require users to depend on Flash for Linux which is (if you can believe it) even worse on Linux than other platforms.

    Simply put, if streaming content is going to be a thing on Steam-boxen, and those Steam-boxen are going to be built on Linux, Valve is probably going to have to develop streaming plugins for Steam itself. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was in the pipeline, but I think it is a necessity if any brand of Steam-box is to make a play for the living room.