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It Begins: Valve And Xi3 Team For 'Piston' Steam Box

Hey everyone, you're never going to believe this. The Steam Box? It's totally real. I know, right? I mean, a series of totally unsubstantiated rumors from Valve alphabeard Gabe Newell was dubious at best, and Big Picture mode spent so much time in development for no reason whatsoever. But somehow - completely unexpectedly - we're now here, watching Valve and mini-PC maker Xi3 team up to reveal "an integrated system that exceeds the capabilities of leading game consoles, but can fit in the palm of your hand." Xi3 also compared the device's physical size to that of a grapefruit, meaning that this is yet another mind-blowing technological advancement I'll have to worry about accidentally eating.

Beyond those (subject to change) physical specs and full Steam integration, details are depressingly scarce at the moment. Fortunately, an in-development version of the magical space grapefruit will be squirting its Valve-flavored juices into show-goers' eyes at CES this week, so hopefully we'll have more specifics soon. Until then, though, here's Xi3 being really pleased with themselves.

"Today marks the beginning of a new era for Xi3," said Jason A. Sullivan, founder, President and CEO of Xi3. "This new development stage product will allow users to take full-advantage of their large high-definition TV displays for an amazing computer game experience. As a result, this new system could provide access to thousands of gaming titles through an integrated system that exceeds the capabilities of leading game consoles, but can fit in the palm of your hand."

It's also worth noting that Valve's also made a full-blown investment in Xi3, so this isn't just some throwaway third-party project. Or at least, it certainly doesn't seem that way. Meanwhile, a Linux-powered Steam box was allegedly revealed in Germany yesterday, but there's no telling if the two are one in the same.

So then, the plot thickens, and CES continues to be a treasure trove of interesting (if not necessarily glamorous) windows into the future of PC gaming. The most obvious message here? There are a lot of powerful people attempting to push PC gaming into the living room. Will it work? Will it become the new standard? And, if so, how will the change of scenery affect the focus of the games people choose to develop for our most marvellous of mother platforms? Seems like we'll get answers to these questions sooner rather than later. Personally, so long as I get to keep my thriving mod and indie scenes, I'm fine with playing anywhere - office, bedroom, living room, in a box, with a fox, whatever.

Actually, that brings us to the rather interesting question of what defines PC gaming as a whole and whether or not this type of thing presents a threat to that essence. So I'm curious: what specific thing(s) makes PC gaming for you, and are you worried that wading into "enemy" (read: console) territory could extinguish that?

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