There are rumors that valve may have a gaming console of their own to compete with the x-box 360/720 and PS3/4
It could be said that a gaming console is basically just a PC in a box: A box you can't open or modify without voiding your warranty, and one that runs a proprietary operating system that you can't really alter or install additional software on. And it seems that Valve – the company behind Steam, the digital distribution service for gamers on PCs – is taking this concept literally. The Verge's Joshua Topolsky threw down a report last night that indicates Valve is allegedly working on a set-top console that would compete directly against Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3. The Core i7-based "Steam Box," an unofficial name, would run an Nvidia-based GPU and would allegedly allow gamers to install rival gaming services on the box as well – but there's no indication so far that living room gamers would be given free rein to do whatever they please with the PC-in-a-living-room. Rumors suggest that Alienware's X51 was designed based on an early load-out of Valve's system: Doesn't help much that the X51 practically looks like a console, too. Valve's unannounced device, a sample of which allegedly made the rounds in back-room chats at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, is expected to ship with a proprietary Valve controller – one that might allow gamers to reconfigure buttons and joysticks on-the-fly, suggests a patent Valve filed last year. Since Valve has a keen interest in player biometrics – a person's pulse rate, galvanic response, gaze tracking, et cetera – there's also a suggestion that a method for biometric feedback will somehow be incorporated into either Valve's controller or a number of other USB devices that will allegedly be compatible with Valve's console. So, why turn to living rooms? Valve's digital distribution service is ideal for gamers interested in a pay-once, play-anywhere kind of a setup – a feature that's only rarely found on Sony's PlayStation 3 console. Valve's Portal 2 game supported cross-platform play between PS3 gamers and their PC or Mac counterparts, for example, and the game also came with a code to unlock the PC version of the game on Steam. It's no secret that Steam does mimic some of the more common conventions of console gaming: Achievements, friend matchmaking and third-party social network integration, a comprehensive download store (that doesn't rely on some silly cash-replacement system like Steam Points or what-have-you), and automatic game (and driver) updates. And then Valve throws a little extra in: community "groups" for partying up with like-minded individuals and scheduling gaming nights, full access to more hardcore development tools and gaming server hosting, and a slow roll-out of the "Steam Workshop" for third-party modders to host and share their favorite game alterations. What's left to find out? Key to Valve's hopes are the system's price – fun as cross-platform ownership might be, gamers would likely balk at purchasing a living room PC for twice the price of a conventional gaming console. And it remains to be seen just how well Valve's service would work with games that just aren't on Steam for various reasons – the "Steam Box" might support EA's Origin service, for example, but would it the integration be as slick as Steam? Why would EA want to play nicely with a competitor in digital distribution when it could instead shovel gamers toward the PC, Xbox, or PlayStation versions of its titles? Valve might show off its living room concept at this year's Game Developers Conference, but it's also been suggested that Valve will postpone the big unveil until E3. And, to add more fuel to the fire, Topolsky says that he's seen even more of the "Steam Box" than he's currently allowed to report on: We look forward to seeing what these tidbits might be.
I like the idea. If they can sell a PC, keyboard, and mouse for less than $400 with a new model every year they could bring PC gaming back into relevance.
I'm spending a year dead for tax reasons.
15th December 2002
Depends what it is, if it is just a console, it's a bad idea, Steam's niche is the PC market. If it's a slim form factor PC with gaming and TV connection in mind, that's cool, but I already own one.
Danny King | Community Manager | GameFront.com
17th June 2002
Sounds like they're going down the route Alienware just tried, and I don't think they'll get anywhere either.