GDC 12: The bigger big picture, Steam Box to be announced?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | March 3, 2012 - 05:16 PM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Box, steam, GDC 12

It is rumored that Valve will announce a Steam hardware platform as early as GDC next week although that could be pushed back as late as E3 in June.

Steam has grown atop the PC platform and consists of over 40 million active user accounts. For perspective, the Xbox 360 has sold 65.8 million units to date and that includes units sold to users whose older Xbox 360s died and they did not go the cardboard coffin route. Of course the study does not account for the level of hardware performance each user can utilize although Valve does keep regular surveys of that.

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A console with admined dedicated servers to kick the teabagging and griefing Steam punks.

Within the last couple of years, Valve has been popping in to news seemingly out of the blue. Allow me to draw your attention to three main events.

At the last GDC, Valve announced “The Big Picture” mode for their Steam software. The Big Picture is an interface for Steam which is friendly to users seated on a couch several feet away from a large screen TV. While “The Big Picture” has yet to be released it does set the stage for a great Home Theatre PC user interface for PC games as well as potentially other media.

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I must admit, that controller does not look the most ergonomic... but it is just a patent filing.

Last year, Valve also filed a patent with the US Patent Office for a video game controller with user swappable control components. Their patent filings show a controller which looks quite similar to an Xbox 360 controller where the thumbsticks can be replaced with touch pads as well as a trackball and potentially other devices. Return of Missile Command anyone?

Also a little over two years ago, Valve announced a partnership with Razer for their Sixense high-precision motion controllers. It is possible that Valve was supporting this technology for this future all along. While motion controllers have not proven to be successful for gaming, they are accepted as a method to control a device. Perhaps The Big Picture will be optimized to support Sixense and compatible devices?

The Verge goes beyond their claims that Valve will announce The Steam Box and has included specifications for a closed-doors prototype of the system. The system was rumored to be used to present to partners at CES contained an Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU.

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You know if Microsoft had focused on Media Center for gaming rather than the Xbox...

It is very unclear whether Valve will attempt to take a loss on the platform in hopes to make it back up in Steam commissions. It is possible that Valve will just push the platform to OEM partners, but it is possible that they will release and market their own canon device.

I am interested to see how Valve will push the Home Theatre PC market. The main disadvantage that the PC platform has at the moment is simply marketing and development money. It is also possible that they wish to expand out and support other media through their Steam service as well.

At the very least, we should have a viable Home Theatre PC user interface as well as sharp lines between hardware profiles. A developer on the PC would love to know the exact number of potential users they should expect if they were to support a certain hardware configuration. Valve was always keen on supplying hardware profile statistics, and this is certainly a harsh evolution of that.

Source: The Verge
March 3, 2012 | 06:06 PM - Posted by Andrew (not verified)

I do all my gaming On PC, & since Half Life 2 have been almost exclusively using Steam, excepting a few old DOS games My entire Games Library is Steam Based, I even run it under Wine on Linux Boxes, This Seems like a good move for Steam into a New Market (Console Gaming) that has been a little stale for a while.

March 3, 2012 | 06:32 PM - Posted by Jay Christian (not verified)

If Steam makes a box and I can play MMOS and games I have on my tv I might look into this and get one. Alot of games do use a controller over a keyboard. if a keyboard came with it then it might sell more

March 4, 2012 | 09:16 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

why would steam need to get into the console market? Most people already have atleast 2 machines in their house, sell them games.

You don't need to provide hardware to people that already have the hardware.

March 4, 2012 | 10:50 PM - Posted by rajorman

this a bit odd for steam to do, I doubt that this would ever be released. They may as well just join or get endorse by a gaming PC company I.E alienware (which I think they do as my M17x r3 came with steam and portal )

March 5, 2012 | 09:20 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

i would love for steam to announce a new console because the xbox360 and ps3 have been stinking for a while

March 5, 2012 | 10:30 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

^ just another reason you should be using your PC.

March 5, 2012 | 02:19 PM - Posted by Adam (not verified)

Wouldn't it be awesome if it were just a highly customized low cost entry level gaming PC for $600 rather than another crappy console?

March 6, 2012 | 05:04 PM - Posted by Irishgamer01

This is the last thing PC gamers need.
Console means. Stale Hardware. So will lock PC game standards for the next 6 years. Sort of what xbox is doing. Cheap video chip so 6770 style graphics for the next 6 years. More cost for games, steam will want bigger cut off game prices. Thats why xbox games are dearer than PC, extra money goes to microsoft. Drain on developers, an extra console, so PC game projects may suffer. I assume there will be differences between it and PC's like DRM, joypads etc.

Bright side, Origin and EA will be delighted.
I quite like it appart from the big icons.

March 8, 2012 | 05:45 PM - Posted by Markon101

Guys, think about it, this could actually help us PC guys out some. Valve will make more money, and if they set the bar higher than the other consoles then it will help. (Also more games would be made for windows (Basically) instead of being ports..)

March 14, 2012 | 01:12 PM - Posted by pest (not verified)

Why all the replies that ruled out an upgradeable console? What if it literally had a normal (or approved) pci express video card and you could swap in a better one? Also, I doubt steam would be targeting this to replace the relatively high end market that trolls here. They would be looking for this to add new console customers to the steam userbase.

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