Valve and Gabe Newell Confirm Steam Box for Living Room PC Gaming

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2012 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: valve, steambox, Steam Box, steam, htpc, gaben, Gabe Newell, big picture mode

Well it finally happened this week - Gabe Newell confirmed what we all assumed was going to happen - a Valve software branded and controlled PC for gaming and computing in the living room.  We first started grumbling about the "Steam Box" back in March at GDC when Valve announced the Big Picture Mode for Steam and rumors of the hardware platform first began.   The next moth, Valve's Doug Lombardi denied the rumors but fell short of saying it wouldn't happen in the future.  In September the Big Picture Mode for Steam went into beta bringing the Steam interface into the world of TVs and 10-ft design, followed this year with the full release. 

And let's not forget the Linux client beta currently on-going as well as the capability to buy non-gaming software on Steam.  Valve has been a busy PC company.

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Big Picture Mode was the first necessary step

Based on an interview with Gabe at Kotaku, there are a surprising amount of details about the hardware goals that Valve will set for the "Steam Box" in addition to the simple confirmation that it is a currently running project. 

He also expects companies to start selling PC packages for living rooms next year—setups that could consist of computers designed to be hooked up to your TV and run Steam right out of the gate.

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HTPC builders have been making "Steam Box" computers for some time...

Interestingly, Valve is saying its contribution will be more tightly controlled than we might have thought:

"Well certainly our hardware will be a very controlled environment," he said. "If you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general purpose PC. For people who want a more turnkey solution, that's what some people are really gonna want for their living room.

No time tables were discussed and we are left once again with just a hint of what is to come.  I think its pretty obvious based on the direction Valve is going that we are going to see a Linux-based small form factor PC with Steam pre-installed available for consumers in 2013.  If Valve starts pushing Linux support as hard as we expect it could mean quite a bit of trauma is ahead for Microsoft in the enthusiast community, one that is already reeling from the problems with Windows 8.

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If you were to potentially add to the "Steam Box" a pre-configuration tool like NVIDIA's GeForce Experience that sets game options based on your hardware for you, the PC could easily turn into a solution that is nearly as simple as the console for gamers.  And because Steam is already accepting non-games, it won't take much for there to be Netflix and Amazon apps in addition to anything else you currently have running on HTPCs or tablets. 

Source: Kotaku

December 11, 2012 | 02:09 PM - Posted by Jewie (not verified)

Dumb idea. Any gpu with HDMI can be hooked up to a tv. I don't like console gaming. I don't buy prebuilt pc's, I build my own.

December 11, 2012 | 03:37 PM - Posted by badnewsaaron

Just because it does not appeal to you does not mean it is a dumb idea. There are a lot of PC games who are getting older and have more money than free time for building PCs. The idea of having a living gaming PC that "just works" similar to a console but also has the advantages of a PC is quite enticing.

December 11, 2012 | 02:13 PM - Posted by mlangdn (not verified)

If the Steam Box is Blu-Ray capable it will sure reduce the clutter around the TV. One box to rule them all.

December 11, 2012 | 02:21 PM - Posted by arf77

To the first comment: I agree about building on my own. But I would venture to guess the majority of gamers do not know how to build their own PC. Some people just want to game, and don't have friends to build for them either. I think this would be great for a person looking for a scaled down PC with only Steam on it, who doesn't need all the other crap that is involved in a PC (OS, crapware, etc). Large Hard drive, fast processor and video card, and digital/optical output for audio, done and done.

I don't think there should be any DVD/Blu-Ray device for a steam box personally. Keep costs down. Wi-Fi plus a direct network cable connection. A couple USB ports for external storage and input devices. (I would go as far to have a wireless Keyboard/Mouse included with the bluetooth/rf receiver inside the box, and an option to use a wired via provided USB.

I wonder if NVIDIA could design a processor to run a Steambox. (who knows maybe they are already doing it) I don't think Tegra 3 would work.

December 11, 2012 | 03:01 PM - Posted by Whatt Every (not verified)

If Steam/Valve want to go solo, I'll demand all my Steam purchased games to be handed back over to me, so I can play them offline, or online on other services. The PC/windows games I bought from Steam belong to me, and not Valve/Steam. Is this the start of the gaming litigation of the century? I hope not, but what I bought from Steam remains mine.
Btw, are there small scripts/fonts in the Steam ULA, working against me on demanding total ownership of my "Steam games"?
Do whatever you want, Steam/Valve, but the right thing. Goodluck...

December 11, 2012 | 03:31 PM - Posted by badnewsaaron

I'd love to see you "demand" something from Valve.

December 11, 2012 | 04:31 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

They continue to say they'll have normal Steam client for people that want to build their own system.

December 12, 2012 | 12:34 PM - Posted by Whatt Every (not verified)

Thanks, Ryan, "Normal Steam client for people that want...", is reassuring to me. Steam users, I for example been using the platform since it's inception. What use are the Steam Game Backups, 100s og gigs of data, after they bolt from the PC infrastructure? Very worrying? But thanks!

December 11, 2012 | 03:19 PM - Posted by Keven (not verified)

I don't see how it can be Linux based. Some Steam games don't even run well in later versions of Windows. I don't think this Steam Box running Linux would be the best choice, software compatibility-wise.

December 11, 2012 | 04:32 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

If Valve Source engines move to Linux, I think you'll see more and more engines (and the GPU companies) put emphasis on it.

December 12, 2012 | 02:21 AM - Posted by Operandi

As it is currently Steam on Linux for practical purposes doesn't exist and it remains to be seen if it will gain any traction at all. Steam on Windows is a huge platform and that's Steams biggest strength. A Linux based Steam Box would negate that advantage and without the support of Desktop (Windows) platform it would just be another "Playstation" or "Xbox" at the end of the day.

December 11, 2012 | 04:54 PM - Posted by razor512

Seems like a bad idea in the long run (though it may sell well since many people do not think more than a few days ahead) (eg buying a device where the battery cannot be replaced and the battery is likely to fail before the device becomes truly obsolete)

Many PC games are not designed around the hardware staying the same for a long time. They are also not designed around 30FPS, so there is a chance that many of the games will look worst than what is available on the next gen game consoles which are designed around 30FPS, they will also seem like a better deal to the people who are console gamers since they know that if they get a PS3 or 4, or Xbox 360 or 720, that new games will run smoothly 5-6 years down the line.

With the steam box, they may need to have a 2 year release cycle which just wont work for most people.

The only way for them to market a life cycle would be to limit the steam box to a game engine that they control, which will hurt sales since no one buys a console to only play games from a single engine that is terrified of the number 3.

December 12, 2012 | 12:48 PM - Posted by dreamer77dd

The more easy they make Linux for non Linux users, the more i am interested in using it.
The more software and options they have in Linux OS makes me even more interested.

My point is.
If it is easy, have all the same software as the other offers do. i will for sure use Linux on my computer.

I just dont know how to fix them when something goes wrong. Hmm. i do with Windows,But not With Apples.
Practice makes perfect.

December 12, 2012 | 04:04 PM - Posted by Mr. Freeman (not verified)

I need to wait and see what this is truly capable of. Will this be a true living room PC? Capable of the Office suite, internet surfing, music, etc., along with some type of gaming console? Or will this just be a 360 and instead of that operating system, it will be like a 360/PS3 running Steam? Interesting, but need further developments before passing judgement.

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