Valve readying 'Steam Box' console - Report

Half-Life developer supposedly said to be working on a Steam-driven platform with hardware potentially made by multiple partners, Android- or 3DO-style.

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The "Big Three" console makers may soon be joined by a fourth. A Verge report citing unspecified sources and rumors states that Valve Software wants to break into the TV set-top console market with a "Steam Box" system of its own.

A drawing from a Valve patent for controller technology.

In keeping with Valve cofounder Gabe Newell's statement last month that the company doesn't want to get into the hardware market (but will if it has to), the Steam Box is said to operate more like a platform along the lines of Google's Android operating system or the 3DO. In theory, Valve would set hardware specifications and create the system software, but multiple partners (Alienware is one rumored name mentioned in the report) would be able to create their own Steam Box devices.

The baseline specs reportedly tout a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GPU. And in addition to running PC games through Valve's Steam storefront, the boxes would be able to run services of rival digital distributors, like EA's Origin service.

Verge also pointed to a Valve patent from last year as being related to the Steam Box. Specifically, the report says the Steam Box is slated to come with a USB controller that allows users to swap out different components to suit their tastes or different game types. Another possible feature of the controller is biometric readings that would allow games to change in real time based on a user's heart rate.

As for when the Steam Box could be unveiled, next week's GDC and the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June are given as two potential public debuts for the system. A Valve representative had not returned GameSpot's request for comment as of press time.

Discussion

373 comments
buccomatic
buccomatic

"The baseline specs reportedly tout a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GPU. And in addition to running PC games through Valve's Steam storefront, the boxes would be able to run services of rival digital distributors, like EA's Origin service."

 

if the nvidia gpu is a beat 660i or higher) then there's no reason to even waste your time with a microsoft or sony "next gen" consoles that will have 2-3 year old amd crappy hardware at launch.

 

i7, 8 gigs of ram and a *256BIT interface 4GB 660ti* = microsoft and sony are DOOMED!

 

YES!

 

:)

rossrjensen
rossrjensen

If they did this right, this could be a great thing for the PC gaming community. A console that runs Steam/PC games and allows the communities to merge online would help boost PC game development.

dre256x
dre256x

@mos2000 So because you didn't like the gimmick, you bash others for loving it... SAD This will mostly be picked up by steam fans.. But its smart they will offer the service to other platforms, because it the console do Tank, they can rest safe because the other platforms would have expanded the reach of Steam..

mos2000
mos2000

Third Party titles were the only must haves this gen. The Big 3 have done piss poor as far as expectations this deep into the game, and they have nothing but useless gimmicks that fanboys try to defend while watching the dustballs roll around in their wallets. I'm all for a system that puts the hardware innovation in the hands of Third party devs. As long as they have access to all the third party titles, I'm game

dragonsama
dragonsama

As long as I can Download my current Team Library I'm all for this. PC games on my TV. It's about damn time!

ranbla
ranbla

I have the Wii, XBox and PS3 already. I will NOT buy a 4th. I probably won't even buy any next gen versions of the big 3.

SnuffDaddyNZ
SnuffDaddyNZ

Frankly would prefer(ed) to have the R&D costs wasted on this project to be spent on Half-Life III.

Joy-Stick
Joy-Stick

@fightingfish18 an extra $200 might be a little much for a lot of people and my idea might've been self-centered. My general argument was to raise the prices a little. You have to remember that as time goes by, the hardware gets less and less expensive. I'm just tired of playing all the best games from all the top-tier developers on such $hitty hardware, generation to generation. Rockstar Games for one is notorious for shafting their PC ports. Maybe the developers should port the games better.

fightingfish18
fightingfish18

@PixelAddict I will admit that was a misinformed claim on my part. Regardless, I know I wouldn't have paid an additional $200 for slightly more powerful Xbox 360. I bought the Arcade edition because I got what I wanted at a pricepoint I was willing to pay. I got my own hard drive second hand, 120 gb, worked perfectly. I got my ps3 as a gift from the girlfriend, but I wouldn't have paid an additional $200 on top of the $300 it already cost if I was buying it myself.

MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

If the console comes with hats, I'm totally sold on this!

MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

JimmeyBurrows
JimmeyBurrows

@awheaten True and I can see that it may be worthwhile for some people, but my laptop does have 8 gig of ram and runs most games medium - high settings, plus i like pc's for the ability to customize things, like me prefering the ps3 controller to a generic pc or 360 controller and not having something for one purpose (which I'll admit right away Sony kinda screwed me over there, it only does everything, except... everything, lol.) Guess it'll come down to price, if they can throw a beastly pc at people cheaper than we can build one ourselves it might be worht a look.

S_Pac_316
S_Pac_316

Geez...just what we need, another console. :P I see another crash coming... Stick to making games, Valve. We are still waiting for Half-Life chapter 3.

mike300zxt
mike300zxt

I'd rather see Steam on the next xbox & PS4 rather than have another console option...that is the same as my PC...that is the same as the next xbox. More choice on digital downloads would help with prices, competition, and more games available.

stu_gamer
stu_gamer

This sounds alot like a gaming PC connected to a TV rather than a monitor to me and unless there is a large price difference between the two I really dont see the point of this because with a PC you can do so much more than game.

the_hunger
the_hunger

Doesn't seem really innovative. Sounds like a PC plugged into a TV that allows you to rent Steam games that you will never own, but you'll be able to play with a gamepad. In essence, isn't that what Steam is currently doing on PC?

awheaten
awheaten

@JimmeyBurrows I half way agree w/u. But, c'mon this thing is like 8 gigs of memory. Thats way more than a standard laptop. This system has staying power with the specs as currently constituted.

JimmeyBurrows
JimmeyBurrows

sounds like they're just making a computer... I like steam, but i dislike there being 3 different consoles as it is... So I wouldn't buy a console made for pc gaming, thats what the laptop's for.

Hatemachine25
Hatemachine25

A console from steam? It SOUNDS like a good idea, but part of me just want's to say that after the "raging success" that is Onlive, I wouldn't hold my breath on this type of console just yet, you can't sell something before it's time, and the wanted shift towards a wholly digital gaming medium that the Games developers are shooting for so badly is something that will take more time for people to really warm up to the idea, if they ever really do. I really hope Valve pulls it off though, I really do, I LOVE the Steam service, and a console that could use it freely based on the service COULD be a great thing.

awheaten
awheaten

@Joy-Stick "Not so fast, Asshopper!" lol!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

mtait01
mtait01

wait what? A Valve console? Don't get me wrong, I love Valve, they are my favourite developer but a console? I hope they pull it off, but I highly doubt it.

awheaten
awheaten

I don't know if I missed anything from the inital reading, but is the game distribution supposed to be by online store only (Steam I guess)? 8 gigs of memory is a good point to start. Most 32 bit memory based PC machines can only got to 4 gigs. And from my understanding 64 bits takes 8 gigs. So, this system seems to be really 'future-proof'. And, the hardware seem to be about 7/8 hundred dollar range, based on the specs given. But, like Sony's products that has been recently released (Vita, PSplus, etc), this system seems to set-up a back end benefit of some sort, based on the customer's taste for videogame purchasing. And, they're probably going to make it account based, so you have to loggin as you to play your games over other people's console. It risky because there is no real evidence that customers are willing to have a system that is online only, but selling games at lower prices will probably be its niche.

Link_Destined_1
Link_Destined_1

This would be interesting to see. Maybe Half-Life 2 Episode 3 is secretly being developed for this?

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

@fightingfish18 You do realize the average age of today's gamer is 37 years old and has been playing for upwards of 15 years, right? More than one study states such. Wondering whether the market can handle another console is one thing, but assuming gamers are all children is misinformed.

0_demo_0
0_demo_0

I for one is pretty excited to see the console. I've own all three consoles at some point and I'm ready to see something fresh.

Jinzo_111887
Jinzo_111887

Console or no console, I just hope Steam will do what Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft already do and sell prepaid cards I can buy in stores and use with my Steam account when I get home.

fightingfish18
fightingfish18

@Joy-Stick Yes, YOU would be willing to pay 200 more for a console.. Do you honestly think the rest of the market will pay $200 more? If consumers are "forced" to pay and additional $200, many people just might stop buying consoles. You have to remember, many of the people who own consoles got them from mommy and daddy.

hasancakir
hasancakir

Gameplay changes according to heart rate...I think I liked this idea more than "steam-box" :)

Triton
Triton

As Arte Johnson would say, "Very Interesting"

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

@dc_camel That may be partially true but in all fairness I don't think anyone would ever look to Bioware to be the ones pushing technical boundaries.

cr8ive
cr8ive

Oh God, please don't let Alienware touch this stuff... Not when mobile system are involved. While I can't testify for alienware desktop, I could however testify to the hardcore gaming performance of Alienware laptops... friggin mobile-stoves are what they are, BSODs waiting to happen. I have 2 alienware lappies (3 if you count Dell XPS as an alienware), the 1st one, GPU fried right after 1 year (2005)... the 2nd one M17xR2 (2010) is crap as well.. hardcore gaming my butt, you don't expect hardcore gamers to play 1-2 hours of gaming per day... we play until someone else pry our hands off the mouse and keyboard.. I'm not sure why 3DO is even mentioned, considering the system was a complete dud (yes, I had a 3DO once..Damn you Trip Hawkins!)..unless there is a successful 3DO story that I'm missing?

dc_camel
dc_camel

@Carpetfluff Thanks to the console that hasn't happened in years. Mass Effect 3 uses the same minimum system requirements as Mass Effect 1.

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

What happens when game X needs bigger specs than the box has every 6 months?

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

I don't know if this would be a good thing or a bad thing? I love Steam and it is one of the best outlets for purchasing digital games, but I assume most people who visit their site have a gaming PC, so I don't know what kind of draw it will get off a console launch? On the other hand I enjoy more competition in the gaming market since we as the gamers benefit from it. Unless we have a crash like we did during the early Atari years. I plan on building me a top-notch gaming PC before the end of this year, so I doubt I will be investing in this closed box PC.

ItchyIsVegeta
ItchyIsVegeta

This would be the greatest thing to happen in gaming

Joy-Stick
Joy-Stick

@vaejas (Part 1) Not so fast, Asshopper! You missed my point entirely. First off, the entry level XBOX 360 launched at $299.99. The entry level PS3 launched at $499.99 in the United States where I'm from. In terms of mass marketing, the entry level versions would be the highest selling. The more expensive ones would be considered as premium. Since both of these consoles cost more to produce than what they were sold for (the PS3 cost over $800 to produce and sold for $499), one is to assume that the revenue Sony or Microsoft will gain will come from the games themselves. Therefore, game developers and the actual games are the single most integral aspect involved in order for a console to sell well. The PS3, like the 3DO before it, suffered in sales because of a lack of third-party support (The PS3 was up against the Wii and the XBOX 360, the 3DO was competing with Nintendo and Sega). Since both of these systems were too expensive when compared with other viable alternatives available during the same period, the masses went with the cheaper alternatives and the third-party support followed suit.

Joy-Stick
Joy-Stick

@vaejas (Part 2) The 3DO ended up biting the dust. What I proposed was a retail standard across the board between ALL the console developers; an industry effort, which would force consumers to put up or shut up, which in turn would rake in 3rd party-support. Sony and Microsoft wouldn't even need Nintendo to go along because Nintendo develops for the Blue's Clues demographic. And if you look after all these years, developers are starting to complain about the XBOX 360's insufficient storage capacity. Rockstar Games even wrote a letter to Microsoft because they weren't too thrilled about having to stuff L.A. Noire into 3 DVD's. Sony actually came up on top with blu-ray support, which has become standard, slaying HD DVD. Guess what format the new XBOX will be built upon!?! Both of these systems should of had blu-ray from the get-go. That's all I was saying. When you have the XBOX 360 entry level console launching at $299.99 and the Nintendo Wii launching at $249.99 after 2 decades of a similar situation, you can expect progress to crawl at a snail pace. When I look at what can be achieved on $1,500 PC rig - resolution, graphics, draw distance; looking at these highly marketable consoles from Sony and Microsoft leaves me with much to be desired. Force the consumer to pay a little more, that was my point. I would gladly shell out $200 more for a more powerful processor and deeper draw distance. The problem with the gaming industry is that technology moves too slow. The big 3 are dependent on Intel, AMD and NVIDIA.

Joy-Stick
Joy-Stick

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

shadowkratos774
shadowkratos774

unless the console and the games are super cheap, i could care less. I like valve, but we don't need to spend more money for another console

Joy-Stick
Joy-Stick

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

megakick
megakick

This has been done before so unless publishers are going to back it and make games specifically for the console why bother. The 3DO cost 3 times more then the genesis when it first came out and pretty much failed. Hey maybe it will be like the 16 bit wars NEC, SEGA ,NINTENDO, SNK, PANASONIC, PHILLIPS and ATARI. Just becuase you put it in a small box it doesn't make it a console. HP made a console size gaming PC already, played pc games.

Gum_Shoe-
Gum_Shoe-

Who would have thought they could consolize the entire PC gaming industry in one fell swoop?

whartand2
whartand2

Well the question is... would you buy a console that: 1. Does what your PC already does (and from the spec... it is a PC) 2. No exclusive releases. (Steam plays PC games and MMOs) So there you go. Unless there are exclusive announcements for other 3rd party releases (especially japanese developers who are notorious for console exclusives) and any distinction from PC games, I don't think it's going to throw any of the big 3 off anytime soon and maybe it's neer the intention. If it's going to threaten anybody it would be those high end gaming PCs and laptops that cost upward to USD 3 - 5 K.

popeyfolger
popeyfolger

Flat-out not interested. But an announcement of half life 3 now that's something we all can enjoy!

buccomatic
buccomatic

 @ranbla then you're going to miss out because steambox is going to SMOKE everything in it's path.