Recently, Valve co-founder said in an interview with Penny Arcade that he was toying with the idea of creating a Valve-brand console. He described Valve’s interest in the project as, “if we have to sell hardware we will.” According to information uncovered by The Verge, it seems as though Valve’s “Steam Box” may be more than just hot air.
The Verge claims that Valve has been working on the hardware spec and software for the Steam Box, which will then be further developed and built by a variety of partners.
The software of the Steam Box will be made available to any company that wants to use it, according to the Verge. This makes sense, considering Newell’s disapproval of closed platforms. There also will be no required devkit, and no licensing fees.
The Verge said that private meetings were held at CES for potential partners to demo a prototype version of the console. In addition, they claim to have been told that the basic specs of the device include a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU. Surprisingly, the device will be able to run any standard PC title, and titles from competitors like Origin as well.
The Steam Box will allegedly also use the formerly-abandonware “Big Picture” mode which Valve has kept under-wraps since last year’s GDC. “Big Picture” mode was supposed to enable PCs and Macs to run easily on TV displays.
The Verge also stated that the Steam Box will be compatible with a variety of USB peripherals, potentially including two rumored Valve devices, a biometrics sensor and a reconfigurable controller, for which Valve filed patents in recent years.
So, what does all this mean? The Steam Box looks to essentially be a PC gaming ambassador – a device with the openness and freedom of a computer, with the familiarity of the couch-controller-TV setup. If it ever makes it to market, it would provide a strong answer for Microsoft and Sony’s “gated community” approach to console management and software releases.
Obviously much of this is source-of-a-source, so don’t sell your Xbox yet. There is no clear answer as to when Valve will formally announce the console, if it ever does, but GDC and E3 seem like two potential venues.