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Rumor – Valve readying set-top system called “Steam Box”

Saturday, 3rd March 2012 13:36 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Saturday’s rumor du jour is that Valve is prepping its own set-top box which can run PC games on Steam and possibly competing services. A source close to The Verge called it the Steam Box.

According to the site’s sources, Valve has been plugging away at the system’s components,  and its hardware and software specs would allow the long-awaited “Big Picture” mode announced at GDC last year, allowing Steam games to be played on televisions or any other large screen.

The source also claims Valve wouldn’t charge developers a licensing fee to release games on the system, unlike current console manufacturers, and further information from the smoking man or woman states the box could even support game controllers and sensors which pull the players biometric data into a game.

Schematics for the controller were posted by the Verge, which also noted the patent Valve filed last year for a “video game controller having user swapable control components.”

Furthermore, the source states Valve held meetings during CES to demo a the device to possible partners, and the specs shown for the first mock up included an NVIDIA GPU, 8GB of RAM and a Core i7 CPU.

Last month, Valve boss Gabe Newell told Penny Arcade that is the company “have to sell hardware we will,” but he also said the firm had “no reason to believe we’re any good at it.”

“It’s more we think that we need to continue to have innovation and if the only way to get these kind of projects started is by us going and developing and selling the hardware directly then that’s what we’ll do,” he said. “It’s definitely not the first thought that crosses our mind; we’d rather hardware people that are good at manufacturing and distributing hardware do that.

“We think it’s important enough that if that’s what we end up having to do then that’s what we end up having to do.”

We’ve shot off a mail to Valve.

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49 Comments

  1. Razor

    Hooooooly shit.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. barchetta

    Since I would only be kidding myself to say any new PC purchase would be used for anything but gaming, this news is intriguing. May be a viable option to the small form factor pc (a la new Alienware) but if it were streamed then my net connection is not going to cope…

    #2 2 years ago
  3. barchetta

    Now I can get to the link, rumour does indeed appear to be a ‘local’ system. Still interested.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. strikkebil

    hmm. i wonder what the price will be,..

    #4 2 years ago
  5. The_Red

    Love the way source calls this a Valve Console. Imagine a world where Valve is in competition with Sony, MS and Nintendo in the hardware market.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Old MacDonald

    Hoho, that would actually be awesome.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. OrbitMonkey

    IF this is true & IF it can retail for £200 or less…. Then that would certainly mix things up a little :-D

    #7 2 years ago
  8. absolutezero

    GabeCube.

    http://youtu.be/8fgP7JFz2tk

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Patrick Garratt

    This sounds very odd to me. Doesn’t make a huge amount of sense.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. OrbitMonkey

    @Pat, it does if you think about how big the pc market. This COULD be Valves way of tempting the console crowd into the pc scene, without having to get the rig.

    Half-Life 3 as a launch title ;-)

    #10 2 years ago
  11. DSB

    @9 I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets debunked with a vengeance, but like OrbitMonkey just pointed out – Valve probably don’t have a lot of business on consoles.

    They are in a pretty good position to push the envelope. They have the most valuable name in digital distribution, so it wouldn’t be totally outlandish to try and bring it into streaming.

    Of course, that means entering a business they’ve never been in before, organizing hardware, and figuring out a competitive business model, both of which aren’t exactly easy or without risk.

    The thing that kinda pops into the back of my mind is “Steam also made a digital distribution client in 2003″ – They’re not exactly strangers to pushing the envelope.

    The fact that we can’t write this off outright says it all :P

    @10 I strongly doubt that they’d push the PC games on a console like that. There’s no place for keyboards and mice with the console crowd. They’re not going to start playing Europa Universalis.

    Likely it would be aimed at getting a slice of the multiplat market, and getting in on cloud before it really takes off.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Aimless

    @9 It makes a lot of sense to me. This wouldn’t be Valve entering the console space per se, they’d just be working with hardware partners to offer a standardised, compact PC; it wouldn’t be a closed platform.

    I don’t think it’s something you’d see on shelves in GAME/GameStop, it would just be an easy option for someone that wants to get into PC gaming. Presumably such a machine would also come at a slightly reduced price — albeit higher than the HD consoles — with everything you need to get started in the box.

    Standardised hardware would have the added benefit of developers being able to include presets tuned for that set configuration, so users could reliably set their graphical settings to “Steam Box” if they didn’t fancy getting into the nitty-gritty, plus the chances of running into incompatible drivers and the like would be vastly reduced. I could see this being a God-send for those intimidated by the prospect of PC gaming.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. jldoom

    @10 That thought just gave me Goosebumps. HL 3 launch title!

    And this would be very awesome. Even though it wouldn’t be top of the line graphics per say, at the very least we will be able to play games not available on consoles. I do wonder though if they would allow mouse and keyboard peripherals with this?

    #13 2 years ago
  14. barchetta

    One way of shoring up the PC gaming market in face of the possible Mac OS/iOS behemoth over the horizon.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Stephany Nunneley

    I think a “Steam Box” which would allow me to play my Steam games on my massive TV in “Big screen” mode with either the rumored controller or a mouse and keyboard without worrying about lugging my PC into the living room or sitting in front of the computer for more hours in the day would be awesome. The ability to plug it into the DSL jack or use a wireless router, sit in your comfy chair and play Left 4 Dead 2? Sold.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. funkstar

    weren’t the comments to do with hardware all about valve’s biometric feedback system that they use while developing games?

    I believe they said they would make it for other developers if there was a market there. This whole quote:
    “Last month, Valve boss Gabe Newell told Penny Arcade that is the company “have to sell hardware we will,” but he also said the firm had “no reason to believe we’re any good at it.”

    “It’s more we think that we need to continue to have innovation and if the only way to get these kind of projects started is by us going and developing and selling the hardware directly then that’s what we’ll do,” he said. “It’s definitely not the first thought that crosses our mind; we’d rather hardware people that are good at manufacturing and distributing hardware do that.

    “We think it’s important enough that if that’s what we end up having to do then that’s what we end up having to do.”

    was in reference to the feedback systems they use

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Colin Gallacher

    *ahem*

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantom_Entertainment#The_Phantom_console

    #17 2 years ago
  18. Phoenixblight

    THose that think it would be cheap are high. Even with a i7 the Price now just shot up to 300 bones and that is just for the CPU. There is really no need for this go grab a PC and that can be your “SteamBox” or you can just grab a netbox or tablet if it will indeed be using Cloud.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. jacobvandy

    @18 You really think any computer manufacturer out there pays retail price for individual CPUs? YOU must be high…

    They could easily put out a compact PC capable of playing ANY available PC game for about $400-500, at the most.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. DSB

    Making a traditional console at this point in time would be pretty pointless, there’s no future in going there. Why would you want to spend a lot of money trying to worm in on what could be the last generation, in a market that’s barely big enough for three players?

    That’s not forward thinking, and definitely not great business. The guys who are in it, are in it because they were there the last time around, and they’re going to have a hard time trying to keep up. The cloud is still wide open.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Phoenixblight

    @19

    I worked for a manufacturer that used CPUs and yes they do typically pay 30% less than the consumer. SO if the I7 used with this “SteamBox” is 300 for the consumer the manufacturer is paying 200-240$ and as I said that is just for the CPU. If this box does indeed use cloud you can get a netbox for 300$ and it will perform the same as a High End PC using the same service assuming they have the bandwidth support it. THat just how cloud works. It doesn’t need a PC with an i7 to run it. Just needs a fast bandwidth.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. OlderGamer

    DSB +1

    You folks ever give thought to maybe the system being free? Delivered to your door.

    Look at the promos that Onlive does. Like buy a game, and get a system included. Most of the thoughts here are rooted in old ways of thinking. I can see a greatlt discounted system for a two year comitment to a digitaly streamed game service. Like a Smart phone. And like your cable box, when new ones come out, you often get easy and affordable(often free) upgraded cable boxes.

    I am just saying, right now, no one knows. Might be a crap rumor. But it might turn out to be a low end semi dumby piece of hardware whos goal is to get a service plan into your living room.

    To early to think much beyond being intersted in learning more.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. Phoenixblight

    @22

    Onlive system is not anything but a processor, a very crappy processor mind you, with proprietary software that runs the service off a site. That is it. This rumor is suggesting it is a PC with a Steam or Valve logo. Two completely different things.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. OlderGamer

    I can read PB.

    I was thinking outloud. But if your willing to cement an opinion over a rumor be my guest.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Christopher Jack

    Didn’t I say they should be doing this? Any ways, hope this is more than just a rumour, I reckon Valve should be aiming to break even with a few different tiered ‘consoles’, the weakest one being able to play everything currently available on at least minimum while the most powerful being able to run everything currently available on Max, they would easily be able to make their money back on software. If they do choose to make a profit, the least they can do is bundle in a dozen or so pre-installed games.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Maximum Payne

    Didn’t Valve said they didn’t like Onlive because you need too much bandwidth ?
    Also 8gb and i7 ?Unless steam box would use 64bit version of Windows 8gb would be pointless. .Not to mention i7 is also pointless for games so i5 would be right choice.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. Christopher Jack

    4GB is the absolute minimum you’d want for a modern PC & an i5 would also be the minimum for any modern gamer.
    This would be my ideal budget gaming PC:
    Intel Core i5-2500.
    Nvidia GTX560.
    4GB DDR3.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. polygem

    could be totally awesome. hopefully there will be more news about it soon. that´s what i was looking for. then sony and ms can finally and forever kiss my ass and i will play nintendo games AND half life. yohooo. great timing. i hope this is true.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Erthazus

    “Box include a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU”

    Sony and Microsoft fuck you. You are rearded console makers that make crappy games in most cases and horrible consoles.

    VALVE, DO IT. At least someone can make a console with decent specs with great FREE online service and with great games. Half-Life 3 as a launch title could be a start of a real winner Next generation and i know for sure what console i will have alongside with my PC.

    http://kotaku.com/5890275/is-this-a-photo-of-valves-rumored-console

    and here is the prototype. If you have a prototype than you already spent millions for engineering it.
    Come on Valve, surprise me at GDC. Kill all the console makers.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. Colin Gallacher

    @29

    You really fell for that prototype? Hah.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. triggerhappy

    @30: Yeh i think its bullshit too. Looks more like a router than an HD console. Im surprised kotaku ran with such a shitty story, suppose it is a sunday…

    #31 2 years ago
  32. Colin Gallacher

    @31

    I’m not that surprised. It’s Kotaku and it’s a misleading headline, those two things go hand in hand.

    That image is from November last year from someone who works at Valve’s twitter feed. He just built a mini PC which any consumer could do that for £700. Hardly spending “millions for engineering” :D

    #32 2 years ago
  33. TheOutcastWolf

    @29

    I SELL MY PS3 AND MY 360 TO BUY THIS IF I MUST!

    #33 2 years ago
  34. Christopher Jack

    @29, The thing is, you can’t get anything like that for an affordable price, even the ‘budget pc’ that I suggested would run at $500+, absolute minimum.
    For me to build it, it’d cost me over $550AUD but I don’t have to worry about manufacturing, shipping & R&D(well not on the same scale). This would include the i5- 2500, GTX560, 4GB DDR3, 500GB HDD, & a very average case & motherboard meaning I’d lose many extras such as 7.1 surround sound, among other thing.

    #34 2 years ago
  35. Colin Gallacher

    @33 You’d need to sell your PS3 & 360 to afford it. :D

    @34 Exactly! I can’t see Valve being able to get such a device out for under £500. And at that price no one would touch it other than hardcore PC gamers, who probably wouldn’t need it due to their beefy gaming PC. Plus that’s hardly breaking the stigma that PC gaming is expensive.

    #35 2 years ago
  36. Erthazus

    @30, 31,

    Do you know how exactly Console prototypes look from Microsoft or Sony for example?

    They are not just Routers, they are standard def PC’s.
    It’s just a rumor. We will find out soon about Valve plans.

    But if rumored specs and everything else is true than it’s a dream. Valve first party is better than Sony’s, MS, or Nintendo COMBINED.

    Half-Life 3 and DOTA as a launch titles? Holy Son of the MotherDuck!

    @Chrostopher Jack, It’s Valve, not Sony that makes overpriced crap with exotic and shitty technology just for http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOHqG1nc_tw

    or a handheld with proprietary memory cards or 100$

    #36 2 years ago
  37. Christopher Jack

    @36, Which is why the PS3 nearly bombed. Beside from the PSV’s memory card, Sony has more or less learnt from that… After making the mistake again with the PSP Go. Besides, I wasn’t talking about Valve being overpriced, only the current prices of PC components, surely Valve can get these components much cheaper than myself, but I’m using sub RRP pricing, probably close to America’s RRPs.

    The biggest problem with Sony today is that they think they can continue selling premium looking products at prices above more powerful products, their mistake however is that with the rise of the internet, the average consumer has become much more informed & tend to look at things from a performance+price perspective. Unless you have the name Apple tied to your product, you can no longer get away with that. Sony should be aiming at making premium looking products at a competitive price.

    #37 2 years ago
  38. polygem

    @37: exactly. that´s the main problem i have with sony and why i don´t feel good supporting them atm.

    #38 2 years ago
  39. LOLshock94

    @37 you are the biggest scumbag on the planet

    #39 2 years ago
  40. Da Man

    My iPhone performance is quite proportional to the price actually, I tend to dislike jittering Guis and prefer compact, quality computers made out of notebook parts. Durability is the strongest point of Sony’s console this gen btw, sometimes I think there’s a weed whacker working in the background when playing on the X360.

    On topic – personally I’m indifferent. Half Life? Sorry, not interested, the original was okay, and really no more interesting than that, and the second one took itself ludicrously seriously while being quite dull most of the time. I wouldn’t have any issues finding Space Giraffes, Fezs and the likes of them outside of Steam either.

    #40 2 years ago
  41. Christopher Jack

    @Da Man, Apple products are your own choice & the end, value is decided by the individual & apparently more people see more value within Apple. I tend to disagree but to each their own. I just think people should be more willing to leave their comfort zone, for the quality part, Apple is pretty damn average, their PCs do fine, but the most reliable is Asus. As for mobile phones, well I for one see more smashed iPhones than non-smashed ones, sister dropped hers on freaking carpet & it smashed, granted it wasn’t thick but still, glass on the back? Really? Really!? Doesn’t even feel comfortable IMO, I personally prefer metal above all, but I’m happier with plastic than glass, least I know it’s not going to shatter.

    #41 2 years ago
  42. Christopher Jack

    @39, Ah yes, another excellent, mature & well detailed comment by LOLshock, *slow clap*. Yes, how dare I dislike your precious Apple, how dare I have my own thoughts. Apple fanboys are worst than Sony & MS ones combined. Ninty’s tend to be either too mature or childish to disturb me. I never said Apple products are bad, just that they have a high price than performance, really goes down to personal preferences on the OS & I PERSONALLY find Windows & Android better suited to my needs. I’ve given Apple chances & find myself disappointed. Their minimalist designs are topnotch, no doubt, but it doesn’t make itself the best, in my damn view.

    #42 2 years ago
  43. freedoms_stain

    @42, vg247 is a much better read if you just ignore him, trust me.

    #43 2 years ago
  44. Da Man

    #41 – I never said you should spend money on them. Albeit, for ‘damn average’ they work for way too long, really don’t think Asus is any better.

    Say, when doing your hair in the morning do you as well ignore the backside :) ?

    #44 2 years ago
  45. freedoms_stain

    @44, Asus did top some laptop reliability/customer satisfaction chart not long ago.

    #45 2 years ago
  46. triggerhappy

    @44+45: Asus is the only brand i buy & trust. I try to get Asus everything where possible.

    #46 2 years ago
  47. HeavyD-Love

    HOLY SHIT THIS IS BRILLIANT

    EVERYONE IN THE WORLD WANTS HALF-LIFE 3, AND VALVE KNOWS IT. IT WILL BE THERE BIGGEST SELLING GAME OF ALL TIME. WHY NOT BE ABLE TO MAKE MORE OF A PROFIT ON IT THAN JUST STANDARD GAME RELEASE PRICES?!?!?!? WHY NOT FORCE THE CONSUMER INTO BUYING A STANDALONE PROPRIATARY PIECE OF HARDWARE TO PLAY IT THUS MAKING MORE THAN DOUBLE YOUR MONEY ON EVERY SINGLE HALF LIFE 3 SALE!!!!!!!!!!

    FUCKING BRILLIANT VALVE!!!!!!

    #47 2 years ago
  48. LOLshock94

    @42 HAHAAHAHAHAH calm down mate, i havnt even read your comments i just randomly said it, for da lulz
    @43 vg would be a better place if you weren’t licking so much arse

    #48 2 years ago
  49. udot121

    I don’t see why people are getting so ruffled by this. They are pretty much doing what onlive did with their streaming system. It’s basically just a small compact PC that’s good enough to probably run most steam games, and I would think they would use a custom OS. They are just making Steam more open to people who can’t afford a full gaming rig, and there for getting more money. I don’t think they will do streaming through the cloud though, but instead just DL them on a hardrive. What I’m interested in is the controller, which sounds really neat, hopefully they will sell them individually. I personally don’t like lugging my PC around just to play on a TV, so If it was for a good price, I might buy this. And NVIDIA MOBILE GPUs AREN’T BAD. My friend can play BF3 on max with his mobile (forgot which one it is) ASUS laptop he has. They probably can only access steam games and the hardware is good enough to play most if not all of them. I think it’s a good idea, bringing console and PC gamers together.

    #49 2 years ago

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