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SteamBox – Gabe Newell confirms Valve-made hardware

Wednesday, 9th January 2013 00:12 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Valve boss Gabe Newell has confirmed that an internally-developed SteamBox is inbound, as distinct from Xi3′s Valve-funded effort, giving scant details of its biometric controller and open nature.

Steam Box – At a glance

Multiple Steam box devices from multiple manufacturers.

Valve’s SteamBox is codenamed Bigfoot. It runs on Linux but can take a Windows installation.

Bigfoot will have a low-latency controller, probably with biometrics. Valve’s not keen on motion controls.

Valve envisions Bigfoot acting as a server, linked to every screen in your house.

A project called Littlefoot will address the mobile and touch spaces.

Steam wants to become more open, allowing user curation of content.

Speaking with The Verge, finally confirmed long-tailed rumours of a console-like SteamBox, designed to capitalise on the standardised hardware benefits of consoles without losing the flexibility and universality of PC gaming.

“We’ll come out with our own [SteamBox] and we’ll sell it to consumers by ourselves. That’ll be a Linux box,” he said.

“If you want to install Windows you can. We’re not going to make it hard. This is not some locked box by any stretch of the imagination.”

Valve’s SteamBox, codenamed Bigfoot, will include “a controller that has higher precision and lower latency” than existing peripherals. It probably won’t have any kind of motion tracking – Newell said Wii Sports has already achieved the pinaccle of motion-controlled gaming – but may include other interetsing features.

“Biometrics. We have lots of ideas,” he said. “I think you’ll see controllers coming from us that use a lot of biometric data.”

The executive explained that hands and fingers have finer control than arms, so motion control dials precision down rather than up, while biometrics can do the opposite.

“Biometrics on the other hand is essentially adding more communication bandwidth between the game and the person playing it, especially in ways the player isn’t necessarily conscious of. Biometrics gives us more visibility. Also, gaze tracking. we think gaze tracking is gonna turn out to be super important,” he added.

The SteamBox itself, as well as supporting Windows if desired, will have a web browser, so users can “absolutely” do anything with it that they could with any other Internet-connected PC, such as watching streaming services like Netflix.

Moreover Newell wants Steam itself to become more open.

We tend to think of Steam as tools for content developers and tools for producers. We’re just always thinking: how do we want to make content developers’ lives better and users’ lives a lot better? With Big Picture Mode we’re trying to answer the question: “how can we maximize a content developers investment?” It’s not a lot easier for me to build content that spans running on a laptop, running in a living room, and running on the desktop, as opposed to completely re-writing your game.

“Right now there’s one Steam store. We think that the store should actually be more like user generated content. So, anybody should be able to create a store, and it should be about extra entertainment value,” he said.

Examples of user-built stores include those themed around particular publishers or personal preferences, allowing like-minded users to easily curate and share their gaming experiences.

As for how and where the SteamBox will be used, Newell said it will also act as a server and expects future tech to serve up to eight game calls at a time, allowing it to be used on every screen in the house.

Valve is also keen to get in on the mobile market and has a second project called Littlefoot looking into touch screens and the smartphone and tablet space.

Newell said Valve sees a future where there are multiple SteamBox devices from different manufacturers, at various levels of power to suit different gamers’ needs, explaining how Bigfoot fits in with Xi3′s Piston.

Newell has much of interest to say in the full article besides this brief summary, so do lick through and check it out.

The existence of Valve’s SteamBox was outed earlier in the week by a report from Germany. Speculation suggests the product will be revealed at GDC 2013.

Thanks, Kotaku.

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34 Comments

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  1. Moonwalker1982

    If this can really mean some much needed competition for MS and Sony..GO FOR IT! MS with their bullshitty Kinect and no doubt Kinect 2. We need less of that and more real games. Maybe Valve will show how it’s done? Time will tell, but damn…this is gonna be one interesting year.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Telepathic.Geometry

    MEGATONNE!!! Just have to wait a little longer…

    @Brenna: “this brief summary, so do lick…” –> click

    #2 2 years ago
  3. stevenhiggster

    Hmmmm, very interesting indeed, I’ll be watching this one very closely.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Moonwalker1982

    I hope they really do reveal it at GDC then. Maybe it can manage to shock MS and Sony. And sure..there will always be exclusives for MS and Sony, but that’s only going to be interesting for me if they actuallly aqquire some new exclusives, and that especially counts for MS if you ask me. Really interested in seeing how this Steam Box turns out.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. manamana

    How are they going to port all the games to Linux? Am I missing something here? Don’t they rely heavily on DirectX? Anywho – it’s great! Awesome great, to see Valve finally make a move…

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Talkar

    Can we have some specs? Like the prototype ones, and the price?
    I hate this kind of PR talk, i just want a piece of paper with the facts x)

    @5
    This is a useful page to bookmark ;) http://appdb.winehq.org/

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Moonwalker1982

    I don’t know alot about Steam, but am i right to assume that nowadays most multiplatform console games also make it to Steam?

    #7 2 years ago
  8. OlderGamer

    Almost sounds too good to be true. If it were anyone other then Valve I would have doubts. So who wants to preorder a PS4 or XBNXT now? I think I am good, thanks. At the lest I will wait and see how all of this plays out.

    But an upgradable, open console?

    Yes please.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Telepathic.Geometry

    @7: Yeah, it seems that way to me.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Moonwalker1982

    @8

    Sounds great indeed. But they also need to ‘win’ the trust of some developers that still are only making games for MS and Sony’s consoles, although i don’t know if there are many still out there. I will just await and see, these are just words from Valve and still nothing concrete to look at.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Phoenixblight

    “How are they going to port all the games to Linux? ”

    They aren’t. THats why you can get Windows on it which I see no point in this console still as its just a Valve Branded PC. Unless Valve’s plan on shunning the PC market and making all their games exclusive to this console. I really don’t see a point.

    Triple A publishers and studios won’t be playing ball. Valve may be rich for a company that has 300 employees and has as much money as EA but they don’t have as much money to flex as the big 3.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Moonwalker1982

    So it will mean we still have to install our games and basically…it’s just very similar to the Piston from Xi3 and Valve?

    #12 2 years ago
  13. xino

    i would rather get this than Nvidia’s Shield.

    AT least with this I can PLAY games, rather than Shield in which I still need a beefy pc just to play PC games on it.

    but Valve seems to be missing point point of a ‘console’.
    How can the Pision cost £1000? wtf? i might as well just still to a bloody PC.

    purpose of a console is to play PC games without the need of upgrading graphics card.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. Phoenixblight

    @13

    Piston is not the steamBOx that just 3rd party making preconfiged PCs with steam and linux installed with limited hardware being able to upgrade along with a much higher price tag than normal PCs.

    Its a convenience fee.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Dragon246

    @11
    Completely agree. They just dont have the resources to match big 3. Also, would they really alienate their existing pc userbase by making something steambox exclusive? I doubt that.
    Successful console launch is very difficult. Hardware biz can destroy a small cos like steam in a year .

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Dragon246

    Although I am interested . Any competition is a good one for consumers.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Erthazus

    “If you want to install Windows you can. We’re not going to make it hard. This is not some locked box by any stretch of the imagination.”

    That is amazing.

    @16, “They just dont have the resources to match big 3. ”

    What? They have their own first party devs that can pretty much outsell any First party in big 3.

    Half-Life 3 is enough to sell that console to 20-30 millions of people. In fact, that company makes money right now.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. Phoenixblight

    @18

    “If you want to install Windows you can. We’re not going to make it hard. This is not some locked box by any stretch of the imagination.”

    That is amazing.”

    No its not. You’ll have to pay an extra fee for it obviously.

    “What? They have their own first party devs that can pretty much outsell any First party in big 3.”

    Try again Half life 1 and 2 combined haven’t hit the numbers of Halo, Gears of War, Mario, even God of War. Valve is not going make Half Life 3 exclusive to this console just to attempt to sell it especially since their biggest place is on the PC. I would even go as far as saying that PC and console market place will be one and the same.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Dragon246

    @19
    Completely agree again.

    @18
    Wanna take a bet on HL3 and shield sales? You sure talk a lot of fluff, but cant back any of it.
    “Half-Life 3 is enough to sell that console to 20-30 millions of people. In fact, that company makes money right now.”
    :D
    If it sells 15 millions ON ALL PLATFORMS COMBINED, I will be surprised.
    Edit- For the first 2 years (on xbox,ps and pc). Valve has offered portal for free only after a few years on market. That counts as sales. Besides valve heavily discounts their games.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Erthazus

    @19,
    “Try again Half life 1 and 2 combined haven’t hit the numbers of Halo, Gears of War, Mario, even God of War.”You know, as always, a shitty expert. “Do you need a screenshot?”

    You.Are.A..Retard.Period.

    As of November 16, 2004, eight million copies of the game had been sold, by 2008 9.3 million copies had been sold at retail (c) wikipedia. Half-Life 1

    Forbes reported on February 9, 2011 that the game has sold 12 million copies. (c) wikipedia. Half-Life 2

    and these are RETAIL numbers, not STEAM and Steam is the place where almost everyone have Half-Life games.

    Shut your shitty trap please mr shitty expert of gaming. You know nothing. Each Gears Of War game sold for 4-6 million units at best. Each God Of War sold for 5 million units or less

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-06-05-god-of-war-series-has-sold-over-21-million-copies – GoW sales. Officially.

    but whatever, I don’t understand why I talk to someone after that Diablo III fiasco. Go away, please, Mr, Gaming expert.

    @Sony246, “If it sells 15 millions ON ALL PLATFORMS COMBINED, I will be surprised.”

    Half-Life 2 at retail ALONE sold for 12 million units and that is not including STEAM where numbers are much bigger because almost everyone has a copy. Try harder Sony fanboy.

    Half-Life is enough to be a system seller. Not to mention L4D, Portal, Counter-Strike or Dota2.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Dragon246

    @21
    Pc Overlords are so delusional. Not even willing to bet on what they say, so afraid.
    Better luck next time mr. overlord.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. Dave Cook

    That’s half-life 3 pushed back to 2014/15 as a Steam Box launch title then:

    #22 2 years ago
  23. Telepathic.Geometry

    Do you think Steambox could take that long to appear? I got the feeling that it might sneak out early 2014 or so…

    #23 2 years ago
  24. Belmont

    So,Steambox is set for 2014-2015 ? Interesting Dave !
    Regarding HL, come on guys,It sold back then but there is no guarantee that it sells that well now and Valve is going to sell 20-30 million consoles because of HL3

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Belmont

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Belmont

    Sorry. That comment got fucked somehow !

    #26 2 years ago
  27. Dave Cook

    @25 that’s honestly based on nothing dude, just my guess given that it still has a prototype name and not a final one :)

    #27 2 years ago
  28. polygem

    i was waiting for this. i can totally see myself getting this thing. it’s funny that people defend their beloved homeconsoles already. why not wait and see first and be a little more optimistic about it. i read this news as an attempt to open things up for the consumer, making things more flexible yet easy. that’s a good thing isn’t it. i think the steambox could even coexist with the nextbox&ps4′s, stealing a good share though. one competitor at least will have to go the software only path nextnextgen though me thinks. the gaming market, while having a decline atm, still keeps growing and growing, esp. if you look worldwide. i think there is a market for this…dragon i have to reply to you again. you are calling erth a delusional pc overlord? well he has a ps3 and vita while you are the real platform fanboy here. just saying, that’s your problem anyway pointing fingers in every direction but never pointing at yourself.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Gekidami

    @19
    …Not to mention the fact Valve take ages to make games and overall have made very few. Just pointing out, but the so-called “Gods of development” that are Valve only own 8 different IP’s:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valve_Corporation#Games
    8 Individual IP’s within nearly 15 years of existence with the amazing release frequency of 1 game a year, most of which being re-releases of some form or add-ons.

    You’d have to be a pretty thick skulked retarded PC fanboy to even suggest Valve has the first party muscle to support a console exclusively with what they currently have. Though on the plus side, they’d give Nintendo a run for their money for most milked franchise, because 44% of everything Valve has ever released is Half Life.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. RandomTiger

    @30 I would guess that Valve have the cash to do whatever they like, buy exclusives, dev teams etc though I’m not sure they need bother if they can get a healthy Linux steam collection from 3rd parties while still leveraging the windows collection at the same time.

    What I want to know is are Valve serious enough to start doing things like TV advertising for their new hardware. Is this a serious move or just someones pet project let into the wild?

    A powerful steam box in 2014 that streams to my TV but sits another room for local use with a monitor would be ideal for me.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. Phoenixblight

    @21

    “Unsurprisingly, the original Half-Life is Valve’s all-time biggest seller, with 9.3 million copies sold in the ten years since its 1998 debut. Holding down the fort at second place is Half-Life 2, which has moved 6.5 million units following its release in 2004.”

    http://www.1up.com/news/valve-reveals-sales-data-half-life

    God of War has sold 21 units world wide. Not sure where you are getting 5 million each but ok.

    “but whatever, I don’t understand why I talk to someone after that Diablo III fiasco. Go away, please, Mr, Gaming expert.”

    Still swinging that around. So? I stated a facts where you just posted conjecture and hear say.

    As I said I doubt Valve will be shunning their PC market place for a chance at consoles. Valve is very much the type of player that would release a console that works along side the PC counterpart they won’t be doing exclusives.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. Dragon246

    @30,
    Yep. Personally, I really don’t think valve is interested in making games, their main market (not to mention source of their major profits) is online retailing, making games is just a side biz. I too am waiting for HL2 ep.3, but I am sure it wont be a steambox exclusive.
    Can steam really afford to agonize its pc crowd? I don’t think so.

    And what #32 said.

    #32 2 years ago
  33. freedoms_stain

    @32, that article is 4 years out of date and specifies retail sales.

    #33 2 years ago
  34. Edo

    “Double sealing,no leaking”,I might just look into that.

    #34 2 years ago