Piston: Xi3 “asked to build a product specifically for Valve”

Wednesday, 13 March 2013 02:05 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Xi3, the company behind the $1,000 Piston Steam box, has shed some light on its relationship with Valve after the latter apparently attempted to distance itself from the product today.

Vlave’s Doug Lombardi said earlier today that Valve has “no involvement” with the Piston, which conflicted with earlier reports of an investment and the two companies’ recent cross-promotional efforts.

“We reaffirm the fact that we received an investment from Valve Corporation (as we previously disclosed during the 2013 International CES trade show), and we did so with Valve’s written permission,” Xi3 CEO Jason A. Sullivan said in a statement published on Kotaku.

“Second, we were asked to build a product specifically for Valve, and both companies showcased this product – the Piston Console -in their respective booths at CES 2013.”

Sullivan said he met with Valve boss Gabe Newell at CES, and was asked not to disclose any additional information about their “relationship”, but that Xi3 needs to sort out a few things.

The executive said Piston is not the “official” SteamBox, but also noted that “just because Valve may not ‘currently’ have any ‘involvement with any product of [Xi3]‘s doesn’t mean that such involvement won’t exist in the future”.

This mysterious statement aside, Sullivan said Piston will be able to access Steam regardless of any relationship with Valve, as well as many other gaming an entertainment platforms. “Which is more than what Valve apparently has planned for its official SteamBox,” he added.

Piston, he explained, is a modular computer, “that can run any operating system or application designed to run on an x86-based 64-bit computer”.

“To be clear, the Piston Console will ship initially with a Windows operating system specifically because that’s where the vast bulk of game software and computer gamers are today. That said, the Piston Console can also run Linux (and other operating systems), which means it can support the Linux-version of Steam.

“Contrary to Valve’s vision, Xi3 believes that the way to take this to market today is to do so with a Windows OS at the core, coupled with the ability to not just get to one platform/store for games, but to get access to all game stores/platforms. Studios should have the option to go through Steam if they choose or to go direct to the end-user if they so choose. That will be the difference between Piston and other Steam boxes. You’ll be able to access Steam if you choose, but you’ll also be able to access other platforms as well-all through the Piston Console.”

Despite the hefty price tag of $1,000, Xi3 has been “amazed” at the amount of pre-orders it has received, and Sullivan said the company may not be able to meet demand at launch during the 2013 holiday period.

“In closing, what Valve does or doesn’t do with its SteamBox will be up to them. So Gabe, it’s up to you. The ball is in your court,” he concluded.

The Piston is the first of several expected Steam boxes, with Valve indicating its support for an open market of competing devices. As mentioned above, there will, however, be an official SteamBox, made by Valve itself.

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