Think you have room in your heart for one more game console? According to rumor, Valve may be working on a “Steam Box” that would help bring its games from the PC to the living room couch. Another rumor suggests that we might catch a glimpse of the Box at GDC this week.
Last month, Valve co-founder Game Newell told Penny Arcade Report that Valve would sell hardware if necessary to bring the company’s technological dreams to life. That’s not a lot to go on, but last week, Vox Games uncovered additional information that suggests Valve is “actively pursuing a strategy” that would let Steam power an open gaming universe, not unlike what Google has done with Android.
In his interview with Penny Arcade Report, Newell said, “We’d rather hardware people that are good at manufacturing and distributing hardware do [hardware]. 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.”
If nothing else, Newell definitely seems to have console on the brain.
Vox Games says its sources suggest that Valve has been working on a hardware spec and relevant software for this mysterious “Steam Box,” and that the actual device(s) may be assembled by several partners. Reportedly, meetings were held at CES last January to demo a prototype of the system. It should be able to run standard PC titles, and load up rival services–including EA’s Origin.
In fact, developing for the Steam Box supposedly won’t require a devkit, nor will there be licensing fees.
Vox Games has a slew of additional rumors, including USB controllers with parts that can be swapped out according to the type of game that’s being played (Valve filed a patent for a similar device last year), and biometric feedback.
Finally, there’s some buzz about how the Steam Box might take advantage of Steam’s “Big Picture” mode. According to a press release distributed in 2011, “With big picture mode, gaming opportunities for Steam partners and customers become possible via PCs and Macs on any TV or computer display in the house.”
Which, in turn, suggests that Newell isn’t only out to compete against Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony–he hopes to take on Apple, too. Specifically, Apple TV.
“On the platform side, it’s sort of ominous that the world seems to be moving away from open platforms,” Newell told the Seattle Times in October 2011. “[Apple] builds a shiny sparkling thing that attracts users and then they control people’s access to those things.”
If the Steam Box is a real thing, it’d be exciting to meet it at GDC. E3 seems like a better bet, however. Either way, even the very concept is intriguing. An “open” console would be a heck of an opponent for Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft to do battle against.
[via Vox Games]