Steam box approaching.

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Steam box approaching.

Postby weemadando » 2012-03-03 03:13am

I suspect that we see leaks at GDC and then the reveal at E3. I get the feeling that with this being a mini-PC with a relatively open design concept (what with them allegedly putting Origin and other platforms on it too), that they'll push multi-media hard and try and have a bunch of streaming services ready to launch with it too.

Those hardware stats though - they're terrifying. The price of this thing must be phenomenal. I proclaim this NeoGeo3DO brought to you by Valve.

The Verge wrote:Recently there's been chatter that Valve — the company behind the massively popular gaming service Steam — has been considering getting into the hardware business. Specifically, there have been rumors that the company has been toying with the idea of creating a proper set-top console which could potentially pose a threat to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Valve co-founder Gabe Newell even recently told Penny Arcade: "Well, if we have to sell hardware we will."

At a glance that would simply be interesting fodder for a gaming forum debate, but we've uncovered information that suggests that not only has Valve been secretly working on gaming hardware for the living room, but that the company is actively pursuing a strategy which would place Steam at the center of an open gaming universe that mirrors what Google has done with Android. Backing up that concept, in the same interview we quote above, Newell says that Valve doesn't really want to do hardware on its own, stating, "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."

That jibes pretty well with this rumored arrangement.

According to sources, the company has been working on a hardware spec and associated software which would make up the backbone of a "Steam Box." The actual devices may be made by a variety of partners, and the software would be readily available to any company that wants to get in the game.

Adding fuel to that fire is a rumor that the Alienware X51 may have been designed with an early spec of the system in mind, and will be retroactively upgradable to the software.

Apparently meetings were held during CES to demo a hand-built version of the device to potential partners. We're told that the basic specs of the Steam Box include a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU. The devices will be able to run any standard PC titles, and will also allow for rival gaming services (like EA's Origin) to be loaded up.

Part of the goal of establishing a baseline for hardware, we're told, is that it will give developers a clear lifecycle for their products, with changes possibly coming every three to four years. Additionally, there won't be a required devkit, and there will be no licensing fees to create software for the platform.

We're hearing that a wide variety of USB peripherals will be compatible with the boxes, though it will likely ship with a proprietary controller. It's possible that the controller will even allow for swappable components, meaning that it can be reconfigured depending on the type of game you're playing. Think that sounds odd? Well Valve filed a patent for such a device last year.

Additionally, we're told that the kind of biometrics Valve uses in game testing will somehow be incorporated into these devices. Sources of ours say that the realtime biometric feedback in games will be a sea-change for users. To put it more succinctly, the sentiment we've heard is: "You won't ever look back." These biometric devices could come in the form of a bracelet, or be part of the standard controller.

The consoles will also take advantage of Steam's "Big Picture" mode, a feature Valve touted last year at GDC, but has yet to release to the public. According to the company's press release 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."

The most interesting piece of this puzzle may be related to that statement. According to sources, the Steam Box isn't intended to just clash with current gaming consoles. Rather, Valve wants to take Apple and its forthcoming new Apple TV products head-on. Newell has clear questions about Apple's strategy, telling the The Seattle Times "On the platform side, it's sort of ominous that the world seems to be moving away from open platforms," adding that "They build a shiny sparkling thing that attracts users and then they control people's access to those things."

The Steam Box could be unveiled at GDC, though we're also hearing that the company may wait until E3 this year to show off what it's been working on.

One thing is for sure, however: if these rumors turn out to be correct, there could be a whole new kind of battle for control of your living room happening in the near future. Of course, much of this is pieced together from a variety of sources, and there could be moving parts which we can't see. Some of this information could change.

We've reached out to Valve for comment, and will update the post with any new information we receive.

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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby VF5SS » 2012-03-03 07:59am

weemadando wrote: The price of this thing must be phenomenal. I proclaim this NeoGeo3DO brought to you by Valve.



To be fair to the Neo Geo, it was initially a rental only device and was never designed to be a competitive home console.

So is this Valve admitting that a unified box with set specs is a superior platform :3
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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby Rabid » 2012-03-03 12:37pm

VF5SS wrote:So is this Valve admitting that a unified box with set specs is a superior platform :3

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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby Stark » 2012-03-03 04:12pm

It's kind of a shame that with nerds doing all Valves marketing for them it'll be successful regardless of how horrible it is, barring fatty reaction.

Locked in consumers so useful! :v

And man 'while me type of battle for your living room' is quality journalism. New media sku = VALVE REVOLUTIONARY.

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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby weemadando » 2012-03-03 04:21pm

To be honest, if all they do is release a high end home theatre PC with a stripped down version of Windows and access to Steam and the other gaming and streaming services that works then they've done a damn fine job - but it would definitely kill "PC" gaming as what would be the point of developing for anything other than this specific build going into the future. Unless of course you're an idiotic studio like so many are who define themselves by their poor decision making.

Of course, this is all reliant on it actually working as promised and more than that, coming in at a price which isn't obscene.

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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby Stark » 2012-03-03 04:36pm

Why? How much of the (paying) PC market are people who wouldn't own a computer for other reasons? It'd probably kill PC for niche or fatty games, but people would still want Sims 5. A lot depends on their rte of manufacture.

Unless Gabey is even dumber than listening to him indictates, Valve will go loss leader to penetrate the market. They can afford to lose money for many years if it increases their grip on consumers. As MS showed with the Xbox, you don't have to be good; you just have to be better than the other idiots.

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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby Mr Bean » 2012-03-03 04:40pm

Weemadando you greatly misunderstand what Valve is doing here. If it is a stripped down version of Windows that runs Steam it's going to be a PC that's been rebranded as a console. They will run just as well on the Steambox as on a PC. It's been years since the motherboard, ram or the particular network card causes incompatibility with a PC game. If you have issues running a PC game it's 1, Your OS, 2 Your Video card, 3, Your audio card, 4 Bad install/corrupted install files, or 5 Witches.

This is Valve we are talking about. Likely the same day they release the Steambox to market Steam will get an update to enable Steambox mode where in your PC limits yourself to what the Steambox expects, IE if you have 16 gigs of ram it ignores them and only uses 8. Given they are aiming for a Nvidia card and given Nvidia coding habits the drivers between your Steambox and your PC will be identical as long as you have card as within twi generation of the Steambox card. IE if it's a 5xx series as long as you have a 2xxx or 3xxx, or 4xxx it will run fine (The 2xxx and 3xxx I count as one generation thanks to bizzaro Nvidia marketing.

Unlike Sony or MS, Valve is not into pushing a closed market if they are saying they want Origin also running from day 1 which means they are going to get Steambox money and PC money and if history shows they will get PS4 and Xbox 720 money too because Valve is in to make money in every market they can reach. They entire point is not to create another closed system but to build a PC console.

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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby weemadando » 2012-03-03 04:47pm

I'm not talking about Valve pushing a closed market. I'm saying that if this thing runs Steam, Origin, Impulse et al then devs have a template to aim towards and focus on especially of it has significant market penetration.

Also Bean, years since there were card/board/could conflicts and related issues in games? Good to know some people are delusional. I mean it's not like BC2 had a hard lock issue with certain sound cards or that ATI or Nvidia comparability problems are forever happening with new releases?

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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby Mr Bean » 2012-03-03 04:50pm

weemadando wrote:
Also Bean, years since there were card/board/could conflicts and related issues in games? Good to know some people are delusional. I mean it's not like BC2 had a hard lock issue with certain sound cards or that ATI or Nvidia comparability problems are forever happening with new releases?

Weemando try reading this bit again

Mr Bean wrote:They will run just as well on the Steambox as on a PC. It's been years since the motherboard, ram or the particular network card causes incompatibility with a PC game.

*snip
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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby weemadando » 2012-03-03 05:08pm

Sorry, reading comprehension compromised by toddler.

I'm kind of intrigued to know just how much optimisation that devs will be willing to aim for with a dedicated platform like this.

And also what impact, if any, this would have on the indie scene - whether XBLIG and maybe even some smaller amount of XBLA and PSN might get depopulated.

I have to wonder how successful the XNA/XBLIG thing has been for MS and whether they bother bringing it to the next generation.

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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby Mr Bean » 2012-03-03 06:38pm

weemadando wrote:
And also what impact, if any, this would have on the indie scene - whether XBLIG and maybe even some smaller amount of XBLA and PSN might get depopulated.

I have to wonder how successful the XNA/XBLIG thing has been for MS and whether they bother bringing it to the next generation.

The market has made a ton of cash for Microsoft because of how it's structured. Lots of games have to give a cut directly to MS in addition to paying for the hosting of the game. It's a pain in the ass to get on XBLA and an even bigger pain to convince Microsoft to push your game, but anytime an Indie dev team succeeds, MS gets a cut. Comparing the cost of running those servers and providing a approval and testing team compared to the payoff, your going to see much tighter integration of XBLA in future. The upcoming UI changes are to try to get you to visit the market every time you turn on your Xbox. But not to force you go through the market but to sprinkle it in and add context items to the sides so you don't have to go to the DLC list. Not in the sense of surrounding the game in ads but say you throw in Saints Row the Third, off the the sides, corner of your eye will be direct links to similar games, to DLC. They want to do the same things with movies and music but not be blatant about it.

What I've heard second hand is there's a internal testing going on right now to figure out exactly how obvious to make this stuff so you don't notice it but still notice it.

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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby Ryan Thunder » 2012-03-04 04:37am

VF5SS wrote:So is this Valve admitting that a unified box with set specs is a superior platform :3

If it means modding is dead I am going to scream at you and Stark personally all day every day for the rest of your lives. :lol:
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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby aieeegrunt » 2012-03-04 11:06am

If this thing is close to as affordable as a console and I can modd on it or use mods then it will truly be the best of both worlds.

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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby Sarevok » 2012-03-04 11:27am

weemadando wrote:And also what impact, if any, this would have on the indie scene - whether XBLIG and maybe even some smaller amount of XBLA and PSN might get depopulated.

I have to wonder how successful the XNA/XBLIG thing has been for MS and whether they bother bringing it to the next generation.


Lets put it this way Cthulhu saves the world made more in a week on steam than a year on XBLIG

OTH the reason XBLIG exists and Steam games make so much more money is Steam an exclusive elite club. Most of the games on XBLIG would never be allowed onto Steam. So XBLIG would continue because it is the one of few ways a person without publisher backing or insider connections can get his games onto consoles.

Today XBLIG serves as a proving ground for people wishing to get noticed by Valve. I think this trend would continue with the prize for getting onto Steam with the greater amount of revenue a "steambox". may bring.
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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby Havok » 2012-03-04 12:50pm

Someone explain this to me so that I can understand it.
Pretend I have no idea what Valve or Steam are.
Sell me this item.
Why shouldn't I buy Xbox ExtremeHomeCommandCenter and buy this?
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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby Sarevok » 2012-03-04 01:17pm

Havok wrote:Someone explain this to me so that I can understand it.
Pretend I have no idea what Valve or Steam are.
Sell me this item.
Why shouldn't I buy Xbox ExtremeHomeCommandCenter and buy this?


My speculation ?Better graphics and probably PC exclusive games and ability to install mods.
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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby Havok » 2012-03-04 01:44pm

Better graphics? I hear that all the time.
Exclusive games? So like Halo or Gears of War? What games?
Mods? Sounds complicated which is why I have an Ithingy and not a linux computer.

Ill stick with the brand I know.
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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby weemadando » 2012-03-04 02:56pm

Aside from "better graphics", which is a shit selling point...

Massive back-catalogue of games at launch.
Sounds like it won't be a closed market (so you can buy stuff from places OTHER than Steam through it)
Software pricing will likely match Steam's relatively aggressive pricing (compared to other consoles) and high discount sales.
Being a PC (probably with a windows base) it'll have the capacity to do a lot of streaming and other media related bits and bobs, not just via approved "apps".

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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby Stark » 2012-03-04 03:36pm

So why are they pitching the specs so high? It's clearly aimed at pc nose-hair renderers, and not console users who know you can see that shit at 10 feet anyway. What's to stop it languishing for years the way the ps3 did aside from the installed base of valve drones?

Their strategy must be long-term, so nobody has to be interested for a year. Hav, the selling point is '10,000 fcking horrible games people like Ando play', and the product will lead to some interesting market convergences.

I expect heaps of ME3 style stuff where fat people say 'wow - plying games in the lounge with a controller is cool - valve are so innovative. Fucking console babies suck!!!'

But then we'll see what happens when you make steam into an appliance where people expect things to work and not be disgustingly ugly retail fanmods. :v

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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby weemadando » 2012-03-04 03:54pm

Better graphics as a selling point is dumb, not that endless idiots don't go for it anyway.


and yeah, the idea of "buying pre-built HTPC with a steam interface for gaming" is a selling point for me and others because why wouldn't we like buying a console with all our games already on iy


A big question for me is whether the new Steam will have stuff like parties and other XBL functionality more tightly integrated.

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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby Xeriar » 2012-03-04 04:00pm

8GB costs all of $30. A core i7 isn't cheap, but they might get some deal on it.

I think they might be more interested in getting developers to start putting out 64-bit binaries, then they are in making money off the console specifically.
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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby Mr Bean » 2012-03-04 04:05pm

If I were Steam I'd bundle the shit out of the Steambox.

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Go to EA and tell them, we will have origin per-installed give us one of your back title games to install for free, my picks would be a well know but solder game like Bad Company 2 or Crisis 1. Go to Good Old Games and offer them the same thing, the free game from them would be something like a Freespace, Planescape, Thief. From Steam itself obviously we give away the Orange Box. I'd go to Impluse but I don't know what shit I want from Gamestop. And I can't think of any other download services with unique games I'd need

So now we have our bundle and make it a hefty one. Market this as the Console with twenty years worth of games (True if GoG is on board). Have a neutral splash intro screen then have markets set up so Steam and GoG can play together on the same screens. When I load up the stores the style with change but the code will all be Steambox masquerading as GoG's style or Origin style. And here's where Gamestop could get involved maybe Amazon. Don't want the digital download/network can't handle it? Order the DVD's from Amazon/Gamestop's storefront (Again Steambox behind the scenes but style wrapper is Amazon/Gamestop).

Best way to get corporation? Simple take next to no money from Origin/GoG game sales and push specialization in the stores which EA is already doing by withholding things from Steam as it is.

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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby Stark » 2012-03-04 04:09pm

Captive market only bad for OTHER people. :v

But how many serious pro hardcore fatties would really buy one? If they're as expensive as expected and you already have your pro gamer rig (ratemyrig.com) would you buy it? This is what I mean when I say it is not necessarily accessing the market people might think. For many people it will just be redundant, so it runs smack into consoles and (far cheaper) media streamers. The selling points seem to be the cheapness of the filth it sells (not a selling point those with taste) and continuity with pc. I think much of the appeal will come down to how much they cut in before the next round of consoles and how much they bully publishers to drop into line.

I don't even think the product affects console game limitations, since it just be running PC games.

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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby Mr Bean » 2012-03-04 04:13pm

OAN counting my discounts I can put together (Assuming I'm ordering lots of a 100) a 531$ PC with a home media case a Nvidia 560, an I7 950 and a terabyte drive. If I'm ordering in lots of five million I'm sure my discounts would be a lot higher.

*Edit
And eight gigs of ram which if order in lots of 100 I can get from Crucial for less than 24.74$ each pair.
Last edited by Mr Bean on 2012-03-04 04:16pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Steam box approaching.

Postby MKSheppard » 2012-03-04 04:16pm

Mr Bean wrote:OAN counting my discounts I can put together (Assuming I'm ordering lots of a 100) a 531$ PC with a home media case a Nvidia 560, an I7 950 and a terabyte drive. If I'm ordering in lots of five million I'm sure my discounts would be a lot higher.


Also, it doesn't have to be absolute top end i7. Just this package specification is more than enough to significantly allow a massive jump in capability.

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