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Valve Reportedly Working On 'Steam Box' Gaming Console 233

Posted by Soulskill
from the putting-the-fear-of-gabe-into-sony-microsoft-and-nintendo dept.
An anonymous reader writes "This article at the Verge claims that Valve is currently working on a way to bring Steam to the living room with its own gaming console. Quoting: '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.'"
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Valve Reportedly Working On 'Steam Box' Gaming Console

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  • by tedgyz (515156) * on Saturday March 03, 2012 @11:31AM (#39231181) Homepage

    I think this would be a great addition to the market, but if I can't carry over my PC catalog then it will be stillborn.

  • Steam Box AKA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wisnoskij (1206448) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @11:33AM (#39231203) Homepage

    AKA a windows computer hooked up to a TV and with many software blocks in place to prevent general computer like use.

  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @11:34AM (#39231207)
    I'm sure you'd be able to play all your games from Steam on this thing. It's not like Valve has ever discouraged people from playing their games across multiple computers.
  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @11:42AM (#39231269)
    As long as you can log into your Steam account through this, why wouldn't you be able to? That is after all the whole point of Steam, to be able to play your games anywhere but just logging into Steam and redownloading your game
  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Saturday March 03, 2012 @11:52AM (#39231349) Homepage

    My understanding of the story is that essentially this will be a Windows computer with Steam installed. There are two major developments that this signals:

    First, that Valve plans to start issuing a sort of standard system requirement for game developers to target, which is one of the benefits of consoles right now. Developers know what platform they're developing for when they develop a PS3 game, and when I buy a PS3 game I know it'll play on my PS3. If all Steam Boxes have the same system requirements, then you get the same benefit.

    The other implication is that Valve must be developing Steam software suitable for use on a big screen tv. This is going to mean menu systems with large fonts that can be navigated with a remote, as well have controller/remote hardware to use with it.

    I'm pretty optimistic about this. I've been ranting for years now about how Valve should develop a console.

  • Standardisation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Retron (577778) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:02PM (#39231443)

    Yes, it's just a PC-in-a-box. However, this is something a bit more interesting in that at long last it'd set a more modern minimum spec for games. For too long PC games have been crippled graphically, as no games maker wants to lose out on the Windows XP-with-DX9 graphics crowd. If enough of these boxes are shifted it would work to further PC games in terms of graphics, as developers could assume a certain minimum level - and I'd wager it wouldn't be crusty old DX9-level graphics.

    As a bonus, everyone who has a decent gaming PC already would stand to benefit from a larger pool of developers and games.

    Things like this have been tried before, however. Remember MPC and MPC2? They quickly fizzled out, as did use of the Experience Index that's present in consumer versions of Windows from Vista onwards.

    The main fly in the ointment is likely to be cost, however. i7s are around £230 alone in the UK and a decent midrange graphics card (like the GTX560) is another £120. A PS3 is cheaper than an i7 CPU, around £190.

  • by SScorpio (595836) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:04PM (#39231457)

    Depending on your setup you will need a power cable and HDMI cable to carry both audio and video. Network access could be via WiFi and wireless input devices.

    If Valve keeps the platform open maybe something like XBMC could be easily packaged for deployment. Then it would need some type of remote input, but you could toss the POS Apple TV that can't output 1080p and have a nice all in one HTPC that doubles as a high powered gaming rig.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:11PM (#39231513)
    You are being silly - you are treating it like because they call it a console, it's magically different - they are talking about selling a PC with steam autoloading and with fixed specs. It'll run anything fine, and patching games for it will be as easy as with any PC.
  • by tepples (727027) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [selppet]> on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:11PM (#39231517) Homepage Journal

    Right now all I have is my apple tv and TV.

    Let me know when the Apple TV has games like the other iOS devices. If games aren't "worth it" to you, then you aren't the target audience. Next story.

  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Saturday March 03, 2012 @12:34PM (#39231697) Homepage

    So instead of trivially adapting your existing PC for display on a Big-screen, you feel compelled to shell out extra dollars for a piece of hardware, which is essentially another redundant PC, that you don't even need?

    Well no, if you already have a good gaming rig, then you don't need to buy a new one. I don't think Valve is asking you to, either. There are hints, at least, that this will be more a set of standardized specs than a particular hardware console. As I said, I think what Valve is really doing is setting a standard set of requirements for gaming PCs. So in this scheme, you can buy a gaming PC that's "Steambox certified" (or whatever), and then in the Steam store, you'll be able to see that games are designed to run on all "Steambox certified" hardware.

    It won't prevent you from running the same games on another computer, but it will make it so developers have a consistent hardware platform to target, and so gamers basically won't need to think about system requirements for each game. If games are developed/optimized for a 2012 Steambox and you have a 2012 model Steambox, then you know that it'll play well.

  • It's a windows PC (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @02:06PM (#39232391) Homepage
    Valve rarely fucks up but my concern is that this is the first time they will. If it can play all my existing games then it's a windows PC dressed up as a console. At worst that means you get all the hassle of PC gaming with the lock down of console gaming. At best it's just a windows PC in a customised case.

    Either way I can't see the point of it. Steam works fine as is on HDTVs. If people want to do that they can do it already.
  • by J-1000 (869558) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @03:15PM (#39232925)

    You forgot to mention that Valve will have its box for sale, and its form factor and default software will be tailor made for TV use. The UI will probably be centered around a game pad. So not only do you have the specs, you have a marketable product.

    And to reinforce what you already said: To the non-technical, buying a gaming PC is tricky. Countless people have no doubt been burned whey they bought a $300 PC hoping it would play the latest games, only to be disappointed when their on-board video card turned everything into a slide show. Or maybe they listened to the salesman at Best Buy who convinced them that to really play games smoothly they were going to have to drop at least $1,500. So you could deal with all that mess, or you could spend $300 on an XBox and KNOW you're good to go. Valve knows that if buying a gaming PC were as easy as buying an XBox that they could potentially see a lot more customers.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @03:35PM (#39233069) Journal

    Microsoft wouldn't have much say over this; after all, in the end, it's a PC like any other, just advertised as a gaming console, and pre-configured for that purpose. Discriminating OEMs over the intended purpose of equipment that they sell would not look well in any anti-monopoly hearing, too (especially given that this was a point that was brought up back during antitrust investigation in US).

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @03:38PM (#39233087) Journal

    So you can't see that this is a blatant stepping-stone toward a Closed Platform and Vendor Lock-In?

    This coming from a guy named "macs4all" is pretty ironic.

    But, no, I don't see that. More importantly, I don't see the point of doing so for Valve. They're doing very well by covering their present niche, which is PC and Mac gaming. They already have some lock-in, in a sense that a game you buy from Steam needs Steam to run. Aside from that, they have not shown any signs of restricting your hardware and OS choices - if anything, they're diversifying them, since the release of Steam on OS X (which lets you download and run games on Mac that you have previously purchased on PC!).

    This move is, quite obviously, an attempt to diversify further by also taking over a slice of the console market. What's sinister about it?

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday March 03, 2012 @03:41PM (#39233105) Journal

    The goal would be to get the entire library of Steam games to run on that console from day 1. It's also easier for the developers if they have, essentially, one platform to target for both PC and console.

    Anyway, judging from the listed specs, this is not a low-end rig by any measure, meaning that it will already be priced noticeably higher than competitors - so $30 (or whatever it is these days?) for OEM Windows is not likely to make a big difference. They'll probably position it as a console for high-end gaming - in terms of eye candy, it can certainly beat any current-gen console by a considerable margin, especially on a Full HD TV where high-res will be very visible.

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