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Gabe Newell Reveals More About Steam Boxes, New Input Devices 218

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the serious-business dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Valve's presence at CES this year isn't to show off some new games, it's all about meeting with hardware manufacturers behind closed doors to talk about Steam Box. In an interview at CES which highlights Valve's plans for the console, Gabe Newell describes Steam Box as two projects. The first, codenamed Bigfoot, focuses on the hardware for use in the home with a TV. The second, codenamed Littlefoot, is investigating mobile gaming. Gabe goes on to discuss Valve plans on having three levels of Steam Box described as 'Good, Better, or Best' and expectations for the controller where the company wants something that's more high precision than anything else out there at the moment." The interview at the Verge is pretty extensive.
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Gabe Newell Reveals More About Steam Boxes, New Input Devices

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  • by Noctis-Kaban (2758815) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @01:23PM (#42533859)
    Trust valve to be the first to be putting thought into this. If it’s truly a steam based console, I expect console players to be mixed in with pc players online. If that minor leap of gestimation is correct, they will need high precision controllers to stand any chance of not getting destroyed by much more proficient and accurate pc gamers with keyboards and mice. I will look forward to seeing how this developes.
    • by ikaruga (2725453)

      they will need high precision controllers to stand any chance of not getting destroyed by much more proficient and accurate pc gamers with keyboards and mice. I will look forward to seeing how this developes.

      That depends on the game, FPS is not the only genre out there. If its a fighter or a racing or a competitive SHMUP, I'm sure any noob using a dualshock can destroy a kb+m user.
      Anyway, I hope they are really putting some though in the controller as well and actually have a original idea, because by reading that article I couldn't help but to think the only thing I saw was Gabe, when asked about input methods, criticizing standard motion controls(fair enough) and using cool words like "biometrics" to descri

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Nope.
        Keyboard an mouse turn faster then any console controller on the market. IT's not game specific. It a fundamental design limitations of current systems.

  • about different levels of hardware... I can certainly see where they're coming from, but it's certainly not the route I would take. But hey, what do I know?
    • I can understand the approach.

      A "good" console for casual gamers that want to play something like worms or farmville would be dirt cheap, a "Better" console for some single player RPG players that require a bit more power, or just can't afford/justify the high end, and a "best" console for the MMO(RPG/FPS) for people that need the best performance and think squeezing 5 FPS out of the hardware justifies a $200 difference. Each console would be priced for their respective group, a casual gamer isn't going t
      • If I read the article right, the "good" console will actually stream video from a different device. So, you'll have a computer or laptop in another room, and use the power of that box to power your little steam box.
    • I don't see a problem with it. PC games are already designed to handle various levels of hardware, and you can always adjust the game settings to suit your specs.

  • by Cyberax (705495) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @01:31PM (#42533967)
    Dream come true: Half-Life 3 with a real crowbar controller!
    • Plastic crowbar with a WiiMote socket?

      • by Cyberax (705495)
        Real crowbar with taped WiiMote. And don't anyone dare to come close!
      • No, iron. We're going for realism here. But if you thought you could do damage with a wiimote slipping out of your hand.... let's just say the crowbar wrist strap is going to have to be heavy duty.
  • "Doomed to fail".... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mark-t (151149) <`markt' `at' `lynx.bc.ca'> on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @01:45PM (#42534107) Journal
    ... is the universal prognostication from producers and technical directors where I work. I'd personally love to see a Linux console succeed, but I just don't know if this is gonna work. I'd heard that the consoles are going to be priced in the neighborhood of $500 or more, and I fear they may price themselves out of the market for all but people who were planning on getting the console anyways simply for the sake of owning one. As an even worse side effect, if their device does not succeed, it might even have the consequence of steering future people away from the idea of trying to use Linux as a viable gaming platform ever again.
    • That makes quite a bit of sense. Another factor is there are a bunch of similar consoles coming out all at the same time. They may end up spreading the people willing to buy the consoles too thin. I've already ordered an Ouya through their kickstarter, I'm most likely not going to get a Steambox or a game stick as well.
      • If you already have a decent PC the Steambox isn't targeted at you anyway. But I agree with the spreading too thin part.
      • That makes quite a bit of sense. Another factor is there are a bunch of similar consoles coming out all at the same time. They may end up spreading the people willing to buy the consoles too thin. I've already ordered an Ouya through their kickstarter, I'm most likely not going to get a Steambox or a game stick as well.

        Besides, at a sub-$100 price, both the Ouya and the Gamestick are in impulse-buy territory. Especially the Ouya, at $99 packs some really nice specs.

    • by Xian97 (714198)
      $500 might seem steep, but if you look at your total cost over the lifetime of the console it would probably be less expensive in the long run. It wouldn't take too many $60 games to run up the total cost of your system to higher levels, compared to getting games for a quarter of that price on Steam sales.
      • You can get games below cost for Xbox and Playstation too. You can either buy second hand or even borrow games from friends. I've gotten many year old games for pennies on the dollar out of the bins at Gamestop. And then there's always sales on Xbox live sales (don't know about PSN since I don't have a PS), which discount games like Steam. Skyrim was only $30 during Christmas.
        • You can either buy second hand or even borrow games from friends.

          Not for much longer, Sony's planning on putting an end to that with their new patent, and even if they don't enforce the patent what you end up seeing is more "incomplete" games sold first hand for $60 that'll then be used to nickle and dime second hand consumers for DLC that's probably already on the media. The future of console gaming isn't looking very bright and the prospective DRM schemes publishers are coming out with is making PC gaming less and less viable unless you're willing to pirate games to ge

        • by spire3661 (1038968) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @02:59PM (#42535027) Journal
          There are no sales on console that come anywhere near Steam Sales. Its not even close. Rage for $5 on Xbox360, never happening. Sleeping Dogs for $16, forget it Console's purpose is to establish a locked in fanbase, and exploit them heavily and to always keep the premium facade up. You will NEVER see sales on console like they have on Steam because Microsoft/Sony wont allow it.
          • Microsoft/Sony might not allow it but Gamestop, Amazon, and other retailers, and friends certainly do. I got Fable II used for $2 only shortly after it was released. I currently see Rage for Xbox 360 on Amazon [amazon.com] for $7.00 ($3.00 + $4.00 shipping). And I still swap and borrow games all the time for free with my friends. Can't do that with Steam.
            • by chispito (1870390)

              I got Fable II used for $2 only shortly after it was released. I currently see Rage for Xbox 360 on Amazon [amazon.com] for $7.00 ($3.00 + $4.00 shipping). And I still swap and borrow games all the time for free with my friends. Can't do that with Steam.

              Eh, to me, consoles just aren't the same. No user mods, no private servers, developer support is slow and cumbersome, and I can't, for instance, pick up my game and play it on my laptop while on vacation. And, despite the problem with re-selling or lending games, I still don't think there is much of a price comparison between consoles and Steam, especially if you're interested in indie games.

          • There are no sales on console that come anywhere near Steam Sales. Its not even close. Rage for $5 on Xbox360, never happening.

            Super Mario Bros. 3 for $5 on Wii, happening.

            Sleeping Dogs for $16, forget it

            "Player's Choice" series for $20 each, remember it

    • by gfxguy (98788)
      The way I look at it is that if I'm going to 'invest' $800 I can get a spanking good PC and run steam on it - and a lot more, and I can upgrade it when new hardware becomes available; I can also spread out the cost by buying a cheaper PC and upgrading it as time goes on.
    • by cayenne8 (626475)

      I'd heard that the consoles are going to be priced in the neighborhood of $500 or more,

      If you can't afford to drop $500 for a toy here and there...I'd dare say your time would be better spend studying or doing whatever to get a better paying job so that you have the disposable cash to buy some 'big boy' toys.....

      • by mark-t (151149)

        Who said $500 was too expensive for me?

        I'm more concerned that it's too expensive for most people who buy video games to spend that much on a video game console, considering you can buy an xbox or ps3 for under $300.

        Yes, of course there are going to be people who will spend that much... but will it be enough people to make it a commercial success?

  • Valve watching (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pr0nbot (313417) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @01:48PM (#42534149)
    It's nice to watch a company in that phase of its existence where it's still essentially "good", i.e. doing interesting things in a better way, just ramping up, and morally fairly neutral. If they get anywhere they'll inevitably metamorphose into rapacious consumer-o-phobes, but for the moment I wish them godspeed.
  • Replace the D-pad with a thumb-sized trackball mouse and I'm sold.

  • Steam Box Server (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ApharmdB (572578) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @01:59PM (#42534281)
    From the Verge article: "For example, Valve intends to make Steam Box a server, which can serve games on multiple TVs around the home simultaneously. So you could purchase a single Steam Box and use it with multiple controllers for playing games on the different TVs around your home." I'd like this very much please, thank you. If I could share games in a steam account within a household that would be awesome. Currently, when I'm logged in and playing Game X from the account then no one can play Game Y. That's not any different than with consoles but you can buy multiple consoles. Buying multiple consoles solves the problem completely. Having multiple steam accounts with games split across them doesn't. You aren't going to have a separate steam account for each game. And then you still can have the issue of two desired-at-the-moment games being on the same account. And constant account switching. This is not a major issue, but it would be a very-nice-to-have.
    • Actually I said I probably wouldn't buy a steambox because I've around bought an Ouya, but I'd reconsider that if this was the case. I have lots of games on my steam account that my wife likes, but only one of us at a time can us it. This would solve that issue and make the steambox more like what I think a console should be, small, usable on all home TVs and not restrictive to the person using it. It'd also be pretty awesome if my wife and/or daughter and myself could play multiplayer in the same room/hous
  • They're making a PC and not only that they're already planning for people to install windows on it. So it sounds more like this is a half assed move to piss of Microsoft.
    • How exactly would this be a move to piss off Microsoft?

      • Valve's Steambox is more likely to hard the 360 than the PS3 or Nintendo. The reason being is because the PC doesn't offer anything Nintendo does and both Sony and Nintendo have way more exclusives than the 360. The xbox 360 is also quite unpopular outside of North America. Because of that Sony still managed to catch and finally pass the 360 despite being more expensive, initially having fewer games and all the bad press about it's online service.

        Not only that any gamer it draws away from the 360 potenti
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @02:25PM (#42534531)

    Valve, please, make a "companion cube"-styled Steam Box and take all our monies

    Signed, the Internets

  • From the article:

    "So... Netflix on the Steam Box?" "Oh absolutely. You can fire up a web browser, you can do whatever you want."

    Until Netflix runs in something other than silverlight, this isn't going to work the way Gabe seems to think it is.

    • Seriously? You don't think they can't figure something out with Netflix, who has custom software on every single console on the market, plus most mainstream handheld devices?

      I'm not sure he was implying that you would launch Netflix from a browser. He seemed to just be listing off every day tasks that you traditionally do with a computer that you can do with the steam box.

      That's not to say that you can't already run Netflix inside Linux, because, you know, you can.

    • by iroll (717924)

      I can watch Netflix on my Nexus S, and I don't think that it uses Silverlight.

    • by marsu_k (701360)
      My "smart" TV runs Linux, and Netflix, just fine.
    • by wilson_c (322811)

      Netflix supports something like 280 different platforms. Silverlight only runs on a handful of those.

  • Where is my watch? My Alarm Clock? Oh, that's right, I don't use one. I use the general purpose computer in my pocket: A "Smart" Phone...

    Once, not so long ago, Game machines were purely mechanical. Levers, knobs, gears, buttons and contractors shot balls through hoops or pucks into goals, etc. This meant that each Arcade Game's hardware was custom fit to the game itself. With the advent of digital games with integrated circuits it got cheaper to mass produce the games because you could install multiple different games onto the hardware, but memory constraints and controller configurations meant that the arcade cabinets only supported one game at a time.

    As hardware got cheap enough the demand for digital games resulted in home gaming consoles. These early consoles weren't as powerful as the arcade machines, but they allowed one piece of hardware to run many different games. The console hardware was necessarily dedicated to gaming because it needed to be designed for speed: Consoles favored read-only cartridges for near instant data access speed vs slow magnetic media, and dedicated graphics systems with hardware collision detection over general purpose computing logic. The game consoles were less powerful than the arcade machines, but eventually they closed the gap.

    As before with single game Arcade Cabinet hardware vs multi-game supporting hardware, the more general purpose game hardware became dominant; Thus, Consoles destroyed the Arcade market. PCs were even more general purpose that consoles, but as with the more powerful dedicated Arcade Cabinets vs weaker Consoles, the consoles held dominion in the game market. The circuitry in game consoles had become so generalized it was nearly indistinguishable from PCs. Some consoles even flirted with being both a Console and a general purpose PC (Atari PC), but their hardware optimizations for sprite collisions and scrolling kept them in in first place.

    As the gap closed between PC and Game Console, the game consoles themselves became the exact same as a PC in hardware terms, even to the point of running PC OSs like a modified version of Windows, and Linux. At this point the PCs had eclipsed Game Consoles in terms of raw power. The PC's more general purpose design had been eroding all dedicated electronics, not just the game industry. Everything from, Televisions, set-top cable boxes, TV remotes, phones, had been installed with general purpose computing components. The future looked bleak for any dedicated circuitry, especially dedicated gaming hardware, as phones and tablet computers quickly approached and even surpassed the power of some gaming hardware (Wii).

    We are at the end of the dedicated gaming hardware history, having caught up with the present. Vendor lock-in, DRM, and dedicated controllers have become the only differentiating features between general purpose computing and dedicated gaming hardware -- And console like controllers are now available for PCs (but the more general purpose keyboard and mouse aren't on consoles...), leaving only anti-features as "pros" in the console's corner. Console hardware cycles have slowed, unable to keep pace with the more rapidly improving mobile and desktop computing markets, they need to take more time to make the next leap because they know the console hardware is sub-par vs PCs even before the console is released (this wasn't always true in the past, however), and they can milk the console for the most money possible -- Much to the chagrin of hardcore gamers and developers alike who both want to play and make better games if only the hardware were better... Gamers continue to buy games for dedicated hardware made by entrenched publishers due to nostalgia, ease of install and availability only, everything else from exclusivity to DRM being ant-features. Meanwhile developers try ever harder to make cross platform titles so that all gamers can play their games. AAA studios, being forced to dumb down games because of the lowest common denominator (consoles

    • And console like controllers are now available for PCs

      But PC game developers can't depend on people owning controllers. One reason is that almost nobody appears to want to connect a PC to a television [slashdot.org]. The monitors that users end up connecting to PCs tend to be far smaller than, say, a living room TV, and they're not exactly big enough for two to four people to comfortably fit around.

      (but the more general purpose keyboard and mouse aren't on consoles...)

      Wii came with a Wii Remote, and Wii U comes with a Wii U GamePad. Both fulfill the same positional input role as a mouse.

      leaving only anti-features as "pros" in the console's corner.

      The other "pro" is that mass-produced consoles, unlike mas

      • by PhxBlue (562201)

        The other "pro" is that mass-produced consoles, unlike mass-produced PCs, come in cases designed to sit next to a TV monitor.

        These days, consoles are mass-produced PCs that come in cases designed to sit next to a TV monitor. The XBox 360, if I recall correctly, ran a console-specific version of Windows 7. Before Sony doubled down on evil, PS3s could run Linux.

        Would it run with sound on the operating system that shipped with Pentium III PCs (Windows 2000 or Windows Me) and Pentium 4 PCs (Windows XP)?

        Yes, with help from a little application called DosBox.

        • by tepples (727027)

          These days, consoles are mass-produced PCs that come in cases designed to sit next to a TV monitor.

          Then perhaps we're defining "personal computers" differently. To me, a "personal computer" is a device whose owner "personally" chooses what is "computed". Architecturally, modern consoles are similar to personal computers, but in practice, the console makers have used digital signatures to strip personal computing capability from just about every console but the forthcoming Ouya.

          The XBox 360, if I recall correctly, ran a console-specific version of Windows

          When the Xbox 360 came out, there was no way for end users to load code onto it. A year later, Microsoft started selling an XNA d

    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      It's not like Home PCs being commonplace us anything new. It's not like the essential similarity of consoles and home PCs is anything new. It's not like the advantages for the PCs are anything new. You could have written basically the exact same essay 15 years ago. And yet in that time, Consoles have remained popular, because

      1) Nobody wants to attach their PC to their TV
      2) Consoles are a hell of a lot simpler to use than a PC, you don't have to think about anti-virus programs and you can just hit the po

      • by tepples (727027)

        Nobody wants to attach their PC to their TV

        Then buy a second small form factor PC and call it a "console that runs PC games" instead of a PC. That's what the Steam box is about.

        you don't have to think about anti-virus programs

        Unless you want to run certain third-party programs that the console maker thinks are malware because the console maker refuses to allow them to be distributed through the official channel.

        you can just hit the power button to turn it off.

        A PC can likewise be configured to shut down, stand by, or hibernate when the power button is pressed.

        Consoles don't require you to bother about which graphics card+etc. you want

        PCs don't require you to bother about which brand of console (Sony, Microsoft, or Ninte

      • by PhxBlue (562201)

        5) Piracy rates on Computers are much higher, discouraging game development.

        [Citation needed]

    • See here's what I don't think you understand. Valve is not selling dedicated hardware. They are selling STANDARDIZED hardware. Two of their "Good, Better, Best" systems will be general purpose linux PCs that come pre-loaded with steam set to go full screen on startup.

      I fully believe that general purpose PCs will eventually overtake consoles, but I don't think it already happened due to a single factor. Price. Now a console may currently cost more than an equivalent gaming PC, but keep in mind, current

What ever you want is going to cost a little more than it is worth. -- The Second Law Of Thermodynamics

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