Saturday, March 3rd 2012

Valve Working On Its Own Gaming Hardware, the "Steam Box"

Valve is not short of competition in game development, publishing, or even providing digital distribution and DRM services of games made by various publishers, which went on to become an arm-shot for indie game developers. The next frontier for Valve backing up the potent open game distribution platform that Steam is, with a potent hardware platform, its very own gaming hardware platform.

The only difference here is that unlike Xbox, PlayStation or Wii, which are close-ended hardware platforms manufactured solely by the people behind them, that's Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, respectively, Valve's console will will be open-ended. The physical consoles will be made by various partners (just like NVIDIA GeForce is sold by various NVIDIA partners, such as EVGA, ASUS and ZOTAC). Valve will govern and mandate baseline hardware specifications, which partners have to meet, to ensure the platform delivers a consistent gaming experience to players.

Here's the kicker. Steam Box is essentially an x86 machine that's designed well enough (in form and function) to compete with consoles. Its baseline specifications are not finalized, but it's rumored that Alienware X51 was designed anticipating those baseline specifications from Valve, with the intent that it could be retroactively upgradable to Valve's Steam Box platform firmware. This makes the Steam Box more like an open-platform evolution of the first-generation Xbox, which was x86 and PC GPU-powered. Further, the idea is to give this platform control consistency that consoles enjoy, which is, having a standard game controller. Valve filed a patent for such a controller, in 2011.

Steam Box will also revolutionize the way gamers experience games, not just with visual, aural, or rumble feedback, but realtime biometric feedback, which engages more human senses. "You won't ever look back," The Verge quoted its sources as saying, commenting on this feature. To experience realtime biometric feedback, sources postulate gamers as having to wear a device that resembles a bracelet, or integrated with the main controller. The platform will also tout Valve's Big Picture mode. "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 company is quoted as saying.

To make Steam Box immune to naysayers and cynics screaming "vaporware" from rooftops, Valve is reportedly announcing this platform later this month, at GDC.Source: The Verge
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79 Comments on Valve Working On Its Own Gaming Hardware, the "Steam Box"

#1
erocker
I just read somewhere last night that the prototype box has an i7, Nvidia GPU and 8gb's or RAM.
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#2
cadaveca
My name is Dave
Yeah, I read some interview with Gabe Newell that said they didn't really want ot get into hardware, but becuase there is great demand for such from STEAM users, they are going to meet user's needs.


I guess STEAM-box will be the first PC-Console, not Phantom?:laugh:
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#3
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
This is what Microsoft should have done but no, they wanted a console monopoly. They already did some thing similar with software (Games for Windows Live) but refused to take the next step and unify their platforms.

If this is executed well for a price that is competitive with consoles, it is going to suceed. Tough luck Microsoft.
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#4
cadaveca
My name is Dave
Just had a thought...maybe the launch game for the platform will be HL3?:laugh:
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#5
eidairaman1
isnt this what a PC is actually? I mean its pretty open ended and not 1 hardware maker creates all the hardware for a computer but several other than CPU tech
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#6
ZoneDymo
by: erocker
I just read somewhere last night that the prototype box has an i7, Nvidia GPU and 8gb's or RAM.
Jeej perhaps we will get a console using Nvidia tech after all ;)
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#7
theoneandonlymrk
very interesting developement either way, it would be very funny if it smashed the new xbox and playstations performance for a similar price, and i suppose this could enable nvidia or some such company to get a rival into market
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#8
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
If this won't play existing console games and console exclusives (which it won't unless console manufacturers make some kind of deal with Valve) and it's specs are less than a good gaming PC to keep the cost down ... exactly who are they targetting with this?
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#9
KainXS
did anyone else have a flashback to Infinium Labs

I Know I Did

Don't become the next infinium labs steam
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#10
Munki
by: Kreij
If this won't play existing console games and console exclusives (which it won't unless console manufacturers make some kind of deal with Valve) and it's specs are less than a good gaming PC to keep the cost down ... exactly who are they targetting with this?
My guess is people who have to money to buy stuff simply because they can. It is a cool little idea, but personally, I will not be wasting my time or money.
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#11
erocker
by: Kreij
If this won't play existing console games and console exclusives (which it won't unless console manufacturers make some kind of deal with Valve) and it's specs are less than a good gaming PC to keep the cost down ... exactly who are they targetting with this?
People who don't want to/lack the experience to put together their own PC. There's a lot of those people.
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#12
xenocide
Shit just got real. This is a huge advancement for the PC Gaming community. If Valve could make PC Gaming as accessible as Consoles, and as affordable, there would be literally no reason not to run a PC Setup. I am thinking Valve will come up with some kind of light weight OS or try and get Microsoft to help streamline Windows 8 or something of the sort to keep the performance as high as they can for the cost.
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#13
bear jesus
It sounds like valve intends to trick console users in to using a HTPC that has to be at least powerful enough to game.

The moment i read the article title i thought "you whores" but after reading the details i think i kind of like the plan to trick console gamers in to using PCs.
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#14
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
A Steam Box that runs Windows games without need to understand how to actually use a PC (or Steam for that matter) could draw market share from the consoles and promote games developed for PCs.
However, unless this becomes HUGELY popular (meaning $$$ for publishers) it's still going to be a tough sell to get publishers out of the console mindset because that's where the money is at, and we will still see lots of console ports.
The "realtime, biometric feedback" is a dandy idea ... so is physics, but there has to be a large developer buy in or it's just more waving flags and pretty water.
If the Steam Box is going to use a controller (which by definition is inferior to keyboard controls), how exactly will that help PC gaming?

I would really like to see this succeed, but I remain sceptical.
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#15
enaher
I think it'll depend on pricing, If they're planning o selling a 1000$ setup and using a Gtx 560 Ti + Core I7 2700k or similar hardware, I'd iff away from it if they use a OEM only design motherboard, and just build my own if it was a lot cheaper 500-600$ I'd consider it but might be asking too much.
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#16
KieranD
OH SHIT! Sounds like the 3DO.
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#17
NC37
by: theoneandonlymrk
very interesting developement either way, it would be very funny if it smashed the new xbox and playstations performance for a similar price, and i suppose this could enable nvidia or some such company to get a rival into market
Oh it would and it would continue to. The advantages of this would be you could use your home PC too. For people who don't have the money to invest in tons of PC hardware, they could buy a Steambox. Rest could run it on PC and with upgrade options.

So while there could be baseline titles for Steambox that are optimized for it's performance. There would be minimal to no cost of usual PC porting options. They just design it with performance adjustments. Steambox setting, and then a custom setting for PC users.

Keeping the platform free to dev on is going to stir up a lot of interest too. Same with allowing other manufacturers to produce the hardware. If the base hardware stays locked but addons and such are left to the companies to decide, could see a lot of variation in design. Plus competition between them as they try to outdo one another.
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#18
crazyeyesreaper
Chief Broken Rig
I think people are missing the point

Valve is essentially saying look heres a base line system it plays all the games currently in are catalog, its cheap its effective, it has a good cpu AND a decent GPU, with enough ram to do whats needed

Essentially valve is taking the guess work out of the equation there removing the shitty OMG GT 210 with 4GB DDR3 VRAM = EPIC AWESOME

instead there giving people a baseline system at a price that will make sense, play there games and do so well,

Now If publishers get behind this idea, and target the Steam Box has a legit machine and work games to fit inside its design it may result in PC games that better take advantage of said hardware,
This is of course speculation, but the point is

Steam is offering a gaming PC thats actually a gaming PC

just look at other companies gaming PC offers

Ibuypower

Intel i5 2500k + GT 520 for $650
AMD FX 8120 + GT 520 for $660

both are lopsided machines

dropping to say an i3 2100 or i5 2300 allows for a GT 550 gpu
FX 6200 allows for GT 550 for nvidia gpus,

etc etc essentially valve's Steam BOX is just a more well balanced Gaming PC for the masses with the guesswork taken out for those to stupid to use google which is a very large number of people apparently
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#19
theoneandonlymrk
by: Kreij
A Steam Box that runs Windows games without need to understand how to actually use a PC (or Steam for that matter) could draw market share from the consoles and promote games developed for PCs.
However, unless this becomes HUGELY popular (meaning $$$ for publishers) it's still going to be a tough sell to get publishers out of the console mindset because that's where the money is at, and we will still see lots of console ports.
The "realtime, biometric feedback" is a dandy idea ... so is physics, but there has to be a large developer buy in or it's just more waving flags and pretty water.
If the Steam Box is going to use a controller (which by definition is inferior to keyboard controls), how exactly will that help PC gaming?
if its essentially a pc in a box which imho would no doubt run a win8 os with a steam portal front end, and then just run normal pc games they wouldnt have to sell on mass just a lot and either way the games are being made so why not , oh and though win8 sounds optimistic , the whole point of win8 is to break into other markets ,tanlets and set tops included and obv the os would be sold on at a cut down rate as it will be to dell etc ,afterall M$ want their OS running everything ,includeing embeded devices, could be good:D
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#20
keling
I want the PC to be accessible for both high end PC gamers and casual PC gamers who doesn't know anything DIY. Should the SteamBox (they really should get a better name for it). If the SteamBox could force the game developers to make their games playable on a lower spec PC extremely well then that would boost the PC even more.

PC gaming need standardizing from a baseline (for low/medium spec PCs or laptops) while retaining the inherent unleashed nature it possessed (for the ultra high PCs). I know this is pretty prevalent in PC games with the graphic sliders but a proper industry-wide standard to follow wouldn't hurt. Like a unified driver with unlimited customization.
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#22
LifeOnMars
If it became the lead console, would it mean the end of dodgy console ports?
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#23
NC37
by: LifeOnMars
If it became the lead console, would it mean the end of dodgy console ports?
No because you'd then have it in reverse. Consoles getting bad ports of PC games :D

Which would mean we'd have gone full circle.
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#24
TheMailMan78
Big Member
So will this have a windows OS or a new steam style GUI OVER a windows OS? Hmmm.
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#25
Abe504
Pretty good idea imo, puts pressure on the big 3 to make a better console and digital marketplace.
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