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Valve Reportedly Working On 'Steam Box' Gaming Console

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the putting-the-fear-of-gabe-into-sony-microsoft-and-nintendo dept.

Games 233

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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No more stuff in my entertainment center please. (-1)

ruckerz2k (653900) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231179)

Right now all I have is my apple tv and TV. Valve wants to put more cables and a box ? This better be worth it.

Re:No more stuff in my entertainment center please (3, Insightful)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

network access (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231951)

could also be via the HDMI cable

see v. 1.4 "an HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC), which allows for a 100 Mbit/s Ethernet connection between the two HDMI connected devices so they can share an Internet connection;[174] "

(hmm, how long before we run a single ethernet cable to the TV, and then it has a router running out to our optical disc/blu ray, game console, htpc, and all other tv connected internet devices)

Re:network access (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232095)

I'm having some serious deja vu [wikipedia.org] .

Don't we get stories like this every couple of years? And they always turn into vaporware.

Re:network access (1)

Creepy (93888) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232263)

remember when Microsoft [wikipedia.org] tried to do that too? They had some success, but not in the US.

Let me know when the Apple TV has games (5, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231517)

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.

Re:No more stuff in my entertainment center please (1)

LoudNoiseElitist (1016584) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231619)

Someone either doesn't know what Steam is, or is trolling, or both.

Re:No more stuff in my entertainment center please (1)

chilvence (1210312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231713)

Durr, everyone and their mother would like to put a box on your tv. Have you been into this technology thing much?

Re:No more stuff in my entertainment center please (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231771)

Then you should replace that Apple TV piece of shit with something that is more capable.

It better play the games I already own (5, Insightful)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231181)

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.

Re:It better play the games I already own (4, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:It better play the games I already own (3, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#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

Re:It better play the games I already own (-1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231343)

I don't think it is likely at all that all of their games will be playable on it.
Most of all you have hardware concerns, it will be playing generic windows games and therefore some of them simply will not work on it.
Also Steam publishes many games that require unofficial patches and a lost of custom fiddling to get working (which will be a whole lot harder/impossible on a console, and unforgivable on a console as well).

Re:It better play the games I already own (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:It better play the games I already own (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231349)

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.

Re:It better play the games I already own (2)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231511)

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?

Perhaps valve should develop a "big-screen" version of their software and leave it up to the gamer to build or modify their boxes appropriately. If anybody knows how to build bitchin' rigs, it's gamers. And Alienware machines have been overpriced pieces of shit for a long time now.

Re:It better play the games I already own (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231631)

Nope. This is obviously aimed at the current 'console gamers' who just want a box which plugs in and runs Steam with a minimum hardware spec for developers to work to.

Even the summary manages to say it, no need to read the article.

Re:It better play the games I already own (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231697)

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.

Re:It better play the games I already own (-1, Flamebait)

macs4all (973270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232269)

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.

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

It won't prevent you from running the same games on another computer,

The first hit is free...

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.

And so less and less of them, er, will... How is this going to help the gaming community, again?

If games are developed/optimized for a 2012 Steambox and you have a 2012 model Steambox, then you know that it'll play well.

...and if you don't???

Re:It better play the games I already own (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231763)

Congratulations, you just described a console.

Re:It better play the games I already own (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232037)

A console doesn't "run any standard PC titles", especially PC titles that an individual just compiled in Visual Studio. PCs let you develop software even if you don't live somewhere like Austin, Boston, or Seattle.

Re:It better play the games I already own (3, Informative)

hjf (703092) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232167)

Well, a console doesn't run standard PC titles, but you develop for XBOX 360 with Visual Studio and XNA. Compile, download to console, and play.

Re:It better play the games I already own (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231945)

The problem with that is "leave it up to gamers to build or modify their boxes". For the same reason that the iPhone/iPad is so successful, this could be a good thing. A closed box, that just works, for PC games? Something that a 12 year old kid, a 45 year old mother, or any number of the millions of people who don't know the difference between IDE and SATA.

Want to roll your own box? Do it... want to get a pre-built system that is guaranteed to work? Do that instead. Would be brilliant if a company could pull it off successfully.

Hell... put out a new version every year and provide updates/patches/support for up to 5 years and you have a rotating example of "High end" to "Low end" specs that any company can use to base their games off of, plus sales every year and a cut on all games sold (Same things that make Apple so successful).

I have a powerful PC and I would consider getting something that "Just Works" for the living room long before I'd support Sony.

Re:It better play the games I already own (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231705)

...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.

Ugh, yes, like Skyrim! Great! How exactly does that leave you optimistic?

Re:It better play the games I already own (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39232015)

I wonder if people are long forgetting the MPC and MPC-2 standards back in Windows 3.1

Once you establish a standard, it tends to "bleed" unless the underlying hardware improves substantially.

There were millions of "MPC-2" systems sold which were only usable with Windows 3.1, and completely unusable with DOS games since the sound cards (pre AC97 era) rarely had "Sound Blaster 16" support, and really only had "Sound Blaster" support so much as supporting the Adlib FM standard and a single DAC.

If Steam wants to do it right they need to build a "specification" that doesn't bleed by revising it every year.

For example a "Steambox 2012" unit might require a CPU and GPU combination that can run X benchmark at 60fps at 1920x1080 in DirectX11 or OpenGL4.2 mode, while a Steambox 2013" might require the same thing plus OpenCL1.1

Just change the benchmark every year. Every new game released that year can then make a minimum statement and recommended statement, eg 2011 requirements minimum, supports 2012 features.

Likewise make some requirements for joysticks/keyboard/mice. The current Xbox360 style controllers are actually OK, but they're not useable with MMORPG or FPS games typically because there are too many buttons that can't be mapped.

Re:It better play the games I already own (1)

Pi Is A Rational (1106177) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232141)

When did AC97 cards have Sound Blaster support?

Re:It better play the games I already own (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231579)

What'll be more interesting... to see if the spec insists on a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) being in the system.

Re:It better play the games I already own (3, Interesting)

miknix (1047580) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231621)

As someone who never bought any dedicated gaming device (in exception to a GameBoy long long time ago), I would look forward to this if Steam provide their own dedicated operating system for the SteamBox. I'm a day-to-day GNU/Linux user which dual-boots into Windows 7 for gaming. One of the things I hate is having to care about antivirus and windows updates when *I just want to game*. Having Windows rebooting my computer automatically for a update when I'm in the middle of Portal is really annoying. I love Steam though, I like their game offers and associated publishers, I think its a great idea which simplifies the whole process of buying and installing a game and would certainly love to see that in a dedicated device.

Re:It better play the games I already own (2)

dissy (172727) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231641)

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.

You clearly have never used steam before! (Which prompts the question: What catalog?)

Anywhere you install Steam, you can sign into your account and download games you have purchased. All you need to remember is your Steam ID and password, and it will show your library of games. You can install any or all of them.

This is one of the biggest features Steam provides, to make it easy to manage your library from anywhere.

As the article clearly states, this is just a PC inside, and will not be locked down such as the xbox, nor require any special devkit. Only the PC case will be designed for the living room (Which has been done before) and will come with game pads.
Being a regular PC with a regular OS and regular Steam client, it should have all of the regular features Steam has.

Being a regular PC, one would even imagine a bunch of front USB ports, in addition to the internal USB wireless dongle for their own controllers. It should work equally well with a keyboard and mouse as it does with a wired game pad, which is one of the reasons I don't like current generation consoles. A lot of people prefer keyboard/mouse over game pad, despite both being available on PC. This should cater well to everyone.

Re:It better play the games I already own (1)

hjf (703092) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232229)

Being a regular PC it will run Windows...

Cloud (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231193)

Cloud console! Store your games in the cloud!

Re:Cloud (1)

True Vox (841523) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232211)

You mean... Onlive [onlive.com] ? :)

so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231199)

So a standard PC then? What differentiates it from a pc that you can plug into a tv?

Re:so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231439)

Spec parity.

Re:so... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231667)

I'm guessing:

a) It runs Steam when you switch it on
b) Games will run on it without needing to tweak their configuration first

ie. It's aimed at console owners.

Steam Box AKA (2, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231203)

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

Re:Steam Box AKA (3)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231221)

and you think that is different from the xbox how?

Re:Steam Box AKA (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231353)

It says you can load stuff like Origin and standard PC titles on there, I doubt it will block any other software... Steam is their platform, Valve won't care if you run other stuff too I think.

Re:Steam Box AKA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231437)

Who said anything about software blocks? IIRC You can even install EA's origin on it.

Re:Steam Box AKA (1)

BetterSense (1398915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231819)

I see your point; I really do. As a Linux user, I would really like a Linux Steam client so that I can play Portal. But I don't know if I will ever see one of those in my lifetime.

I had to buy a Roku box to get Netflix, so maybe I will have to buy a Steam box to get steam. Does it bother me that I should have to buy another piece of consumer hardware just to access "content" that I should be able to access with my Linux HTPC? Yes. But beggars can't be choosers.

Re:Steam Box AKA (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231923)

"does it bother me that I should have to buy another piece of consumer hardware just to access "content" that I should be able to access with my Linux HTPC?"

Linux cannot play windows games, and this is not due to some content blocks from greedy publishers.
Portal was never released onto Linux, so even if you got a Linux steam client you still could not play it.
Just install Windows on your computer if you want to play video games.

Wine (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232057)

Linux cannot play windows games, and this is not due to some content blocks from greedy publishers. Portal was never released onto Linux

What would be the prime reason for not bothering to include a Wine box or two in your testing farm other than "some content blocks from greedy publishers"?

Just install Windows on your computer

Windows costs more than a computer. Why is that?

Re:Wine (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232195)

1) It is hard enough, impossible really, to get all the bugs out for a single platform. Adding a few wine boxes (which would not even guaranty it works on all Linux systems) and making sure it works on them is not at all a insignificant task. Also Wine is really not all that great, you simple cannot get all games to work on it.

2) With all the MS tax, Windows is pretty much free. I personally own about 5 copies, have access to a cooperate pro version of XP, and can use any version of it for free indefinably because my university offers it to every student.
If you wanted Windows for free You could most likely get a copy off of a friends old computer or you likely know someone whos work or school gives them access to tons of free take home versions of Windows.
And to answer your question: because anyone stupid enough to pay for a copy deserves to pay that much.

Re:Steam Box AKA (1)

westyvw (653833) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232219)

Play on LInux supports portal and portal 2 and can setup steam. It handles the setup for you.

really valve? (1)

FrozenFood (2515360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231251)

a "steam console" with PC hardware, with what i can only assume with x86 hardware with a USB port in the frount and a HDMI port on the end...

just like a PC? that I can buy from anywhere? except with a steam sticker? will it run Windows 7? whats the point

I assume they wiill use the bulk-cost savings of PC parts to bring the price down, but the entire point of having a PC over a console is that it can do other things other than games dedicated by the manufacturer. perhaps it is just a PC, perhaps its locked down.

I'm still not buying one, a PS4 or a xbox3 or that phantom console that hardocp called out.

Ive learned the hard way the only way to play a game is on a PC. and PC only.

Re:really valve? (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231299)

I think this could be a good way to get people into PC gaming myself. I know plenty of people who seem to think PC gaming is this huge headache and that you have to fiddle with bunch of stuff to get each game to work, and that your PC specs must be exactly right.

Re:really valve? (0)

FrozenFood (2515360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231383)

not to appear cynical, but nowadays I think that if a person cant turn a PC on, install an OS, install a game, etc, then I dont want to play with them because they will probably be slow and boring to play with. I dont want the window lickers in my tatical / stratagy / fps / *insert game here*

yes that does sound elitist. PC gaming master race, etc.

Re:really valve? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231455)

What can we say? You don't represent the whole market. I'm sure no one at Steam is losing sleep over what you think of their idea.
 
And I'm strictly a PC gamer but I do see a market for this. I won't be buying it, but I do see a market for it.

Re:really valve? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231689)

Guess what, you were once a "window licker"...

Re:really valve? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231683)

I know plenty of people who seem to think PC gaming is this huge headache and that you have to fiddle with bunch of stuff to get each game to work, and that your PC specs must be exactly right.

And, ummmm, they're right...!

Most people don't have a clue how to maintain a Windows PC, they want a gaming box which "just works".

Re:really valve? (2)

lattyware (934246) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231559)

The point is that most people don't have a PC good enough, and don't like the idea of not being sure if a game will run. You get a steam box and you plug it into your TV (most people don't want to play on their small monitor or move a PC around, hell, most don't have an HDMI port and most people don't know DVI->HDMI is easy) and you load up the browser, and can play any game with 'works on steambox v1.0' stamped on it, and know it'll work, just like with a console, at a similar price point to a console.

No, it's not for people who are currently PC gamers, it's to try and make PC gaming viable to the console crowd, because then Valve don't have to play nice with M$, Sony and Nintendo to get their games to them. It makes complete sense, and is actually a really good idea. Why create an open console platform when we already have one - the PC.

Valve still has to play nice with M$ (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232209)

Valve don't have to play nice with M$

If Valve wants to run games designed for the Windows operating system, then it has to play nice with Microsoft to get cheap copies of Windows. Otherwise, a copy of retail Windows costs as much as a whole Xbox 360 console.

Why create an open console platform when we already have one - the PC.

Because we can't guarantee that a particular make and model of PC hardware . Microsoft got in trouble when using commodity PC parts from Intel and NVIDIA in the original Xbox because it was hard to convince the suppliers to lower their unit prices over time even as processes shrank.

so basically (0)

deathguppie (768263) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231287)

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.

So basically it's going to be a Steam branded PC...

Re:so basically (1)

iampiti (1059688) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231411)

So it seems. The only difference seems to be that the hardware will be stable for a number of years just like every game console ever.
Anyway, since PC games have been hold back for several years already since they're developed taking into account console limitations even the point of stability is moot.

Multiple logins and players on a single account (5, Interesting)

Xian97 (714198) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231305)

What if I want to play a game on my Steam account on the PC and the kids want to play a different game at the same time on the Steam Console? Since the majority of my gaming is done on Steam on the PC these days, we would never be able to play different games on two devices at the same time since Steam only allows a single active login.

What about multiple players on the same console? They are going to have to come up with a family setting, because if it is just a single login allowed then my kids will be complaining about who gets the achievements and such, and I am not going to buy multiple versions of the same game for each account on the console.

Re:Multiple logins and players on a single account (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231339)

That is an interesting question and something I hadn't considered. I do wonder how valve will deal with that.

Re:Multiple logins and players on a single account (1)

FrozenFood (2515360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231423)

erm... first off, thats not permitted anyway is it? multiple users to an account and all that?

"You may not reveal, share or otherwise allow others to use your password or Account. " - Steam SSA

of course they want a single game licence to be to one person. its a business, not a charity!

Re:Multiple logins and players on a single account (1)

Xian97 (714198) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231555)

I am comparing to the PS3 or XBox for instance which would be the competition if they are trying to get into the console business. If I buy a game for those, be it digital distribution or retail, every account on the console can play it, not just the account that bought it. That's why I said they would have to make some changes to their SSA if they do make a Steam Console.

Re:Multiple logins and players on a single account (1)

FrozenFood (2515360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231587)

I agree, that is an issue that they will have to overcome.

Re:Multiple logins and players on a single account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231681)

It's been a complaint of mine since Steam first started.

This is probably going to be the point that either kills gaming (as we know it), or gets steam to stand up to the developers. Once Dad gets kicked out of his account because Jr switched from the Xbox to the Steambox we are going to see a lot of angry customers.

I HATE that games I've purchased get locked to my account and I can't let my wife play them while I'm playing some other game.

Re:Multiple logins and players on a single account (0)

ZankerH (1401751) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231493)

Valve caters more to the "single 18-40 basement-dweller" demographic, so not really family oriented.

Re:Multiple logins and players on a single account (2)

mrsmiggs (1013037) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231669)

By putting a steam box under the tv they are moving out of the basement and into family life. Like it or not if valve want this to be a success beyond the rich poser demographic they are going to have to adapt to family life and that means sharing and probably censorship control for parents.

Re:Multiple logins and players on a single account (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232171)

Show me data that demonstrates Valve cnsumer demographics, as compared to an average of gamers across other platforms and software..... you know...with your "facts".

I would almost bet u a teste that valves customer base is hardly more specifically as you described than gamers in general.

Re:Multiple logins and players on a single account (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231531)

The lack of a "family account" - being able to play multiple games off of the same account - is the only real weakness Steam has IMO.

Re:Multiple logins and players on a single account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231655)

You bring up an interesting point. But while I an not sure what will happen in the end,I do know right now I can be logged into my steam account on my phone and computer at the same time and if memory serves me right my PS 3s well. So maybe they will address this.or maybe they won'tafter all they would probably love for thou to buy all your games twice.

Never work with their entire library. (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231311)

I wonder how they will handle it. Right now Steam is just a normal games publisher and they publish many games that do not even run without unofficial patches and customization. This is forgiveable on a PC, but on a console it is not.

Not sure this will work... (2)

CptSpatula (614965) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231351)

What this reminds me of is 3DO. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D0 [wikipedia.org] for reference. I'm not sure if they'll be able to pull this off. The hardware will be too expensive, limiting the market share. Multiple vendors make for a muddle too. Also, why spend a bunch of money on a Valve box when you can just buy a cheaper off the shelf pc? It's not like I don't want to share being part of the glorious PC gaming master race, I'm just not sure Valve can pull this off.

I've already got one, thanks (1)

Veritech_Ace (870333) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231363)

I've had a gaming PC connected to my HDTV for some time now, running both XBMC and Steam. If Valve will just release their 10-foot interface (now we know why they've been working on it), I think I'm all set. A Q9400 and a HD5850, with an SSD underneath, basically runs everything out there at 1080p quite nicely.

Re:I've already got one, thanks (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231885)

Yeah, exactly! I don't know why they need a dedicated "box" for this, because the games that run on Steam have been developed from the start to run on a great diversity of hardware at varying levels of quality. In fact, a great investment in developer effort already went into doing this. Unlike in the case of game consoles, nobody really gains much from having an "official" box from which to run all this.

But I think the real promise behind the system, and something that the other living room competitors can't offer, is in the very adaptability of Steam games: They could license their software to every other company that's making living room convergence devices and wants to say "yeah, and this thing is a game console as well". For example, it's inevitable that AppleTV will have hardware that's strong enough for some gaming, and it will definitely be connected to the internet. So everyone would win if Steam abstracted their game catalog from from the hardware enough to make a Steam game app run on the AppleTV. It would add value to the device (Apple happy), and it would result in all kinds of extra revenue and mindshare for Steam. And they could make a deal like this with everyone else as well. The hard part of taking PC games into the living room is to work out all the pesky interface issues. Steam are apparently happy to take on this hard part. But porting (parts of) their library to run on ARM chips - that could be the move that gets Steam into normal peoples' living rooms.

Hardware penetration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231397)

You heard it here first...

If you pay full pop for hardware, even if you get your existing PC games, I'll wager this doesn't take off.

Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231409)

Maybe it'll get their useless game rentals off the PC game shelves.

So tired of stumbing across these when im browing the game aisle.

"Oh hey, this looks like a good game... no wait, its valve, nevermind."

Console? (1)

ninjacheeseburger (1330559) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231427)

I guess according to the description on Wikipedia "The term "video game console" is used to distinguish a machine designed for people to buy and use primarily for playing video games on a TV" - this device would be classed as a console.

What's interesting is this device allegedly runs off the shelf PC hardware, can play any PC game, allows for rival services and has no dev kit or licensing. I'm going to assume this device will have to run Windows to meet those goals. Therefore all valve have done is create a standardised PC.

I can only see this taking off if they can sell enough to keep the price down. Valve could become some serious competition to media PCs and standard games consoles.

Standardisation (4, Insightful)

Retron (577778) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Standardisation (1)

FrozenFood (2515360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231549)

I think you have missed the possibilities of a PC and where console games are born.

a PC can do everything from run a nuclear power plant (Siemens Simatic) to be a code platform (Visual Studio), be an office suite, (Microsoft office), and thats not starting to be a web/file server. A PC is industry standard and can be reparied and upgraded from any vendor in the world.

a PS3. it only does everything!*...

*where everything is play PS3 games, and nothing else. cant even open a text file.

In 20 years time, your PS3 will be in a landfill, and the then donated i7 will be in africa, helping someone.

Re:Standardisation (1)

Retron (577778) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231611)

My comment referred to the use of PCs for gaming - which is largely what the MPC standards were about and also what the Experience Index is for (after all, you don't need a 7.9 rating to use Word or knock up some PHP code....)

I don't own a PS3 and nor do I want one - the PC on which I'm writing this is my games machine.

As a PC gamer, anything that brings more people to the platform and which drags graphics up from DX9 gets my vote. (Skyrim, for example, looks nice. But think how much nicer it'd be with a DX11 engine with tesselation, as seen in that Heaven benchmark... mmm!)

Re:Standardisation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231677)

If anyone is missing something here, it's you. You're a very dense person. I've seen a couple of your other comments and you're just not getting it. Either you're a troll or a total fucktard.

Game neutering (2)

devphaeton (695736) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231459)

My only concern for this is that Steam (one of the major forces in PC gaming) moving this direction will discourage Desktop PC game development. Instead of creating games for the latest PC hardware, developers will focus on the 'sure thing' of the Steam Box. We all know the difference in graphics, processing and gameplay between PC and console games of the same title.

The specs of the Steam Box are respectable now (my main PC doesn't have an i7, for instance) but in a few years its specs will be merely 'ok', and I'm not optimistic about being able to upgrade video components, ram or processing capabilities on it without major headaches.

Re:Game neutering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231557)

Wow, that ship has already sailed. Developers make games on consoles and then port them to pc now, sometimes adding a bit of an upgrade to the video. Most don't even bother to change out menu systems. There are so few games in development that are developed for the PC first, It's hard to even come up with a list. Other than MMOs of course.

If anything, this has the potential to bring back the PC gaming market.

Re:Game neutering (1)

lattyware (934246) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231593)

Developers already do this. They target graphics for the lowest common denominator, the rubbish PCs and the consoles. The only difference is that on PC they allow you to adjust the settings. The Steam Box would change nothing, excpet maybe raising the bar for PCs, and making it a more targetable platform.

Re:Game neutering (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231703)

Doesn't that already happen? PC games are written for PCs which are a couple of years old, not the latest and greatest.

Re:Game neutering (1)

rogueippacket (1977626) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231865)

If Valve sticks true to the upgrade lifecycle, we won't have anything to worry about. For instance, I've been running the same i7 rig for nearly four years now - and it still runs every current title at maximum detail (yes, even Crysis 2!) with plenty of extra FPS. This is clearly due to developers focusing on cross-platform games designed to run on 7 year old Xbox hardware, so gaming hardware requirements have not progressed nearly as rapidly as they did a decade ago.

Re:Game neutering (1)

klingens (147173) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232123)

The specs are not respectable: the Alienware X51 has a MOBILE i7, which is a very different thing from a desktop one. It also has a mobile GPU which is the equivalent of a nvidia GT530. Not exactly a gaming card. Faster than a xbox360, yes but definitely not a gaming card.

Re:Game neutering (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232259)

My only concern for this is that Steam (one of the major forces in PC gaming) moving this direction will discourage Desktop PC game development.

That doesn't seem like a sensible concern to me. These rumors indicate that the Steam Box will essentially be a normal Windows desktop PC, so it's more likely to encourage development for desktop PCs. Now, if this plan is successful, it may discourage developers from optimizing their games for bleeding-edge systems, and instead target the Steam Box specs. The rumors indicate they expect an upgrade cycle of 4 years or so, which isn't far outside of what most game developers do anyway. Also, the way this is structured, it shouldn't be hard to set new specs (since its all based on commodity hardware), so there's no reason why new specs should be delayed. What I mean is, with the XBox and Playstation, they need to develop the whole hardware/software platform. With the Steam Box, Valve can just choose an appropriate model from Dell or HP (or whomever) and make that the new reference model.

It's great! (1, Troll)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231523)

Wii need more competition in the console market. But, unless if fucking comes with Half-Life 3, kiss my ass!

Windows. (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231543)

TFA doesn't specify, but since this is meant to run their existing catalogue, that means Windows. Which is a shame. There was an opportunity for Valve&co to create an Android-like dedicated gaming operating system, free from licensing costs. Linux-for-games-consoles, instead of XBox-for-Steam.

Better have good cooling and full web browser / mo (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231561)

Better have good cooling and full web browser / more.

good cooling is needed even more so in a entertainment center. The X-Box 360 at first did not work well in one.

Also if it's a pc can they have a pci-e slots so you can add a cable card tuner or a OTA tuner card? E-sata / room for more HDD's for DRV use.

A full web browser should be there, as well full web streaming so you can pick what you want / what your isp / tv providers offers.

Re:Better have good cooling and full web browser / (1)

rogueippacket (1977626) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231927)

Also if it's a pc can they have a pci-e slots so you can add a cable card tuner or a OTA tuner card? E-sata / room for more HDD's for DRV use.

A full web browser should be there, as well full web streaming so you can pick what you want / what your isp / tv providers offers.

We can call it the Steam Box - Clown Car Edition! Seriously though, you've just described any basic Home Entertainment PC. I believe the goal here is not to create a small form-factor PC that also runs Steam, but to bring PC titles directly to the living room - which means stripping the "fat" and focusing just on game delivery.

Steam = Cheaters Paradise (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231597)

Valve need to concentrate more on stopping people from cheating in BF3 and MW3 before they go all out on developing anything else.

Re:Steam = Cheaters Paradise (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231687)

Valve needs to stop dicking around and put out Half Life 3, 4 and 5 until its fucking complete.
After that they can go die in a fire for all I care.

Re:Steam = Cheaters Paradise (1)

PessimysticRaven (1864010) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231699)

That's simple: Block anyone with a Steam account with MW3 and BF3. That'll take care of those idiots.

Pricing ??? (1)

winspear (2504164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231623)

It will be interesting to see how competitively they price it against the xbox and the play station. I would definitely get one if it is in the sane price range.

Full of fail (0, Troll)

Vladius (2577555) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231675)

Sadly, PC gaming is on it's deathbed. Even if this were implemented it would still not save the PC as a platform. The hardware specs do look good but I also don't see them putting together a console from these parts that has all of the stability you would expect from a console. Finally, we already have Xbox Live. How do you compete with that? When it comes to web presence Microsoft nailed it and everyone else has been playing catchup ever since.

Hm.. (2)

PessimysticRaven (1864010) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231695)

I'm a self-professed PC elitist. I've run through about every console system that's out there or been (I miss the Dreamcast, dammit..And the Saturn, oddly, but that was a Spring Break one-night-stand with itching and burning as the result), but I already have a kick-ass gaming rig, thanks! I like the idea of another choice among the Big Three, though.

Now... Am I the only person that would like to see a "Steam Games" sectional next to Nintendo and Sony in stores, though? I still like physical media, in some regard; I can't be the only one.

Keyboard + Mouse for the livingroom TV? (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231753)

If they're just making available their normal Windows games, does this mean that the interface will be a mouse and a keyboard? I'd be fine with this, but it's interesting that every major company that's making living room entertainment devices are really going out of their way to avoid using a keyboard and mouse. They must have some research backing up their decision.

Windows Store/Xbox (1)

lilfields (961485) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231839)

If Microsoft ever starts pushing cross platform digital distribution through the Windows Store and Xbox Live...EA's Origin and Steam are basically dead. Right?

Re:Windows Store/Xbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39231961)

No, that would just push all the developers to create cross-platform options. SteamPlay is the standard (PS3+Mac+PC), and Microsoft will have to play catch up.

Cross-platform options might increase Microsoft's subscribers, temporarily. That will fade as more consumers realize that they can't get better than Playstation 2 era graphics when playing their X-Box 360 games on their stock PCs.

Re:Windows Store/Xbox (1)

daninbusiness (815223) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232189)

I think it depends if they are serious about improving their "Games for Windows Live" now "Xbox Games Marketplace PC" experience. The customer experience (to date) on PCs is not as good as what Steam offers (IMHO). Their direct download game offerings on PCs (to date) are not marketed well, though this is probably since MS is consciously promoting the Xbox over PC gaming. I think if MS is serious about selling PC gaming, they'd improve the experience and their marketing of PC gaming. But, I think they may have better luck when tablet/PC/console games converge more - ie, widespread Onlive or Gaikai type gaming (could be a while before that takes off, however).

Throw in XMBC while you're at it (1)

lbgator (1208974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39232055)

This would be the killer box if XMBC was rolled in. They could even team with the Boxee crew. I'd put in my preorder today.

Why would I want this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39232135)

I mean, isn't this the exact same thing as Xbox, Playstation, and Nintendo?

Seriously, I don't think people thought this out very well.

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