Valve, the company behind Steam, has been working on hardware and software for a "Steam Box", a set-top console that would rival the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 and even Apple TV, according to a report. Way back in March, the Internet sort of exploded when it became apparent that Valve really was working on its own gaming hardware package.
Now, Gabe Newell, head of Valve, officially announced that Valve will create its own hardware and software solution that is designed to compete directly with next-gen consoles from Sony and Microsoft. Valve could choose Game Developers Conference (GDC) or June's E3 to unveil the Steam Box, which could shake up the industry. If the rumours are true, then the new Xbox and possibly the PS4 should be announced this year, too. This could be the biggest E3 yet! But these are just rumours.
Gabe expects companies to start selling PC packages for living rooms next year. Setups that could consist of computers designed to be hooked up to your TV and run Steam straight away.
"I think in general that most customers and most developers are gonna find that the PC is a better environment for them, Cause they won't have to split the world into thinking about 'why are my friends in the living room, why are my video sources in the living room different from everyone else?' So in a sense we hopefully are gonna unify those environments."
The device may ship with a proprietary controller that features swappable components for different game types. It may also feature real-time biometric feedback, and will work with any computer or TV display. Through the Steam Box set-up, Valve "would place Steam at the centre of an open gaming universe that mirrors what Google has done with Android".
Newell said that the consumer response to Big Picture had been better than expected, and that the next step was to get Steam Linux into alpha and ensure that Big Picture works on the platform. He also warned that a Steam Box PC might be a far more controlled and less open-source solution than people might expect:
Well, certainly, our hardware will be a very controlled environment. If you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general purpose PC. For people who want a more turnkey solution — that's what some people are really going to want for their living room.
On the platform side it's sort of ominous that the world seems to be moving away from open platforms. They build a shiny sparkling thing that attracts users and then they control people's access to those things."