Rumours Surface Of A Valve-Powered Gaming Console

Let’s face it, the last thing Microsoft and Sony are expecting is another console. Sure, they’ve got their eye on the Wii U, but something out of the blue from Valve? A pre-setup PC in a box with a HDMI out and a joypad? Talk about blindsiding.

And so here we are, with rumours floating around that that’s exactly what’s going to happen – Gabe Newell’s Valve are – according to the reports – coming out with a gaming console, and it’s going to throw a spanner in the works so big that people won’t be able to miss it. And yes, that includes the current console manufacturers.

[drop2]Make no mistake, if this happens, it’ll be massive.

Valve know gaming, but more importantly they know online distribution and they do it better than most. Sure, not everyone’s on board with the service, but the current catalog includes EA, Bethesda, Activision and SEGA.

But what of these rumours? Well, apparently this so-called ‘Steam Box’ will be focused on the living room, and will be developed – at least in terms of hardware – by a “variety of partners”.

And the software? Well, anyone that’s interested, presumably.

The Verge talks about meetings at CES, and discusses some basic specs that include a Core i7, at least eight GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GPU. The Steam Box, as it’s currently known, will run anything a PC can and will also support other online services (such as EA’s Origin) as well as the ubiquitous Steam, which itself provides over 1,500 games and has 40 million users.

The current thinking is that Valve would take aim at Apple, not Sony and Microsoft, but I could personally see such a device sitting nicely under my TV, linked up via HDMI.

The hardware will, according to the site, be replaceable every three or four years, and during that lifetime PC developers will have a single, clear focus in terms of system spec, something that’s currently still a bit of a minefield with regards to drivers, versions and chipsets. One box, one target, and you can bet that games will look a generation beyond current consoles.

The console market might be entering into another phase in the next couple of years, but this Steam Box could move very quickly, would require minimal fuss from developers and publishers to provide a ‘best case’ build of their games and would, I assume, be pretty cheap given that parts would be fixed and mass produced.

Of course, this is all conjecture, and nothing at all may come of all this. But if it does, and Valve do manage to standardise the PC market and put their name behind the project (along with whoever else is rumoured to be involved – Alienware?) then this would be something I know a lot of people would be very interested in.

And Sony and Microsoft? I’d love to know what they’re thinking about all this.

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64 Comments

  1. I can’t get my head around pc gaming for some reason. To me, pc = work, console = gaming. I know millions of people think differently but I’m just not interested in gaming on anything other than my ps3 or ps4 when that comes out.
    Sounds like it could be great for pc gamers though, no longer having to worry about whether or not your unit’s specs are good enough.
    Booby prize goes to first person who comes on here and talks about the specs of their “rig”. I hate that word.

    • I dunno how it’s good for PC gamers. Surely they already own a PC and don’t need another “sub-PC”?

      • I agree with Deathbrin, PC gamers are the ones who wouldn’t need this, this would be more aimed at the consoles (or the Apple TV audience).

    • wholehearted agreement, PCs are for work. The idea of a PC sourced console under the TV will work where Windows Media Centre PCs did not (I know some have them, but they did not change the world)

      • ill respectfully disagree, PCs are for people who want their games to look the very best they can and dont mind tweaking settings to achieve that, consoles are for those who just want their games to work when they put the disc in.
        having said that from my experience with console installs and the lamentable performance of my Fallout 3 GOTY it seems even that gets hard to achieve for consoles these days.

      • +1

      • Not being rude guys but those comments about PC’s only being for work are probably the silliest i have ever seen on this site!

      • You would be surprised by how much easier it is to game on the PC than the consoles. Towards the end of this console generation i’ve shifted more and more to PC gaming. This might well change when the next console gen is here (if the usual pattern continues), but for me right now gaming on the PC has many more benefits than doing so through my console. Steam offers a much better service than I can get on the consoles, at a cheaper price per game and I just have to click on the game to play it.

    • I used to think like that, but frankly if you have a good PC it’s going to blow anything on console out of the water, visually at least. Also the ability to mod games is amazing and really extends the life of your games. I simply couldn’t return to ‘vanilla’ Skyrim on PC, let alone play on PS3.

      Where I do far prefer consoles however is on third person/adventure games. I’ve played Arkham Asylum on PC and PS3 and it feels far more natural on PS3. I also bought all the GTA games from Steam but I just can’t get used to the mouse/keyboard setup.

      So yeah, for me it really depends.

  2. It’d have to be cheap for me to buy another one every 3 or 4 years.

    But yes, this could change everything.

    • The nice thing is that you wouldn’t have to upgrade every 3-4 years. This thing would essentially be forwards compatible.

      For the sake of the argument, say that the Steambox got popular, in that case, when a game comes out, a developer could make a config file that would be tailored just for it. Then say another game comes out down the line when a Steambox 2 is out, they can still make a config for both, just the original Steambox config wouldn’t look quite as good.

      Gone would be the days of having to upgrade whenever a new console comes out, you’d just get one when you think that the graphics jump is big enough.

      • This is one reason why I think this could really succeed. Imagine Uncharted 4 came out on the PS4 and you could still play it on your PS3 but with less details and lower quality textures (e.g. UC4 with UC3 graphics, which would still be nice).
        Also, PC components get updated so fast that the console could potentially only cost half of the launch price within 1-2 years and still play games that put most PS3 games to shame.

  3. Not particularly interested. I moved away from PC gaming because of the cost, but if I ever went back to it, I’d want a system built to my own specs.

    Besides, there are already boxes with fixed specs for people to make games on – they’re called consoles. I’d also assume from the rumour of 8GB of RAM that this system would be quite highly spec’d, so what would be the cost? Anything more than current consoles, and we’re right back to my initial problem above – if I’m paying a premium price, I’d rather build to my own spec.

    Presumably if it were to run ‘PC games’, it would also have some version of Windows as an operating system. In which case, count me utterly and comprehensively out.

    • 8GB – highly specced? Oh dear.

    • Yes there’s a big huge point with Windows.

  4. If Valve really did make a console that ran Steam I would happily jump on board and ditch the current consoles. The pricing on Steam is way ahead of current digital distribution on the consoles. If they could keep the cost down and push regular hardware updates to keep games affordable and at their shiniest then it could be a huge turning point in favour of the consumers.

  5. would still go for a PS4 wish Valve would get on with Half Life & other games steam has made them lose focus imo.

    • plus I like playstation because it has a huge games catalogue that no one else has.

      plus valve have said there happy with the way things are at the moment so this is probably rubbish.

      • i agree with the part where you say its rubbish, im pretty sure it is but *huge* catalogue that noone has?
        PCs have been running games for decades now, its library of games literally dwarves any other machine ever made.

        put simply, we never run out of games to play ;)

      • your missing the point anyone with a PC can play them you need a playstation to play Sonys games & we get most of what the PC has if not more.

      • As a console only player you probably only hear about the games that do get ported to the consoles but believe me there are so many games that you never get to play on a console because they don’t get ported. Without having any numbers I’d still bet that there are more games on the PC that are not on a console than the other way around.

    • Well to be fair Valve don;t need to make anything anymore. They take around 30% from all games sold on steam and as a private company can take as long as they want making games or do what they want. With no interference from shareholders.
      Of course this means we are stuck waiting forever for Half-Life 3 and Gabe Newell wiping his arse with 100 dollar bills. :)

  6. Upgradable consoles are dangerous territory, I’m sure Nintendo would agree if you twisted their arm. I’d buy a Steam Box though, I love the service and I already have a pile of old games on my account that I’d hope would work immediately. Cost would presumably be premium.
    Hmm… What if, assuming parts of the rumors are true and parts aren’t, this Steam Box turns out to be an on-live style device that streams games rendered on your PC? Now that would be nice.

    • oh how i want your wish to come true, ive already got a crappy app for my transformer that acts as a screen for the PC with dodgy performance, a dedicated device would be lovely.

    • I think Sony and some developers wished the PS3 had upgradable memory. The PS3 could probably live on for another few years if that was the case.

  7. With Wii-U, Onlive, Steambox and presumably another Playstation and Xbox , the market’s going to be quite competitive and it’s difficult to see how they could all survive.

  8. I think Sony should now stop on ps3 & vita and just be a game company like EA etc they would make money they have the best exclusives that can out perform if put on all platforms, uncharted, God of War, killzone, Resistance, heavy rain etc these games can shine…If there is going be a ps4 Sony need to price it right, SEN become stronger & less of the monthly 9 hours down maintenance. They need to come in hard in the next gen

    • hope they carry on making playstations for a long time.

    • Sure if Microsoft and Nintendo bring all there exclusives to all platforms then how will they sell there hardware? I’m sure Xbox wouldn’t be the same with Halo and Nintendo wouldn’t be much with Mario, Zelda and Metroid. Sony have many talented studios its suicide to just give that up. they make Playstation a great platform…

  9. Decent price point and Half Life 3 exclusivity from Day 1 of the console, all it needs to be a massive success.

  10. The fact that this platform is rumoured to be both open and not require development kits to develop on instantly makes me interested, as it bypasses the licensing and nonsense that stops many developers from creating console games. I’d love this to happen :D

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