Gabe Newell reveals juicy Steam Box details, mobile gaming project, distaste for Windows 8
At CES 2013, more details about Valve’s Steam Box have emerged — from head honcho Gabe Newell himself. We’ve already learned that the prototype Steam Box being shown at CES is designed specifically for Steam and Big Picture mode, and that its main purpose is to be used for “residential and LAN party computer gaming on larger high-def screens.” We’ve also learned that the Steam Box will launch with a version of Linux, which means it will most likely launch with a very small library of games. In a recent interview at CES, Gabe Newell revealed some juicy details about the Steam Box, painting the most concrete picture of the unit that we have so far.
When discussing the actual hardware, Newell notes that the Steam Box won’t just be an exclusive piece of hardware from Valve, but that the company is working with various other parties on the project. He reveals that Valve views the Steam Box as coming in three different versions, which he refers to as “Good,” “Better,” and “Best.” Valve sees the Good model as a “low-cost streaming solution,” while the Better model is envisioned to have a dedicated CPU and GPU, and acts more like a traditional modern-day game console. The Best version of the Steam Box is more akin to a high-end PC, stuffed full of whatever bells and whistles manufacturers feel they can fit.
This also means that Valve won’t be offering the only Steam Box (like how Sony or Nintendo offer the only PlayStation 3 or Wii U), though Valve does plan on offering its own Better model, which means Valve is indeed looking to enter the more traditional (dedicated game machine) gaming market. Though Linux is the intended operating system, Newell says that consumers can install Windows on the box, which in theory means that the limited library of Linux games could suddenly turn into the expansive library of Windows games.
When talking Steam Box player input, Newell says that Valve is not looking at motion control. He said Wii Sports still seems to be the pinnacle of motion control done well, but Valve can’t see “how it makes games fundamentally better,” and instead the company will be focusing on making a more precise, less laggy controller. However, Valve will be looking into using biometric data and gaze tracking, though Gabe didn’t specifically say that those options would be included in the Steam Box controller.
Interestingly, when discussing controller designs, Newell notes that the Steam Box project is split in two — codenamed Bigfoot and Littlefoot. Bigfoot is the standard Steam Box we’ve been hearing about, whereas Littlefoot is Valve’s attempt to jump into the mobile space. He states that one of Valve’s controller designs has a touchpad, and the company is trying to figure out how to expand the mobile gaming space.
As for other Steam Box features, Newell specifically notes Netflix being available on the Steam Box — but rather than some kind of dedicated app, users will simply load a normal web browser and use Netflix from there. He also says the Steam Box will be a server, citing a process similar to how the Wii U can beam a game to the GamePad while someone else is watching TV, except being able to beam games to more than just one display.
Gaben then rolled on to talking Steam, stating that the Steam store should “be more like user generated content,” and that anybody should be able to create a store. Similar to how various game developers have their own little section of the PlayStation Network, Valve sees that happening with Steam, though in a wider sense — someone may create a store that only has one developer’s titles, while someone else may create a store that only has a specific genre of games.
Finally, unable to contain his now-famous discontent for Windows 8, Newell calls the platform a “giant sadness,” saying it hurts everyone in the PC business. He even cites a 20% decline in PC sales for Valve — and it’s a rare day indeed when Valve releases sales figures. This mindset is, obviously, why Valve has been making a push into Linux, as well as finally revealing what is essentially a Steam console.
If you don’t want to stop being captivated by Gaben just yet, head on over to /v/ and have a blast theorizing what he’ll announce next.
Now read: This is why Nvidia’s Shield will fail
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