Author Topic: "Steam Box" - Valve's Rumored Console  (Read 2060 times)

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Offline nCogNeato

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"Steam Box" - Valve's Rumored Console
« on: March 06, 2012, 02:53:01 PM »
Valve said to be working on 'Steam Box' gaming console with partners, could announce at GDC
 

 
Recently there's been chatter that Valve — the company behind the massively popular gaming service Steam — has been considering getting into the hardware business. Specifically, there have been rumors that the company has been toying with the idea of creating a proper set-top console which could potentially pose a threat to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Valve co-founder Gabe Newell even recently told Penny Arcade: "Well, if we have to sell hardware we will."

At a glance that would simply be interesting fodder for a gaming forum debate, but we've uncovered information that suggests that not only has Valve been secretly working on gaming hardware for the living room, but that the company is actively pursuing a strategy which would place Steam at the center of an open gaming universe that mirrors what Google has done with Android. Backing up that concept, in the same interview we quote above, Newell says that Valve doesn't really want to do hardware on its own, stating, "We'd rather hardware people that are good at manufacturing and distributing hardware do [hardware]. We think it's important enough that if that's what we end up having to do, then that's what we end up having to do."

That jibes pretty well with this rumored arrangement.

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.

We're hearing that a wide variety of USB peripherals will be compatible with the boxes, though it will likely ship with a proprietary controller. It's possible that the controller will even allow for swappable components, meaning that it can be reconfigured depending on the type of game you're playing. Think that sounds odd? Well Valve filed a patent for such a device last year.



Additionally, we're told that the kind of biometrics Valve uses in game testing will somehow be incorporated into these devices. Sources of ours say that the realtime biometric feedback in games will be a sea-change for users. To put it more succinctly, the sentiment we've heard is: "You won't ever look back." These biometric devices could come in the form of a bracelet, or be part of the standard controller.

The consoles will also take advantage of Steam's "Big Picture" mode, a feature Valve touted last year at GDC, but has yet to release to the public. According to the company's press release in 2011 "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 most interesting piece of this puzzle may be related to that statement. According to sources, the Steam Box isn't intended to just clash with current gaming consoles. Rather, Valve wants to take Apple and its forthcoming new Apple TV products head-on. Newell has clear questions about Apple's strategy, telling the The Seattle Times "On the platform side, it's sort of ominous that the world seems to be moving away from open platforms," adding that "They build a shiny sparkling thing that attracts users and then they control people's access to those things."

The Steam Box could be unveiled at GDC, though we're also hearing that the company may wait until E3 this year to show off what it's been working on.

One thing is for sure, however: if these rumors turn out to be correct, there could be a whole new kind of battle for control of your living room happening in the near future. Of course, much of this is pieced together from a variety of sources, and there could be moving parts which we can't see. Some of this information could change.

We've reached out to Valve for comment, and will update the post with any new information we receive.

[The Verge]
« Last Edit: March 06, 2012, 02:58:20 PM by nCogNeato »

Offline zerosum

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Re: "Steam Box" - Valve's Rumored Console
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2012, 06:19:00 PM »
Muy interesante....

Offline Smithk4

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Re: "Steam Box" - Valve's Rumored Console
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2012, 02:48:58 AM »
As of yesterday evening:
Valve has quashed rumors that it is developing a console-like "Steam Box" hardware standard for its Steam service. Valve's Doug Lombardi told Kotaku that the company is "building boxes" to test its "Big Picture" initiative, which will make Steam play nice with PC setups that use a television set as a display. Lombardi also noted that Valve is experimenting with things like biometric feedback, which was another aspect of the console rumor, but that such experimentation is "a long way from Valve shipping any sort of hardware."

That said, Lombardi did not dismiss the possibility of Valve-developed hardware in the future.

Note:
If Valve were working on this, I think they would dismiss it for now anyway...............Dun Dun Dun The plot thickens  ;)

[/url]
You don't stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing!!

Offline GamerMan316

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Re: "Steam Box" - Valve's Rumored Console
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2012, 05:25:28 AM »
While on the subject of Valve, I read this yesterday:

Gabe Newell is worth $1.5 billion
And Valve is worth over $3 billion

He is the 854th richest billionaire, out of a global total of 1226 billionaires, according to Forbes.

Newell owns over 50 per cent of Valve, the company he co-founded in 1996 after leaving Microsoft.

The success of Valve's digital platform Steam (over 40 million users) and hit game Portal 2 helped propel the influential game industry veteran into Forbes' list of the world's billionaires.

How did it calculate Newell's gargantuan earnings? It consulted with industry insiders, equity analysts, investment bankers and technology analysts to work out how much Valve is worth. The most conservative estimate is over $3 billion. And since Newell owns more than half the company, he's worth at least $1.5 billion.


Offline nCogNeato

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Re: "Steam Box" - Valve's Rumored Console
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2012, 10:44:33 AM »
... the company is "building boxes" to test its "Big Picture" initiative, which will make Steam play nice with PC setups that use a television set as a display.

Yes!  Thank you!  They've heard my cries! 

Offline nCogNeato

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Re: "Steam Box" - Valve's Rumored Console
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2012, 12:37:03 PM »
 In a job listing for the "industrial designer" position on Valve's website, the company has finally made its hardware ambitions explicit: Valve says "we're frustrated by the lack of innovation of in the computer hardware space, so we're jumping in." The job listing says that "even in basic input, the keyboard and mouse, haven't really changed much in any meaningful way over the years," but it stops short of naming the actual hardware that a Valve-employed industrial designer would create. For months, evidence suggesting Valve's entrance to the hardware market has piled up: there's the rumored "Steam Box" platform, murmurs of a wearable computing project, and job listings for engineers. Valve deflected rumors that it would be delivering a gaming console for the Steam platform in March, but said that it had no plans for "the near future.

"There's a real void in the marketplace."

Valve hasn't confirmed any specific plans for devices yet, but the company's hardware objectives clearly extend beyond prototyping. In the listing, Valve says that "there's a real void in the marketplace, and opportunities to create compelling user experiences are being overlooked." Whether that entrance to the marketplace is in the form of a console or PC-like computer, or something else entirely, we're not sure, but Valve's new language suggests that it's aiming to create some kind of competitive consumer hardware product.
 
"Valve is traditionally a software company. Open platforms like the PC and Mac are important to us, as they enable us and our partners to have a robust and direct relationship with customers. We’re frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space though, so we’re jumping in. Even basic input, the keyboard and mouse, haven’t really changed in any meaningful way over the years. There’s a real void in the marketplace, and opportunities to create compelling user experiences are being overlooked."
 
[The Verge]

Offline nCogNeato

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Re: "Steam Box" - Valve's Rumored Console
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2012, 01:18:56 PM »
Valve's upcoming "console" will be a ...wait for it... VR Headset?



Read the 3 page interview with The New York Times.

Offline zerosum

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Re: "Steam Box" - Valve's Rumored Console
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2012, 01:03:06 PM »
A few things come to mind when looking at that image:



+



All jokes aside, you have to applaud the pushing of forward thinking.

Offline nCogNeato

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Re: "Steam Box" - Valve's Rumored Console
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2012, 11:46:23 AM »
Gabe Newell: Living Room PCs Will Compete With Next-Gen Consoles

Steam's Big Picture mode was just the first step: according to Valve boss Gabe Newell, you'll be able to buy a living-room-friendly PC package next year.

Speaking to me during a brief interview on the red carpet at the VGAs last night, Newell said Valve's current goal was to figure out how to make PCs work better in the living room. He said the reaction to Steam's TV-friendly Big Picture interface has been "stronger than expected," and that their next step is to get Steam Linux out of beta and to get Big Picture on that operating system, which would give Valve more flexibility when developing their own hardware.

He also 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 right out of the gate. And yes, Newell said, they'd compete with next-gen consoles from companies like Microsoft and Sony.

"I think in general that most customers and most developers are gonna find that [the PC is] a better environment for them," Newell told me. "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."

Newell said he's expecting a lot of different companies to release these types of packages—"We'll do it but we also think other people will as well," he told me—and that Valve's hardware might not be as open-source or as malleable as your average computer.

"Well certainly our hardware will be a very controlled environment," he said. "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 gonna want for their living room.

"The nice thing about a PC is a lot of different people can try out different solutions, and customers can find the ones that work best for them."

I also asked Newell what sort of software they're working on these days. He wouldn't give specifics, but he did reiterate that they're working on their next-generation engine—which he said will work with next-generation consoles as well.

"Hopefully that's gonna give us some interesting opportunities on the game side," he said.

[Kotaku]

Offline nCogNeato

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Re: "Steam Box" - Valve's Rumored Console
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2012, 11:49:04 AM »
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91CUqHPhHIc" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91CUqHPhHIc</a>

Offline nCogNeato

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Re: "Steam Box" - Valve's Rumored Console
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2013, 02:35:22 PM »
Valve spokesperson says Steam Box will use Linux

According to a report on German tech site Golem.de, Valve will unveil Steam Box some time in 2013. Speaking at the EHSM 2012 conference in Berlin last month, Valve electronics engineer Ben Krasnow reportedly confirmed that the Steam Box will run on Linux as well – no surprise to anyone who remembers Gabe Newell’s anti-Windows tirade last year.

According to the report it’s expected that Steam Box will be detailed at either GDC 2013 in late March, or E3 2013 in June. These details line up with Newell’s own admissions last year that Valve are working on more living room-friendly hardware.

[PC Gamer]

Offline zerosum

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Re: "Steam Box" - Valve's Rumored Console
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2013, 03:59:53 PM »
Gabe Newell Teases A Major Announcement Next Week-



Speaking at something called "LinuxCon" ;) - Valve chief Gabe Newell was quoted as stating the following:

Quote
Next week we're going to be rolling out more information about how we get there and what are the hardware opportunities we see for bringing Linux into the living room.

Below is a video of the presentation for those interested:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gzn6E2m3otg" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gzn6E2m3otg</a>

Offline zerosum

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Re: "Steam Box" - Valve's Rumored Console
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2013, 02:58:37 PM »
Valve Unveils SteamOS



Looks like Valve is in the midst of announcing (revealing) its plans for living room domination. Today, the announcement of SteamOS hit the internets - here are some details:

"As we’ve been working on bringing Steam to the living room, we’ve come to the conclusion that the environment best suited to delivering value to customers is an operating system built around Steam itself.
SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen. It will be available soon as a free stand-alone operating system for living room machines."

SteamOS Features:
  • In Home Streaming:You can play all your Windows and Mac games on your SteamOS machine, too. Just turn on your existing computer and run Steam as you always have - then your SteamOS machine can stream those games over your home network straight to your TV!
  • Music, Movies, TV: We’re working with many of the media services you know and love. Soon we will begin bringing them online, allowing you to access your favorite music and video with Steam and SteamOS.
  • Family Sharing: In the past, sharing Steam games with your family members was hard. Now you can share the games you love with the people you love. Family Sharing allows you to take turns playing one another’s games while earning your own Steam achievements and saving your individual game progress to the Steam cloud.
  • Family Options: The living-room is family territory. That’s great, but you don’t want to see your parents’ games in your library. Soon, families will have more control over what titles get seen by whom, and more features to allow everyone in the house to get the most out of their Steam libraries.

"In SteamOS, we have achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we’re now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level.... Game developers are already taking advantage of these gains as they target SteamOS for their new releases."

Reports from [Kotaku] state that there will be a second announcement made on Wednesday (11.25.13). With a third to follow later this week.

[Official Website]

Offline zerosum

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Re: "Steam Box" - Valve's Rumored Console
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2013, 08:01:32 PM »
Valve Announces "Steam Machines"



In addition to re-naming the new systems "Steam Machines" - Valve will be shipping about 300 Steam Machine prototypes to Steam members who sign up and are able to complete a quest. Rules are as follows:

THE HARDWARE BETA ELIGIBILITY QUEST:

Before October 25, log in to Steam and then visit [your quest page] to track your current status towards beta test eligibility

1. Join the [Steam Universe community group]

2. Agree to the [Steam Hardware Beta Terms and Conditions]

3. Make 10 Steam friends (if you haven't already)

4. Create a public [Steam Community profile] (if you haven't already)

5. Play a game using a gamepad in Big Picture mode


The prototypes will be a high-end gaming machine and Valve claims you'll be able to play "hundreds" of games natively during the beta—the rest will be available via "in-home streaming." Additionally, Valve is stating that: "Beginning in 2014, there will be multiple SteamOS machines to choose from, made by different manufacturers."

Also, Valve says the "Machines" will be able to run multiple Opertating Systems, they'll be hackable, and they'll ship from a variety of manufacturers.

Interesting. Here are some Q&A items from Valve:

When can I buy one?!

Beginning in 2014, there will be multiple SteamOS machines to choose from, made by different manufacturers.

I’m pretty happy with my PC Gaming setup, do I have to buy a new piece of hardware now?

No. Everything that we’ve been doing on Steam for the last 10 years will continue to move forward.

If you guys are delivering an OS to hardware manufacturers, why is Valve also making its own box?

We're conducting a beta of the overall Steam living-room experience, so we needed to build prototype hardware on which to run tests. At Valve we always rely on real-world testing as part of our design process. The specific machine we're testing is designed for users who want the most control possible over their hardware. Other boxes will optimize for size, price, quietness, or other factors.

How will you choose the 300 beta participants?

A small number of users (30 or less) will be chosen based on their past community contributions and beta participation. The remainder will be chosen at random from the eligible pool.

Should I create lots of Steam accounts to increase my chances of getting selected?

No, that won’t work.

What are the specs of the Valve prototype?

We'll tell you more about it soon. Remember, there will ultimately be several boxes to choose from, with an array of specifications, price, and performance.

Where’s a picture of it? How big is it?

We promise we'll tell you more about it soon.

When will the prototypes ship?

This year.

Will beta testers be allowed to share info about their experience and post pictures and opinions online?

Yes, that really is the whole point. The input from testers should come in many forms: bug reports, forum posts, concept art, 3D prints, haikus, and also very publicly stated opinions.

Will I be able to build my own box to run SteamOS?

Yes.

Can I hack this box? Run another OS? Change the hardware? Install my own software? Use it to build a robot?

Sure.

Can I download the OS to try it out?

You will be able to download it (including the source code, if you're into that) but not yet.

If I’m not in the beta, how can I help and contribute feedback?

The Steam Universe Group is where feedback is being collected. Most areas of the group will remain open for participation by all Steam users. Some may be limited to beta participants only, but there will be plenty of ways to contribute feedback for everyone.

What games will be available during the beta?

The nearly 3,000 games on Steam. Hundreds already running natively on the SteamOS, with more to come. The rest will work seamlessly via in-home streaming.

What is SteamOS? What’s included?

Here's a [link to what we said earlier about SteamOS]. We'll have more details to tell you, soon.

Am I going to be using a mouse and a keyboard in the living-room?

If you want. But Steam and SteamOS work well with gamepads, too. Stay tuned, though - we have some more to say very soon on the topic of input.

[Official Website]

 

Offline zerosum

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Re: "Steam Box" - Valve's Rumored Console
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2013, 02:12:24 PM »
Valve Introduces The Steam Controller: Look Ma No Thumbsticks!

Quote


A Different Kind of Gamepad
We set out with a singular goal: bring the Steam experience, in its entirety, into the living-room. We knew how to build the user interface, we knew how to build a machine, and even an operating system. But that still left input — our biggest missing link. We realized early on that our goals required a new kind of input technology — one that could bridge the gap from the desk to the living room without compromises. So we spent a year experimenting with new approaches to input and we now believe we’ve arrived at something worth sharing and testing with you.


Complete Catalog
The Steam Controller is designed to work with all the games on Steam: past, present, and future. Even the older titles in the catalog and the ones which were not built with controller support. (We’ve fooled those older games into thinking they’re being played with a keyboard and mouse, but we’ve designed a gamepad that’s nothing like either one of those devices.) We think you’ll agree that we’re onto something with the Steam Controller, and now we want your help with the design process.


Superior Performance
Traditional gamepads force us to accept compromises. We’ve made it a goal to improve upon the resolution and fidelity of input that’s possible with those devices. The Steam controller offers a new and, we believe, vastly superior control scheme, all while enabling you to play from the comfort of your sofa. Built with high-precision input technologies and focused on low-latency performance, the Steam controller is just what the living-room ordered.

Dual Trackpads
The most prominent elements of the Steam controller are its two circular trackpads. Driven by the player’s thumbs, each one has a high-resolution trackpad as its base. It is also clickable, allowing the entire surface to act as a button. The trackpads allow far higher fidelity input than has previously been possible with traditional handheld controllers. Steam gamers, who are used to the input associated with PCs, will appreciate that the Steam Controller’s resolution approaches that of a desktop mouse.

Whole genres of games that were previously only playable with a keyboard and mouse are now accessible from the sofa. RTS games. Casual, cursor-driven games. Strategy games. 4x space exploration games. A huge variety of indie games. Simulation titles. And of course, Euro Truck Simulator 2.

In addition, games like first-person shooters that are designed around precise aiming within a large visual field now benefit from the trackpads’ high resolution and absolute position control.


Haptics
Trackpads, by their nature, are less physical than thumbsticks. By themselves, they are “light touch” devices and don’t offer the kind of visceral feedback that players get from pushing joysticks around. As we investigated trackpad-based input devices, it became clear through testing that we had to find ways to add more physicality to the experience. It also became clear that “rumble”, as it has been traditionally implemented (a lopsided weight spun around a single axis), was not going to be enough. Not even close.

The Steam Controller is built around a new generation of super-precise haptic feedback, employing dual linear resonant actuators. These small, strong, weighted electro-magnets are attached to each of the dual trackpads. They are capable of delivering a wide range of force and vibration, allowing precise control over frequency, amplitude, and direction of movement.

This haptic capability provides a vital channel of information to the player - delivering in-game information about speed, boundaries, thresholds, textures, action confirmations, or any other events about which game designers want players to be aware. It is a higher-bandwidth haptic information channel than exists in any other consumer product that we know of. As a parlour trick they can even play audio waveforms and function as speakers.



Touchscreen
In the center of the controller is another touch-enabled surface, this one backed by a high-resolution screen. This surface, too, is critical to achieving the controller’s primary goal - supporting all games in the Steam catalog. The screen allows an infinite number of discrete actions to be made available to the player, without requiring an infinite number of physical buttons.

The whole screen itself is also clickable, like a large single button. So actions are not invoked by a simple touch, they instead require a click. This allows a player to touch the screen, browse available actions, and only then commit to the one they want. Players can swipe through pages of actions in games where that’s appropriate. When programmed by game developers using our API, the touch screen can work as a scrolling menu, a radial dial, provide secondary info like a map or use other custom input modes we haven’t thought of yet.

 In order to avoid forcing players to divide their attention between screens, a critical feature of the Steam Controller comes from its deep integration with Steam. When a player touches the controller screen, its display is overlayed on top of the game they’re playing, allowing the player to leave their attention squarely on the action, where it belongs.


Buttons
Every button and input zone has been placed based on frequency of use, precision required and ergonomic comfort. There are a total of sixteen buttons on the Steam Controller. Half of them are accessible to the player without requiring thumbs to be lifted from the trackpads, including two on the back. All controls and buttons have been placed symmetrically, making left or right handedness switchable via a software config checkbox.



Shared Configuration
In order to support the full catalog of existing Steam games (none of which were built with the Steam Controller in mind), we have built in a legacy mode that allows the controller to present itself as a keyboard and mouse. The Steam Community can use the configuration tool to create and share bindings for their favorite games. Players can choose from a list of the most popular configurations.


Openness
The Steam Controller was designed from the ground up to be hackable. Just as the Steam Community and Workshop contributors currently deliver tremendous value via additions to software products on Steam, we believe that they will meaningfully contribute to the design of the Steam Controller. We plan to make tools available that will enable users to participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.


Q&A:

How does the beta work? When will it start? How will you choose participants?
Please see the [FAQ on Steam Machines], because it covers lots of important questions.


I’m a happy Steam customer happily using my happy mouse and keyboard. I don’t want a controller?
You can’t make a sentence into a question by just putting a question-mark at the end. But we’re happy you’re happy, and by all means keep using whatever input method makes sense for you. Rest assured, we won’t abandon you. We love mice and keyboards, too.
 

Can I use a controller if I don’t have a Steam machine?
Yes. It’ll work very well with any version of Steam.


I’m a developer - how can I include support for the Steam Controller in my game?
On the same day that our prototype controllers ship to customers later this year, the first version of our API will also be made available to game developers.


How will the beta controller differ from the one that’s for sale next year?
There are a couple important differences: the first 300 or so beta units won’t include a touch screen, and they won’t be wireless. Instead, they’ll have four buttons in place of the touch screen, and they’ll require a USB cable.

What’s next?
We’re done with our announcements, and we promise to switch gears now and talk specifics over here in our Steam Universe community group. Also we’ll talk soon about the design process and how we’ve arrived at our current prototype. (We’ll post detailed specs next week for our living room SteamOS prototype, too.)

We look forward to working together with you to design the future of Steam in the living room.


Source:[Steam Controller]

 

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