Valve won’t offer Steam console anytime soon

Well, so much for that rumor. Valve marketing director Doug Lombardi has confirmed that the company is not on the verge of offering a “Steam Box” console based on PC hardware. Lombardi refused to rule out the possibility that Valve might one day sell its own hardware (something company head Gabe Newell discussed recently), but nothing is coming soon. Indeed, Lombardi even went so far as to rule out partnering with a third party that would take care of the hardware side of things.

Most rumors have at least a grain of truth, and Valve certainly seems open to pursuing hardware development. It’s also working on a “big picture” mode intended to make Steam easier to navigate from the couch. Demos of that TV-friendly UI were reportedly given at CES using a console-sized Mini-ITX system, which no doubt helped to fuel the rumor mill.

I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed by the news. While hardcore gamers may be in no hurry to trade in their custom-built desktops for something built by Valve, a Steam-centric system could be an attractive alternative for gamers choosing between the consoles offered by Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony. Valve already has the software distribution side of things figured out, and Steam’s library is overflowing with titles that would run well on even modest PC hardware—especially since there would be little need to scale the resolution beyond 1080p.

Forbes recently added Gabe Newell to its list of billionaires based on his ownership of more than half of Valve’s stock, which is estimated to be worth over $3 billion. That’s a rather substantial sum, and it suggests Valve at least has the resources to come up with a console of its very own. Given the company’s history, though, such a project would likely take ages to complete. Big-picture mode has been in development for more than a year now, and we haven’t seen so much as a screenshot of the new UI.

Comments closed
    • credible
    • 8 years ago

    Personally, I think this is something that AMD should be doing.

    Perhaps it will be such a hit that they make so much money they are able to hire the brightest and make a comeback in the CPU field………………….well one get dream anyways can’t they)

    • cybot_x1024
    • 8 years ago

    double post :S

    • cybot_x1024
    • 8 years ago

    I guess they finally saw people are getting really close to knowing what it will really be. And that completely goes against the closet way of valve…
    Just because they say “not anytime soon” doesn’t mean that’s not what they’ve been focussing on, and neither will they reduce their efforts put into it.
    I won’t be shocked if its actually what they announce next . Well played Valve.

    • Arclight
    • 8 years ago

    I already have a Valve console. I just click ~ to use it 🙂

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    You better Valve.

    I’m telling you guys, all they have to do is do what GFWL was supposed to do by offering a more intuitive, transparent, and easier to use way of playing games on the computer. Show people how to hook a PC up to their TV. Show them that it’s not voodoo magic. Show them that you can play windows games with a X360 controller.

    They already started making it easy to get drivers for video cards, take that ideology a little bit further. Make an open spec telling people what they can and can’t play in the Steam store. They already harvest computers for their specific specs. They could set a bare minimum which is what the industry really needs on the PC in order to get a certain certification. I’m not talking about a bare minimum hardware requirements, rather what hardware would be required to run the game at 40fps.

    Subjective case by case bases for each individual person and game instead of grinding the entire industry to a halt because someone thinks everyone should play at XYZ specs. A simple red/green/yellow sticker on each of the games Steam page to tell users if they can run it well, not at all, or with some stutters can go a long way… breaking it down further and showing them which pieces of hardware they need to replace for a better experience.

    The steam overlay that runs in the background can be used like fraps no problem so they have the specs and they have the test results. They should be empowering the PC industry for what it is and what makes it great; it’s diversity.

    They have everything at their disposal already to do this. They could take it one step further. There are already hooks in place for games to talk to Steam (such as achievements), taking it one step further Steam could automatically adjust the graphical settings in game for the optimal solution for their setup. Of course you can override it or turn it off, but for joe schmoe that doesn’t know better this is no different then what consoles do for him.

    Valve has access to the biggest, most diverse, and most complete distribution of hardware specs in the PC community, that is a ton of power and they can do tons of things with it if they actually put their mind to it. The solution shouldn’t be restricting, it should be empowering.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 8 years ago

    Some companies are easy to predict based on job offerings. For example, Blizzard had console developers wanted for jobs before (iirc) they announced trying to have Diablo 3 on console.

    Valve isn’t publicly looking for hardware developers right now, but I haven’t been monitoring it. Also, they could be doing things in secret, especially if they are worried about ruining relationships with Sony and Microsoft.

      • Bensam123
      • 8 years ago

      They have pretty much everything in house. They really only hire geniuses with backgrounds in a multitude of fields.

    • tigen
    • 8 years ago

    The whole point of the PC is that it is not a closed system. Valve could offer PC hardware, but why would they enter the PC hardware market? That’s not their strength and it’s not a high margin business to enter. Plus they’d be competing against the normal console systems, which are subsidized and designed specifically for the TV (games and hw).

    I’d like to see more game-oriented systems for the living room though. There have been attempts here and there but the graphics are never good. You could just use something like a gaming notebook and hook that to the TV I guess.

    Basically the market doesn’t seem to be there.

      • superjawes
      • 8 years ago

      I think you misjudge several things.

      First off, it’s not so much about hardware as it is distribution. Having a “box” on the market that can distrubute games from net to living room is just following the trends set by Netflix, cable companies, and, yes, video game console makers. The goal would not be to make money off the box–as you pointed out with subsidizing costs–but to make money by getting more games to more people. If they scap the possibilities of getting their own “hardware” on the market, I think they will be quick to make Steam ready for an established console or mobile platform.

      And on the note of TVs, that simplifies the hardware needs and just requires the input devices (see article on Hydra support in Steam).

      Lastly, the PC market is converging with the mobile one in many ways. While the market might not be clearly there right now, the prospect of getting digitally distributed games to many devices (especially via an established platform like Steam) will attract many users.

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 8 years ago

    It’s called the GabeCube.

    • LastQuestion
    • 8 years ago

    I was really looking forward to this…All my friends on XBL could’ve finally experienced what’s so great about PC gaming and seen how glorious games look in true 1080p…but things which are too good to be true often are…..

      • travbrad
      • 8 years ago

      You could FRAPS a video for them I guess.

        • LastQuestion
        • 8 years ago

        I could, but what would I do with it? Uploading to youtube completely negates the purpose of enjoying HD content and any other form of distribution would be too much hassle for them. I can show them titles like Killing Floor and Skyrim Mods, etc etc, but until youtube streams content at truly HD bitrates(15Mbps+) console players won’t know, won’t realize, how much of difference it is between upscaled 720p or sub-HD and true 1080p without having access to a PC of their own.

          • entropy13
          • 8 years ago

          Then don’t use youtube. It’s not like youtube’s the only choice out there.

            • LastQuestion
            • 8 years ago

            I’m not aware of any video streaming service that streams at high-bitrates. If you know of one do share.

            • travbrad
            • 8 years ago

            If you know them in real life you could hand them a USB flash drive with a mp4/mkv/etc file, or if you don’t you could upload that file to [s<]megaupload[/s<] Rapidshare

            • LastQuestion
            • 8 years ago

            Like I said, any other form of distribution which isn’t streaming would be too much hassle for them.

    • ImSpartacus
    • 8 years ago

    Of course they won’t release one [i<]now[/i<], the hardware isn't ready. Come Ivy Bridge & Kepler and we will get our GabeCube, dammit! People grown about how consoles are holding back PC games, but that 'limitation' has allowed excellent PC hardware to fit in an incredibly small package. GabeCube, [url=http://youtu.be/HpcSRP8FW9E<]hoooooooooo[/url<]!

      • shank15217
      • 8 years ago

      right cause ivy bridge and kepler are required for steambox

        • DeadOfKnight
        • 8 years ago

        Actually Haswell & Maxwell are required for Steam Box.

        • ImSpartacus
        • 8 years ago

        I’m modeling it after the [url=http://www.anandtech.com/show/5543/alienware-x51-the-xbox-with-teeth<]X51[/url<], which shoves a 150W GPU and a 95W CPU into an Xbox-sized chassis that supports desktop Optimus. And after seeing the 150W 7850 destroy games at 1080p ([url=http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/549?vs=541&i=372.375.378.381.384.387.390.394.398.401.403.457.413.412.414.415.416.417.418.419.420.421<]compared to the curent X51's GPU[/url<]), I know Nvidia will at least get an Optimus-enabled GPU [i<]close[/i<] to that mark. Combined with Ivy Bridge, Optimus is essential for keeping power, heat and noise down in this tiny gaming HTPC. So yes, Ivy Bridge and Kepler [i<]are[/i<] required for a worthwhile Steambox. If you want [i<]today's[/i<] Steambox, just go pick up a first gen X51.

          • Washer
          • 8 years ago

          Optimus, or any graphics switching technology, is not required for a mITX based gaming system. Numerous such systems exist with far more power demanding cards than the 7850. Even more, the latest generation of cards all have very low idle power draws negating much of the benefit from such a solution.

          Ivy Bridge would help, but it’s not required either. Again, numerous mITX gaming systems out there right now that are using components with greater power draw (and therefore heat).

            • ImSpartacus
            • 8 years ago

            I’ve never seen any of the machines you mention. Do you think you could link me to a few? If the price is right, I might be interested. I’m not satisfied with the kind of mITX machines that I could build.

            I think it’s a serious design challenge. This gaming HTPC needs to be able to silently transcode 1080p video, but then ratchet up to 1080p 3D gaming. And it has to be small, as current game consoles already represent the max size of a set top box.

          • DeadOfKnight
          • 8 years ago

          Lol, like you actually know as much as Valve does what is required for a steam box.

    • xtalentx
    • 8 years ago

    Don’t companies often say they have no intentions or selling or releasing something only to announce the product a few months later?

      • travbrad
      • 8 years ago

      Yep, especially if they are called Apple.

      I don’t think that’s the case here though.

      • khands
      • 8 years ago

      The most important variable in this case though is valve time.

      • Bensam123
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah, particularly when the offered device is generating negative publicity.

    • TurtlePerson2
    • 8 years ago

    Who owns the other half of the stock? I thought that Gabe Newell bought out Mike Harrington’s share a long time ago.

      • khands
      • 8 years ago

      It could be split among other employees there. We have no idea what the incentive structure is like.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 8 years ago

    All Valve needs to do is, like CAD-comic.com said, just shape it in the form of a Companion Cube or a cake (that’s a lie) or offer a hat with it.

    The thing will sell billions. Suddenly, Microsoft and Sony will be leaving the console market for the “Steam box” market, Nintendo’ll cancel the Wii U and just go iOS, you’ll have all games being released on PC’s or tablets with console versions drying up overnight, Gamestops will transition over to becoming health food stores, dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria!

    Then just like that, the world is a better place.

      • superjawes
      • 8 years ago

      One clarification: they must release Half-Life 2: Episode 3 OR Half-Life 3 with said box.

        • ImSpartacus
        • 8 years ago

        Nah, just including the Orange Box, L4D1&2, and Portal 2 would be good enough.

        Valve can cover a lot of genres at once with old (read: cheap) first party titles: FPS multiplayer, single and multiplayer puzzle, single player FPS epic, coop, and the coveted ‘zombie’ genre.

        Not to mention you open up your audience to free source mods. Valve would use software to increase the value of the machine (and differentiate from similar spec’ed boxes).

        And yes, there would be hats; oh there would be hats.

          • superjawes
          • 8 years ago

          HL2, TF2, L4D, and Portal are all great, yes, but in order for all the “dogs and cats living together” insanity, you would need just one more tip, and another Half-Life installment would probably do it.

            • ImSpartacus
            • 8 years ago

            Yeah, it would be a great HL3 launch box. I have a hunch that HL3 will bring along serious improvements (and requirements) to Source. If Valve put out a box that could properly play these upgraded source games, then the box might have considerable staying power.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 8 years ago

            My theory is that there is no Ep 3, and they’re working a full blown HL3 with a source 2.0 engine.

            However, they’ve said something about how they don’t want to make single player only games anymore, so who knows.

            • superjawes
            • 8 years ago

            Alex Vance, Dog. Make it a gimmick coop mode in addition to the single player if you need to. I don’t care.

            The only thing I want is to finish the story that ended on a cliffhanger! >:-O

            • ImSpartacus
            • 8 years ago

            You’re probably right. It’s been too long.

            There’s no Episode 3, it’ll be called Half Life 3. Hell, it might’ve been there plan from the beginning! Trick us into thinking they were doing episodic content, then just abruptly stop releasing content.

            And I doubt they would release their opus on a ten year old engine. They will do serious improvements to Source and call it Source 2.0 or something.

            Twenty bucks says the executable will still be called “hl2.exe”.

            • superjawes
            • 8 years ago

            hl2e3.exe just to mess with us.

            • superjawes
            • 8 years ago

            That sounds believable. HL2 was great for messing with physics and systems within Souce, so doing another proper release would be a good starter set for continued development. On top of that, if Valve DID upgrade Source like that, it would be the perfect time to baseline the hardware that will play games in the engine for a complete “cycle.”

    • odizzido
    • 8 years ago

    While I don’t pay much attention to consoles and would never buy a valvebox I would like something like this to become popular. Not because steam is good or anything, but because it could really help with cross-platform goodness.

    • superjawes
    • 8 years ago

    Well…that’s that for now 🙁

    Although, “not ruling it out” was still placed in there for a reason. This rumor will pop up like a weed every time Valve releases something about new Steam capabilities. At the same time, that might be the company’s short term goal. Get other types of support for stuff like the Hydra in order to have console support in X years.

      • khands
      • 8 years ago

      There’s also talk about them devloping a standard for oems to use which is I think what they would prefer.

        • superjawes
        • 8 years ago

        Well that would be a start. If Steam games ever get baselined like that, they might not move toward a ValveStation immediately (or at all), but you might start seeing Steam popping up on consoles, specifically the Playstation ones (considering Portal 2 on PS3 shipped with a Steam version).

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This