Valve head honcho Gabe Newell spilled the beans in an interview with Kotaku on Saturday. Paraphrasing Newell's responses, Kotaku says the Valve founder "expects companies to start selling PC packages for living rooms next year." Those packages would be designed to connect to a TV, and they'd run Steam in Big Picture mode on top of Linux right out of the box.
Newell made no secret of the fact that Valve will offer its own hardware. Valve's product will offer a "very controlled environment," he said, but other companies will apparently be free to jump in with competing offerings. "We'll do it but we also think other people will as well," he noted.
In related news, OMG! Ubuntu reports that Valve has been quietly adding Linux system requirements to game listings on the Steam store. I think those have been pulled, though. The screenshot in the story shows Linux system requirements for Dynamite Jack, but the current listing for the title only has Windows and Mac requirements. Hmm.
In any case, these are some exciting—and somewhat unexpected—developments for PC gaming. The idea of having a single, open platform serve the needs of both PC and console gamers sounds appealing, no question about it. However, I think Valve faces an uphill battle getting major game publishers to invest in Linux ports of their PC blockbusters. A Steam console would be of limited value if it only ran Valve games and low-budget indie titles.