Valve just wrapped up what has to be one of the shortest CES press conferences on record. Just seven minutes after taking the floor to pull back the curtain on 13 different Steam machines, Gabe Newell ended his speech, answered a few questions, and directed journalists to the hardware makers for actual details. The live blogs at Ars Technica and The Verge both commented on the abrupt ending, which reinforced Newell's assertion that Valve sees itself as an enabler in the console space.The company isn't there to provide Steam machines, but to create an environment where hardware vendors can offer their own.
And there are plenty of system makers on board. Those 13 Steam machines come from 13 different vendors, including Gigabyte, Zotac, Alienware, Falcon Northwest, Digital Storm, iBuypower, CyberPowerPC, Origin, Alternate, Next, Scan, Materiel, and Webhallen. The systems cover a range of sizes, from a NUC-like Gigabyte box to console-sized models like this $499 offering from iBuypower. There are even a few larger rigs based on what appear to be off-the-shelf Mini-ITX cases.
Along with the range of sizes comes a variety of configurations. The individual system builders are free to decide whether to include Valve's Steam controller, and Newell noted that peripheral makers can come up with their own controllers for SteamOS. Unfortunately, we still don't know when Valve's gamepad will be available or how much it will cost. The company is still in the early stages of a beta test that's put prototype systems and controllers in the hands of 300 gamers culled from the Steam community. Newell said the testers are pretty happy so far. He wants to push them harder to look for flaws, though.
I'm sure someone will find a subtle nod to Half-Life 3 at the press event. However, there was no official news on the highly anticipated title. Newell said surprisingly little about SteamOS games in general. He did claim that Dota 2 is "bigger than Monday Night Football," though I can't find any supporting evidence for that assertion. Dota 2 has already been ported to Linux, at least.