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Steam Hardware Plans?

A post on The Verge follows up on recent comments by Valve's Gabe Newell about the possibility of Steam hardware by saying this is exactly what Valve is working on, and a reveal may come as early as next week at San Francisco's Game Developer's Conference (thanks Kotaku).

The article cites unnamed "sources" who say Valve is working with various hardware vendors on a "Steam Box," which sounds more exotic than "Windows PC," which is what this seems like, as word is: "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." They note a couple of possibilities that may make this more distinctive than a hardware specification, speculating it may include a proprietary controller, a biometric feedback device, and could take better advantage of Steam's "big picture mode."

This all still speculation at this point, as Valve has not responded to their request for comment.

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139. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 14, 2012, 23:56 ^Drag0n^
 
Dev wrote on Mar 5, 2012, 09:06:
^Drag0n^ wrote on Mar 5, 2012, 08:41:
MSSE. Free for life. Auto-updates. No annual renewal hassles. Low CPU overhead. No brainier.

^D^
I don't think its free if you have more than 10 PC's

I doubt anyone will have more than 10 Steamboxes, though

^D^
 
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138. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 8, 2012, 12:17 Verno
 
Eh I don't know, many people seem pretty positive or neutral about the whole thing. I don't see "everyone" saying anything, just the natural cycle of concerns that would accompany this sort of announcement from any company. It's no real surprise as this crowd isn't exactly the target market for the device, many PC users pride themselves on building their own system. Personally I do it because I like having options and customization, if a Steam Box can do its thing while giving me that then they can make definite inroads on people here.

On the other hand its essentially a console, a static hardware platform with some nebulous possibility of upgrading but realistically if devs target it then they won't want a segmenting user base and will push for the bottom barrel. In this case the bottom barrel sounds pretty good but thats only in the context of the here and now. Hardware upgrade cycles and new consoles on the horizon will change that pretty quickly.

Still though, exciting stuff. A Steam Box could easily double as an HTPC, NAS or etc. Perhaps the price would be reasonable after all if it consolidates that many functions.

This comment was edited on Mar 8, 2012, 12:40.
 
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137. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 8, 2012, 12:07 Krovven
 
Verno wrote on Mar 8, 2012, 08:52:
Any time you buy a preconfigured machine you're either getting fleeced on the price or they cheap out on components like the PSU. A "Steam Box" isn't likely to be an exception anymore than something like Alienware, in fact I wouldn't be surprised to see Valve partner with a company like that because it is insanely expensive to do it yourself. There's a price tag for the convenience much like consoles and overpriced iphones.

While I don't disagree with you, unlike everyone else in this thread, Im not going to guess what Valve is up to. They could be doing any number of things based on incomplete RUMOURS. Trashing the possibilities based 100% on speculation is pure stupidity. I'll wait and see what's actually announced first.

Unlike everyone else here, I won't be shitting on Valves entry into the hardware market if it turns out it's not something I'm interested in.


 
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136. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 8, 2012, 11:34 jdwohlever
 
Drools
This Steam device sounds sexy.
Q: What better way to keep PC gaming alive?
A: Trick the console kiddies into thinking a PC game is a console game.
I hope ... really... hope that they make this.
Here is an awesome thought Valve, since you make so much money selling games,
make the device pretty cheap and don't try to make your money with the Steam PC,
but rather with the games that folks would buy to play on it. Hey, one can dream.
 
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135. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 8, 2012, 08:52 Verno
 
Any time you buy a preconfigured machine you're either getting fleeced on the price or they cheap out on components like the PSU. A "Steam Box" isn't likely to be an exception anymore than something like Alienware, in fact I wouldn't be surprised to see Valve partner with a company like that because it is insanely expensive to do it yourself. There's a price tag for the convenience much like consoles and overpriced iphones.

This comment was edited on Mar 8, 2012, 09:00.
 
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134. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 7, 2012, 17:36 Krovven
 
Dev wrote on Mar 7, 2012, 16:45:
Krovven wrote on Mar 7, 2012, 12:10:
Jerykk wrote on Mar 6, 2012, 01:35:
A Steam Box won't have the power or flexibility to appeal to PC gamers

Wrong. More than a few in this thread have expressed interest already. You do not speak for everyone and please stop thinking you can. Personally Im very interested in this as I have an aging desktop and the ONLY reason for me to upgrade is for games. I currently have my desk setup next to my tv so I can game from the couch or my desk without hassle on my PC. Something like the "Steambox" would be a good fit in my entertainment setup. However, I'm waiting to hear more info, rather than random speculation.


BTW, have you looked at the alienware x51?
http://www.dell.com/us/p/alienware-x51/pd.aspx
Looking at that, I wouldn't be surprised if steam just rebranded it and put a custom UI into it (I think this model was mentioned in the thread, I just never looked at that model).
Its overpriced as all alienware setups are, but alienware tends to look cool at least.

Im not interested in overpriced hardware, so I ignore everything Alienware. Similarly Razor's lame "gaming laptop". If Valve's entry is overpriced or some lame restrictions, then I wont be interested. I haven't spent the cash on a new rig mainly because I haven't needed one aside from a few games. Maybe later this year, we'll see.


 
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133. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 7, 2012, 16:45 Dev
 
Krovven wrote on Mar 7, 2012, 12:10:
Jerykk wrote on Mar 6, 2012, 01:35:
A Steam Box won't have the power or flexibility to appeal to PC gamers

Wrong. More than a few in this thread have expressed interest already. You do not speak for everyone and please stop thinking you can. Personally Im very interested in this as I have an aging desktop and the ONLY reason for me to upgrade is for games. I currently have my desk setup next to my tv so I can game from the couch or my desk without hassle on my PC. Something like the "Steambox" would be a good fit in my entertainment setup. However, I'm waiting to hear more info, rather than random speculation.


BTW, have you looked at the alienware x51?
http://www.dell.com/us/p/alienware-x51/pd.aspx
Looking at that, I wouldn't be surprised if steam just rebranded it and put a custom UI into it (I think this model was mentioned in the thread, I just never looked at that model).
Its overpriced as all alienware setups are, but alienware tends to look cool at least.
 
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132. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 7, 2012, 14:53 Verno
 
Whoosh  
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131. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 7, 2012, 12:10 Krovven
 
Jerykk wrote on Mar 6, 2012, 01:35:
A Steam Box won't have the power or flexibility to appeal to PC gamers

Wrong. More than a few in this thread have expressed interest already. You do not speak for everyone and please stop thinking you can. Personally Im very interested in this as I have an aging desktop and the ONLY reason for me to upgrade is for games. I currently have my desk setup next to my tv so I can game from the couch or my desk without hassle on my PC. Something like the "Steambox" would be a good fit in my entertainment setup. However, I'm waiting to hear more info, rather than random speculation.


 
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130. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 6, 2012, 01:35 Jerykk
 
I know Jerykk hates car analogies and loves describing PC gaming as objectively better, but he always forgets that convenience, ease, lack of worrying/fiddling and a level playing field matter very much to many people and not at all to him, making things subjective.

I didn't forget that at all, which is why I explicitly mentioned that very fact in the post that you quoted. A Steam Box won't have the power or flexibility to appeal to PC gamers, nor will it have the convenience and accessibility to appeal to console gamers. It will be stuck in a middle-ground that nobody really asked for.
 
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129. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 5, 2012, 16:08 Dev
 
avianflu wrote on Mar 5, 2012, 11:11:
It would need the adoption level of a console and that is asking for a lot in the first gen
Actually, to expand on the previous reply, no it wouldn't. If valve sells it near cost (it would be a HUGE mistake to sell it under cost like consoles usually are when they first come out), then any additional steam sales through a steambox are extra profit to them. They really don't have to sell many to make back money from steam sales. They'd have their R&D costs such as developing a steam UI to cover the OS, but a lot of the things they should do with it (like making configuration easier and doing more update features) would benefit current steam customers. And valve has more than enough money to pay for the R&D costs. So really, they would do fine with even a few sales.

MS lost a total of $4 billion (thats AFTER all the profits and licensing from games is taken into account) on xbox 1, the cost to enter the console market. But you know why they lost that? Because they sold the console at a significant loss and they had significant quality issues. If valve doesn't sell it at a loss and they use off the shelf parts with known quality, then they shouldn't have those problems.
 
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128. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 5, 2012, 13:41 Bhruic
 
It would need the adoption level of a console and that is asking for a lot in the first gen

It would need that to do what? What exact goals do you envision them having for it? Hell, at this point, they haven't even announced the existence of such a product (although there are sufficient hints to make it likely). Judging how successful it would have to be (which begs the question of what "success" is) is a bit premature.
 
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127. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 5, 2012, 11:51 Dev
 
avianflu wrote on Mar 5, 2012, 11:11:
Not sure this gadget will fly. It would need the adoption level of a console and that is asking for a lot in the first gen -- and during a global recession.

Hope Valve has an big advertising budget.

It will be fun to see what happens.

Valve has a lot of cash to burn. As long as they don't sell it below cost, they should be fine even if it fails. Selling a PC of any type below cost would be a HUGE mistake. At or near cost should be ok though.

They already have a steady income stream that's not going to decline anytime in the foreseeable future, so they don't have to rely on this for the success of the company.
 
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126. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 5, 2012, 11:11 avianflu
 
Not sure this gadget will fly. It would need the adoption level of a console and that is asking for a lot in the first gen -- and during a global recession.

Hope Valve has an big advertising budget.

It will be fun to see what happens.

 
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125. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 5, 2012, 09:06 Dev
 
^Drag0n^ wrote on Mar 5, 2012, 08:41:
MSSE. Free for life. Auto-updates. No annual renewal hassles. Low CPU overhead. No brainier.

^D^
I don't think its free if you have more than 10 PC's
 
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124. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 5, 2012, 09:03 Verno
 
Jerykk wrote on Mar 4, 2012, 23:15:
True. That said, some options are pretty subjective. V-sync, for example. People with 60 Hz monitors tend to swear by V-Sync, as they're willing to deal with input lag in favor of preventing tearing. Conversely, others are more tolerant of tearing instead of input lag. Same deal with mouse smoothing.

Those are the kind of people who won't buy a Steam box though.

I just really can't see the Steam Box appealing to either console or PC gamers. It won't be as cheap, easy or convenient as a console, nor will it be as powerful or flexible as a regular PC. It also won't have any high-profile exclusives. It will suffer from the same issue that the WiiU will inevitably face; no definitive target audience.

I don't see why not. Its an actual PC with a customized UI layer. The flexibility and power will be there if people want to bother but otherwise they get a similar experience to the consoles. That's really what Steam is all about. All of the issues you've raised so far are more related to advanced tinkering or port issues which are legitimate concerns but surmountable.
 
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123. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 5, 2012, 08:41 ^Drag0n^
 
MSSE. Free for life. Auto-updates. No annual renewal hassles. Low CPU overhead. No brainier.

^D^
 
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122. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 5, 2012, 06:58 Beamer
 
Jerykk wrote on Mar 4, 2012, 20:05:
Lots of people own and use PC's with ZERO knowledge and understanding of hardware, and valve can make a lot of stuff happen automatically under the hood.

But how many of those people are PC gamers? You don't really need a lot of tech knowledge in order to check your e-mail or browse the web. Being a PC gamer, on the other hand, requires significantly more tech savvy.

Even if Valve hides all the OS stuff, you still have the in-game stuff to deal with. How many console gamers know what V-Sync is? Or mouse smoothing? Or DX11? Or triple buffering? Or anisotropic filtering? Or antialiasing? The average console gamer doesn't know or care about any of these things. They just want to sit on their couch and play games. Sure, players can skip all the video and control configuration and just jump into the game, but that typically results in an inferior experience because default settings are usually crap. And if someone doesn't care about having an inferior experience, they'll just stick with consoles.

And even then, the people with ZERO knowledge are the ones that get bogged down with viruses and spyware that they never manage to clear. They don't understand how they get it and don't learn how to remove it.

With consoles you don't have that issue. You put a disc in and you play a disc. You get the same experience every time. There's no antivirus or fake antivirus eating up CPU cycles. There are no worries. Yeah, RROD, but even in that case you just ship it back to Microsoft and take out a new one a few days later. Slap the HDD from Unit A back into Unit B and it's almost like things never changed. No technical skill required, no worries - something either works or doesn't work, no gray area where it works but not well and the guy you're playing against probably has it working better and is kicking your ass because of it.

People here may not find that compelling. People here are a niche. It's like if I went into a BMW dealership and started berating everyone not buying an M3. What, you think your stupid 525 is going to be as fun to drive? It hardly snows here, why are you wasting weight on AWD?! Oh, right, maybe what is awesome for my priorities is niche and doesn't fit what you want...
I know Jerykk hates car analogies and loves describing PC gaming as objectively better, but he always forgets that convenience, ease, lack of worrying/fiddling and a level playing field matter very much to many people and not at all to him, making things subjective.
 
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121. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 4, 2012, 23:31 Dev
 
Jerykk wrote on Mar 4, 2012, 23:15:
I just really can't see the Steam Box appealing to either console or PC gamers.
I have friends that ask me what they should buy if they want to game on PC but don't want to spend a lot (often the kinda person who plays WoW). Most "gaming" machines from places like dell are overpriced crap, and people would be better off getting a regular dell and adding a low end graphics card. If valve comes out with this, I can tell them to get a steam box.

So yeah, there are some people it would appeal to, thats at least one category I have personal experience with.

Jerykk wrote on Mar 4, 2012, 23:15:
That said, some options are pretty subjective. V-sync, for example. People with 60 Hz monitors tend to swear by V-Sync, as they're willing to deal with input lag in favor of preventing tearing. Conversely, others are more tolerant of tearing instead of input lag. Same deal with mouse smoothing.
And those people are the ones who know what the options are and do (or at least think they do) and don't need the help setting it. Every game has a default v-sync setting, I don't think valve would normally need to mess with it.
Jerykk wrote on Mar 4, 2012, 23:15:
There's also the matter of standards. What will be considered a minimum acceptable framerate? Or resolution? Or AA level? Or AF level? Given the size of the machine, I highly doubt it'll be capable of running every game at 1080p, 8xAA, 16xAF, all at 60 FPS. It's much more likely that 30 FPS will be considered standard, in which case the Steam Box won't be much of an improvement over consoles.
Most likely, the kinda people who worry about that stuff are probably going to want to build their own box (or if they have oodles of money, buy an alienware).
The 6870 that I mentioned before should be more than capable of running most games at 1080p with the settings you mentioned. As for FPS, that's only ONE of the things that make up a game's graphics level. Anything that a console can run at 30fps, a PC such as the $500 one I specced out can run at 60 FPS with far more graphical details and settings.

As for acceptable settings, I'm fairly sure I already mentioned in this thread a way valve could get that info.

This comment was edited on Mar 5, 2012, 00:04.
 
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120. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 4, 2012, 23:15 Jerykk
 
Bhruic wrote on Mar 4, 2012, 21:43:
Even if Valve hides all the OS stuff, you still have the in-game stuff to deal with. How many console gamers know what V-Sync is? Or mouse smoothing? Or DX11? Or triple buffering? Or anisotropic filtering? Or antialiasing? The average console gamer doesn't know or care about any of these things. They just want to sit on their couch and play games. Sure, players can skip all the video and control configuration and just jump into the game, but that typically results in an inferior experience because default settings are usually crap. And if someone doesn't care about having an inferior experience, they'll just stick with consoles.

If you've got dedicated hardware then you can ship a config file specifically designed for that hardware, and eliminate the need for the end user to fiddle with settings.

True. That said, some options are pretty subjective. V-sync, for example. People with 60 Hz monitors tend to swear by V-Sync, as they're willing to deal with input lag in favor of preventing tearing. Conversely, others are more tolerant of tearing instead of input lag. Same deal with mouse smoothing.

There's also the matter of standards. What will be considered a minimum acceptable framerate? Or resolution? Or AA level? Or AF level? Given the size of the machine, I highly doubt it'll be capable of running every game at 1080p, 8xAA, 16xAF, all at 60 FPS. It's much more likely that 30 FPS will be considered standard, in which case the Steam Box won't be much of an improvement over consoles.

I just really can't see the Steam Box appealing to either console or PC gamers. It won't be as cheap, easy or convenient as a console, nor will it be as powerful or flexible as a regular PC. It also won't have any high-profile exclusives. It will suffer from the same issue that the WiiU will inevitably face; no definitive target audience.
 
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