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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 Replies. 7 pages. Viewing page 7.
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19. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 13:55 DangerDog
 
They can bundle it with some of those uDraw tablets that THQ is stuck with.

I would see this as a big mistake, unless they're just putting the "Steam Box" name on it and another hardware vendor is taking all the risk.
 
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18. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 13:47 TheEmissary
 
Dev wrote on Mar 3, 2012, 12:44:
Valve has said in interviews that they are working on hardware, although what Gabe said was that he wanted to work on wearable hardware.

Other markets valve has said they are working on:
Mobile (confirmed by mobile steam release)
Console (I thought the PS3 release of portal 2 and how gabe talked about it signified they were going to work steam into that platform, but not much has been done on that front)
MMO
Social

Like I've said before, they are spreading themselves too thin with the number of employees they have. It will mean an inevitable loss of PC gaming focus.

You also forgot they are working on a "Big TV" mode for Steam. My guess is that new hardware is going to launch with that.

At the same time I don't think this will be a console anymore than a branded PC designed for Gaming. It won't affect those that already have custom machines but for novice builders or people looking for an easy solution it will.

I don't think Valve will ever lose their PC focus given things they have said and done in the past. If anything I think they are trying to grow the PC again by making the PC gaming hardware affordable.
 
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17. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 13:31 theyarecomingforyou
 
kibbled wrote on Mar 3, 2012, 11:44:
I am going to through this out there. Maybe its just a "Steam" Branded PC with some extra functionality that is sold by another company like Gateway or Dell.
Yeah, that seems like the obvious direction. And rather than being a dedicated console it might just be a badge, so a compatible computer will be earn the "Steam Box" label; as games become more demanding they can release a revision, so "Steam Box Plus" or "Steam Box 2". It could auto-configure the graphics based upon the preset, taking away some of the more fiddly bits that sour the PC gaming experience. Afterall, it knows the resolution of my monitor, the power of my graphics card and the speed of my processor - it can't be THAT hard to automatically select the appropriate settings (admittedly a minority of games do this properly). And they'd require games support the controller and Valve specific technologies, like Steam Cloud and matchmaking, etc.

I can't see Valve competing with Microsoft or Sony, as it's a highly competitive market. But simply providing a more tailored experience on PC could certainly be a positive move.

It all depends on the implementation. Originally the Xbox was only going to be an extension to the PC but they went down the proprietary route and fucked over PC gamers (buying up studios, paying for exclusives, etc) as soon as they realised they could make more money that way. I just hope Valve gets it right, as it seems like a potentially risky move and it could damage their reputation.
 
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16. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 13:29 Dev
 
commonperson wrote on Mar 3, 2012, 13:13:
using Steam as the core model you've got in built launch titles in the thousands with a low point of entry with free (DCU, Star Trek Online, etc.) games all the way to low "sweet spot" games running a few dollars for the casual market.
[...]
God I just hope they work on steam's interface it's functional but clunky.
Actually that brings up a good point. If they throw a 2tb hard drive into it, they could preload it with a ton of free games, and some bigger title steam games (skyrim, etc) and say if you buy it you don't have to spend time downloading, its already preloaded all you have to do is buy the titles and go.
Heck, they could sell just the preloaded 2tb hdd on its own and probably get a decent number of sales from people who don't want to put all that downloads on their limited internet (AT&T DSL now is down to 100 gb a month, they join comcast in limited bandwidth now, together they cover quite a swath of the US population).

As for the interface, its remained much the same since steam came out, yeah its clunky. If EA bothered to polish origin a bit and add all the interface features steam is missing, they'd have a better shot at getting people to use it over steam.
 
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15. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 13:13 commonperson
 
This could go two ways for them very very good or very very bad. Here's why I say this, it's a DRM built in platform using a tried and true engine (Windows) so no weird new developer kit needed. Also they are smart to open it up to Origin and Impulse this way they have an even broader net so you can get every EA game or other game carried on these other players (hell even Onlive without an Onlive box) the build is pretty beefy and would outstrip current gen and probably would hold with next gen and by using Steam as the core model you've got in built launch titles in the thousands with a low point of entry with free (DCU, Star Trek Online, etc.) games all the way to low "sweet spot" games running a few dollars for the casual market. On top of that you are leveraging digital delivery reducing cost increasing profit. This I think (if it happens) could be the first real foray in to next gen consoles (if it succeds which is a big if.) The good thing is they don't answer to shareholders (which could swing either way) and means they don't have to succum to the pressures of "profit over design." God I just hope they work on steam's interface it's functional but clunky.  
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14. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 13:03 TheFragMan
 
Calling it now. First SteamBox release: Half-Life 3  
- Frag
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13. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 13:01 Cutter
 
Don't bother, Gabe. For Christ sake try focusing on some title development like HL that doesn't take a decade to show up.

Imagine Valve time for hardware. Um, no thanks.
 
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"The South will boogie again!" - Disco Stu
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12. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 12:51 Dev
 
Creston wrote on Mar 3, 2012, 11:27:
It makes no sense to go into the hardware business. There's barely any money to be made in it, margins are cut-throat, there's dozens of competitors, it's diametrically opposite to their core (and really, their ONLY) business, which is digital delivery, and finally, I assume a sizable portion of their customer base already has a box capable of playing (the majority of) Steam games.
I agree it doesn't make much sense, but does Valve really care about that? They have no shareholders, and run on a flat management (aka none) model. I don't think money is their primary focus... if it was they'd have cranked out (or hired someone to crank out) half life games like hl3/ep3.

They may be thinking that now, before the next gen consoles come out, is a good time to jump into making some sorta standardized reasonably priced gaming PC in terms of making PC gaming more popular.
An i7 with 8gb memory and a mid range graphics card could be under $500.
 
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11. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 12:44 Dev
 
Valve has said in interviews that they are working on hardware, although what Gabe said was that he wanted to work on wearable hardware.

Other markets valve has said they are working on:
Mobile (confirmed by mobile steam release)
Console (I thought the PS3 release of portal 2 and how gabe talked about it signified they were going to work steam into that platform, but not much has been done on that front)
MMO
Social

Like I've said before, they are spreading themselves too thin with the number of employees they have. It will mean an inevitable loss of PC gaming focus.
 
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10. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 12:11 Creston
 
deadearth wrote on Mar 3, 2012, 11:54:
Creston wrote on Mar 3, 2012, 11:27:
It makes no sense to go into the hardware business. There's barely any money to be made in it, margins are cut-throat, there's dozens of competitors, it's diametrically opposite to their core (and really, their ONLY) business, which is digital delivery, and finally, I assume a sizable portion of their customer base already has a box capable of playing (the majority of) Steam games.

Creston

From what it sounds like, valve wouldn't be making it. Gabe said himself they would rather leave the hardware the hardware people. It seems like some 3rd party hardware company would produce and sell it, it would just be made specifically for steam.

Yeah, I wouldn't imagine Valve putting factories in Mexico together, but even so it just... I dunno, it seems to add little to nothing to their core product.

Creston
 
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9. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 11:54 deadearth
 
Creston wrote on Mar 3, 2012, 11:27:
It makes no sense to go into the hardware business. There's barely any money to be made in it, margins are cut-throat, there's dozens of competitors, it's diametrically opposite to their core (and really, their ONLY) business, which is digital delivery, and finally, I assume a sizable portion of their customer base already has a box capable of playing (the majority of) Steam games.

Creston

From what it sounds like, valve wouldn't be making it. Gabe said himself they would rather leave the hardware the hardware people. It seems like some 3rd party hardware company would produce and sell it, it would just be made specifically for steam.
 
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8. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 11:46 siapnar
 
Creston wrote on Mar 3, 2012, 11:27:
It makes no sense to go into the hardware business. There's barely any money to be made in it, margins are cut-throat, there's dozens of competitors, it's diametrically opposite to their core (and really, their ONLY) business, which is digital delivery, and finally, I assume a sizable portion of their customer base already has a box capable of playing (the majority of) Steam games.
It does seem rather redundant, doesn't it..

Maybe they assume they can pull in some of the currently console-only gaming crowd?
 
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7. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 11:44 kibbled
 
I am going to through this out there. Maybe its just a "Steam" Branded PC with some extra functionality that is sold by another company like Gateway or Dell.  
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6. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 11:37 Dagnamit
 
I did not expect Valve to jump into the console business. It makes sense. The big 3 are stagnant. A Steam/PC/console hybrid? optimized performance? uhhh... yes please. curious to see what price this thing might come in at.  
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5. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 11:33 wtf_man
 
Yay! Another "Phantom" console!  
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4. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 11:27 Creston
 
It makes no sense to go into the hardware business. There's barely any money to be made in it, margins are cut-throat, there's dozens of competitors, it's diametrically opposite to their core (and really, their ONLY) business, which is digital delivery, and finally, I assume a sizable portion of their customer base already has a box capable of playing (the majority of) Steam games.

Unless they think that their biometric feedback device is going to be such an out-of-the-park smash, and they want to pair it up with their own hardware, I think this is just a strange decision. And raise hands all of those who are interested in a biometric feedback device?

Creston
 
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3. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 11:27 The Half Elf
 
I'm slightly interested but at the same time sorta scratching my head.  
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"I've never seen a feature like this before. It warms your ass. It's wonderful" -Walter Bishop
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2. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 11:26 Zzet
 
Curious; Steam on a console is actually a viable idea given the nature of the service. If Microsoft can make Windows 8 work well with existing games, it might be an interesting alternative to an XBox 720.

The most attractive thing I can think of however is that if the competing services statement is correct, indie developers might be able to make their games available without having to program for an entirely different platform. All that would be necessary is a competing service that doesn't try to have everything Steam has, but instead offers all the other small games that would otherwise only be known to dedicated PC gamers.

Assuming, of course, this isn't just a rumour.
 
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1. Re: Steam Hardware Plans? Mar 3, 2012, 11:20 [VG]Reagle
 
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaa is Gabe up tooooooooooo?  
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I am MUCH MUCH better now.
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139 Replies. 7 pages. Viewing page 7.
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