Rumour: Valve working on a "Steam Box" console

Once upon a time, it was that annoying updater bundled with your brand new copies of Half Life 2. You couldn't play your new game without getting this Steaming pile of... matter to work properly. Oh, how the years have gone by and we're enjoying crazy Steam sales with minigames emptying our wallets in our crazy pursuit of achievements, or remarking how cool it is to get a game working on Windows, Mac OS X, and oh yes, the PS3. Just by making one single purchase.

Granted, for now only the Portal 2 PS3 copy can lay claim to elegant platform ubiquity. But what if Valve were to make this possibility happen on an entirely new bit of hardware for your living room (or a dorm room, if applicable) setup?

That's what a new exclusive report from The Verge is speculating. Recall last year, when Valve revealed a new "big picture" mode for Steam, whereby gamers can enjoy their favourite Steam games from the comfort of their couch, provided the game they're playing has controller support.

That bit isn't new, but what is new are reports that Valve is working with hardware manufacturers to develop a standardized specification for what a Steam Box should be like. Kind of like Google's relationship with their Android partners. According to The Verge, said baseline specifications are what you'd get in a beefy PC: a Core i7 CPU, 8 gigabytes of RAM, and some NVIDIA video card.

Of course, considering Steam Boxes are essentially fancified desktop computers, the box can run any PC game out there (including those that require a Steam competitor to run or update), and - thank the heavens - no licensing fees or expensive devkits. Indie developers rejoice!

There's also this new patent from Valve that The Verge dug up. It appears to be a proprietary controller, but with some biometric additions and the ability to customize the controller based on the game type. Barring that, the Steam Box will still accept traditional USB controllers.

We might hear more about this in the upcoming Game Developers Conference next week, or maybe E3 in the spring. In the meantime, it would be nice for them to have some example of a desktop PC modeled like a console. (Oh wait, there is.)

Image Credit (drawing): The Verge

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

More information on Firefox for Windows 8 revealed

Next Story

Free color cover offered for Nokia Lumia 710 US owners

41 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Some of you are missing the probable point here. It isn't just so they stay relevant. What people fail to see is that valve is quite like amazon, they can afford to lose money for advertisement and content pushing, that's exactly what this would be. PC's at way cheaper prices than they should be so they can get you to spend money in steam.
Basically a steam version of kindle fire.

I kind of hope Valve does try something like this. Then, maybe they'll lose their shirt and COLLAPSE as a company. I despise Steam and I despise Valve FOR it and what they've done to ruin what started out as good games. I wish valve would go the way of the dinosaur.

Im loving this idea of selling folk small form factor pcs as a branded console. Should of been done years ago, but at the prices AlienWare were asking for the performance were still at a point where you have to ask could they do it as cheap as say Nintendo?

If we see some sort of £400 box that,ll run anything steam then that would be amazing, but I doubt it, I really do. More like £600+

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
Great...just great. Another console to hold back PC gaming and graphics. Great job Steam!

goddamn valve for holding the entire gaming community back.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,

Wouldn't say that but another console aint helping PC gaming thats for sure.

who said a valve box would be more like a console than like a pc? when/if it comes out then the real fun talks will start.

rumors are amazing!

tomasarson said,

who said a valve box would be more like a console than like a pc? when/if it comes out then the real fun talks will start.

rumors are amazing!

Unless they will release a new version of it each year it'll be a failure. Why should I pay Steam for a Console/PC hybrid if I could just build one on my own and for less money?

alwaysonacoffebreak said,

Wouldn't say that but another console aint helping PC gaming thats for sure.

At the minimum, it could be a regular PC with Steam preloaded (and set to automatically start in big screen mode). Then this whole Steam Box thing would really come down to dressing up a PC well enough to convince consumers of the viability of PC gaming.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,

Unless they will release a new version of it each year it'll be a failure. Why should I pay Steam for a Console/PC hybrid if I could just build one on my own and for less money?

but unless you PAY money to upgrade your video card every year your pc graphics will stay the same.

this is all rumors but all you're doing is ****ting on valve.

Denis W said,

At the minimum, it could be a regular PC with Steam preloaded (and set to automatically start in big screen mode). Then this whole Steam Box thing would really come down to dressing up a PC well enough to convince consumers of the viability of PC gaming.

So..let me get this straight, You'll buy a PC from Steam that comes with a console like controller and a pre-loaded steam app? Well yeah thats a smart buy..Like I said, Fail.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,

So..let me get this straight, You'll buy a PC from Steam that comes with a console like controller and a pre-loaded steam app? Well yeah thats a smart buy..Like I said, Fail.

i don't see any comments that said we would be first in line to buy it.

but i'm not going to doubt a company that has done nothing but good for the gaming community,

tomasarson said,

i don't see any comments that said we would be first in line to buy it.

but i'm not going to doubt a company that has done nothing but good for the gaming community,

I neve said it'll be bad. I, myself, just don't see the point in it.

tomasarson said,

but unless you PAY money to upgrade your video card every year your pc graphics will stay the same.


almost like what we do now


alwaysonacoffebreak said,

So..let me get this straight, You'll buy a PC from Steam that comes with a console like controller and a pre-loaded steam app? Well yeah thats a smart buy..Like I said, Fail.

I said at minimum, for average customers. I personally wouldn't get it if it were that.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
Great...just great. Another console to hold back PC gaming and graphics. Great job Steam!

without trying to get into the flame wars, I do think its an interesting idea but has to be done right. Valve have a good understanding of pc gaming and I doubt (unless under considerable stress) they'd make a stupid move. That said its a tricky one to get right as in the living room its a balance of looks, price and performance. Others have said it'll be expensive for an i7 8gb ram and decent gpu in a box, it'll be a nice looking box but a box none the less, that you may or may not be able to use for regular computing (windows or not).

End of the day, its a god dam rumour and everyone needs to chill the f**k out. Jesus!

duddit2 said,

without trying to get into the flame wars, I do think its an interesting idea but has to be done right. Valve have a good understanding of pc gaming and I doubt (unless under considerable stress) they'd make a stupid move. That said its a tricky one to get right as in the living room its a balance of looks, price and performance. Others have said it'll be expensive for an i7 8gb ram and decent gpu in a box, it'll be a nice looking box but a box none the less, that you may or may not be able to use for regular computing (windows or not).

End of the day, its a god dam rumour and everyone needs to chill the f**k out. Jesus!

I'm guessing when they release it that little thing won't have no OS kind of a thing on it. Just Steam overlay when you switch it on and it'll just boot up the game You want to play. Just a guess

valve is one of the last gaming companies that i don't feel weird/unsure about backing 100%.

i could be wrong, but i haven't seen anything like that from them yet.

they back the user, and that's why they're so succesful.

Due to the Mac App Store and Windows 8 Store, Steam is no longer relevant for downloads in future OS's. In order to stay relevant and not die off, they have to adapt and innovate to stay relevant. This could be a last ditch effort to stay relevant in the future.

Tech Star said,
Due to the Mac App Store and Windows 8 Store, Steam is no longer relevant for downloads in future OS's. In order to stay relevant and not die off, they have to adapt and innovate to stay relevant. This could be a last ditch effort to stay relevant in the future.

so you're saying you won't be able to use steam once the app store for mac is there or once windows 8 has their app store?

you are totally wrong.

Steam will always be better than generic app stores, simply because Steam is dedicated to games while app stores aren't.

You think the App store in Win8 is going to offer a friends list or keep track of achievements?

The_Decryptor said,
Steam will always be better than generic app stores, simply because Steam is dedicated to games while app stores aren't.

You think the App store in Win8 is going to offer a friends list or keep track of achievements?

I maybe wrong doesn't the game tile already do this?

tomasarson said,

so you're saying you won't be able to use steam once the app store for mac is there or once windows 8 has their app store?

you are totally wrong.

No, you can, but people will think "why not just buy from the Windows Store? Why do I need another App to get the same thing, and achievements added to my Xbox Live Account?"

The_Decryptor said,
Steam will always be better than generic app stores, simply because Steam is dedicated to games while app stores aren't.

You think the App store in Win8 is going to offer a friends list or keep track of achievements?


As of right now its better than the Windows Store, but as time progresses and more and more users start using Windows Store on future OS's, the need for a 3rd party download service will be over. All under one roof.

Tech Star said,

As of right now its better than the Windows Store, but as time progresses and more and more users start using Windows Store on future OS's, the need for a 3rd party download service will be over. All under one roof.

the fact that you think a monopoly is better blows my mind.

i will always take competition to make everyone better over that.

i love windows and most ms stuff but they aren't even close to making me want to use them soley for any kind of gaming.

tomasarson said,

the fact that you think a monopoly is better blows my mind.

i will always take competition to make everyone better over that.

i love windows and most ms stuff but they aren't even close to making me want to use them soley for any kind of gaming.

Who said I think its better? I just said that, that is what is going to happen.

You may keep using Steam, but new users and the future generation of children won't have a reason to use Steam or even know about it, when all they need is the Windows Store to get what they need.

Unless Steam innovates and expands to other markets they will be killed off later down the line years from now.

Tech Star said,

Who said I think its better? I just said that, that is what is going to happen.

You may keep using Steam, but new users and the future generation of children won't have a reason to use Steam or even know about it, when all they need is the Windows Store to get what they need.

Unless Steam innovates and expands to other markets they will be killed off later down the line years from now.

i'm glad you can predict the future.

and people will have a reason to use steam.

a lot of developers don't want to hand over 30% just for the "privilege" of being in the app store.

i don't want to live in an apple world.

i should just quit talking if you don't think steam is innovative.

tomasarson said,

i'm glad you can predict the future.

and people will have a reason to use steam.

a lot of developers don't want to hand over 20% just for the privilage for being in the app store.

i don't want to live in an apple world.

i should just quit talking if you don't think steam is innovative.

Innovative how? What can it do, that Microsoft Store or the Mac App Store can't do? Offer downloads?

Once again I will state it, UNLESS they want to be killed off, they must innovate and move to other markets to keep their name/brand/software alive. This is just the beginning.

Tech Star said,

Innovative how? What can it do, that Microsoft Store or the Mac App Store can't do? Offer downloads?

Once again I will state it, UNLESS they want to be killed off, they must innovate and move to other markets to keep their name/brand/software alive. This is just the beginning.

yup. i'm done. you win.

Call me when Microsoft can get gamers to spend like drunken sailors on games, or can offer free multiplatform ports. Also remind me when they improve Games for Windows Live beyond what it currently is (or if it will integrate with the Windows Store), then we can worry about who is being relevant.

Perhaps what I'm getting at here is that half the equation of being 'innovative' is the features you list on your product. The other half is getting people to buy into your ecosystem and retain them through loyalty.

Melfster said,

I maybe wrong doesn't the game tile already do this?

I have no idea, but even then that isn't the app store, it's separate (and most likely powered by GfWL, which sucks)

Tech Star said,
Due to the Mac App Store and Windows 8 Store, Steam is no longer relevant for downloads in future OS's. In order to stay relevant and not die off, they have to adapt and innovate to stay relevant. This could be a last ditch effort to stay relevant in the future.

/of trolling. First of all, the games from the Store are pathetic (or atleast most of them), Steam is dedicated to the Games 100%. Also Steam will work as long as Valve will produce good games, Steam was initially created to replace the Sierra's partnership. So, behind this a lot of users got like 10/15+games on Steam, so why would they move away?

The_Decryptor said,
Steam will always be better than generic app stores, simply because Steam is dedicated to games while app stores aren't.

You think the App store in Win8 is going to offer a friends list or keep track of achievements?

no but live does so it all depends on the game industry... on xbox/ps titles achievements are a given, it doesn't cost nothing to bring it to every PC game - for some it's already there... just look MS Flight or AoE Online

steam in its current form is derelict... of course its a process that takes years but if Valve does not do a shift of paradigm steam will become obsolete

Morden said,

no but live does so it all depends on the game industry... on xbox/ps titles achievements are a given, it doesn't cost nothing to bring it to every PC game - for some it's already there... just look MS Flight or AoE Online

steam in its current form is derelict... of course its a process that takes years but if Valve does not do a shift of paradigm steam will become obsolete

Steam is in no way "derelict", and I don't know how you could think that.

tomasarson said,

so you're saying you won't be able to use steam once the app store for mac is there or once windows 8 has their app store?

you are totally wrong.


no, he's saying it will be less relevant.

Denis W said,
Call me when Microsoft can get gamers to spend like drunken sailors on games, or can offer free multiplatform ports. Also remind me when they improve Games for Windows Live beyond what it currently is (or if it will integrate with the Windows Store), then we can worry about who is being relevant.

Perhaps what I'm getting at here is that half the equation of being 'innovative' is the features you list on your product. The other half is getting people to buy into your ecosystem and retain them through loyalty.

Exactly. The entire notion that this upcoming rubbish in Windows 8 will in any way replace Steam is a joke.

Xbox live/GfwL on the PC is an utter farce, even if they somehow manage to make a system that isn't a cancer on the games it's included with, they will still fail to address the core issue; Valve are customer-centric, not profit-centric.

To be quite honest I wouldn't be at all surprised if both Windows 8 and this new XboxPC Live push they're making fall flat on their faces, and Valve breaks into a new niche that blurs the line between console and PC.

Smart. They could do well if they can bring us some nice keyboard and mouse support. Something the other guys ignore. Doesn't need to be revolutionary, just cater to everyone else.