Valve to beta test first hardware product in 2013

Valve recently launched the public beta test for the Big Picture mode on its Steam PC game download service. The new UI is made to be used on a big screen TV and optimized for game controllers. There's been a ton of speculation that the next step is a Valve created PC-based game hardware device designed to work with the Big Picture mode.

In a new chat with Engadget, former hardware hacker, and now Valve employee Jeri Ellsworth, says that the first public beta test for whatever it is working on in its hardware department will start sometime in 2013. Valve is already testing the hardware prototypes in its offices and plans to give a few outsiders access to future prototype designs via a sign up process on Steam.

And what exactly will this hardware be like? Details are still sketchy but Ellsworth does admit that the team's goal for its first year is " ...to make Steam games more fun to play in your living room." That includes coming up with new ways to control Steam-based games that would normally require a mouse and keyboard. It will also work alongside the new Big Picture mode.

As far as Valve's plans to offer virtual reality gaming, that's still a long way off. Ellsworth admits that an actual consumer product that deals with wearable computing is "two to five years" away.

Source: Engadget | Image via Valve

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Very disappointed in the lack of any expressed interest in making this interface touch-ready. Steam can call it 'optimized for the living room' until they're blue in the face, but launch Big Picture mode from a Windows tablet device and rage at its total lack of responsiveness.

Beta arguments aside, even the regular Steam client gives you grief if you want to do something as simple as swipe scrolling within its browser. It's as if Valve is actively avoiding touch as input.

It would take very little to make Big Picture a unified tablet/TV interface, and it would do a lot for Steam's place on future Windows tablets. Gabe "hopes" he's wrong about them being failures, after all, right?

I would totally buy this. To be able to access my whole Steam collection easily from any TV would be a real bonus for me.

Well with screens getting bigger and some people (not really the hardcore gamers but the casual/experimental ones) using HD TV's to game on big picture makes sense. A dedicated "PC" gaming console would be cool too, take a lot of the guesswork out of getting a build going for those new to gaming, which is why many default to consoles. If it was coupled with a n easy to use/setup home theatre/streaming system then it could really eat as M$'s Xbox, esp if they push for the home theatre, not many people really see the full potential for XB as a home theatre

Not sure how you can disparage MS with an M$ meme as old as your grandma when the original Xbox was trying to do exactly the same thing Valve is trying to do now.

Frankly, every single prediction I can make about what Valve could possibly be trying to do here is in every single way identical to Microsoft's road map, just ten years later. The only difference is the unconditional love for Valve and refusal on anyone's part to criticize their actions, no matter what they are.

Unify an app platform across the desktop, living room, and mobile devices? Yeah, Microsoft's doing that, too (the Windows 8/9 NT kernel, coming soon to the next Xbox).

Build a console out computer while simultaneously gearing up development for the Linux platform that would be ideal for that same console so that some day a shared kernel could be used for the aforementioned ecosystem? Yeah, Microsoft's doing that, too, with the NT kernel.

Seriously, I'm fully expecting to hear, within the next 12 months, Valve revealing plans for a more deeply integrated smartphone experience. Whether it'll be Android or, say, Tizen, I'm not totally sure, but expect a Steam app ecosystem on a smartphone (not just the store for PC games--but mobile apps themselves) as part of Valve's roadmap.

Joshie said,

Frankly, every single prediction I can make about what Valve could possibly be trying to do here is in every single way identical to Microsoft's road map, just ten years later. The only difference is the unconditional love for Valve and refusal on anyone's part to criticize their actions, no matter what they are.

It's not identical for one simple reason.

Valve aren't trying to force the same generic UI on every part of the ecosystem.

Athernar said,

It's not identical for one simple reason.

Valve aren't trying to force the same generic UI on every part of the ecosystem.


Generic?

Joshie said,

Generic?

Modern UI, generic and boring. Just check the screenshots from PowerDVD, looks completely generic and you wouldn't notice you are in PowerDVD if it weren't for the name being written in a big font.

gonchuki said,

Modern UI, generic and boring. Just check the screenshots from PowerDVD, looks completely generic and you wouldn't notice you are in PowerDVD if it weren't for the name being written in a big font.

Oh, I get it. You were just digging for a chance to take a swipe at Microsoft.

Otherwise, you would've realized that Steam is primarily a gaming platform, and while it's true Valve doesn't impose a design language on the games it stocks, neither does Microsoft, and metro games--just like iOS and Android games--almost universally ignore design language and do their own thing, and they're free to do so.

But again, I realize you were just looking for whatever angle you could come up with to mutter about Microsoft. Otherwise you'd realize that Windows 8 applications can be designed in an as-yet unmeasured number of possible ways, and are just as capable of tool bars, lists, grids, and web-style layouts as any other application anywhere.

But hey, because lazy third-party developers have no sense of taste, that's surely a sign that Microsoft is tyrannically enforcing a narrow set of application layouts. Just like how the 150,000 Android apps that are laid out no differently than the system Settings menu are proof that Google is heavy-handedly enforcing it.

Joshie said,

Generic?

Yes, generic. The opposite of specific.

Having one UI for multiple methods of interaction is by very definition generic. As you've not created specific UIs for those different methods.

Come on people. I realise those that support 8 obviously don't have a clue when it comes to practical UI design, but this is fundamental stuff we're talking about.

Athernar said,

Yes, generic. The opposite of specific.

Having one UI for multiple methods of interaction is by very definition generic. As you've not created specific UIs for those different methods.

Come on people. I realise those that support 8 obviously don't have a clue when it comes to practical UI design, but this is fundamental stuff we're talking about.


Cuuuuute, you ignored my last post completely so you could stomp around with the same opinion. T-t-t-try again!