Valve might be secretly developing 'Steam Box' PC gaming console

Valve CEO Gabe Newell already spilled the beans on his interest in building hardware, but is the company behind PC gaming's popular Steam platform really gearing up to bump heads with Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo? We've compiled the rumors for you to call it legit or not.

Late last Friday, the well-informed The Verge exclusively reported that Valve is "actively pursuing a strategy which would place Steam at the center of an open gaming universe that mirrors what Google has done with Android." Since then, the weekend's been nothing but a dash to scrounge up info on the project.

The "Steam Box"

According to the tech blog's sources, a hand-built "Steam Box" was floated around CES 2012 to gauge interest from potential partners. The PC gaming "console" is reported to pack an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and an Nvidia graphics chip. The Verge believes that Alienware's X51 may have been a template for what Valve wants with its on system.

Because the system is part of an "open gaming platform," so to speak, the "Steam Box" would technically also be able to run competing game distribution services such as EA's Origin, which would mean the PC would run some type of Windows (in the background, at least).

Excited by all the news, gaming blog Kotaku did a little digging and discovered that back in November, Valve employee Greg Coomer actually built and tweeted a small console-sized PC gaming machine with specs that match up perfectly with The Verge's report.

Was Coomer working on Valve's "Steam Box?" You judge for yourself:

valve-steambox-rumor-prototype.jpg

According to Coomer's tweet, "Built this tiny PC. i7 quad core, 8GB ram, Zotac Z-68 mobo w/ onnboard [sic] Nvidia mobile gfx. Runs Portal 2 FAST."

Before you start throwing money at your screen and nothing happens, know that Kotaku's tipster believes Coomer's PC was built to demo Valve's Big-Picture-Mode that was announced at CES 2012. It might be nothing more than a demo machine.

Even nuttier is The Verge's report that Valve's not aiming just at Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, but its looking to compete and destroy Apple's Apple TV encroachments into the living room space.

The Controller

Here's where things get really crazy. Although The Verge believes that the "Steam Box" will support USB peripherals, its controller will likely be proprietary with "swappable components." Does that sound familiar? Sounds a lot like Mad Catz's MLG Pro Circuit Controller with modular analogs, D-pad and weights, doesn't it?

It's possible that Valve's controller isn't something from fairy land. As pointed out by The Verge and detailed by Kotaku, Valve has a patent for a modular controller that it filed for in 2009.

valve-modular-controller-2009-patent.jpg

If you have time to burn, it might be worth checking out Valve's patent on the controller over at the USPTO's website.

The Skinny

Valve hasn't commented on any of this weekend chatter just yet, but The Verge believes the Steam Box could make a showing at this week's Game Developer Conference or June's E3 game expo.

The bigger question on our mind is, if Valve is serious about getting its own game box out there and into millions of living rooms, how much would it sell these for?

Based on the Alienware X51, the specs for such a box would cost at least $1150. We understand that PC gamers are more willing to spend top dollar for their gaming experiences, but remember, many gamers shunned the $600 launch PS3 and that thing was packed to the gills back then.

UPDATE: According to Kotaku (via Giant Bomb), Valve s not making a Steam Box.

"All of that is stuff that we're working on, but it's a long way from Valve shipping any sort of hardware."

That puts an end to that rumor.

Via The Verge

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