Is This A Photo Of Valve's Rumoured Console, Or At Least A Prototype?

Less than 24 hours since the website The Verge reported that Valve is working on a video game console, we've got what could be a photo of a prototype unit.

The image comes from the Twitter feed of Valve employee Greg Coomer. It was Tweeted on November 2, with the caption: "Built this tiny PC. i7 quad core, 8GB ram, Zotac Z-68 mobo w/ onnboard Nvidia mobile gfx. Runs Portal 2 FAST."

Yesterday, The Verge reported that Valve was making a console — or at least a hardware standard — for Valve-supported gaming an that: " We're told that the basic specs of the Steam Box include a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU."

The specs line up.

But take this with a grain of salt.

I can't confirm that the Valve is really making a console (they've not replied to a request for comment). Nor can I confirm that Coomer was working on such a project. But the specs match well enough to suggest that whatever The Verge thinks Valve is up to matches what Coomer was up to on November 2.

I was tipped the image earlier this evening, by an eager tipster of unknown identity who said they wanted to share more details. They urged a quick reply, and when none came as quickly as hoped, they followed-up with the following about Coomer:

There's this one Valve veteran who was definitively too chatty in the past. His name is Greg Coomer (http://www.valvesoftware.com/company/people.html), he's a product designer and leading the SteamBox-team, which is pretty unspectacular in size with just 5-10 people working on it. Now, Greg sometimes tweets interesting stuff:

(in a non-chronological order)

Date: 22 Oct 2011 Link: https://twitter.com/#!/gregcoomer/status/127560965821693952 Tweet: "What I'm working on: http://t.co/jDLQnxvl" Note: Read the article and especially Gabe's statements. It's obviously about a possible Valve console.

Date: 14 Oct 2011 Link: https://twitter.com/#!/gregcoomer/status/124651468501434371 Tweet: "Building a mini-ITX form factor PC is hard. Even things like wiring the power supply are not standard or straightforward." Note: Well ...

Date: 3 Nov 2011 Link: https://twitter.com/#!/gregcoomer/media/slideshow?url=pic.twitter.com%2FuVdGOtZq Tweet: "Built this tiny PC. i7 quad core, 8GB ram, Zotac Z-68 mobo w/ onnboard Nvidia mobile gfx. Runs Portal 2 FAST." Note: This is the demo unit they used to demo the Big-Picture-Mode to possible hardware partners at CES 2012. This specification DOES NOT necessarily reflect what's going to be used as the "baseline" specification for the final product(s). (contrary to Joshes' story) That's just a snippet of all the information I've gathered about this project. However, I think these tweets pretty much confirm that Valve is actually working on a console (-like PC).

You may take screenshots of the tweets — just in case they get pulled.

While I was following up and trying to verify this information, the tipster spilled those same details onto the 4Chan message board.

There's plenty of reason to be sceptical here. The October 22 "What I'm working on" Tweet links to a Seattle Times interview with Valve boss Gabe Newell that includes speculation about Valve making hardware, but it is more generally about Newell's wariness of Apple's closed system. There are many things Coomer could have been working on that involved Newell's Apple concerns, though I should also note that The Verge said that Apple's closed system was a motivating factor for making this rumoured hardware.

The Coomer Tweets neither support nor refute The Verge's many other details about a configurable controller or an incorporation of biometric feedback into the gaming experience.

Is our eager tipster on to something? Or are they piecing together some extraordinary coincidences? I cannot verify their claims that there is a console team at Valve, let alone that it consists of a paltry 5-10 people.

I've asked Valve for comment about Coomer's involvement in hardware that matches what The Verge reported.

For now, one wild story just got wilder.


Comments

    looks like a personal project to me.

      A Core i7, 8GB and an NVidia GPU are not exactly unusual components for a gaming box.

        Yeah they're extremely unusual.

    Why would you direct link to 4chan. The link is already dead.

    I don't think Valve are making a console, but if they did, a mini PC with what would essentially be SteamOS that linked with your PC Steam Game List would be a welcome addition to the fray in my book. Especially if it really took off in a big way and EA were forced to release their games through Steam without the need for Origin.

      This would be awesome if true, Origin is a filthy thing

      I doubt that'll happen, since Valve's complaining about closed systems like iTunes and so on, so why would they become a closed system themselves? That plus supposedly the tip/leak/whatever says specifically that it'll be able to install and run services such as Origin.

      You obviously haven't read the rumors.

      Valve don't want to make the next Xbox.

      They want to remove the control of the Hardware producer over software. They want to remove the lag time that MS/Sony have for verifying games for their console. Remove the monopoly on sales/services.

      They suggest they would have no problem with people running Origin on the thing.

      Most likely you would be looking at a Windows based PC/Console Hybrid(which the average user could make now) Taking advantage of the fact that Consoles are becoming more like PC's anyway, and that PC development is looked on less favorably because of PC and it not being in the living room.

      A steam proprietary system would be pointless. It's already an ask to get developers to publish on the systems they do now. Since with every system acting slightly different they need a whole new set of people to deal with it.

      Instead by making it basically a PC with a defined Hardware level. You make it easy for developers to make games that run on that hardware or better. Providing a larger market share without all the hassle that the MS/Sony systems had(hell if schafer is to be believe i can't imagine companies are to happy with a 40k cost to roll out a patch)

    I see a 360 controller and a 360 usb receiver. Definately a PC home project.

      Or a we haven't created our own controller yet so let's use the one that natively works with a PC. And which most PC's support

    "But take this with a grain of salt."

    Talk about understatement of the year. A guy working for Steam builds a mini-pc with standard gaming specs. Let us connect this to the stupidly weak rumour about Valve building a console.

    could all of this just be related to valves "the big picture"?
    http://www.steampowered.com/steamworks/thebigpicture.php

    that's my guess anyway.

      was about to mention this. Although it is only just a rumour, it would really serve as a competitor to the Onlive service, only we own the games and it's in its own box, and benefit those not wanting to build a new pc since people are turning to use tablets and smaller netbooks for work and other use. I guess the only thing to do is wait and see what unfolds...if there is anything.

    Sounds to me like Valve are just gonna release a "gaming spec" benchline every few years. A baseline target for "steam compatible" hardware manufacturers (Alienware etc) and software developers.

      Valve have always gone for the digital market and with consoles becoming more like PC's in terms of functionality it'd be silly for them to become involved now with a dedicated console. IF they do, it'll just be a HTPC like the new Alienware X51 but I doubt they'll do anything soon. That plus the way MS are heading with the new xbox I wouldn't be surprised if all the games for it got a PC release because let's be honest, it won't be long before people run everything entertainment-wise form their computer. Full integration between media devices seems to be the sole purpose of Windows 8 so it's impact on everything else will definitely be felt. Valve will get involved in that at some point but the most interesting thing to see is how will Sony and Nintendo get involved?

        Yeah but Valve are against the level of control MS and Sony have.

        They dictate the pricing, what does and doesn't get released, game certification, no free DLC etc etc.

        If the rumors are true and they implement something along the lines of a straight windows PC. Allowing users to install anything they want, like old games from GoG, Origin, XBMC/Boxee. The things could have more versatility than either of the current console's do. While allowing the competition for selling content on the platform to exist.

        No more stupid your files must be in the allowed file format's because you could just download the codec to watch MKVs.

        There is a bunch of potential in a device like this and a lot of benefit's it could bring to industry. Valve are probably one of the few companies that could do this without being greedy moneywhores because the shareholders demand it

    It's just a compact case. I have two of the same sort myself.

    If anything i can only presume they are going to create some sort of rule set so companies like panasonic and sony can have a minimum requirement set of hardware in their system to be compatable with steam

    With smart TV's on the rise it only makes sence for you to be able to download steam and play small indie games like bindings of isaac, vvvvvv and others, obviously not graphics intensive games like skyrim or cod

    I think it's cute when journalists link to 4chan threads considering most of the threads don't last more than an hour, unless its a slow board.

    I think the original Verge articles "research" on the system specs was just them looking at the old twitter feed....

    I still think a Valve console is possible, they completely overturned PC gaming (our local Big W doesn't even have a PC section anymore, it just has a The Sims section), so they could easily do the same with consoles. I'm just not 100% convinced yet.

    I don't believe it, and even if it were true how are Valve going to distribute something like that?
    Order online and have it posted...?

      They'd go through the same channels they do for their boxed copies of games (TF2, Halflife, CS, Day of Defeat are all available in EB Games/Gametraders, even now)

    At least we know where the Verge guy was sourcing his material from....

    stupid post is stupid.

    The problem is if there is a steam OS, windows games will not play. so the machine needs to be a windows box with a new Steam UI, I doubt M$ will help steam try to steal the xbox market.
    So, You pay for a small (but powerfull) PC, and a windows licence. I can do that now...

    Am I reading that as an integrated GPU? What good is that?

      None enjoy your low graphics settings muhahaha

        Actually if you read carefully it's a mobile gpu which does not mean 100% it's just a basic gpu. Indeed, some of the high end mobile gpus such as the 580m can run any game on the market at least on high settings.

    Too bad the back pic of the motherboard is wrong

    I've always wanted a compy that's like a mash-up between a MacMini and a Airport Extreme.

    does that box have a build in router?

    The HL3 delay makes sense now. Launch title.

    Valve is just trolling while working on their real hardware project - a working portal gun!

    Mmm what I'd prefer over hardware is a dedicated OS. Imagine installing steam instead of windows. Cutting out all the fat, only having the necessary drivers and your games installed. Could potentially run so smooth!

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