Rumour: Maybe Valve Is Making A Console

Respected tech journo Joshua Topolsky is putting it all out there over at The Verge, reporting that the chatter about Valve Software getting into the hardware business isn't a tease.

He says Valve is making a console and that we're going to be finding out about it real soon, maybe next week at the Game Developers Conference, or maybe in June at E3.

This one's wild.

The Valve console — which seems like more of a hardware standard than say, a Steam 64 or ValveStation — would be a set-top box that can run PC games and use Steam or even competing services such as Origin, according to the report. Unlike, the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, multiple manufacturers could be allowed to make it. Game developers wouldn't have to pay for a licensing fee to Valve for the privilege of making games for this console, bucking the standards of Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, which charge game creators to make games on theirs.

The box would support configurable game controllers as well as a bracelet or some other sensor that would incorporate a player's biometric data to affect games (similar to how Nintendo's never-released Vitality Sensor was supposed to read a players bloodflow and stress to tweak the way a game played out in real-time.)

According to Topolsky:

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...

Part of the goal of establishing a baseline for hardware, we're told, is that it will give developers a clear lifecycle for their products, with changes possibly coming every three to four years. Additionally, there won't be a required devkit, and there will be no licensing fees to create software for the platform.

Topolsky builds his case by combining the rumours he's heard with recent statements from Valve boss Gabe Newell about a willingness for Valve to make hardware and a wariness about the expanding influence of Apple's closed, tightly-controlled App Store.

Read the whole piece. We've asked Valve for comment, and our ears are certainly perked up. If we hear more about this from anyone, we'll let you know.

Exclusive: Valve said to be working on 'Steam Box' gaming console with partners, could announce at GDC [The Verge]


Comments

    The PC/console console hybrid is an idea that's been around a while, but I don't quite see how it can be viable without subsidising the cost of the hardware, otherwise you just end up with an expensive PC that can't do everything a PC can.

    I'd love to know what the thoughts are regarding operating system as well. If they went with a non-Microsoft OS, that's making a big ask of developers to commit to yet another OS.

      Seems to have worked out pretty well for Apple. They built a computer using console traditions. They sold it as a PC substitute not a gaming device, but still they've pretty much done what Valve are proposing here.

    Well if it runs steam. Well most steam games are windows-based. So it would have to be running windows. If it's cheap I'd buy it. I need a good media centre for my tv since Sony locked down the PS3.

    A bronze computer that runs on water? Awesome. Since our beloved Queen Victoria died not enough R&D has been done into brass analytical engines. The advocates of silicon have for too long - directed funding towards their environmentally degrading and lower class empowering technologies.
    I for one welcome a return to steam based computing and urge my fellows to support this glorious technology. With support from users and proud Colonialists such as ourselves - we can once again forge an empire that Victoria would be proud of!!!!

    This is interesting sure, but why would I buy one? I have 2 of the 3 consoles and (will soon) have decent gaming PC. Unless they plan to make certain Valve games exclusive to the Steambox then I'm having trouble understanding why it needs to exist. I'd rather Steam integration in upcoming consoles based on a minimum specification.

      I believe it is intended to compete with the next gen of consoles, why would someone buy for example a xbox720, if valve manage to make the console affordable?

      Sknce

      Hit post by accident.
      Continued:
      Since it plays all pc games available, with a controller interface, and kb+m it can be picked up by the more casual gaming market, as just a superiour 'console'

      Perhaps we may even see valve paying to get rights for once exlcusive console games to come to pc and their console, as an exclusive to steam as well.

      Since it plays all pc games available, with a controller interface, and kb+m it can be picked up by the more casual gaming market, as just a superiour 'console'

      Perhaps we may even see valve paying to get rights for once exlcusive console games to come to pc and their console, as an exclusive to steam as well.

      Since it plays all pc games available, with a controller interface it can be picked up by the more casual gaming market, as just a superiour 'console'

      Perhaps we may even see valve paying to get rights for once exlcusive console games to come to pc and their console, as an exclusive to steam as well.

      The issue is that they can't have steam integration on consoles.

      Because consoles don't want them there at least not for what Valve would want to do. And that would be to have a market presence in those systems.

      Instead MS/Sony/Nintendo like the little world of control they have set up where every game has a license fee. Where they have complete control over when, how and at what price digital content is sold. The size of the stuff on the indy channel.

      And if Tim shcafer is to be believed it cost 40k just to apply a patch to a game. Thats sweet free cash for MS/Sony. Why would they risk losing that by giving Valve a foothold.

      The point is though it's not aimed at the likes of those with a Gaming PC. It's point is to act as a point of entry.

      It allows those who like gaming from the couch to continue doing so, it takes the hassle out of these people having to build their own stuff(which is the primary attraction of consoles) and it will have a set hardware level for X years.

      It also has some appeal to those of us with rigs. Tired and want to lie down on the couch to finish playing through skyrim. Open it up on the ValveBox, Your SteamCloud saves will let you continue to play the save file from your PC and then go back to the PC at any time.

      Want to stream movies from your PC install Boxee,XBMC or any other media player, No stupid codec conversion because console X doesn't support it. Have some Itunes DRM'd Movies well you can watch them now since you can install itunes on the thing.

      The lack of a proprietary system is the important part here in my mind.

      Taking the control away from the hardware developers is the essence of PC gaming.

      Will it work who knows. Probably the biggest factor will be how development ends up on the consoles next generation and how well it can be translated.

      Personally i hope it takes off. At the very least it's a step away from corporations dictating what we can and can't do with the system we paid for.

        corporations dictating what we can and can’t do with the system we paid for?

    This could explain why they've been so quiet lately...

    SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

    I was planning on building a PC to sit permanently next to the TV for playing games (most likely from Steam), but if they're releasing a Gabecube then it might be a nice alternative, as long as they don't lock it down too much.

      Gabecube... bahah!

    While i would personally support this the BIGGEST problem this is going to have is pricing. After reading that some people estimated that just the parts would cost anywhere between $550-$680 that is a lot of money, particularly in the US before it even lands here in Australia. Personally if they want this thing to take off and try and establish ground in the console market they need to launch under $725 at the most.

    The other problem they most likely are going to face is why am i paying the extra money? I mean with most multi-platform games these days being primarily developed on either the 360 or PS3 all developers are going to do is put a port on the steam box like they do with any of their PC ports. It may look about 5-10% better but to most consumers that is not worth $700US when you can get the same experience on a 360 that costs less then $150. The only 2 real multi-platform games that really took advantage of the PC last year were Crysis 2 and Battlefield 3 which both looked infinitely better on PC but don't appear on the steam store because their TOS goes against EA's DLC policy. The only thing that i can think where the steam box is going to excel is that it truly will have a massive library, with so many indie games on there...

      Are you saying that when a new console comes out that it can't price it above $725, don't kid yourself, remember when the PS3 came out, it was $1000. It may look about 5-10% better but to most consumers that is not worth $700US when you can get the same experience on a 360 that costs less then $150." Please, a i7, 8GB of ram and a nivida GPU, that'll be 220% better or even more, clearly you don't know the specs of the consoles. I agree with you on the POPULAR multi-platform games like Crysis 2 and Battlefield 3 but there are others that suite the audiences fancy like Modern Warfare 3, Skyrim, Syndicate, Portal 2, etc etc.

      Your saying this as if this console will come out against the 360/PS3. Most likely this thing won't show up until just before or at the next generation. At which point that price discrepancy becomes less of an issue.

      As for parts i think people are forgetting when you mass produce the same device cost's do go down. The parts might cost X now. But they will have them at a lower price when building in bulk.

      Then there are the fact that you can suddenly play any PC title you want. Even the proper Minecraft with whatever mods you want if that's what you want to do.

      The biggest issue i think they'll have is the fact that Gamestop/eb/game won't want to sell the console. It would essentially be anti-profit to them. since it's unlikely used games would be available due to the nature of the system

    so, it's a PC?!
    awesome. some company is making a PC. wait. what.
    who gives a shit?

      BEEEEP WRONG!

      The biggest downside for PC gaming is the fact that 80% of the people are stupid to understand their hardware and software which destroys their experience.

      This will work tremendously. Having a standard system for PC gaming would help that area greatly. Sure you can call it a PC more than a Console. But it's offering a standard for all those people who don't want all the hassle. I can easily see this being a great success.

      Who wouldn't want an easy to setup 'console' that offers the superior quality in gaming, without the hassle?

        How about the fact that 100% of that 'fact' you just pulled out of your arse is bullshit?

        I disagree with your "fact". I, like many people, am more than intelligent enough to "understand" all the hardware in a PC, but choosing to spend my time caring about it is a completely different matter.

      Your console is nothing more than a PC anyway.

      The only thing that it differs in. Is that it's all proprietary. Whoever makes the console has complete control. You want to release a game on their console give them a cut. You want digital sales on their console you must adhere to their rules and regulations(Such as MS being anti free DLC) or the size limits on the indy channel.

      Valve allegedly is proposing a console that would basically run exactly the same except the user would have choice. They don't have to use Steam if they want, Origin is viable. they can by their games from GoG.com. They can run the media of their choosing when they want regardless of codec or DRM. Like Itunes for music you can use that instead of the propriatary players each console has.

      Don't want a dashboard full of ad's you can have that too.

      The point of their console would be to separate the Hardware and Software sides of the business. Currently the Hardware manufacturers dictate all the rules that software has to follow and generally offers little to no choice(No reason to drop the price of digital releases since no one else can undercut your pricing)

        The important thing is not that a console is proprietary hardware, it is that is Defined hardware.

    I believe it. With its strong digital distribution network and legion of loyal fans, Valve is uniquely positined to make this happen. With the way that PC sales have been slipping over the years, it only makes sense for Valve to try and exert some influence to keep PC gaming alive and kicking. The alternative is for PC gaming to suffer a slow death, and force Vavle to surrender to the whims of console manufacturers.

    As for me personally, though I own a gaming PC currently, I'd absolutely buy something like this. I'm over dealing with the setup and maintenance costs of a modern PC; give me something ready to go with a strong digital distribution network and support for keyboard and mouse controls, and I'll be very happy.

    I do not like valve, I hope their console goes the way of the saturn.

      Valve is GOD when it comes to PC Gamers, and overall game quality. They support their products years beyond its release date.

    Is this going to be released before or after Episode 3?

    Seriously Valve get your head out of your ass.

    Rumor: Maybe Valve will release HL3.

    Anyone with a computer connected to the internet already has a valve console :P I mean you can use the steam and/or origin services already, download/"legally" get console games and run emulators on it and use various controllers with a USB interface to play said games. Although the premise of a solely "computer oriented gaming console" would be nice, it would have to be absolutely revolutionary and mind f-ingly good for end users to buy it and use it. Otherwise they would just use their normal computers to play their games.

    Not bashing Valve or the steam service here, because I am a loyal fan and customer of theirs, but if they do make a console, it would need to be something we as PC/Mac/computer gamers can easily migrate to, use and be familiar with and of course, be affordable to regular people.

    The best part about this (if its true) is that the competition will force the other companies to change up their tactics and policies in order to keep up. I'm sure a lot of developers aren't too happy about paying $40,000 just for a game patch.

    No thanks, I don't want to update it just to turn it on.

    I'm thinking that it will just be a specifically branded PC in a mini case, maybe configured to boot straight into Steam, but with a standard set of hardware that developers can aim for.

    Then games can be labelled as "Compatible with GabeCube 1.0" then in a couple of years they can bring out GabeCube 2.0 and newer games can have settings for that, as well as a lower standard for 1.0. Then they can release upgrade packs to turn your GabeCube 1.0 into a 2.0.

    This will still allow people to build their own custom PCs, but for those who can't be bothered messing around with that they can just buy a 'standard' one that they know will play all the latest games.

    It needs to have a valve that you use to turn it on and off.

    It's amazing how late Kotaku is sometimes with news.

    This is a very bad idea - even if it's decked out with awesome hardware.
    It'll still suffer from the same issues as other consoles, that being the hardware will become outdated in two or three years.

      Not sure if serious.
      If you read you can see an answer.
      "Part of the goal of establishing a baseline for hardware, we’re told, is that it will give developers a clear lifecycle for their products, with changes possibly coming every three to four years. "

      "give developers a clear lifecycle for their products, with changes possibly coming every three to four years."

      "changes possibly coming every three to four years."

      "three to four years."

    No matter how this goes, it will be great for all gamers. Atleast xbox/playstation will want to adapt in hopes of keeping their marketshare.
    It wont make a difference to Nintendo though. Those dudes are obviously happy doing their own thing.

    Personally I dont feel very loyal to any company and if a console can give me downloadable games with cheap prices and lets me do more pc related things with greater ease, I am all theirs.

    this would solve all the console vs pc arguments forever, all they have to do is make it simple for the console folk and they are onto a winner. it looks to me like it could change gaming forever imo, the lines between console and pc were blurred there for a bit but once again with fps titles becoming so big their differences are more well defined, give everyone the choice between console or pc controls on a box and the sky is the limit

    DO NOT WANT.

    Anyone who has purchased a PC anytime since 2004 can run any game Valve makes. Way past time they made a new game engine. Source is freaking ancient now.

      It's not just for Valve games?

      Did you know that it's actually possible to upgrade an engine incrementally without announcing that it's a new shiny version every year? Technology sure is amazing.

        Just what a smart company that is focussed on creating fantastic games would probably do, you'd think.

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