Shooting Down Rumors, Valve Says They’re Not Making A Game Console Any Time Soon

Shooting Down Rumors, Valve Says They’re Not Making A Game Console Any Time Soon

Delay those dreams of a Steam Box competing with a PlayStation, Xbox or Wii. Valve Software is not making a gaming console in the near future and that the various rumours swirling around don’t add up to them making their own set-top box.

“We’re prepping the Steam Big Picture Mode UI and getting ready to ship that, so we’re building boxes to test that on,” he said, referring to a new Steam interface that will make the online gaming service easily useable for people who want to play Steam games on a PC that’s connected to their TV. “We’re also doing a bunch of different experiments with biometric feedback and stuff like that, which we’ve talked about a fair amount.

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

Lombardi refused to flat-out say that Valve isn’t working on a console. When I posted it to him this way — “What you’re saying is, there’s definitely nothing coming any time soon, nothing at GDC or E3, but what you’re not ruling out is the possibility that, hey, maybe some day Valve would make hardware. “-he said, “I think that’s accurate.”

Rumors of an impending Steam Box have heated over the last week, since leading tech site The Verge reported that Valve was working on a console that it would develop in partnership with various hardware manufacturers, similar to Google’s approach with the Android platform. Some of the evidence cited were patents for configurable controllers and rumours of an incorporation of Valve’s public interest in tracking and reacting to player’s biometrics into a Steam console. The Verge report also cited a hardware spec that turned out to match that of a PC built last fall by Valve’s Greg Coomer. Could that have been a prototype, we had wondered?

“Greg’s one of the guys leading the effort of the Big Picture mode,” Lombardi said. “The idea is that you can take Steam to any display. What we’re trying to do is say, ‘here’s a box that we’re going to use for testing that’s common for Big Picture mode and get performance at a base level.’… We’re always putting boxes together. Going all the way back to the Half-Life 1 days, we built special boxes to test our software render… it’s just part of development.”


  • This whole thing was a complete media beat up. Evidence for:

    – Guy who works at Valve builds a PC.
    – 3 year old patent

    Evidence against:

    – No actual sources
    – No clear business case
    – Ignores profitability of Steam currently
    – Could achieve supposed goals without actually releasing console

    • Profitability of steam is an irrelevant point.

      Generally how businesses work. Is that 1) they move into market A and make money. 2) They become profitable to the extent that expansion is possible) 3) They see Market B and say how can we make money there. 4) They attempt to move into market B either to success or failure. 5) return to step 2.

      If anything Steam would be the primary factor moving this forward. Since within the next 10 years we are going to see an even greater focus on the digital markets. Currently the consoles have a stranglehold. Whoever sold you the box get’s all the digital sales period.

      By establishing a beach head in the console market with an open format in mind(Steam,Orgin, Capsule,Impulse, unalligned). They open themselves up to entirely new markets and hence more business.

      Big Picture Mode is likely the first toe in the water to see if the market’s there what usability issues arise etc etc.

      Also care to elaborate on achieving supposed goals without releasing a console.

      MS and Sony aren’t going to let Steam/Origin/etc to establish themselves as storefront’s on their consoles. They aren’t after the PC gamer market who know how to build themselves a PC to hook up to there TV. They are after the console market, those who don’t know how to connect a CPU to a Motherboard, getting them to transition away from the restrictive systems. They can still provide benefits to the PC gamers that fostered them. Since if successful, games would come out on the box which would be able to switch between the 2 systems(if the box ran windows(which to achieve what they need would basically be necessary).

      The difference is that now isn’t the time to be entering the market, hell if i was them there is no reason to announce until after the next generation has a set of release dates. Since that is what they need to compete against releasing before them will leave them dead i the water due to costs.

      • Exactly. Thanks for savings the trouble of typing this up.

        But they’re a public company, right? If they’re planning this on the down low, they can’t just lie.

      • I could explained that point better. The reason I raise that issue is because releasing a console is a loss-leader. Sony and Microsoft were only able to do it because they receive royalties for every game released on the console. From the reports, Steam wouldn’t be able to do this because they want it open platform. They’d just be releasing a device that can’t return a profit. It won’t capture the current console market due to expense, and it wouldn’t capture the PC market if they locked it to steam.

        Much more likely is the setting of standard specs for games released over say the next three years. It would improve their market dramatically if people could just buy a pre-built machine basically guaranteed to run everything for the next three years.

        • Though if the rumors are to be believed Valve really only plans on setting up an architecture that can then be utilized by anyone willing to release it.

          So while consoles and the like might be loss-leaders. There is the chance that a company might take the steam box specifications. Then add in a HD-TV Tuner so it can record your TV shows. Play your Blu-Ray etc. Essentially merging the console we know now into people’s home theatre systems.

          Where as Sony has gone, no your home theatre system should be our console. Which becomes rather restrictive if your trying to achieve anything the PS3 can’t do.

          But yeah. Selling the Boxes is probably the riskiest part there is.

          But i guess the question is if your not designing the proprietary systems in the way Sony/MS do. And just plugging it together like a PC. Could the fact that it would be using products destined for the consumer market bring that cost down.

          But it’ll be a wait and see approach i guess. Personally i hope they at least try or someone else takes a run at it. I have a bunch of what are essentially Media PC’s hooked up to each TV in my house. I don’t see any reason why if this system was designed properly they couldn’t be replaced by that(And odds are the valvebox would probably be on par with what i paid to build them

    • I don’t think it was a media beatup at all.

      I think it makes perfect sense for Valve to design/license a SteamBox, or at least the specification for one.

      I BADLY WANT a SteamBox in my lounge room. PC games I can play with my (360) controller.

      What I DON’T WANT is a PC, Monitor, Keyboard and Mouse in my lounge room.

      I want a CONSOLE that plays PC games, but without PSN/XBL restrictions.

      And I think Valve will be producing such a thing.

      • There’s also the advantage that if using cloud saves. One could play some skyrim on his PC. But then later just want’s to lounge about on the sofa and he can boot up skyrim and pick up right where he left it. Instead of having to play something different because they don’t feel like sitting up right

  • Big Picture Mode will be great.

    Even if I hook my PC up to a 40″ TV I sometimes have to squint to see what I’m doing on Steam.

  • I only have my PC hooked up to my Samsung 40″ LED, Steam looks & works spot on to me. What will the “big picture mode” do?

    • An ideal Big Picture Mode allows you (or your couch buddy) to interact with the interface without a keyboard and mouse.

      i.e. to do everything with a game controller or remote.

      No small text, no fussy widgets. Complete operation AND gameplay from 10 feet across the room.

      i.e. the flexibility and ease-of-use of Consoles and STBs, without all the cruft and fuss and problems.


  • Of course they are not going to come out and openly admit to developing a console but i did have my doubts about this.


Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!