It's Official: Gabe Newell Shares Details About Valve's Steam Box

With the first of many "Steam Box" computers making its debut at CES, Valve boss Gabe Newell has really opened up to The Verge about his company's hardware plans, revealing that the range of gaming PCs might be even more ambitious than we would have imagined.

Some of the main things he touches on:

• Valve's own Steam Box (Gabe actually refers to it as this) will be sold by Valve and will run Linux, though you can install Windows on it if you want. "This is not some locked box by any stretch of the imagination", he says.

• The controller shipping with Valve's Steam Box won't use motion, but as expected, they will probably use some kind of biometric feedback. "Maybe the motion stuff is just failure of imagination on our part, but we're a lot more excited about biometrics as an input method." He also mentions gaze-tracking as being "super important".

• Valve wants you to make your own Steam stores. "Some people will create team stores, some people will creates Sony stores, some people will create stores with only games that they think meet their quality bar. Somebody is going to create a store that says 'these are the worst games on Steam.' So that's an example of where our thinking is leading us right now."

• The Steam Box - code-named "Bigfoot" at Valve - won't just be a PC. It'll be a server, too, with the near future enabling you to "have one PC and eight televisions and eight controllers and everybody getting great performance out of it". The LAN party just made a comeback. Only without all the cables.

There's way, way more stuff - all of it interesting reading - in the full interview.

Exclusive interview: Valve's Gabe Newell on Steam Box, biometrics, and the future of gaming [The Verge]


    That Lan aspect sounds amazing if true. Would be nice to have mice/keyboard over controllers though.

      You will be able to use mouse and keyboard. After all, it is essentially a PC. They're just taking Steam's controller support to the next level

    So will this make the whole PC/console argument go away.. like the lines are blurring now so just shut up and play whatever games system you prefer.. and if you really call yourself a gamer (and have the $$$) just get all of them and stop saying that you can only have one.

    Anyway, super excited about this.

    I'm genuinely excited about this and will have to have some sort of saving plan in place. I hope that it will be less than $1000 dollars.

      For under $1k you can build a pretty sweet rig right now for Steam. And if you plan on playing more than a handful of games your going to require buying Windows on top too.

        yea I realise that but I'm hoping it will be smaller in size or be designed specifically to do something better.

        I'll obviously compare prices between a system I can build and the steam box. I'm hoping they can achieve economies of scale which I can't. Therefore the system would be more powerful than a PC that I would build myself for the same money.

        I could be totally wrong though and it could be a huge failure and I end up building something that can stream games to my TV upstairs from my desktop pc which is downstairs.

    ...why not just build a custom PC that would be cheaper, more powerful and have more customization?

      Shut up, that's why.

        I don't even have a gaming PC and only play handhelds and consoles and even I know you can build a cheaper PC that you could keep with your other games....

      you might see this as a quality alternative to xbox/ps3/wiiu in the future, the box might end up on a retail floor one day directly competing, one can hope.

      That's what I've done (hooked up to the TV loading Steam Big picture Mode straight away) but the Steam box could be a nice alternative for people who don't have an interest in building their own hardware but still want to play Steam games.

      Since they have given no details about pricing, system specs and custimizability (i know, i know) what is the basis of your statement? Pure conjecture I say.

    It's a computer.

    It's not a console, it's a computer like any other made by Dell or whomever. Valve wants to sell you a computer you can then upgrade.

    Like your current computer.

    Why not simply buy the parts and build your own?

      Because they want to minimize consumer effort to provide quality PC gaming. Would you rather have this or a console?

      I'm sure steambox will have affordable price tag compare to my $3000 machine and provide similar experience =/.

        Because they want to minimize consumer effort to provide quality PC gaming Then it should come with Windows installed, not making you have to install it yourself.

          If it came with windows, that'd bump the price up by a few hundred. Not everyone wants windows, and a good number of console owners don't care what OS it is if it works, so I'm sure they'd be happy at not paying for something they dont' really care about,

            A few hundred? Windows 8 can be gotten extremely cheap. Hell even OEM versions are only $100. Im sure Valve and MS could work out a deal to get it far cheaper.

            Not everyone may want windows - but those people who don't are generally already using Linux and would be in the far far more minority.

            I wouldn't even begin to know where to go with Linux, first thing I would do is reinstall windows on it - adding an increased cost to me as Valve could have gotten a far better deal and passed the savings on.

            Not everyone wants windows
            For gaming, this number would be really ridiculously small.

            I'm sure they'd be happy at not paying for something they dont' really care about I'm sure they'd be happy to pay for something they do care about though, and that's a system that actually has games.

              I'd imagine that "for gaming", a significant percentage don't actually "want" Windows, more like they have little choice at the moment. Gaming is the only thing at the moment that is tying me to Windows, and I can't wait for Linux gaming to get the support it needs to take off, as Windows makes a lot of the other things I use my PC for more difficult than they really should be. From my perspective, it's really sad to see so many obviously tech-savvie people using Windows as their primary OS...

                Well said mate! :-)


                I'd imagine that "for gaming", the vast majority don't have any problems with Windows, nor wish for Linux. They just want the platform that has the most games. People like you I'd wager are in the minority.

                  My point exactly. "Want" vs "require". They want the platform that has the most games, which (at the moment) happens to be Windows, so they require Windows (this is further fuelled by the complete dominance of Windows on pre-built PCs, especially in Aus). With Valve backing Linux in such a public way, this could (hopefully) change in the next few years, to the point of equal (or near-equal) support between the two platforms.

                  Would you willingly spend the extra $50-100 on your next gaming PC for the OS if there were a free alternative that is capable of performing just as well, just because you're more familiar with it? Would you not at least give it a try, given that all it will cost you is a little time?

                  I know I'm in the minority in many respects, but I would hope that people at least give it a shot.

      The Xbox and PS3 are, in fact, computers and the files are inside the computer. They're inside!?

      I think you mean PCs. I don't really see a huge difference between consoles and PCs anyways. Where do you draw the line? When one sits in a huge ugly beige dirt stained box and the other in a more aesthetically pleasing casing? Sure most PC casings and mainboards allow you to expand, mix and match your hardware, but the downside to that is that the software and hardware standards are built to the lowest common demoninator and are far from optimised. Plus you have a big bloated operating system running on top of everything (not to mention MS Office's clippy) chewing up huge amounts of system resources.

      In theory I could wack a bunch of current PC hardware into a really small slim case with a cut down Linux OS (Android) and call it a console. Like the Ouya.

      So getting back to the steam box. I'd consider this to be on the console side of the scales. We don't even know the specs. This thing could run 64 ARM processors for all we know. That's not your typical PC.

    Form factor... try finding a MoBo the size of a Grapefruit : )
    Yes I know about HTPC's, I've been building them for years. It's about making them accessible to your average console Noob. Because atm they aren't. And It's not just the hardware,
    Though Windows does a decent job a lot of people aren't used to media center and find it confusing. Obviously this is where Valve were heading with the recent introduction of Big Picture.

      How does media centre have anything to do with Big Picture? And I wouldn't call Big Picture more accessible than anything on the current systems. Only once you get into it, which can be said for anything else - media centre - included.

      In essence we are still getting a PC running on a TV unless there is some special code in there where it boots directly into Steam/Big Picture mode making it feel more like a console. Otherwise its not going to be any different.

    have one PC and eight televisions and eight controllers and everybody getting great performance out of it
    So how big and expensive is this thing going to be? Because running 8 instances of a game on one PC is no small feat.

      One would have to assume its going to have enough room to have dual cards for enough HDMI/DP ports.. So im guessing this thing is just going to be a small form factor PC/HTPC case..'s just a small PC that by default runs Linux and therefore has compatibility with very few games? Innovation right there.

    Price is key here, I remember the last time a game publisher launched an overpriced and underpowered console called 3DO, it didn't end well.
    Valve have to price it between a console and a pc/notebook of similar performance range.

    All i want to know is specs, will it run PC games or will devs have to specifically develop games for it?

    What are its graphics capabilities? what settings can i run my games at and what benefits does this have over building a gaming rig and connecting it to a TV.

    Who is the main target, PC fans will already have their rigs and console fans have their consoles, its the same as the Nvidia Shield... it fits somewhere awkwardly in the middle of both and is not necessarily a good thing.

    "Not some locked box..."


    Just locked to a pretty severe DRM system, eh Gaben?

      Do you mean Steam? Because I'm assuming if you can install windows on it, you should be able to run games with Steam i.e. EA games.

        Yeah I mean Steam...
        Steam is a pretty freaking draconian DRM system... if you can't get online to authenticate you're boned.

          Only if you're wanting to play online. Whenever our ISP's having issues I can still play XCOM, Halflife, NWN, ect.

          While what your saying is true, I'm hesitant to label it draconian - I generally don't even notice the limitations because I haven't bought a game on disk in forever, so I haven't really had to 'authenticate' as such. Also, its not like Ubi's BS system where you had to be online to play. I do get why people don't like it though - namely that you can't share games.

    So basically, we can install windows, the hardware isn't going to be insanely different to what we are using now, and could potentially get all this on our PC anyways?

    No wonder we don't have HL3....Gaben is frying up much bigger fish.

    I don't think it comes with an optical drive. So you won't just have to buy windows, you'll have to get a disc reader to install windows. If they sold this thing with windows 8 as a bonus feature you could get when you ordered it, I might consider it, otherwise Gabe's hatred of windows 8 is entirely illogical to me. Ubuntu is pretty sweet and all that, but why h8-8 ? There's only really one problem with windows8 and that's microsoft trying to monopolize it a bit, with rt not being able to run chrome ( I'd really, really like my chrome back please ), and the possibility that they'd pull the same crap with retail apps. And all of that can be solved with lawsuits pretty easily. As in M$ will fold extremely fast if and when challenged on that notion. Windows 8/RT is pretty freaking sweet, even the store is good.

    Last edited 09/01/13 6:20 pm

      WinRT not being able to run Chrome is because Google don't want to port it. Their official reason is that Microsoft don't expose certain APIs that would make it run faster than IE10... but that didn't stop them "porting" it to iOS where the browser is crippled by Apple's decisions. Gabe's dislike of Win8 is either due to the UI (and that's fine) or because he saw the Windows Store and irrationally considered it a threat to Steam. Or maybe he just wants Valve to be the biggest fish in the tiny Linux gaming pond by releasing their own hardware with their own OS with Steam as an included store!

      You can install Windows from a USB stick these days, which sure is handy.

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