Piston Makers: ‘We Were Asked To Build A Product Specifically For Valve’

Piston Makers: ‘We Were Asked To Build A Product Specifically For Valve’

Hardware maker Xi3 has addressed today’s confusion, telling Kotaku tonight that despite Valve’s statements to the contrary, Valve actually asked Xi3 to make the Piston PC.

In a strange statement this morning, Valve denied any involvement with Piston, a living-room-friendly PC that some have taken to calling an unofficial 'Steam Box' because it is designed to hook up to your television and play games in Steam's Big Picture mode -- and because Xi3 said it had been backed by Valve.

"Valve began some exploratory work with Xi3 last year, but currently has no involvement in any product of theirs," Valve marketing head Doug Lombardi said in a statement originally obtained by Eurogamer (and by Kotaku later today).

Lombardi's statement seemed to contradict what Xi3 had announced in January, when they first showed off the Piston at CES in Las Vegas. At the time, Xi3 said that Valve was helping back the new hardware.

"Xi3 also announced today it has received an investment from Valve Corporation," Xi3 said in a press release then. "Xi3's new development stage computer game system is also being showcased in Valve's booth (#25730) at CES 2013. No additional details about Xi3's new system or Valve's investment in Xi3 will be released at this time."

We've been reaching out to both Xi3 and Valve all day to get some clarification, and in a statement sent to Kotaku tonight, Xi3 said that Valve not only invested in the Piston, but the Steam makers actually asked them to make it.

Here's the full statement from Xi3:

"We reaffirm the fact that we received an investment from Valve Corporation (as we previously disclosed during the 2013 International CES trade show), and we did so with Valve's written permission," said Jason A. Sullivan, founder, president and CEO of Xi3 Corporation. "Second, we were asked to build a product specifically for Valve, and both companies showcased this product-the PISTON Console-in their respective booths at CES 2013.

"Then, during a meeting with Valve at CES, Gabe Newell personally asked me that we not disclose additional information about our relationship with Valve. We have honored that request and will continue to do so. That said, there are other items we need to cover.

"For example, the assumption of many in the media has been that PISTON is the ‘official' Steam Box. We've never said that and neither has Valve. That hasn't changed. But just because Valve may not ‘currently' have any ‘involvement with any product of (ours)' doesn't mean that such involvement won't exist in the future.

"It's also important to note that the PISTON Console will allow gamers to access Steam regardless of what our relationship is or isn't with Valve. Additionally, PISTON will also support a raft of other Internet-based gaming and entertainment platforms, which is more than what Valve apparently has planned for its official Steam Box. In this way, the PISTON Console could be perceived as something more than just a Steam Box, which makes sense because at its core the PISTON Console is a Modular™ Computer that can run any operating system or application designed to run on an x86-based 64-bit computer.

"To be clear, the PISTON Console will ship initially with a Windows operating system specifically because that's where the vast bulk of game software and computer gamers are today. That said, the PISTON Console can also run Linux (and other operating systems), which means it can support the Linux-version of Steam.

"Contrary to Valve's vision, Xi3 believes that the way to take this to market today is to do so with a Windows OS at the core, coupled with the ability to not just get to one platform/store for games, but to get access to all game stores/platforms. Studios should have the option to go through Steam if they choose or to go direct to the end-user if they so choose. That will be the difference between PISTON and other Steam Boxes. You'll be able to access Steam if you choose, but you'll also be able to access other platforms as well-all through the PISTON Console.

"We have opened PISTON Console pre-orders and have been amazed at the interest and amount of pre-orders we have received thus far. This just reaffirms to us our decision to open pre-orders, because we are seriously concerned we will not be able to meet the demand for PISTON Consoles for the 2013 Holiday Season.

"In closing, what Valve does or doesn't do with its Steam Box will be up to them. So Gabe, it's up to you. The ball is in your court."


  • It sounds like he’s saying that Valve want companies to make steam boxes that only run SteamLinux and cannot install non-steam delivery systems.


    And Gabe complained about W8 being a walled garden….

    • Gabe is a businessman and co-founder of valve. He’s going to be ‘up against’ microsoft at some point. It’s understandable he doesn’t like the way things are going with W8.

      Having microsoft as your front end when you’re looking at entering in a serious bid to win a share of the ‘console’ market? Yeah I wouldn’t have gone in on that either. Although as a consumer I’d like to be able to run windows and have access to all the vendors.

      It’s a cutthroat business and valve have a good thing going at the moment, they’ve been successful, and I think they’ve been pretty good to their customers (I <3 half lifes) – we can’t really be upset with them for doing whats in their best interest though right?

      • We can be upset, because they appear to be moving towards a closed system after criticising W8 for the same thing and making their move into Linux out to be like they’re ‘saving’ open PC gaming.

        • I’d take the comments with a grain of salt. Gabe said at the start that he wanted to be able to have whatever OS you want,as well as have other services (Origin, ect) He’s even recently mused the closeness of Steam, looking at opening it up so that companies can have their own storefronts within Steam.

          For Valve to turn around and make a closed system seems very weird.

          • *Through* Steam being the important part there. You’re still buying through a closed system where Valve gets paid.

            I agree with Lambo – it makes the recent “W8 is the death of the open PC and devs should switch to linux” a bit questionable when they then turn around to launch a closed Linux delivery system.

            If true.

      • Gabe is an asshole. Wake up to that fact. He doesn’t give a crap about gaming outside of how he can best go about making more money from it.

    • That’s not what it sounds like at all.
      Why have a piston box which runs Winblows when the whole idea of the steam box to start with was to get away from that very OS?

      Hey microsoft is screwing us over. I know! Let’s build our own pc system.

      …. and then screw ourselves over by putting winblows on it anyway. :rollseyes:

      • You are (either deliberately or maybe just confused) confusing Valve with Xi3. Why would Xi3 feel that Microsoft is screwing them over?

    • Sounds spot on Zap. If you have any kind of understanding of how business deals like this go down, sounds like Valve DID ask Xi3 to make a box, but then when Xi3 decided it wasn’t going to be locked down to Steam, Valve cracked it and are denying everything. Hypocrites.

  • I just don’t get it. What Linux Steam games would be worth this kind of an outlay? This isn’t attempting to redefine how people play games so much as it is attempting to redefine the games people play.

    • Theres 3 possible scenarios I can think of:

      1. They want to run a system thats compatible with more ‘open’ platforms for development like OpenGL as opposed to DirectX-based systems. This would remove the dependancy on Microsoft AND also allow rapid deployment of the ‘write-once run-anywhere’ mantra Microsoft has > but with Linux as the core.

      2. They want to be closer to major industry leaders like Google and its Android / Chrome softwares; since they may believe that the industry could choose to see Microsoft out and Google in.

      3. They see Microsoft in a steady decline to oblivion and they’re hedging their bets. A Microsoft collapse would cause massive panic worldwide and economic damage since almost all systems within both government and business are Microsoft based IF there was no alternative. (The least likely – Microsoft is extremely wealthy, even if they’re stagnant)

      Number 2: I see this as the most likely scenario; Windows 8 doesnt have the best UI currently, but I strongly believe that they’ll be tossed out come Windows Blue in November on the Desktop environment. The only reason it was on the desktop is because Sinofsky made it so – even despite Ballmer and Gates loud protests. However Microsoft is well advanced in its new Mantra – far moreso than any other manufacturer or developer. They could actually achieve what they’re trying to do within one or two years and have a ‘write-once run-anywhere’ OS which would literally redesign the whole industry overnight.

  • Piston has it wrong, the way to get this thing into homes is to include a TV tuner and TV remote, and ship it with Linux and XBMC. Make a dead simple GUI that lets you select a desktop mode at boot but after 3 – 5 seconds times out into the media mode. and allow you to quit media mode to the desktop to run Steam… I’d buy one and I don’t even need one.

    • this. make it do more than one thing so a family can use it. xbmc could be incorporated (or plex or boxee or whatever media software you want that runs on linux) and run as game under big picture mode (which i believe it can do already).

  • “Steam Box” = PC + Big Picture mode. I can’t see how a specialist device like this is any better (except for saving space) than just plugging a PC into your TV.

    • The only reason you can’t see it is that there’s nothing to see. It’s pretty obvious that this is a plain ol’ PC, possibly in a fancy form factor, marketed to a specific niche. As with pretty much any other niche-marketed PC ever, you can roll your own (albeit *maybe* not as prettily) for a hell of a lot cheaper.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!