updated 06:28 pm EST, Wed January 9, 2013
Valve CEO explains hardware plans, user-generated Steam future
Gabe Newell has confirmed that Valve Software will release its "Steam Box" in the future, and it will run on Linux. The Valve CEO spoke about how, in working with multiple technology partners, creating Steam-powered hardware was like herding cats, that the company's own hardware offering would be based on a narrowly-focused set of values, and the potential user-generated future of Steam itself.
In a rare interview with The Verge, Newell compared the process to a "Good, Better, or Best" range of solutions. Good consisted of streaming systems such as Miracast and Grid, Better used a dedicated CPU and GPU with a tightly-controlled structure. Valve is opting to go for what it considers the "Best" option, in selling hardware that was small, quiet, and high on performance, in a similar manner to the Valve-funded Piston hardware by Xi3. While it will be supplied with a Linux install, Newell claimed Valve will allow users the ability to install other operating systems, such as Windows, onto the product, commenting "This is not some locked box by any stretch of the imagination."
The main focus points of the Steam Box and Steam's future would be Big Picture Mode and enabling developers and content creators to make games for the Steam audience. Newell also suggested that Steam itself should have more user-generated content, and that "anybody should be able to create a store, and it should be about extra entertainment value." While there should be editorial filters in place, it should be simple enough to allow users to organize available content, to the inevitable point that "Somebody is going to create a store that says 'these are the worst games on Steam.'"
The potential use of the Steam Box as a server was also discussed, in that a future PC could go beyond the one or two monitors usually used, suggesting "You could have one PC and eight televisions and eight controllers and everybody getting great performance out of it." It was also noted by Newell that he thought streaming games over the Internet via OnLive was the “wrong idea” when it first launched, comparing it to AT&T's need to centralize all intelligence on a network failing against the development of the Internet's structure as another "battle that's been fought many times." Local network game streaming through Miracast or Nvidia's Project Shield is viewed as a much better prospect by comparison.
"Piston" by Xi3