According to a new report from The Verge, Valve is preparing to launch a set top box to compete with consoles, allegedly dubbed the Steam Box, and the announcement could come as soon as next week.
Citing "uncovered information" from unnamed sources, the tech blog says that Valve is developing a platform for low-cost, micro-sized PCs that would offer access to Steam's vast library of games, but in a streamlined console-style experience. It's possible that Valve be producing a Steam Box of its own, but other manufacturers will also be able to develop hardware for the platform.
The report claims that baseline models will have an Intel Core i7 CPU, NVIDIA GPU and 8GBs of RAM, such as the Alienware X51, which may have been designed to be a Steam Box-capable device.
Valve is also allegedly developing an array of USB accessories, including a controller with modular control schemes like Mad Catz's MLG Pro Circuit Controller, and biometric sensors that change in-game elements to match your behavior.
The Steam Box platform could make its debut at Game Developers Conference (GDC), though the report states that Valve could hold the announcement until E3.
Colour me excited if this is true. I have about 140 games on Steam already but must admit that some of them would be better suited to more of a console/sofa environment (I can't be bothered with having 20m DVI/audio cables traipsing round my flat to enable this on my PC).
Another potential plus is that it could provide serious competition for Sony/Microsoft in downloadable games to the casual market, the current games on demand services for both PS3 and Xbox are a complete joke. My only concern is whether Steam will still keep up the excellent sales to a wider audience.
PC's in console style casing already exists and have done for some time. Nothing really new to any of this except this one carries the steam name, its probably worth going ahead though if only to expose how ridiculous the xbox live fee is for online play to those people who won't have a bad word said against it.
Its like Microsoft hold a gun to your head, force you to buy a console, then make you pay for Live Gold.
It would be good to see if a software dev like Valve could break into the console market. Alienware are currently owned by Dell, so with them as a manufacturing partner already have a lot of the infrastructure in place. However, I would say it takes more than just titles and specs to sell these items. They will have to compete against the combined marketing budgets of MS and Sony, no easy feat.
But won't two thirds the potential audience be all sniffy about the whatever controller they come up with? I'd be in if they use a standard console type controller but I'm in the other third that doesnt want to bother with the kerfuffle of mouse and keyboard on the sofa.