With Mobile World Congress over, the industry's attention is turning to all things game as GDC is almost upon us. Last month, Gabe Newell got people talking when he said in an interview that his company could end up selling hardware. Newell said that while Valve had no reason to believe it was any good at selling hardware, they had to continue to innovate, and if that meant developing and selling hardware, then so be it. Now, the latest rumors say Valve is indeed working on its own hardware and it could talk more about it at GDC this month.
According to an exclusive report on the Verge, the company has been working on a hardware spec and associated software which would make up the backbone of a "Steam Box." The site's sources also said that the device would be manufactured by a variety of partners, and the software would be readily available to any company that wants it. The Verge reports that the hardware in question would be capable of playing PC games and would also be able to run services like EA's origin. Basic specs of the Steam Box are said to include a Core i7 processor from Intel, 8GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GPU, and the Verge points to both the Alienware X51 and a recent patent filed by Valve as possible reference designs for the console and its controller. This particular patent was filed in 2011 and details a controller that allows for swappable components depending on the game you're playing.
Not too long after the Verge report surfaced, Kotaku pointed to a November 2 tweet from Valve employee that included the specs listed above and a photo of a gaming PC.
"Built this tiny PC. i7 quad core, 8GB ram, Zotac Z-68 mobo w/ onnboard Nvidia mobile gfx. Runs Portal 2 FAST," the tweet read, with a link to the following photo:
Based on the information we've heard (and seen) so far, the Steam Box sounds a lot like a Valve-branded PC, which makes us a little bit skeptical about this move. For a software company, entering the hardware market is a big enough risk, but at least a console's life-cycle is usually pretty long. The same cannot be said of a gaming PC. There's also the issue of price -- a gaming PC is significantly more expensive than a console. For example, the Alienware X51, which the Verge reckons may have been designed with the Steam Box in mind, starts at $700.
Valve hasn't revealed anything about its plans where hardware is concerned, but the Verge's sources say the company might reveal more about the Steam Box at GDC or perhaps E3 later this quarter, so stay tuned.