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Valve Nukes "Steam Box" Reports; Focusing on New UI

By - Source: Kotaku | B 21 comments

Don't expect any hardware or hardware partnerships to come from Valve anytime soon.

The beginning of the week brought reports that Valve was working on something called "Steam Box," a list of hardware specs and associated software that manufacturers would turn around and build to sell under Valve's certified label. Much like PC gamers would see their favorite titles branded by Nvidia or AMD, these rigs would feature the Steam Box logo, indicating that they were good to go when it comes to playing PC games offered on Steam.

The idea, it seemed, was to take the console approach and provide a set list of hardware that developers could rely on from multiple manufacturers. There's no indication that Valve was looking to create a single console to compete with the current and next-generation crops, but rather to have a standardized PC platform that lasts for up to four years at the most. There's even talk that the Alienware X51 rig was built based on an early Steam Box spec.

According to a November 2 tweet by Valve employee Greg Coomer, a hand-built prototype consisted of a quad-core Intel i7 CPU, 8 GB of RAM, and a Zotac Z68 mini-ITX motherboard with an on-board Nvidia mobile GPU. According to Zotac's website, the Z68-ITX WiFi Supreme supports socket LGA1155 2nd generation Intel Core processors and features the Intel Z68 Express chipset, Nvidia's GeForce GT 430 GPU with 1 GB of DDR3 VRAM, 802.11n and Ethernet connectivity and more.

Coomer said his prototype ran Portal 2 FAST.

Still, regardless what seems to be going on with Steam Box, Valve marketing director Doug Lombardi claims the company is currently focused on prepping and shipping the Steam Big Picture Mode UI. He even admitted that Valve is building boxes to test the new Steam interface only. This new UI will reportedly make the online gaming service easier to use for people who want to play Steam games on a PC that's connected to their TV.

"We're also doing a bunch of different experiments with biometric feedback and stuff like that, which we've talked about a fair amount," he admitted. "All of that is stuff that we're working on, but it's a long way from Valve shipping any sort of hardware."

Yet hardware is not out of the question, as even Valve bossman Gabe Newell recently said that Valve will sell hardware if it becomes a necessity to keep the doors open.

On top of that, Lombardi didn't actually refuse to say that Valve isn't working on a hardware platform. Instead, he agreed that there's definitely nothing coming any time soon, nothing at GDC or E3. Like Newell said, there's a possibility that maybe some day Valve will make hardware, but Lombardi made it clear that (a) Valve partnering with hardware manufacturers and/or (b) Valve building its own hardware will not be happening anytime soon. End of story.

As for the prototype seen back in November, Lombardi said that Coomer is one of the guys leading the Big Picture effort. "The idea is that you can take Steam to any display," he said. "What we're trying to do is say, 'here's a box that we're going to use for testing that's common for Big Picture mode and get performance at a base level.'"

"We're always putting boxes together," he added. "Going all the way back to the Half-Life 1 days, we built special boxes to test our software render… it's just part of development."

Sound like he just nuked any speculation that Coomer's rig was a Steam Box prototype.

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Top Comments
  • 18 Hide
    Kryan , March 9, 2012 9:17 AM
    good. now stfu and finish HL:Ep3 or HL3 or whatever you want to call it.
  • 11 Hide
    Anonymous , March 9, 2012 12:36 PM
    How about Steam for Linux? The PC is a great platform as it is.
Other Comments
  • 18 Hide
    Kryan , March 9, 2012 9:17 AM
    good. now stfu and finish HL:Ep3 or HL3 or whatever you want to call it.
  • Display all 21 comments.
  • -6 Hide
    rantoc , March 9, 2012 9:33 AM
    In other words Steam will have icons the size of 1/4 the entire desktop and be metrolike... progress... yeah right!
  • -2 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , March 9, 2012 9:48 AM
    Metro Steam here we come!
  • 9 Hide
    alvine , March 9, 2012 10:01 AM
    wheres my Ep3?!
  • 4 Hide
    southernshark , March 9, 2012 10:40 AM
    Well unlike the title of this story, which said they nuked the idea of Steambox, they in fact did not deny it at all, but rather just changed the subject to something else. Hopefully the idea happens because really if any company could make a console like box that does not suck, it would be steam.
  • 4 Hide
    kawininjazx , March 9, 2012 12:02 PM
    Do they not know how to build a PC? Core i7 with a GT430? How about an i5 and take the $80-$100 you saved on a real GPU?
  • 11 Hide
    Anonymous , March 9, 2012 12:36 PM
    How about Steam for Linux? The PC is a great platform as it is.
  • 0 Hide
    shardey , March 9, 2012 1:19 PM
    They need a flash drive, or a separate partition, that can be booted so the need for windows isn't necessary to play games.
  • 1 Hide
    crewton , March 9, 2012 1:28 PM
    bundwallahHow about Steam for Linux? The PC is a great platform as it is.


    Agree! It would push us one step closer to OS freedom.
  • -3 Hide
    atikkur , March 9, 2012 1:36 PM
    yeaa.. better they focused on software that turn ordinary pc into console-like pc-game platform, wether it is brand new games os or just windows optimization.
  • 1 Hide
    jimmysmitty , March 9, 2012 1:49 PM
    kawininjazxDo they not know how to build a PC? Core i7 with a GT430? How about an i5 and take the $80-$100 you saved on a real GPU?


    As said, it was a build just to see what they could use for their new UI.

    And I am sure they know how to build PCs. Most every one who works at VALVe are PC gaming nerds, like us. They also have a dedicated IT room that builds and maintains PC systems.

    As for the new UI, I doubt it would be anything like metro but something that will work on PC monitors or TVs. A lot of people didn't like the current UI at first, I didn't mind it, but now most don't seem to mind it either.

    As long as I can get to my games without too much hassel, I am perfectly fine.
  • 2 Hide
    taintsauce , March 9, 2012 2:34 PM
    bundwallahHow about Steam for Linux? The PC is a great platform as it is.


    +1, but I don't think we'll be seeing that any time soon. If I was an optimist, I'd say they were waiting for the X/Wayland switch to solidify before making their move, but I'd wager that it's just not a high priority right now.

    If it WERE to happen, I doubt it would be Steam for Linux so much as Steam for Ubuntu (and possibly a couple of the other big-name distros), at least in the "officially supported" sense. Too much hassle for customer service to have to remember each and every distro's quirks.
  • 0 Hide
    slabbo , March 9, 2012 4:32 PM
    I'm guessing "Steam Box" is more of a certification for a PC much like the THX certification on certain sound systems. So anything with Steam Box would be certified to play any Steam game. Because from the sounds of it, no one here would need a Steam Box console if you already have Steam installed on your PC. But a Steam Box certification on new PC's would help those who are PC illiterate chose the right PC for using Steam and playing games.
  • 0 Hide
    beardguy , March 9, 2012 7:02 PM
    I bet money this follow up is because, after they announced it, they received such negative feedback on the Steam Box.

    Back to the drawing board.
  • -3 Hide
    Usersname , March 9, 2012 8:00 PM
    crewtonAgree! It would push us one step closer to OS freedom.
    Linux isn't freedom. It's just another OS.
  • 0 Hide
    COLGeek , March 9, 2012 10:26 PM
    I am not surprised. This is not one of Steam's core competencies and I am sure would have been underwhelming.
  • -1 Hide
    bloc97 , March 9, 2012 10:37 PM
    bundwallahHow about Steam for Linux? The PC is a great platform as it is.

    They can even save 300$ and use an Phenom II x4... Then they can buy an somewhat high-end GPU.
  • 1 Hide
    atminside , March 9, 2012 11:37 PM
    Nvidia GT430.....now that is some high end stuff :/ 
  • 0 Hide
    yumri , March 10, 2012 1:07 PM
    really the nVidia GT430 is as much as the nVidia 520 but the 520 is slightly faster so i hope if they are doing it they will use the 520 instead as it will last with decent graphics for slightly longer then the 430 would.
  • 0 Hide
    dalauder , March 11, 2012 11:33 PM
    I just hope Steam's new UI isn't as sluggish as the current one with all the log-in problems. I don't get why they have to have such a useful service that's delivered in such a mediocre system. If I were grading it, I'd give it a C-.
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