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Valve Boss Admits To Pushing Hardware Into Living Room

By - Source: Develop | B 37 comments

Valve CEO Gabe Newell admits that the company is looking to provide an open hardware platform both in the living room and mobile sector.

Valve Software bossman Gabe Newell admitted during a podcast interview with Seven Day Cooldown that the company is looking to create an open hardware platform both in the living room and mobile space that the industry can use. The idea is to get out of the "proprietary traps" that are currently leading both sectors (thanks to Apple, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo) by offering an alternative to existing proprietary console technologies.

The news arrives after Apple CEO Tim Cook said that he did not speak with Newell during a supposed visit to Apple's headquarters. The rumored meeting led to speculation that Valve's "Steam Box" technology would be used in Apple's upcoming iTV rather than serve as a stand-alone console. Now it seems that we're back to the original rumor of Valve entering the living room space on its own.

Newell said during the interview that an initiative into the console and mobile space would involve "barely out-there hardware design," or rather, hardware that would be relatively unique. However Valve hasn't made any final decisions on hardware design, nor is the studio even confident that it has what it takes to build a competitive console. But Newell nonetheless hopes that Valve can add something to both sectors.

Valve's CEO has been vocal about open platforms for quite a while, saying that closed platform holders are currently severing the direct lines between the developer and the consumer for their own benefit. Even more, he says that Microsoft, Nintendo and even Apple view themselves as "more rent guys who are essentially driving their partner margins to zero."

"They build a shiny sparkling thing that attracts users and then they control people's access to those things," he said, adding that it was "ominous that the world seems to be moving away from open platforms." Later on he stated that if Valve needed to step in and offer hardware based on an open platform to resolve the problem, then it would do so.

Recently Valve's Doug Lombardi indicated that the company doesn't have any immediate plans to release a console, but it was quite possible in the future. Originally there was speculation that Steam Box was more of a certified hardware spec list that manufacturers had to follow in order to release Valve-approved desktops and laptops. But an actual console would definitely solve Valve's problem in delivering updates and other content to couch potatoes who currently can;t receive similar content on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.

Yet now we have confirmation that Valve's looking into the mobile sector. Does that mean we'll see a Windows 8-based Steam Tablet?

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  • 15 Hide
    aftcomet , April 25, 2012 12:05 AM
    There is already hardware free from proprietary crap and it's called a PC. This desire by Newell for "open hardware" is nothing but a smokescreen.
  • 10 Hide
    computernerdforlife , April 24, 2012 11:07 PM
    "Does that mean we'll see a Windows 8-based Steam Tablet?" Does speculating on information that's provided through hearsay in a form of a question spark critical thinking? Does asking more and more questions help you prove your hearsay speculative point?
Other Comments
  • 10 Hide
    computernerdforlife , April 24, 2012 11:07 PM
    "Does that mean we'll see a Windows 8-based Steam Tablet?" Does speculating on information that's provided through hearsay in a form of a question spark critical thinking? Does asking more and more questions help you prove your hearsay speculative point?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 24, 2012 11:27 PM
    No, but it does invite commentary from the peanut gallery.

    I think its a good idea, but doubt Valve/Steam could keep themselves above the level of proprietary "traps" that Newell accuses others of being. Not that I disagree with him.
  • 15 Hide
    aftcomet , April 25, 2012 12:05 AM
    There is already hardware free from proprietary crap and it's called a PC. This desire by Newell for "open hardware" is nothing but a smokescreen.
  • 3 Hide
    sp0nger , April 25, 2012 12:16 AM
    Seems like valve has been in the news a lot lately, seems like there may be something on the horizon, something big.
  • 7 Hide
    lordravage , April 25, 2012 12:27 AM
    Flameoutwouldn't it be easier to create console-like input devices for the pc?


    Do you mean something other than the Xbox 360 Controller for Windows or the Kinect for Windows?

    Because if you aren't, then I don't understand what you mean by console-like input devices. Please elaborate.
  • -3 Hide
    spasmolytic46 , April 25, 2012 1:01 AM
    I'd be happy to get a steam handheld device of any sort, but please for the love of god, keep windows 8 off it or at least give am option for installing and alternate windows version.
  • 3 Hide
    queenfan , April 25, 2012 1:28 AM
    Use the Tegra 4 or get AMD out there with a Dual Core A15 and Dual Core X86 + High End GPU .28 integrated SoC monster chip that can run any OS?
  • 9 Hide
    jwcalla , April 25, 2012 1:49 AM
    Michael Larabel (Phoronix) seems to be indicating that Steam is coming to Linux, as per his Twitter feed.
  • -3 Hide
    alxianthelast , April 25, 2012 2:29 AM
    Only matters if it is more appealing to developers (who can self-publish through steam) to support an open platform (that has all steam supported operating systems installed and updated) with games in mind, versus getting some money back from big publishing deals for exclusive console games. which only seems to be encouraging halfassed efforts and ridiculous and often fraudulant marketing and post sale value adding content campaigns. Who would pay them and help them with marketing?

    I like that iTV and Steambox still haven't been officially discounted, only just an official partnership.. though I do still support Tim Cook being locked in a room with Gabe Newell.
  • 4 Hide
    clindman , April 25, 2012 2:43 AM
    they should just do some creative marketing and engineering on a gaming-focused HTPC. it defies explanation that no company has really delved into the HTPC market. the only thing preventing HTPCs from blowing up - which will inevitably happen - is consumer ignorance.
  • 6 Hide
    dotaloc , April 25, 2012 3:19 AM
    aftcometThere is already hardware free from proprietary crap and it's called a PC. This desire by Newell for "open hardware" is nothing but a smokescreen.

    I think you misquote Mr. Newell. He advocates an "open platform."

    I'm thinking standardized hardware(rated?), open OS (multi-boot?). Windows does give us DirectX, but is still very closed, even if it is more open then consoles and more game friendly than OSX and Gnu/Linux.
  • 4 Hide
    dormantreign , April 25, 2012 4:13 AM
    I love steam. The best service i've ever used, providing my account don't get hacked which can then be a pain. They need a phone service set up for that s.h.i.t. Origin is from the devil.
  • 3 Hide
    sparky2010 , April 25, 2012 5:06 AM
    Although a PC is proprietary free, it's still a very expensive solution to a console in terms of "pure gaming".. from a console, although the graphics will eventually really suck, they are not bad the day they are released (usually).. from a pc standpoint, you'd have to keep upgrading, and that's when they leave the consoles in the dust, but having to keep on upgrading, and keeping it in shape and maintaining, not many people want that.

    So the majority of people prefer buying a console, which they can have fun on, without any headache.. true they don't know what they're missing, but that's the story..

    I just hope that Valve can do something different, like an upgradeable, and still be cost effective console (or whatever it is they are doing)
  • 5 Hide
    idono , April 25, 2012 5:08 AM
    Valve are possibly the greatest company in the world when it comes to not being greedy basterds and actually thinking of the consumer instead of taking their money and frankly not give a shit.
  • 4 Hide
    chimera201 , April 25, 2012 5:12 AM
    aftcometThere is already hardware free from proprietary crap and it's called a PC. This desire by Newell for "open hardware" is nothing but a smokescreen.


    The problem is that not everybody are techies like us who can build a budget gaming PC. Do you know that there are people in the world who say that the 'e' icon on their desktop is the internet.

    Now all game developers are more focused on developing games on consoles because there is very little piracy on consoles. Valve is trying to change that focus in their own way. The system might probably also support user created mods.
  • 1 Hide
    aftcomet , April 25, 2012 5:38 AM
    chimera201The problem is that not everybody are techies like us who can build a budget gaming PC. Do you know that there are people in the world who say that the 'e' icon on their desktop is the internet.Now all game developers are more focused on developing games on consoles because there is very little piracy on consoles. Valve is trying to change that focus in their own way. The system might probably also support user created mods.


    There are only three ways to solve computer illiteracy:

    1. Educate users.
    2. Make a simple to use closed system.
    3. Redesign the whole damn thing.

    Bet on Valve trying door number 2.
  • 2 Hide
    chimera201 , April 25, 2012 6:29 AM
    aftcometThere are only three ways to solve computer illiteracy:1. Educate users.2. Make a simple to use closed system.3. Redesign the whole damn thing.Bet on Valve trying door number 2.


    I bet Valve is trying door #3 and they won't release it until they are satisfied with #3(as they are doing it with the next Half-Life). I'm just saying this based on the innovative design-centric games Valve has released in the past(Portal). (Maybe the whole sytem-console,biometrics,wearable computing has to do something with the next half life. who knows?)
  • 5 Hide
    palladin9479 , April 25, 2012 6:58 AM
    All that needs to be done is someone design a device using an open Linux distro focused on gaming. Use x86 hardware and a commodity GPU, preferably some APU. This way developers only have to release one version that will work on both PC and the new "gaming console".
  • -4 Hide
    dreadlokz , April 25, 2012 8:27 AM
    great! Another crappy console =D
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