Recently, during CES 2014, PC Gamer got a chance to chat with Xi3 CMO David Politis about why the Piston isn't a Steam Machine. That was the general assumption last year during CES when it was first revealed; that Xi3's Piston was a Steam "Box" because (1) Valve was financially involved (2) the name was Valve-ish (3) the contraption fit Valve's modular vision.
But then just two months later, Valve nuked all dreams of the Piston serving as the first Steam Box by saying it wasn't involved with Xi3 after all. Then, as we saw at the end of 2013, the Xi3 Piston is not a Steam Machine at all. Instead, it's a palm-sized powerhouse built for powerful Windows-based PC gaming at a powerful $999 price.
Still, what happened between Valve and Xi3? Where did the love go?
"We're still friends. We still love Valve, we love Steam," Politis told PC Gamer. According to the interview, the two parted ways due to philosophical differences.
Essentially, Xi3 wanted the end user to have access to all games. The Piston comes pre-loaded with Windows dressed in a custom UI, but the owner has the freedom to install Linux and even Android. However, the company doesn't think now is the time to completely abandon the dominant operating system and exclude other PC gaming services.
"We believe, and I think the market's very clear about this, that the biggest concentration today is in the Windows marketplace," Politis says, "So we've gone separate directions today—that doesn't mean we're not supporting Valve."
In fact, Steam is one of the featured items in the Piston UI along with Electronic Arts' own storefront, Origin. "We believe that if you can play it on a computer you should be able to play it on a Piston—and that's our whole viewpoint," Politis adds.