Valve's Greg Coomer confirmed with IGN that the company will reveal its hardware partners for the Steam Machines initiative during CES 2014 in January. Despite Valve's own prototype boxes, there will be no central, flagship device, but rather a variety of different machines with their own set of unique features. He said a team of people, including Anna Sweet, has been working with OEMs and manufacturing partners.
"There really is a pretty huge variety of machines. It's not a huge number of boxes," he told the site. "In January we're going to start to be specific about which partners there are, how many boxes there are, what kinds of specs those machines will include. Probably ballpark figures on what kind of range of prices we'll be seeing for those boxes."
"We're not looking to stay with a specific set of people," he added. "It will not be static. But there's a range of capabilities within those partners. Some of them are set up to serve millions of Steam customers. Some of them are set up to literally serve hundreds, or a very small number of Steam customers. There will be a range."
The news follows another interview that took place on Monday revealing that Valve will not be making "exclusives" on the SteamOS platform… not even Half-life 3 or a Halo-like clone. This rule will also apply to third-party developers, as Anna Sweet admitted that the company is encouraging developers to put their games in as many places as possible. That's because customers are likely on more than one platform.
"If it can run in both places, we don't like to create those artificial barriers to accessing content," she told IGN. "We believe that, in maybe five years from now, folks will find it a quite antiquated notion that you should assume that when you change devices or platforms, that you lose all of your other games and friends. We're hoping to unify, to get Steam to be as platform- and context-agnostic as possible. You shouldn't have to shed that every generation, or even slightly shed it."
Engadget reports that SteamOS looks and acts like Steam's Big Picture Mode, a feature most of us expected when Valve announced the platform. The site also reports that Steam Machines will span from low-end, inexpensive streaming boxes to Intel Core i7 machines with Nvidia's Titan GPU. All the parts in Valve's prototype Steam Machine were swappable; the only item missing was an optical drive.
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If you look at Steam Machines suggested minimum specs (i5-4xxx, GTX 660, 16GB RAM, 1TB storage), the price is unlikely to be below $400 or even $500 (someone will be trying to make money on them), and I don't think that many people will pay that kind of money to be able to play games that are now available for Linux and have uncertain developer support for future games.
Yes, Steam Machines will also be able to stream games from existing gaming PCs, but $400-500 is a lot of money for what can be done with a couple of longer-than-usual cables.