Rumours of the so-called 'Steam Box' – a console-like PC for the living room, powered by Valve's cherished gaming service – have been floating around the Internet for many months now, but that's all they've ever been: rumours. Now, we might just have the kind of evidence we were looking for that the company behind Half-Life and Portal are at least thinking about a PC/Console hybrid, ready to compete with the likes of the PS4 and Xbox 720.
In an interview with Kotaku on the red carpet of the VGAs, co-founder of Valve Gabe Newell says the recently-released Big Picture (a new take on the Steam interface, designed exclusively for big screen) is the very beginning, citing a “stronger than expected” reception for the company's reinvigorated interest in a Steam-based PC for the living room. “I think in general that most customers and most developers are gonna find that [the PC is] a better environment for them,” Newell told Kotaku, while also revealing the next big step will be getting the company's in-house operating system 'Steam Linux' out of beta, where Big Picture can make a home for itself as pre-installed software.
Speculating on what shape the living room PC would take, Newell suggested Valve's hardware will be for one a “very controlled environment”, one likely to strip the kind of flexibility and customisation that PC gamers will be familiar with, and one that will bring it more in line with the traditional console experience. Also likely to be non-upgradeable and not nearly as open-source as your average computer for purposes of a more accessible development platform – developing for PC where each machine is unique introduces barriers not necessarily there with console development – Newell not only sees Valve itself developing this kind of hardware, but other companies as well; “We'll do it,” he says, “but well also think other people will as well.” The Steam Box? We're still hopeful.
For the full interview, head on over to Kotaku.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.