Gabe Newell confirms Valve's Steam Box, discusses controllers and seamless household integration

Valve is working on its own Steam Box hardware that will run Linux, according to an interview with Valve head Gabe Newell published on The Verge.

"We'll come out with our own and we'll sell it to consumers by ourselves," Newell said. "That'll be a Linux box, [and] if you want to install Windows you can. We're not going to make it hard. This is not some locked box by any stretch of the imagination."

The challenge in designing hardware and software for living rooms is manifold, but Newell sees promise in hardware and new input paradigms and wants to make the process of PC gaming on TV seamless. Explaining Valve's goals for Steam Box (which is known internally as "Bigfoot"), he said the company's goal is to "build a thing that's quiet and focuses on high performance ... and appropriate form factors." Though the company is working on its own Steam Box, it has begun to partner with third parties, as yesterday's announcement about the Xi3 Piston showed.

"We're not going to make it hard. This is not some locked box by any stretch of the imagination."

"We also think that a controller that has higher precision and lower latency is another interesting thing to have," Newell said. Newell sees potential in biometric feedback for controls, as well.

"Biometrics on the other hand is essentially adding more communication bandwidth between the game and the person playing it," he said, "especially in ways the player isn't necessarily conscious of. Biometrics gives us more visibility. Also, gaze tracking. We think gaze tracking is gonna turn out to be super important."

Newell may have mentioned some of those ideas in an interview with AllThingsD earlier this year when he said: "I don't think tongue input will happen, but I do think we will have bands on our wrists, and you'll be doing something with your hands, which are really expressive."

"So you could have one PC and eight televisions and eight controllers and everybody getting great performance out of it."

He's also interested in the hardware advancements that could allow a single hardware device that can serve several players at once, akin to a LAN party.

"Any PC can serve multiple monitors, so over time, the next-generation (post-Kepler) you can have one GPU that's serving up eight simulateneous game calls," he said. "So you could have one PC and eight televisions and eight controllers and everybody getting great performance out of it. We're used to having one monitor, or two monitors -- now we're saying lets expand that a little bit."

Newell said that Valve is already working with Nvidia on an in-home service that would stream content to TVs, but the stumbling blocks remain.

"The problem to solve is how to interact with a web browser, how to get all the games to support controllers, and how to make it all seamless," he said.

Last year, a member of Valve's hardware division revealed that the company was working on a product that it hoped to release in beta this year.

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