According to Xi3 founder, president and CEO Jason Sullivan, pre-orders are a precaution for high demand.
"Given the amount of awards, media attention and gamer interest the Piston console has generated since it was unveiled at CES 2013 in January, we've become seriously concerned that we will not be able to meet the demand for Piston consoles this year," Sullivan said. "That's why we have decided to begin accepting pre-orders on our Piston console, beginning today with the start of the SXSW Gaming Expo."
SXSW attendees will have a chance to see the console in action as well, Sullivan said. An on-stage presentation will showcase the alpha version at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 9.
Valve's partnership with mini-PC maker Xi3 was announced at CES in January, where Piston was one of many Steam Box prototypes shown. In the next three to four months, Valve is expected to distribute Steam Box prototypes to customers to gauge their reactions, co-founder Gabe Newell said.
Piston is expected to ship in time for the holiday season this year. The console is designed to support Steam and Big Picture mode.