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Gabe Newell Opens Up About Steam Box Plans

Really not sure how I feel about relevant news coming out of CES.

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That was fast. The Verge caught up with Valve’s Gabe Newell, who spilled way more beans that you’d expect about Valve’s hardware plans in the future, which do include a box of some kind.

Newell is at CES in Las Vegas this week to meet with different companies about its hardware plans, and has come with a number of prototypes in tow.

“We think that there are pluses and minuses to open systems that could make things a little messier, it’s much more like herding cats, so we try to take the pieces where we’re going to add the best value and then encourage other people to do it,” said Newell. “So it tends to mean that a lot of people get involved. We’re not imposing a lot of restrictions on people on how they’re getting involved.”

This explains the Xi3 announcement. Xi3 will not be the last piece of hardware to have Steam support, but it’s also not the mythical Steam Box that we’ve been expecting Valve to produce itself.

That box does exist.

“We’ll come out with our own and we’ll sell it to consumers by ourselves,” he 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. We also think that a controller that has higher precision and lower latency is another interesting thing to have.”

The company is also experimenting with low-latency controller solutions, and some designs include a touch screen. It’s possible a controller could incorporate biometric data, as well. Valve's not sure if motion control has much more to it, either. All of Newell’s answers suggest there is significant experimentation happening at Valve, and it hasn’t nailed down specifics. How many companies can be this specific and vague at the same time and get away with it?

It’s worth reading the whole interview, by the way. Hopefully, we’ll have even more details soon. Exciting!

Patrick Klepek on Google+