In a candid interview with tech publication The Verge
, at CES 2013, Valve CEO Gabe Newell has demystified some of the studio's plans for the hardware space. The conversation wanders a lot, and Valve's specific hardware roadmap is still not entirely clear, but not because Newell is being vague or elusive, but rather because their strategy appears to be so broad and open-ended.
So you're working on your own Steam Box hardware. Why work with so many partners when you have your own ideal design in mind?
What we see is you've got this sort of struggle going on between closed proprietary systems and open systems. 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. 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.
Some key points confirmed throughout the conversation are that Valve's own hardware solution will indeed run Linux, but will allow users to install Windows if they wanted to, and Valve's research and development on controllers remains focused on biometric feedback, and gaze tracking, while shying away from motion control.
Perhaps most interestingly, Newell emphasises the movement away from "dedicated devices", suggesting a vision for the future where houses run centralised PCs that are accessible from screens around the house by multiple people, strongly indicating that network streaming along the lines of Miracast and Nvidia's Grid will play a big role in future Steam hardware:
The Steam Box will also be a server. Any PC can serve multiple monitors, so over time, the next-generation (post-Kepler) you can have one GPU that’s serving up eight simultaneous game calls. 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.
There's a lot more headline quotes in the article as Newell elaborates on his Windows 8 feelings, and game development philosophies, so head over to The Verge for the full interview