During the weekend's 2012 VGAs event, Kotaku
spoke to Valve Software founder Gabe Newell (or should we say Garry
), in an interview that is being widly reported as confirmation of Valve's plans to build their own custom PC, the long-rumoured Steam-box, tailored for playing Steam games on a loungeroom TV. However, we're not sure the words were so conclusive.
The direct quotes from Newell on their own are actually still quite vague, and it's really only the (possibly missinterpreted) context provided by Kotaku that suggests he is talking about Valve retailing a complete PC system.
He said the reaction to Steam's TV-friendly Big Picture interface has been "stronger than expected," and that their next step is to get Steam Linux out of beta and to get Big Picture on that operating system, which would give Valve more flexibility when developing their own hardware.
He also expects companies to start selling PC packages for living rooms next year—setups that could consist of computers designed to be hooked up to your TV and run Steam right out of the gate. And yes, Newell said, they'd compete with next-gen consoles from companies like Microsoft and Sony.
"I think in general that most customers and most developers are gonna find that [the PC is] a better environment for them," Newell told me. "Cause they won't have to split the world into thinking about 'why are my friends in the living room, why are my video sources in the living room different from everyone else?' So in a sense we hopefully are gonna unify those environments."
Newell said he's expecting a lot of different companies to release these types of packages—"We'll do it but we also think other people will as well," he told me—and that Valve's hardware might not be as open-source or as malleable as your average computer.
"Well certainly our hardware will be a very controlled environment," he said. "If you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general purpose PC. For people who want a more turnkey solution, that's what some people are really gonna want for their living room.
"The nice thing about a PC is a lot of different people can try out different solutions, and customers can find the ones that work best for them."
Given Valve's previous comments about developing hardware that the market doesn't already have solutions for, we can't help but feel that whatever the Half-Life developer is cooking up, it's something a little more innovative that a simple boutique PC.
We shouldn't have to wait too much longer to find out at least (Valve Time not withstanding), as previous reports suggest plans to kick off public beta testing of hardware in 2013.