Valve Rumored to be Making a Console
Many have tried, few have succeeded, and even few are still around. Do we really have room for another console?
There have been rumblings recently within the industry’s inner circle that Valve, the company behind the behemoth gaming service Steam, is flirting with the idea of entering into the console race, but in a way that you may not expect.
Right here is when many people may simply write this off as nothing but a pipe dream or an idea that will ultimately end up as nothing more than that: an idea. But there has been sufficient evidence as of late that supports this theory and actually lends more than a hefty dose of credibility to the fact that Valve may in fact not be kidding around.
Valve’s flagship gaming service Steam is 100% digital so that begs the question. What does a strictly digital company know about hardware and console gaming? Well, a lot apparently. The people at Valve know that they are a bit lacking in the hardware department, but Valve co-founder Gabe Newell told Penny Arcade that if they had to sell hardware, they would. However, Gabe also hinted at the fact that they would prefer to leave the manufacturing and distribution of hardware to those who are more proficient at it than they are.
As reported by TheVerge, sources have been pointing to the fact that Valve may be working in conjunction with a variety of partners on the so called “Steam Box.” These partners would be capable of providing all the parts and manufacturing services necessary. Additionally,the software would be available to any company that wants to jump on board, effectively making the device open ended and free to license and release games on.
To back some of these rumors, apparently some meetings were held during CES this past year in Las Vegas where a demo unit was displayed to the actual partners working on the project. TheVerge was told that the “Steam Box” is set to include a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU as well as allow for a variety of rival gaming services – including EA’s Origin - to be loaded up.
Seeing as how Valve has its roots in the PC market, the “Steam Box” will naturally play any standard PC title as well as support a wide variety of USB peripherals. TheVerge noted that due to a patent filed last year by Valve, the “Steam Box” may in fact launch with a proprietary controller that allows for interchangeable parts in an effort to further the level of customization based upon the type and style of gaming being played.
If this all sounds a bit ambitious, you may be right, but Valve has also stated that this project is in no way an attempt to take on the current industry titans who have firmly concreted themselves in the market. Rather, Valve is looking towards services such as Apple TV in the hopes of providing users a more unbridled experience.
As it stands, no firm statements have actually been made by Valve aside from these subtle allusions and some speculate that an official announcement could come as soon as this year’s GDC while others seem to think that Valve will wait until the global phenomenon known as E3 before blowing the lid off this thing. Whatever the case, this whole thing brings to light a few nagging questions.
Regardless of what Valve decides to classify this thing as, do we really need another platform on which to play our games? Take Apple for example. There’s no denying that Apple has the time, the money, the manpower, and the desire to enter the gaming market. But why waste the resources on something that is already so saturated instead of delving into a new market? They obviously went with the latter of the two and introduced the world to casual, on the go gaming.
Valve’s little device could be a game changer if done properly, but from the sounds of it, it comes across an awful lot like a more focused, streamlined PC. And if that’s the case, at what point do we make the distinction between console and PC? Is Valve simply looking to blur the line between PCs and consoles or have we simply been looking at the whole argument the wrong way from the beginning?
The main argument I am presented with time and time again against PC gaming is the constant need for upgrading in order to stay on par with the current games. Therefore, Valve could simply be looking to establish the PC as a viable, affordable ‘console’ by providing users with a device that eliminates that need for upgrades so often. The “Steam Box” could be the jolt that PC gaming needs to regain it’s once dominant foothold.
Additionally, and this is a complete after thought, if this rumored device turns out to be true, it could very well mean that Half Life 3 (if it exists at all) would be a temporarily exclusive launch title. I know that would more than entice me to pick one up if that were the case.
Whatever the case, Valve has something big up its sleeve and an official announcement cannot come soon enough.