The "Steam Box"

Reading this article got me thinking; We haven’t heard ANYTHING about the “Steam Box” for a while now.

Also, setting aside all of the nonsense about how the company’s internal politics work, the former employee spoken of in this article appears to indicate that Valve laid off it’s entire hardware group in February.

So maybe they hired an all new team and got right back on that, or maybe they didn’t, but it seems worth considering that they might have decided to let this concept quietly die after realizing they couldn’t make it cost effective…

Personally, I never understood the enthusiasm for the thing once I learned it would run on Linux. There just aren’t all that many AAA style games on Linux and when Steam ran some 50-title Linux game sale last year, it was like five Valve titles, three AAA titles from other publishers and 42 indie games of varying quality. But I wouldn’t be looking for a multi-hundred dollar system so I can play Super Meat Boy on my TV. Maybe it would eventually convince more publishers to port to Linux but it’d be a very disappointing ‘console’ launch library for an early adopter.

The idea of Valve putting out what is essentially a console is ridiculous.

The console arena is fairly crowded and extremely competitive, not to mention, extremely expensive. Even as successful as Valve has been in the PC space, I doubt they could risk the billions upon billions in R&D, subsidizing, marketing and support that it takes to put out a console. It takes the likes of Microsoft and Sony, willing to bleed money like stuck pigs for a LONG while, before the investment pays off.

Look at the Xbox. As a brand, it was recently STILL in the red. After two generations and billions of dollars, it’s still not making them a profit as a brand. That’ll likely change soon (if it hasn’t already), but it’s been one heck of a long journey. And it’s clear by their (original, at least) concept for the Xbone, that they see the future as a cross-media device, and not just a plastic box that plays video games.

In fact, I doubt the Steam box as a console was really something they were seriously considering. Rumors from early on intimated not a console-like device, but a standardization of hardware specs and partnerships with existing PC and PC parts manufacturers.

I don’t think the hardware engineers were working on a console, they seemed (again rumors) to have been working on new PC gaming peripherals.

Entirely believable, but somewhere along the way, people got the idea (with help from Gabe Newell’s big mouth, and referring to that “Piston” system (I think that’s what it was called?) as “A Steam box, not THE Steam box” ) that Valve was seriously considering some sort of set top box. To the point where for quite a while I was running into a LOT of people talking about “the Steam box” and speculating how it would crush all other “consoles” beneath it’s PC Gaming Boot. (After all…Big Picture Mode!)

Those people were dopes :slight_smile:

Here’s the list of Linux games on Steam in descending order of cost. Just to give some idea of what more recent or big titles are available on Linux.

Not counting the Valve titles, you have Serious Sam 3… ummm… X3? Crusader Kings II? Does anyone really want to pay $300 to play CK2 on their 50"?

Again, lots of indie titles and some of them are very nice games. But no one is out there saying “Hell yeah, gonna buy me a three hundred dollar console and play some Stacking on the big screen…”

Would it be possible, with the help of the GPU manufacturers, for Valve to create a DX wrapper that could be used on Linux systems to support any DX game?

I know you can intercept DX calls to the driver (it’s how overlays and things like ENB, and the fix for Dark souls PC resolution works), but I don’t know how efficient such a system could be, and I don’t know if it would be in violation of some sort of law or agreement/license with MS’s DX.

I have heard people speculate that THIS would be how Valve would make Linux viable - by wrapping the DX libraries, and possibly teaming up with Nvidia and AMD in order to offer better support for more open libraries (like OpenGL).