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Valve-funded Steam-optimized PC coming from Xi3

Valve-funded Steam-optimized PC coming from Xi3

Tue 08 Jan 2013 3:21am GMT / 10:21pm EST / 7:21pm PST
Hardware

Both companies partner for a Big Picture-focused gaming PC

PC hardware vendor Xi3 has announced the development of a system designed to support Valve's Steam service and its Big Picture mode. Valve has invested an undisclosed amount in Xi3 to complete the system, which is being shown off in Xi3's Modular Computer chassis. The "grapefruit-size" system is being showcased at Valve and Xi3's booths at CES 2013.

"Today marks the beginning of a new era for Xi3," said Jason A. Sullivan , founder, President and CEO of Xi3. "This new development stage product will allow users to take full-advantage of their large high-definition TV displays for an amazing computer game experience. As a result, this new system could provide access to thousands of gaming titles through an integrated system that exceeds the capabilities of leading game consoles, but can fit in the palm of your hand."

xi3

Xi3's originally-proposed Modular Computer.

Xi3 launched a Kickstarter for its Modular Computer in September of 2012, but the funding drive ended far short of the $250,000 goal.

Xi3 showed off its prototype unit - code-named Piston - to Polygon, based on the X7A model detailed in the Kickstarter. The unit features four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, four eSATAp ports, two Mini Display Port ports and one DisplayPort/HDMI port. The X7A model was previously listed as a 3.2 GHz quad-core 64-bit, x86-based processor, integrated with up to 384 graphics shader cores, and 8GB of DDR3 RAM.

[Image via Polygon]

47 Comments

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
Voila. The gauntlet has been thrown down for next gen consoles and what they need to offer the core gamer.
Gabe knows what he is doing, does not mess around and tends to succeed. He has put his money where his mouth is with this one, so it is likely to be a runner.

Just now we are seeing amazing platform proliferation as the traditional consoles collapse at a time when gaming is rapidly expanding as a ubiquitous worldwide leisure activity. All sorts of players are trying to take advantage of the disruption by grabbing market share. Most, obviously, will fail. Gaming platforms need a critical mass to succeed.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Andreia Quinta Creative & People Photographer, Studio52 London

224 590 2.6


And even so, this is targeted at a very specific audience, and I would assume mostly that that audience already has rigs/gaming laptops and would rather spend the money upgrading rather than in this. 1000$ just to not be bothered plugging HDMI from your PC/laptop to the TV is quite a stretch.
I understand what are the intentions, but the existing market for this is small.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Patrick Williams Medicine and Research

93 61 0.7
As soon as I heard that Valve was exploring linux, it made me think of how it would be a convenient way to diminish the price of their hardware. However, the problem with linux is that it raises the question of how many games will be supported on the piston. While Valve tried to lead the way with the MacOS, few developers sadly followed suit. Why should we expect people to do the same with the piston and linux?

Posted:A year ago

#3

Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent

280 810 2.9
@Bruce

I agree. Although, isn't there a contradiction of sorts there? If the traditional console is collapsing as you attest, then how is a brand new games console announcement an indication of that? Isn't it just a tangential embodiment of the same thing? Perhaps I'm just misunderstanding your reasoning; if that's the case, let me apologise in advance.

My take is that, like you say, more choice for both consumers and developers is a good thing. If consumers flock to a digital download model and an open-door policy to modders and indies, it may push the traditional platform holders onto a more interesting track than their frankly bloody-minded obsession with control currently has them running along. What do you reckon?

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Dan Howdle on 8th January 2013 9:28am

Posted:A year ago

#4

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Dan Howdle

The 3 main console holders are control freaks, with their walled gardens, precisely to ensure revenue goes to them and not to pirates or parallel providers.
Now that gaming is exploding to ubiquity, and the three main console holders have become niche players, people are seeing opportunities. Frankly some are seeing opportunities that aren't really there are they strive to emulate the failing business model of the existing platform holders.

I still think that Apple could become an immense player in the home gaming market. If they just repeated their app store business model on a simple box that plugs into a TV they could destroy the 3 existing console providers. We will see.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Dan Howdle Head of Content, Existent

280 810 2.9
@Bruce

Interesting stuff. Exciting times ahead!

Posted:A year ago

#6

Andrew Animator

148 158 1.1
@Bruce

I don't think at this point you can safely desribe Sony, Nintendo or Microsft as niche. Sure, there's a lot of competition out there but that does not guarantee the new players success or the old players failure.

All of these new gaming platforms are unproven in the marketplace and it is guaranteed that some of them will not see sucess. I wouldn't dare to predict what will happen over the next year, it could go any direction. It is exciting though.

As for this steam box, one thing it has going for it is that it doesn't require and developer / publisher support, so, if they can convince the consumer they will have a winner. But, their biggest competitor is themselves. I have a rig at home capable of playing any pc game on my tv, why would I buy another box just to do exactly the same? Also, I don't know how easily you could tempt a hardcore console gamer over to a steam based system.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Andrew on 8th January 2013 10:12am

Posted:A year ago

#7

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,178 967 0.8
Open consoles are the dream and here we have another potential one. Could be on the pricier end for a HTPC of sorts but its definitely a step in the right direction and a worthy addition to the market.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Brian Smith Artist

196 85 0.4
@ Bruce - An Apple box that plugged into the TV would be interesting but Apple wouldn't be able to do it without putting a stupid price tag on it.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

527 786 1.5
@Alex
I have a rig at home capable of playing any pc game on my tv, why would I buy another box just to do exactly the same?
I'm pretty sure you're not the target market, in that case. I'm sure there's plenty of people who'd love a gaming PC but are put off by a number of things, such as form factor, price, etc. I have my high end PC sat in my living room plugged into both a monitor at a desk and my 40" TV in front of the sofa, but then I live alone and can do whatever I want. Not everyone (kids, people living with families etc) has that luxury. It'd be a hell of a lot easier to take to a LAN party, if you're into that kind of thing.

Posted:A year ago

#10

Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic Arts

199 56 0.3
@Bruce I think sometimes on here we think to much in terms of our own consumtion. The walled garden referred to is not hurdle for many of my non industry friends, all they want is to play a great game on thier console they don't care about linux, or specs or Apple TV's, the same thing applies to many of my younger cousins too. They want plug and play at an affordable price so the costs listed for this unit are way above what most comsummers will pay. I do agree that apple is in the best position to bring in a game changer as they have the consumer base and that apple useability thats is so desirable. Still interesting times ahead.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic Arts

199 56 0.3
@Dave Do people still have Lan parties?Wow that brings back memories of Quake!

Posted:A year ago

#12

Andrew Animator

148 158 1.1
@Dave

If you look at the steam box as a console style accessible PC I don't think it works. It will suffer many of the pitfalls of normal PC gaming, the biggest of which is tuning each game to run well for the given hardware. I can well imagine that putting off any target audience expecting a console style experience.

[EDIT] I would love to see LAN parties make a come back!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew on 8th January 2013 11:58am

Posted:A year ago

#13

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
@ Lewis

Yeah, we still occassionally organise LAN parties. One of the downsides is that hefting a decent gaming PC around is hard work when only 1 of the people going to the party drives a car. :(

@ Alex

I can't remember if it was speculation or actual talk of the Steambox, but I do remember reading that the way around the "every game has to be tuned" problem is a benchmark that creates an auto config file for optimum play. One further step of this would be to ask questions during and after the bench - "Would you like smoother gameplay or more effects?", for instance.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Jolyon Leonard Senior Designer, Climax Group

5 4 0.8

Posted:A year ago

#15

Andrew Animator

148 158 1.1
@ Morville

I guess the only problem with that is the back catalogue won't support a feature like that, and developers would need to be encouraged to adopt it.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Sandy Lobban Founder and Creative Director, Noise Me Up

315 208 0.7
Valve are going for the community driven content delivered to the masses, and more importantly out of the bedroom and into the living room. I cant see how that would fail the way steam is growing. They might end up being forced down the walled garden route as well though when a contender comes along. You just don't know. Time will tell on that. Just look at the service battles in TV suppliers. Virgin vs Sky in the UK. That's the kind of future that's evolving here for games. As content creators its still great news. More people playing games is good. It'll come down to content and pricing as always.

Posted:A year ago

#17
I wouldn't be surprised if Valve made it a requirement to release on Steam that developers where forced to support this. They definitely will get more prominent exposure by Steam.

If that happens this could be a viable platform (with respect to games) very easily although I can't really see how it can hope to compete with the new xBox at half the price. My guess is Valve are still hoping to convince Microsoft to open Windows 8 which is NOT going to happen.

@Brian - What Apple will try to do is what they did with the iPhone. Get someone else other than themselves or the consumer to pay for it. In the case of the phone it was the carriers and in the case of AppleTV it will be the cable TV networks. The problem with that strategy is there is no Steve Jobs at Apple to make that happen and the cable TV networks aren't playing ball.

Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are already in these markets and they aren't Nokia running a POS OS like Symbian. It's not going to happen.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Owens on 8th January 2013 2:03pm

Posted:A year ago

#18

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,130 1,162 1.0
If Sony is able to create a console using off the shelf components, then so can Valve. This is not a matter of which company has a secret science lab with market shattering technology. This is a war of who can market standardized components the best. Sure, you can create something such as the Cell processor, but in hindsight, there was no upside to designing it.

The crucial moment in the next generation console cycle will be 18 months after release. Then Steam will have a platform which supports the idea of a minor hardware iteration with full backwards compatibility. The real strength of the Apple way of doing things: sell a new iPhone to the same people each year. What is the next PS and Xbox going to do when Valve effortless moves to 4k support with better framerates?

My bets are on Gabe Newell.

Posted:A year ago

#19

Nick Parker Consultant

287 156 0.5
How many ways does the 50m Steam community need to access its catalogue? Nvidia ties up with Valve for its own handheld Project Shield device to access Steam catalogue. There will be others as well as any Internet connected consumer electronics device and it's own UI.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nick Parker on 8th January 2013 2:49pm

Posted:A year ago

#20

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
How many ways does the 50m Steam community need to access its catalogue?
The real question is, what is the upper limit of people who want to play PC games and have a media device that looks snazzy? Sure, 50m people currently have a Steam account, but how many of those people are stay-at-home moms, for instance? The Steambox is Valve's attempt to bring PC gaming to a wider demographic. The Shield might be a nice idea, but it's not a home media device, and it's aiming at the section of PC games that play well with controllers. But the Piston? Drop a decent wireless gaming keyboard/mouse combo in, and you can potentially play Company of Heroes 2 on a 50inch 1080p screen, then switch over to streaming iPlayer, watch Dark Night Returns on Netflix, and finish off with watching the latest episode of Community that's been Torrenting in the background.

Edit to add:

And this is all without the much vaunted Valve-designed input devices that everyone knows are on the way.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 8th January 2013 3:47pm

Posted:A year ago

#21

Mihai Cozma Indie Games Developer

124 34 0.3
Same here, my gaming rig/work machines are all in my attic, and my big tv is in front of a sofa two levels down bellow. There is no way I could plug one into another, but on the other side I can just use the controller with my PC and some big monitors.

Posted:A year ago

#22

Mihai Cozma Indie Games Developer

124 34 0.3
Why not having the Steam games preconfigured for the box by default, or automatically configured through some profiles when ran on a steam box?

Posted:A year ago

#23

Gareth Jones Senior Software Engineer, BBC

49 118 2.4
@Bruce, I wonder sometimes how someone can post so much and yet so little at the same time. Do you consider remarks like "gaming platforms need a critical mass to succeed" insightful? Isn't this the case with pretty much any product that has ever gone on sale?

I'm not flaming you. I am just genuinely intrigued by you and your posts and wonder why you do it. If it wasn't for the fact that each of your posts are vaguely related to the topic of the article I would think you were a spam bot. I just can't understand the point sometimes and would appreciate your time in explaining.

Anyway, as much as I love the look of this little rig, I find myself less excited about it than I thought I would be about hardware that Valve is involved with. Perhaps I just need to see more of what it can do and the service that will inevitably follow it, or perhaps I was just expecting something more interesting from Valve. I hope it's the former!

Posted:A year ago

#24

Anthony Chan Analyst, CPPIB

91 79 0.9
This is all fancy stuff. However, even though Valve's leadership has a very good track record, I might have to stand on the side of doom and gloom here. Before we even look at the tech and operating system, we really need to wonder is there a true market for computer gaming in front of a tv - specifically from a couch on an armchair? I would venture the actual demand may be much smaller, and the Xi3 Piston is actually the niche.

The dynamics and ergonomics of computer gaming (even with wireless peripherals) from a couch do not feel the same. The main point of gaming on a computer as opposed to a console (from an ergonomic perspective) is the comfort of using a mouse and keyboard at a desk or a dedicated "station". I have tried to play from my TV many games on PC and none of them feel right. One might say, well it's your furniture setup, and that might be true. So then, that means the only way to game comfortably from your couch is to make your living room look like nerd kingdom. If that is the case, how big is your target market then? The draw of traditional consoles is that it fits into your living room, bedroom, basement. These rooms do not have to look any different. They become home theatre pieces as opposed to just gaming pieces - and their function also validates that.

With the piston, this is gaming first, any other functions (eg. Netflix, Hulu, Vudu streaming, Blu-ray, etc) are secondary. This renders the Piston a niche item, which then limits its capability to actually put up a fight with "traditional consoles".

EDIT: which made me just think of one point. A lot of the ideas posted here are extremely interesting. Often I find many of the ideas and points speak to as if they are the majority, but in fact most of us are actually the niche. Bruce did mention gaming is becoming a uqibitious leisure activity. However, that is exactly it. Target demographics are changing. Games and consoles that appeal to the "casual" demographic tend to do better and last longer. Outside of this website, the "steambox" is really just a fancy niche idea that really does not fly in RL.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Anthony Chan on 8th January 2013 5:43pm

Posted:A year ago

#25

Christopher Garratty European Counsel, Electronic Arts

83 98 1.2
Don't know who this is targeted at to be honest.


- People who don't know PC's will be able to pick up a console for the same or less.

As for this being able to jump up to "4K with better frame rates" at the drop of a hat, I'm not sure where people think they are going to put the graphics card for that, but it is not inside that diddy little box.

This looks like an expensive decent spec HTPC to me. I can count on one hand the number of people I know who would buy one of these over the much rumoured next gen PS / Xbox, especially given that PS3 and 360 already do most of the web browsing, Netflixing, YouTubing stuff that most people use PCs for most of the time.

Posted:A year ago

#26

Laurens Bruins Jaywalker, Jaywalkers Interactive

135 158 1.2
Conversely, Gareth, your opinion was well reasoned, highly informative and thought-provoking! ...Just let it go and keep it on topic, ok? (Bashing Bruce is so 2012. Bashing Bruce... Bashing Bruce sounds like a great protagonist, by the way!)

I don't have much though, since I generally don't see the use of anything until I have it and suddenly can't remember what I used to do without it. I don't care if it's a cube or a sphere, I just want a cheap, fast thing with a proper controller I can play awesome games on. It seems like this one has the fast and the games covered, but I'd guess much will depend on the price tag.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Laurens Bruins on 8th January 2013 6:29pm

Posted:A year ago

#27

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Gareth Jones

Most products don't need a critical mass in the way that game consoles do. Let me explain.
Consoles at launch are usually sold at or near a loss with the money made on the game sales.
To make it worthwhile to make a game requires an established base of installed consoles. If this base is too low it will be impossible for a game to make a profit, so it will not be worth developing that game. However if the installed base is such that it is worth developing for then the technical term "critical mass" is used to describe this.

Next an explanation of the term "attach rate".

Posted:A year ago

#28
This is just a PC in a small form factor, presumably pre-loaded with Windows. I can't see this getting any traction at all - unless Steam decide to take a BIG loss on the hardware. For instance, the next MS console will be much more powerful than this, be a lot cheaper, and have the backing of MS.

Posted:A year ago

#29

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,130 1,162 1.0
@Christopher

I am not jumping to conclusions, but you have to contrast the utterly passive approach of Sony/Microsoft and their doctrine of "no change to hardware specs for fear of the tiniest bit of fragmentation" with Apples model of incremental improvements and shifts in what marketing prominently advertises (e.g. Retina Displays) to trigger a re-purchase. If the iPhone had never been updated in as many years as the consoles did not get updated, we would not care about it today as much.

Steam is prepared for that new Apple style of "reasonably fragmented platform" like none of their competitors. The very nature of their product causes all their releases to be pre-equipped for future updates before the hardware is even out. That is powerful leverage in an ongoing console war.


@Bruce
Steam has been selling games long enough to know a thing or two about the money they earn every day. They can use money from every single Steam user to subsidize and push their Steambox, not just the money from the first few who buy a game on Steambox. The studios developing games are not doing it for the love of the Steambox, they get the entire PC market first and then the "newPC" on top of it. This Valve hardware is not something that needs to be fueled by an attach rate, it is vice versa the result of the money from the current service being put to new uses.

This is not an egg that needs to successfully develop into a chicken laying golden egg. This is the golden egg directly plugged from the rear end of one big chicken. While Sony and MS will scramble this year to announce games for their new consoles which are due in some "release window", Valve will kick back and say "yeah, we will have most of those as well and until they are out we have a metric ton of other games to sell you".


Wishlist for Bruce's Next Explanation: Disruptive Innovation

Posted:A year ago

#30

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
While Sony and MS will scramble this year to announce games for their new consoles which are due in some "release window", Valve will kick back and say "yeah, we will have most of those as well and until they are out we have a metric ton of other games to sell you".
Indeed. Games sell the system. It's why I've got a Wii, but only a handful of games for it - The Last Story and the Metroid Trilogy alone make it worth it. The large number of multi-platform games that also appear on PC are a definite plus for the Steambox (in whatever form it'll take). But, conversely, it's not the be-all-and-end-all. No new Halo (that's MS exclusive). No Uncharted (That's Sony). No Mario or Zelda (Nintendo). The value of platform exclusive titles is an interesting one with this. Hardware manufacture and R&D have always been losses for console companies, so they've always placed a high value on their exclusive brands. The PC has none, but also has a broader selection than any single system.

So I think the Steambox really does have the possibility to be disruptive.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 8th January 2013 8:35pm

Posted:A year ago

#31

Julian Cram Project Manager, Appster

49 27 0.6
No indication of if has WiFi or not.

Needs to have it built in to be successful.

Posted:A year ago

#32

ed

1 0 0.0
It sounds like its basically just going to be a custom AMD A10 Based system, that chip has 384 stream processors, is a quad core, and can run at 3.2 Ghz although the lowest clocked right now is the A10 5700 which runs at 3.4 base. Im curious to know if they're going to go the dual graphics route and package it with something like a 7670 as well. If they do go this route than that will mean that it has very similar hardware to what the PS4 will "supposedly" have. One way or another this will definitely be an interesting console generation.

http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/Bulldozer/TYPE-A10-Series.html

Edited 1 times. Last edit by ed on 8th January 2013 9:45pm

Posted:A year ago

#33

Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer

572 316 0.6
Wake me up when Valve facilitates the funding of modders and mappers - so they don't have to starve while they shoulder 100% of the prototyping and mapping burden.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 8th January 2013 11:40pm

Posted:A year ago

#34

Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer

572 316 0.6
Also, my guess is that a lot of older Valve games will not be supported on this.

Posted:A year ago

#35

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
@ Tim
From:
http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/8/3852144/gabe-newell-interview-steam-box-future-of-gaming

Also, obviously older Valve titles will support this. Valve are setting about adapting their own games for Linux, they're not going to ignore in-house titles. In fact, they'll be the first games to support all this, no doubt. The real question is third-party titles.

Posted:A year ago

#36

Christopher Garratty European Counsel, Electronic Arts

83 98 1.2
@Klaus: Comparing the mobile market and the console market doesn't sit well with me. A mobile used to have a lifespan of 6-12 months tops, by then it would be obsolete. Now that phones are more advanced and can be updated and refreshed with new firmware and software that lifespan has jumped up to 18-24 months. Conversely, console lifespans are shortening from ~10 years, down to ~7 years. If anything these are going to meet in the middle as software improvements fill in the gap that hardware improvements used to. Also, the cost of a mobile phone is heavily subsidised by the TelCo. If you had to spend $600 on each incremental iPhone update I doubt they would be as popular as they are now.

If we're going to see the Valve box incrementally improve every 6 months then I am really lost as to who (outside of rabid slathering Valve fanboy/girls) would want one. One of the advantages of a console is that it is a known quantity. Once you buy a PS3 you know that every PS3 game ever released will work on it. Conversely, a PC allows you to update individual elements piecemeal as software is developed that can take advantage of (or would be limited by) your current hardware. The steambox lacks the certainty that next year's benchmarking, Crysis-esque title will run on it, and at the same time cannot be upgraded with off-the-shelf parts (since they will all have to come through Xi3). It's the worst of both worlds.



I'm not going to write off Valve, they obviously know what they are doing or they wouldn't be where they are now, but this all seems a bit thin on details to be saying it's going to disrupt the console market.

Posted:A year ago

#37
What is the notice? This is cute expensive pc nothing more, many people alredy have pc on the living room.

Posted:A year ago

#38

Mariusz Szlanta Producer, SEGA Europe

31 27 0.9
I don't think it's about bringing PC to the living room.

Big Picture Mode is central to Valve's strategy and there is little that's PC about it. It's all about console gaming experience with pads and couches.

This little box offers console form of entertaiment with access to online shop that's light years ahead of competition. It's meant to be played with pad and keyboard and mouse support is just a bonus.

I also don't think this is the flagship piece of hardware Valve is going to introduce. Total sales lethargy of console platform holders put them in perfect position for poaching. Good and cheap hardware from Valve with brilliant shop, massive catalogue of games, no artifical barriers and restrictive release policy can do a lot of good for customers.

Posted:A year ago

#39

Craig Page Programmer

384 220 0.6
The prices on these things are way too high, $499 for their 32GB model, $1003 for their 64GB x7A model? You know most people feel the same way based on the lack of kickstarter pledges, only 4 people wanted their $499 model, and just 2 people wanted their $1003.

And why would they put linux on it? That's not an OS for games, that's an OS for servers and hackers.

For $1003 you could build your own gaming PC that is so powerful, it would be illegal to export from the US to Iran, North Korea, or Cuba.

Posted:A year ago

#40

Christopher Garratty European Counsel, Electronic Arts

83 98 1.2
I obviously missed the part where this is cheap hardware. That box was intended to retail for ~$1,000 according to the Kickstarter page, and based on the "What's inside" piece, it's also rather underpowered clocking in at "a bit better than PS3 / Xbox 360". I shudder to think what the price of a top end box would be.

Unless Valve can pare down that price a lot you are going to be much better off getting an ITX based Intel Core HTPC which you can upgrade with off the shelf parts. It will work out much cheaper for a better (non-Atom) spec, it will run Windows (and therefore *all* Steam, Origin, GoG etc games) out of the box so it will be compatible with the entire catalogue (min-spec allowing), not just the stuff that has been ported to Linux.

I'm just a lawyer, so maybe I'm missing something here. I just don't get where the benefit is in owning this... thing.

Posted:A year ago

#41

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
Re: The comments about price.



@ Craig
For $1003 you could build your own gaming PC that is so powerful, it would be illegal to export from the US to Iran, North Korea, or Cuba.
I've built something far better than the Dell I mention above, for about $700. But then, neither Dells, nor Alienware machines, nor, I think, the Steambox, is aimed at the section of the market that builds their own PCs. The modular aspect is the most technical that the average console gamer or generic family user could cope with.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 9th January 2013 4:17pm

Posted:A year ago

#42

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,130 1,162 1.0
@Christopher

I do not believe in a 6 months cycle. But think of it in your average two year developer cycle. You start a project now. Target platform is the next Sony, the next MS and the Valve thing. All three boxes are bound by the laws of physics, so all three will have roughly the same power. There will be no lead platform so to speak. Then the next development cycle starts. Sony and MS platforms remain the same, while the Steambox iterates ahead. Either the Steambox now becomes the lead platform (advantage) or it simply remains supported (no disadvantage either). But at the customer end of the deal, Valve now has the better arguments. With each development cycle completed, Steam will have even better arguments. Compatibility with older hardware is not a current PC issue, in a world of only two CPU and two GPU manufacturers left, the largest hurdle today is a driver for some new and obtuse NIC. It will, however, be a matter of developers offering low settings for older hardware. Since Sony/MS are fairly static, these lower settings exist, even today.

Other statements of Gabe Newell seem to indicate a shift from a platform holder controlled system, to a content provider controlled system. EA wants a Origin store on XBL and PSN? Too bad, won't happen. What is stopping you on Steambox? Not much really, and certainly nothing. if Windows can be installed on there.

If you are already building your own PC, or own a gaming PC, then the Steambox is not for you. But for a long time, there was one room in the house which was out of reach for the Steamservice and suddenly there is a way to bring it there. That is meaningful competition to MS/Sony/Nintendo, because the Operating System of this new competitor allows for an unheard amount of options for content providers.

Posted:A year ago

#43

Christopher Garratty European Counsel, Electronic Arts

83 98 1.2
@Klaus: You assume that Steambox v1 will be on par with next gen consoles (if/when they arrive). Personally I don't think it will be. I also don't see a compelling reason for a PS3 or 360 owner to jump to a Steambox rather than wait for a new generation of consoles at some point in the future that will let them keep their friends, gamerscore, potential back catalogue of games and movies already purchased etc. If you don't want to iterate your Steambox then you are in the same boat as console gamers except you are getting on at a late stage and when the next gen lands you'll be underpowered and possibly eventually unsupported. If you do want to iterate then you are in for an expensive time having bought a Steambox for $1,000 then the modular upgrades later and if developers stick with lowest common denominator programming then the benefits of increased performance will not be seen. Then there's the price $1,000 (plus upgrades) is the sort of money that only enthusiasts are going to spend and they know better than to get shafted for buying proprietary modules when an HTPC does more for less and is more economically and flexibly upgradeable.

I get why it is good, or at least not bad for development, but as I said before, I just don't get the consumer that this is for. It's certainly not for me. I'm too tech savvy and will build my own. It's not for my less well informed gamer mates as they don't know or care about the Valve / Steam brand, (they know EA because I work for them, but that doesn't stop some of them asking if I know what the next CoD will be like) they know Sony, Ninty and MS, that's about it, they're pretty much mainstream console people who would never dream of getting an HTPC when the PS3 can stream content from a media server, play blu-rays, play films from external storage, stream iPlayer, Netflix et al. Existing PC gamers might be tempted, but they already have a PC and buy games via Steam so Valve won't see a lot more money coming from them even if they can persuade them to buy the box.

It's going to take one hell of an advertising campaign to shift these imho.

Posted:A year ago

#44

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,193 1,170 0.5
At the end of the day, the second you can't access content you've paid for on a device that doesn't seem to work offline at all, that's pretty much going to kill anything resembling fun for any gamer who just wants a more pure plug 'n play experience. Still, I guess it'll sell well enough thanks to the reputation Valve and Steam have among their current users who aren't building their own hardware to the specs they want...

Posted:A year ago

#45

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
Well, two things to that, Greg. :)

1) Yes, Valve really really need to work on the Offline mode. How it currently works is quite flawed, and there's many people who hate it.

2)
the second you can't access content you've paid for on a device that doesn't seem to work offline at all, that's pretty much going to kill anything resembling fun for any gamer who just wants a more pure plug 'n play experience
What, like I bought The Last Story for my Wii, tried to play it, and was told that I had to download a Wii firmware update, without which I couldn't even start the game? :p

Posted:A year ago

#46

Mariusz Szlanta Producer, SEGA Europe

31 27 0.9
I was thinking about future hardware from Valve rather than Piston when typing about cheap price, sorry for not putting it down clearly.

Piston is, obviously, too expensive to be anything else than market probe/R&D project.

Posted:A year ago

#47

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