Steam Big Picture

There’s been a lot of confusion regarding Valve’s rumoured entry into the hardware market with the so-called ‘Steam Box.’ It began with comments from Valve last year that they were looking into stand-alone hardware that could run Steam and hook up to TVs, and has come to a head at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with a number of other companies showing off small, Steam-compatible PCs.

One such effort was announced on Tuesday by Xi3, and immediately drew ‘Steam Box’ headlines (including from ourselves) thanks to Valve’s investment in the company.

However, a couple of interviews today with Valve’s Tom Giardito (at and Gabe Newell (at Verge) should put an end to suggestions that any of the pieces of hardware on display at CES are the Steam Box.

Giardito says that Valve’s purpose at CES was to meet with other hardware manufacturers and explore how a Steam Box interface and standard might be reached. There is no single Steam Box and will be no Steam Boxes until “lengthy testing” (uh oh) has been undertaken.

Comments from Gabe Newell seem to support this. “We’ll come out with our own [Steam Box] and we’ll sell it to consumers by ourselves. That’ll be a Linux box, [and] if you want to install Windows you can. We’re not going to make it hard,” he told Verge. Newell also says that Valve is looking at making its own controller, focused on “super boring stuff all around latency and precision.”

In short: depending upon your definition, nobody has yet seen an authentic ‘Steam Box.’ Probably.

Valve are interested in manufacturing and selling their own version of a stand-alone, PC-capable system that will hook up to TVs with an HDMI cable and use Steam’s ‘Big Picture’ mode (pictured,) but it’s likely to be a fair way off.

In the mean time, other companies are making small, stand-alone PCs that can perform similar functions. These are boxes that can run Steam, but are not necessarily ‘Steam Boxes.’ Confused? I’m not surprised. Me too.

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