Back when rumors of the Valve-powered PC/platform gaming device “Steam Box” started cropping up, we’ve been exposed to a lot of what Valve considers press information: a few coy smiles here and there, a flirtatious hint of a possible 2013 release.
Turns out the Steam Box is slated for a limited release before summer. At last night’s BAFTA, Gabe Newell explained that Valve would be “giving out some [Steam Box] prototypes to customers to gauge their reactions… in the next three to four months.”
“We’re working with partners trying to nail down exactly how fast we can make it,” Newell said. The biggest challenges, Newell said, were keeping the heat level of the device–and, subsequently, the ambient noise level–to a low, which retaining sufficient power required for the hardware inside.
Despite having an optimistic goal for the prototype release, there are still a few very important components up in the air. There has been little word of how the Steam Box will be controlled. At the moment, Newell explains “we have a couple of different controller prototypes that we’re using,” and that the Steam Box may ship with a couple different input devices, experimenting with “different play patterns” in its users. “You can directly measure player state, and it turns out to be very useful,” Newell stated.
There aren’t just undecided components, however. A few very important questions remain unanswered: At what price will Valve be able to competitively sell a device stacked against modern consoles and the PC? Will it release intermittent generational upgrades, or will the Steam Box allow for user-modified hardware upgrades to stay current when competing with desktop gaming?
Given the looming date of E3–that’s June 11th, kids–coinciding with this news, it wouldn’t be too unrealistic to assume we could see and play with the Steam Box prototype at the conference.