Valve has pushed PC video gaming into the future since their inception with their innovative solutions. Now it seems they have filed a patent application for a new type of reconfigurable handheld controller that will allow for a broad range of applications. The rumors whispered in the backrooms of the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) by unconfirmed sources is that this could be used with a potentially revolutionary new gaming console aptly dubbed the Steam Box.
The co-founder and president of Valve Corporation, Gabe Newell, has always been outspoken about pushing the envelope in terms of what a video game company can and should produce and with the success of the Half-Life series and the Portal series – not to mention the millennium’s most eagerly anticipated game and Source engine in Half-Life 3 – it is no surprise that Valve has won the hearts of many gamers.
Valve goes far beyond a traditional game maker, as their approach to open source gaming and the novel Steam outlet offers gaming content that is often readily available to the public for free, and also directly through Steam (bypassing the middle-man of store distributors).
This is important to consider as the rumor mill churns out a juicy gamer nugget: Valve may, as early as the Game Developers Conference (GDC) later this week, premier a new set-top PC gaming console that could be named Steam Box. Maybe Valve will wait until E3 in the summer, or maybe we, the ever-hungry consumers, will wait indefinitely for this exciting, rumored gaming endeavor.
The speculation is at this time largely unconfirmed, but what cannot be denied are the many rumors circulating, the various bits of substantiated information that have been dropped, and the insightful words of Mr. Valve himself, Gabe Newell.
Referring to the latter, Gabe recently reported to Penny Arcade: “Well, if we have to sell hardware we will,” though he later went on to say that he would prefer the hardware experts do it. This goes a way to help bolster the rumor that a Steam Box system would run on a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU.
If it is real, the Steam Box could become a disruptive force that moves console video gaming into digital distribution — the market Valve dominates.
The Steam Box concept could make disc-based gaming obsolete, and Valve would approach game studios to make titles that would play on the Box as a PC, which would allow developers to craft games without paying any licensing fees to the platform makers.
There is a picture floating around – and above these words – that a small form-factor PC that was built by a Valve employee might be the concept for the Steam Box. The picture below reveals a confirmed patent for Valve’s potentially revolutionary controller concept. The Steam Box could have USBs en masse allowing for traditional PC gamers to keep their keyboards, track balls, and mice handy, though the system would likely come equipped with the chameleon controller to handle all of their needs.
With the success of games on the iPad and iPhone, it has been rumored that Apple might move from the Apple TV into set-top gaming via download, but Valve might beat them to it. Check in later this week to see if any substantiated claims for the Steam Box have been revealed.