Valve’s “Steambox” a new console contender?

Rumours are fun. Especially when it comes to tech, and the latest rumour is Valve are working on a home console/mini-PC for the purposes of gaming in the living room.

After a meeting at CES, the specs revealed were simply a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GPU. This would come complete with a patented controller which could be configurable depending on the game you were playing.

Of course, this news also comes with a serious warning shot – Valve would not charge a licencing fee to put games on their machine. Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft do, and they make some serious money from it, and the idea of a competitor making sure that the barriers for development entry are low would help encourage the indie crowd and smaller development companies, and rob the other consoles of that market.

Equally, the Steambox would likely be the first console to be digital-only. Valve have Steam, a tried and tested interface. It would probably need a lick of paint before being put into a console, but it is entirely possible to run the whole shebang on a firmware solely based on Steam.

But perhaps the biggest warning is that Valve do not plan to build their computers alone – there is some talk that Valve have been talking to Alienware, and could see this machine built as a co-operative adventure.

However, it isn’t likely we’ll see much of it at GDC this week, as it would be in extremely early stages. However, an E3 reveal wouldn’t be a surprise, and be a real upset for the big three. Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are still based on decades-old rules of licencing, pricing and mid-term profits. A fourth rival in the market is unheard of, and would provide stiff competition.

Time will tell… but Valve clearly have ideas, and they’re clearly going for the jugular.

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