We’ve all heard about The Phantom, a console that went nowhere in a hurry, and OnLive has done well but not exactly taken off. We will surely learn more at E3 about Nintendo’s Wii U, and we may hear about the next version of Xbox and/or PlayStation hardware. But what about a new entry in the console race, one that already has a massive game library and cult following? Like, say, a new console from Valve? If the rumor’s to be believed, we may be on the verge of seeing just such a console.
An article at The Verge and comments at Penny Arcade indicate that Valve may very well be cooking up an all-new console powered by none other than Steam, Valve’s highly successful digital-distribution platform. Steam functionality is currently available on select PS3 titles, including Portal 2, but a straight-up Valve/Steam console would be something new entirely. And yes, it would be a direct competitor to the Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360 and PS3.
According to the article on The Verge,
Apparently meetings were held during CES to demo a hand-built version of the device to potential partners. We’re told that the basic specs of the Steam Box include a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU. The devices will be able to run any standard PC titles, and will also allow for rival gaming services (like EA’s Origin) to be loaded up.
Part of the goal of establishing a baseline for hardware, we’re told, is that it will give developers a clear lifecycle for their products, with changes possibly coming every three to four years. Additionally, there won’t be a required devkit, and there will be no licensing fees to create software for the platform.
It’s all rumor at this point — as is the thinking that the console will support a variety of USB accessories and the controller will be configurable — but it’s surely an intriguing development heading into GDC. If honest-to-goodness news actually breaks about a Steam-powered console from Valve, we’ll be sure to let you know.