Gabe Newell Clarifies That Piston Is Not the "Steam Box"

| 9 Jan 2013 13:35

The big beard at Valve says the "Piston" PC unveiled yesterday is just one of several partner projects the company has on the go.

There was much excitement yesterday following the news from CES of "Piston," a tiny gaming PC being developed, with Valve's support, by a company called Xi3. Finally, the storied Steam Box had seen the light of day! Or had it? Was this in fact Valve's living room pseudo-console-type thing, or was it something else entirely?

The latter, as it turns out. Piston is just one of several hardware projects being developed by various companies with Valve's support, while Valve continues to work on its own hardware in-house. "We think that there are pluses and minuses to open systems that could make things a little messier, it's much more like herding cats, so we try to take the pieces where we're going to add the best value and then encourage other people to do it," Newell told The Verge. "So it tends to mean that a lot of people get involved. We're not imposing a lot of restrictions on people on how they're getting involved."

Newell talked about supporting the development of "good/better/best" tiers of hardware, ranging from low-cost streaming solutions to "whatever those guys want to manufacture," even when they don't necessarily jibe with what Valve thinks is best. "It's been surprisingly difficult when we say to people, 'Don't put an optical media drive in there,' and they put an optical media drive in there and you're like, 'That makes it hotter, that makes it more expensive, and it makes the box bigger.' Go ahead," he said.

Valve, for its part, is focused on building a system "that's quiet and focuses on high performance," he continued. "We'll come out with our own [system] 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. This is not some locked box by any stretch of the imagination. We also think that a controller that has higher precision and lower latency is another interesting thing to have."

Speaking of Linux, Newell also used the opportunity to take another shot at Windows 8. "It just hurts everybody in the PC business. Rather than everybody being all excited to go buy a new PC, buying new software to run on it, we've had a 20-plus percent decline in PC sales - it's like, 'Holy cow that's not what the new generation of the operating system is supposed to do'," he said. "There's supposed to be a 40 percent uptake, not a 20 percent decline, so that's what really scares me. When I started using it I was like, 'Oh my god...' I find [Windows 8] unusable."

Source: The Verge

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