Gabe Newell, head of Valve, recently spoke to Kotaku and confirmed rumors that’ve been floating around since March that that the company will make a console-style PC powered by its Steam gaming platform. Newell said Valve would be one of the many businesses releasing compact PCs designed to be the hub of living room entertainment some time in 2013.
Having recently released Big Picture, a TV-friendly user interface for its Steam client, Valve marked an early step toward the goal of a branded PC. It moves all the features of Steam – from the game library to the store with serious sales – onto your TV with full or partial controller support for all titles. Newell said Big Picture, which just came out of beta last week, has received a strong positive response.
The new PC won’t be out right away, however. Valve is still finishing the Linux version of Steam and then needs to get Big Picture up and running on the OS. That focus means it’s possible that the Valve PC will be Linux-based rather than follow the Windows model in order to have a more carefully-defined user experience. “Our hardware will be a very controlled environment,” Newell said. “If you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general-purpose PC.”
In an unusual twist to the race, some of Valve’s future PC rivals in that sector will be coming with Steam preloaded. It will be interesting to see if the Valve name alone can carry it past the competition or if we’ll be seeing some unexpected breakthroughs in the experience and interface from another brand. Valve will also be going up against the next generation of consoles, with Xbox and PlayStation expected to release major new products in 2013. It seems unlikely that console gamers will give up those traditional platforms, but it would mark a huge change in the setup for PC players. The gaming community will certainly be keeping a close eye on the studio’s push into the hardware side. After all, the people responsible for revolutionary titles such as Half-Life 2 and Portal clearly have a good idea about what gamers want.