Not much to this one, but it does inch us closer and closer to that oft-talked about, never seen Steam Box. According to German site Golem.de, Ben Krasnow, an electronics engineer at Valve (and amateur rocket scientist), let slip in Berlin at last month’s EHSM 2012 conference that 1) the Steam Box exists, 2) it will be running Linux, and 3) we’ll see it sometime this year.
First off, not surprising that it exists. Big Picture, after all, turns Steam from a solely PC, sit-at-your-desk experience to one akin to the sit-on-your-couch console one that really rakes in the big bucks. And that’s not to mention that it’s one of the worst kept secrets of the industry at this point, but what is at this point? Oh right. Nvidia Shield.
Secondly, Linux is pretty much a given. Some games on Steam have already started listening Linux requirements and Valve put Steam Linux into open beta just last month. Combine that with Valve managing director and co-founder Gabe Newell’s public disdain for Windows (he went so far as to call Windows 8 a “catastrophe” last July), it’s only fitting that we see Linux on this puppy.
So that leaves the third bit: a 2013 reveal. It makes sense, in a way, seeing as how we’ve spent so long just talking about it as if it were a real thing by now. Did Valve get tired of waiting for the new console generation? Did they think it would already be here? I guess it doesn’t really matter because whether Valve unveils it at GDC or E3 (the two most likely places for such an announcement), a conflicted triple-A gaming landscape will become further divided. XBLA, PSN, and Nintendo’s various platforms all show a push towards a purely digital experience, but Valve is already there. Valve doesn’t need discs to sell things on Steam whereas Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo still earn their bread and butter on those sales. This moves the Seattle-based developer directly into the console and first-party studio role, the same one the other three have been fulfilling for decades. Will Valve take the steam (yes, I hate myself) out of the new consoles?
Like I said, not much to this one. At least, not on the surface. Instead, this just opens the discussion and brings it just a bit closer to fruition the possibility of a collapsing console market. It’s kind of like how people only seem interested in talking about doomsday scenarios when an asteroid hurtles by just a bit too close to Earth or Rolland Emmerich makes another movie. This, I guess, is our asteroid report for the year. Go forth and speculate.