Valve sets the record straight on Steam Box rumors

By Lee Kaelin on March 9, 2012, 8:42 AM

Last week, rumors emerged that game developer Valve was secretly working on their own gaming console platform. This followed shortly after the company's co-founder Gabe Newell was quoted by Penny Arcade as saying: "Well, if we have to sell hardware we will." But it appears that isn't on the cards for now, with Valve’s marketing director Doug Lombardi stepping forward to quash rumors and set the record straight in an interview with Kotaku.

"We're prepping the Steam Big Picture Mode UI and getting ready to ship that, so we're building boxes to test that on," Lombardi said, in reference to their new interface that debuted at last year's Game Design Conference. Big Picture Mode is set to provide gamers with a larger Steam interface for those that connect their PC to a big TV.

"We're also doing a bunch of different experiments with biometric feedback and stuff like that, which we've talked about a fair amount." He continued, "all of that is stuff that we're working on, but it's a long way from Valve shipping any sort of hardware."

Lombardi would not say with any certainty that the company was not working on a "Steam Box" console, but when Kotaku asked, "what you're saying is, there's definitely nothing coming any time soon, nothing at GDC or E3, but what you're not ruling out is the possibility that, hey, maybe someday Valve would make hardware," he responded with, "I think that's accurate."

It also appears that the images of the console sized computer were a prototype made last year by one of Big Picture Mode’s team members, Greg Coomer. The hardware matches with the information in The Verge's report last week. "Greg's one of the guys leading the effort of the Big Picture mode," Lombardi said, "the idea is that you can take Steam to any display."

According to Lombardi, it was built by Coomer to provide the team with a computer for testing that would be representative of consumers PCs, and to also help them establish a baseline in terms of performance. He further commented, "we're always putting boxes together. Going all the way back to the Half-Life 1 days, we built special boxes to test our software render… it's just part of development."

Whilst the exact position seemed a little unclear, in a later update Lombardi confirmed that Valve would not be making any hardware, or partnering with other hardware makers anytime soon.

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