Valve CEO Gabe Newell told the BBC its upcoming Steam Box gaming system will be ready for testing within "three to four months". The Steam Box is Valve's answer to game consoles, with which it hopes to offer a "dumbed down" living room PC gaming experience before efforts by companies like Apple beat it to the punch.
Newell didn't share many specifics about the Steam Box, but said the company is still determining how much performance it can cram into its tiny PC-based game console. "There are noise issues and heat issues and being able to [deal with] that while still offering a powerful enough gaming experience is the challenge in building it." Newell told the BBC.
The interview also indicates that Valve has been working on novel technologies, like a controller equipped with a heart rate sensor.
"If you think of a game like Left4Dead - which was trying to put you into a sort of horror movie - if you don't change the experience of what the player is actually feeling then it stops being a horror game," Newell told the Beeb. "So you need to actually be able to directly measure how aroused the player is - what their heart rate is, things like that - in order to offer them a new experience each time they play."
The first glimmers of a possible Steam-powered gaming console appeared in March of last year. Numerous rumors followed, including the addition of "Big Picture" mode to Steam -- a feature geared toward improving Steam's TV and controller experience. However, the Steam Box had been all but officially confirmed until January's CES where Valve and Xi3 joined together to showcase a fist-sized computer labeled "Piston".
Xi3 wouldn't discuss specifics, but we noted the X7A -- the company's offering slated to be the supposed basis for the Steam Box -- weighed in at $999 and featured a quad-core AMD APU, up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM and up to 1TB of solid-state storage. X7A connectivity and expansion features included an ethernet port, 1/8" audio in/out, SPDIF optical audio, four USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, four powered eSATAp ports, two mini DisplayPort ports and a single DisplayPort/HDMI port.
Newell did not declare a price range for the Steam Box, but mentioned that Valve wouldn't be able to subsidize its hardware the same way game console makers do. Price "remains a major unknown" said Newell.