The Consumer Electronics Show has already seen a Steam Box revealed, a collaboration between Valve and hardware manufacturer Xi3. But Gabe Newell told The Verge in a far-reaching interview that it plans to create and sell its own very ambitious device.
"We’ll come out with our own and we’ll sell it to consumers by ourselves," Newell said. "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."
Newell said Valve will work with other companies (as it did with Piston) to encourage the growth of valuable systems even as it creates its own device--an unusual business mentality, but as long as everybody's buying and playing games through Steam, Valve is still getting its piece of the pie.
While much has been made about living room play, Newell says the Steam Box will eventually be a whole-house player--LAN parties very much welcome.
"The Steam Box will also be a server," he said. "Any PC can serve multiple monitors, so over time, the next-generation (post-Kepler) you can have one GPU that’s serving up eight simultaneous game calls. So you could have one PC and eight televisions and eight controllers and everybody getting great performance out of it."
Valve's put a lot of thought into input devices to compliment its much-anticipated box, and Newell said a controller with "higher precision and lower latency" would be an interesting addition. While Valve's R&D efforts have ranged into motion controls, Newell said they just haven't found much use for them (maybe "just failure of imagination on our part"). Instead, he thinks biometrics--especially gaze tracking--could be a perfect addition.
Newell didn't give any specific dates or figures for the Steam Box in the interview, which stretched from the technical to the philosophical, but the whole talk is still highly recommended reading.