Gabe Newell, CEO of PC game digital distribution pioneer Valve has confirmed the company’s plans to enter the hardware market with a PC based device allowing customers to play purchased games directly on their televisions. In a recent talk with Kotaku, Newell made the following comments on the device which is set to be made available in 2013,
“Well certainly our hardware will be a very controlled environment,” he said. “If you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general purpose PC. For people who want a more turnkey solution, that’s what some people are really gonna want for their living room.
“The nice thing about a PC is a lot of different people can try out different solutions, and customers can find the ones that work best for them.”
While the decision to compete directly with current console manufacturing giants Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo is certainly a bold move by Valve, isn’t all too surprising. It has in fact been suspected for some time that the Half-Life series developer has been preparing a television-orientated service whereby customers can purchase, play and communicate with friends without the need for a keyboard and mouse.
May of last year saw the discovery of patents applications made by Valve on a controller with interchangeable parts. With a range including D-pad, thumb sticks and trackballs the controller would allow essentially any game to be played from the comfort of the living room sofa. An official announcement by Valve on these controllers has yet to be made.
Support for the navigation of their digital distribution service Steam via third party controllers was successfully implemented earlier this month with the official release of their ‘Big Picture‘ update. The update adds the ‘daisywheel’ where keyboard inputs are intuitively mapped to a controller and supported in over 20 languages, as well as custom web browser that can be accessed while playing a game.
VIDEO (Big Picture trailer):
No information on what type of operating system Valve ‘console killer’ will be running and how customisable has been made available, however it is likely to feature a bespoke blend of Linux. This ties into Valve’s plans to bring the Steam service over to Linux users very soon. In fact, over the last few days many Steam titles have been spotted with Linux system requirements added to their product pages even though Linux support is not officially offered at this time.
Valve dominating the world of PC game digital distribution while the complains against similar services on the big three home consoles run sky high. If Valve were indeed able to release a ‘console’ of their own at a competitive price then and were able to maintain their frequent and extremely generous Steam sales then we will undoubtedly see a huge power shift in the realms of television based gaming. If I were Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, I’d be shaking in my boots.