Just when I thought the Consumer Electronics Show was going to be a complete bore for gaming news, this shows up. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Steam Piston – a prototype version of what at this point is essentially Gabe Newell‘s vision of the future of gaming. One of several prototypes, anyway, according to the reports coming in from people present on the floor. I suppose you could say this makes sense, since steam can power many pistons at once, but honest to God there’s no way to make that sound witty – so let’s move on and talk about what other details have been revealed about this hardware.
The answer is, “not much”. Past coverage would indicate that Valve is toying with the idea of a Linux-based dedicated gaming console – potentially combining the ‘open’, modifiable nature of a PC with the reliability and hardware standardization of a Playstation or Apple product. Valve’s focus seems to be on making this compatible with the entire Steam library out of the gates if it does come to fruition, which would be the equivalent of a console launching with a massive (if not brand-spanking new) library already present. Honestly, it sounds like an interesting idea – I truly wonder if a satisfactory, popular halfway point between a PC and a console could be found.
Specifications are utterly vague at this point, however. I mean, you can look at that lead-in pic and count all the ports, but that’s not a final build – and really, the big surprise there is ‘it has an ethernet port and USB’? C’mon. The only other information of note right now seems to be that the hardware aim is comparable to hardware with a $999 price point – but somehow, I’m skeptical of that. It just seems too expensive, and remember, this product will be competing with already-existing PCs that can access the Steam library.
Still, it’s exciting to see this long-rumored piece of hardware show up in the spotlight a little more. Time will tell how far Valve goes with this.