Valve Might Have its First Hardware Beta Out by Next Year
For years now, we’ve heard rumor after rumor regarding Valve and its potential production of high-end consumer hardware, specifically products likened to a “Steam Box”, a living-room-focused computer dedicated to running Steam games. And with the recent launch of Big Picture Mode, which reformats Steam’s user interface into something more television and controller-friendly, the hardware division of one of the industry’s most beloved software companies has a compelling albeit uncertain future.
That’s why it’s interesting to hear that the team’s hardware lead Jeri Ellsworth, also notable for her inventing/hacking/YouTube darling career gone by, has given a few subtle hints into what the makers of Half-Life are up to in the hardware realm.
“To make Steam games more fun to play in your living room,” said Ellsworth to Engadget in a recent interview. That’s the one-year goal for the hardware squad at Valve. Their entire focus, parallel to that of Big Picture Mode, is to bring PC gaming into the living room, eliminating the control scheme (read: mouse and keyboard) that a more mainstream consumer might consider inaccessible.
That’s not to say that mouse and keyboard support is going away, quite the contrary, they’re simply adding more accessible, traditional methods of input for a larger audience of users.
Ellsworth wouldn’t pinpoint what exactly the team was working on, be it a ready-to-ship Steam Box or simply add-on hardware of some kind, but she also didn’t eliminate anything from the realm of possibility.
Heck, Valve could be working on a market-ready, USB-powered Death Ray with 4G LTE support. You wouldn’t even know.
From what was mentioned in the interview, it appears that Valve plans to, like most of its projects, release these products in some form of a beta to its consumer base. Ellsworth hopes to have one of the team’s first products out in the coming year. This process will be tied to Steam in some way, but no logistics have been properly laid out.
As for those “wearable computing initiatives”, she says it’s going to be at least “two to five years” before that possibility comes to fruition. However, do keep in mind that this hardware team might also run on the company’s ever-loved Valve Time, so keep your timely expectations in check.
But if you’re serious about that Death Ray, Valve, give me a call – we’ll work out a deal or something.