Piston is ‘a’ Steam Box, not ‘the’ Steam Box

Yesterday’s reveal of the long-awaited Steam Box wasn’t quite what it seemed.

Yes, Xi3’s Piston is certainly going to be ‘a’ notable Steam Box. But it’s not ‘the’ Steam Box, the details of which Valve boss Gabe Newell has revealed to The Verge.

We’ll come out with our own [hardware] and we’ll sell it to consumers by ourselves,” he stated. Valve’s position is let’s build a thing that’s quiet and focuses on high performance and quiet and appropriate form factors.

It’ll be a Linux box, 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. We also think that a controller that has higher precision and lower latency is another interesting thing to have.”

Newell also confirmed that whatever controller will be utilised by the machine, it won’t be motion-based.

We’ve struggled for a long time to try to think of ways to use motion input and we really haven’t [found any],” he added. Wii Sports is still kind of the pinnacle of that. We look at that, and for us at least, as a games developer, we can’t see how it makes games fundamentally better.

On the controller side, the stuff we’re thinking of is kind of super boring stuff all around latency and precision. There’s no magic there. Motion just seems to be a way of [thinking] of your body as a set of communication channels. Your hands, and your wrist muscles, and your fingers are actually your highest bandwidth — so to trying to talk to a game with your arms is essentially saying ‘oh we’re going to stop using ethernet and go back to dial-up’.

Maybe there are other ways to think of that. There’s more engagement when you’re using larger skeletal muscles, but whenever we go down [that path] we sort of come away unconvinced.”

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