'We're working with partners trying to nail down how fast we can make it,' says Newell

Steam Box may get prototype in next four months

Consumers may see the first prototypes of Valve’s own Steam Box in the next three-to-four months, Gabe Newell has said.

Valve made waves with the news it is moving into hardware development, and is one of many new contenders in the market space once kept in near-monopoly by major console manufacturers.

There are some issues with current models; making a PC small yet powerful enough for practical use in a living room isn’t without its challenges.

"There are noise issues and heat issues and being able to [deal with] that while still offering a powerful enough gaming experience is the challenge in building it," Newell told the BBC.

Even so, the company that many consider the face of PC gaming is full steam ahead on Steam Box production.

"We’re working with partners trying to nail down how fast we can make it," said Newell.

"We’ll be giving out some prototypes to customers to gauge their reactions, I guess, in the next three-to-four months."

The tech could introduce other innovations aside from its reimagining of the PC, such as biometric controllers that monitor a player’s physical reactions like heart rate.

"If you think of a game like Left 4 Dead – which was trying to put you into a sort of horror movie – if you don’t change the experience of what the player is actually feeling then it stops being a horror game," explained Newell.

"So you need to actually be able to directly measure how aroused the player is – what their heart rate is, things like that – in order to offer them a new experience each time they play."

It remains an open question just how much of an impact Valve’s hardware plans will leave on the already battered status quo.

Microsoft has been skeptical and says it doesn’t really view Valve as a competitor, while Newell himself has said the fight for acceptance won’t be waged against consoles, but the rumored Apple TV.

Whatever the result, Valve’s efforts will be closely watched as what was once an industry-specific console war spills over into the wider hardware market.

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