Undoubtedly the biggest news out of the still-young 2013 CES is the reveal of multiple incarnations of Valve’s oft-discussed Steam Box. The first, codenamed ‘Project Piston’, was confirmed via modular PC developer Xi3 at the show. The device is currently being produced to a “development stage” with Valve’s digital distribution platform and it’s Big Picture Mode as design emphases.
“This new development stage product will allow users to take full advantage of their large high-definition TV displays for an amazing computer game experience,” Xi3 founder Jason A. Sullivan described in the company’s press release, “As a result, this new system could provide access to thousands of gaming titles through an integrated system that exceeds the capabilities of leading game consoles, but can fit in the palm of your hand.”
Speaking with the Verge, Valve’s Gabe Newell confirmed the existence of another Steam-based console incoming, this one split into mobile and home SKUs codenamed ‘Project Littlefoot’ and ‘Project Bigfoot’, respectively. The boxes will ship Linux-based, but allow users opportunities to work within other operating systems.
“We’ll come out with our own and we’ll sell it to consumers by ourselves. That’ll be a Linux box, [and] if you want to install Windows you can.” Newell emphasized, “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.”
After expressing skepticism about the boxes’ possible usage of motion controls, and confirming a plan for a web browser and applications such as Netflix, Newell described an ultimate desire for the Project Little/Bigfoot to act as a server.
“Any PC can serve multiple monitors, so over time, the next-generation (post-Kepler) you can have one GPU that’s serving up eight simulateneous game calls.” described Newell, “So you could have one PC and eight televisions and eight controllers and everybody getting great performance out of it. We’re used to having one monitor, or two monitors — now we’re saying lets expand that a little bit.”
It’s currently expected for Valve’s Little and Bigfoot projects to demonstrated at length at this year’s GDC.