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Valve's Newell opens up about his 'Steam Box' plans
Valve's Newell opens up about his 'Steam Box' plans
January 9, 2013 | By Mike Rose

This week, numerous living room PC "consoles" have been announced at the International Consumer Electronics Show 2013 in Las Vegas, including the Nvidia Shield, and the "Piston" from modular PC developer Xi3.

The latter really got the internet in a tizzy, as it was revealed that it's being backed by Valve, and even being displayed at Valve's CES booth.

As it turns out, the Piston is just one living room PC device that Valve is backing -- and Valve also has its own devices in the works, known internally as "Bigfoot" -- or as "Steam Box" to the outside world -- and "Littlefoot," a mobile device.

In a candid interview with The Verge, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell gave an in-depth rundown of what we can expect from the company in the near future, ranging from its home console plans, to how the Steam store is going to evolve over the coming years.

On Valve's own "Steam Box"

Newell sees the new living room PC revolution as different levels of hardware: some streaming devices, some essentially PCs as we know them. Valve will exert some control on this market, though Newell was vague about what that means.

The salient fact is this: "We'll come out with our own and we'll sell it to consumers by ourselves," he adds. "That'll be a Linux box, [and] 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."

Said Newell, "let's build a thing thatís quiet and focuses on high performance, and quiet, and appropriate form factors."

The Steam Box will also act as a server, he notes. "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 let's expand that a little bit."

What you can expect from the "Steam Box" controller

Newell says that Valve has "struggled for a long time to try to think of ways to use motion input and we really haven't [found any]."

With that in mind, the company is currently considering latency and precision as key factors in how the Steam Box controller will play out -- although it's also looking at how biometrics can factor into play.

"Maybe the motion stuff is just failure of imagination on our part, but we're a lot more excited about biometrics as an input method," he says. "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 try to talk to a game with your arms is essentially saying, 'Oh, we're going to stop using Ethernet and go back to 300 baud dial-up.'"

Biometrics, he notes, give developers more visibility that motion control, adding more communication between the game and person playing it. "Also, gaze tracking," he adds. "We think gaze tracking is going to turn out to be super important."

The fascinating future of the Steam store

"We tend to think of Steam as tools for content developers and tools for producers," Newell says of the behemoth online store. "We're just always thinking: how do we want to make content developers' lives better and users' lives a lot better?"

Where Valve is headed with the Steam store may surprise developers and gamers alike, and the future sounds rather exciting. "Right now there's one Steam store," he says. "We think that the store should actually be more like user generated content. So, anybody should be able to create a store, and it should be about extra entertainment value. Our view has always been that we should build tools for customers and tools for partners."

Newell is talking editorial filters, network APIs, multiple storefronts and services -- "Our view is that, in the same way users are critical in a multiplayer experience, like the fellow next to you is critical to your enjoyment, we should figure out how we can help users find people that are going to make their game experiences better," he notes. Any and all stores will be welcome, adds Newell.

Valve's plans for the mobile space

The Steam Box has a different name internally. "Bigfoot" applies to the home console version, but there's also a mobile version called "Littlefoot."

Says Newell, "[Littlefoot] says, 'What do we need to do to extend this to the mobile space?' Our approach will be pretty similar. We also think there's a lot that needs to be done in the tablet and mobile space to improve input for games. I understand Apple's [approach]; all the way back in '83 when I met Jobs for the first time, he was so super anti-gaming."

One of Valve's current controller designs includes a touchpad, and Newell says that the company is still trying to figure out what to do with it. "We don't want to waste people's money by just throwing in a touchpad," he adds. "Once we understand what the role is of multitouch in these kind of applications then itís easy to say you can use your phone for it."

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Phil Nolan
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Funny how months ago Newell said (paraphrasing) "We have no intention of building a home console.".

David Navarro
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He learned the art of misdirection from Jobs back in '83...

Harlan Sumgui
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they aren't.

Thom Q
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In before the hoard of Nay Sayers.

Karl E
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Gabe's dismissal of motion control seems kind of premature. Of course your hands, fingers and wrists are your highest-bandwidth body movements... if youíve spent your entire life in front of a computer.

But there is a real world out there too, populated by people who use their bodies with great precision to, for example, play golf or tennis. Nintendo made a machine that pretended to simulate these activities but actually didn't, and they still made several billion dollars. Imagine then how much money you could make from a motion control system that actually worked. It's a different audience, sure, but still... too early.

Maria Jayne
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I think the problem with motion control from my point of view is that repetition is something you can do far more easily with your fingers when your hands and arms are in a relaxed position. We learned from the workplace your posture, and peripheral setup was important when using a control interface.

It's obvious if you are comfortable while being entertained you will be entertained for longer without being forced to take a break. Why we watch movies in a chair, why we prefer watching tv to going to the theatre. If you still needed to get up to change the channel tv wouldn't be as popular now because you can't relax while being entertained for longer. Video game control seems to be missing this logic and making things less comfortable.

Now a device that requires physical movement of your body firstly stresses your body excessively for the action you perform, if I can jog on the spot to perform a running action on screen vs press W on a keyboard....which one can I do for longer? That question is key when you consider gaming is by and large a recreational activity intended more to stimulate the senses and the imagination.

Now the audience that seeks out alternatives to running in the park, playing real golf, jogging every morning or going to yoga class once a week may well be an audience an industry can target, but it's not an audience that is sustainable because that audience already prefers doing it for real.

Isolating these people in the home is not going to be attractive, you can target people who want to get fit and prey upon their dreams but the majority of those people can't be bothered to go and do it for real so they aren't going to continually buy and use products. Much like a gym membership it's something you intend to do, spend money on and then over time your enthusiasm fades because quite simply, it's never what you wanted, you just wanted the result and that wii you bought is just another gym membership, you didn't care about the wii as a gaming platform it was an expression of your desire to be you could do things that don't require the wii.

The Other issue apart from repetition is precision, large inefficient gestures become more inefficient as your muscles tire. Tendons controlling the precision of your fingers are far more sustainable and less physically draining. They are also more accurate and the function is more reliable in intent. Pressing a button is more of a deliberate act than an arm movement, which could be you scratching your nose or sneezing in the middle of game play as opposed to performing a gesture in the game.

I'm sure there is an audience for motion control, I just don't think it's gaming, I think that's a gimmick marketed to people who actually want something else other than a video game.

Freek Hoekstra
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golf or tennis is mostly wrist action too,
not too say that the rest of the bodymechanics arent relevant but still.

also Nintendo's machine sold well... for 3 years.
and then it died, Nintendo tried to keep things itneresting by adding other almost single purpose controllers to it and increasing the precision, but still as a whole nintendo has bled out this golden goose.

again not to say motion gaming will never return, or even take over,
i'm just saying that maybe it is good they aren't focussing on it too hard.

@ below, I never stated the Wii wasn;t a huge runaway succes. I am stating tat simply copying motion controls won;t sell (any more) nintendo has already made all the money that is to be made in this area untill big advancements are made.

and yes the wii balance board is what I was mostly aiming towards,

about the rest:
the wii mote and nunchuck were original,
then precision was added with motion plus.
the classic controller doesn;t count as it is the exact opposite of motion controls on the device built around motion controls. (and even then a lot of people wanted the classic controller reinforcing that ther is a strong desire for non motion gaming.)
but also a lot of addons were built, and some things like the unreleased heartbeat sensor were conceived.

looking at Sony and Mincrosofts attempts affirms this in my opinion, again it sold fairly well, but interest soon waned. (this time also mostly due to the split nature of the market some games supporting others not).

the fact remains Nintendo has made it's first annual loss ever.
and not saying they haven't made a huge profit off the wii, but even they moved on to a different concept.

so focussing on normal controller play does not seem to be such a bad idea.

E Zachary Knight
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"Nintendo tried to keep things itneresting by adding other almost single purpose controllers to it"

What "single purpose controllers"? Nintendo released the following:

Wii Remote
Wii Remote +
Classic Controller,
Classic Controller Pro (a reshaped Classic controller)
Wii Balance Board

All of which have wide support from many games and developers. How effective that support is varies, but none of those are "single purpose".

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The Wii is a gimmick, blah blah blah, the Wii is a gimmick...

I think that a lack of understanding what Nintendo values as it core business is the reason people cannot see beyond the graphics power race. They only see beautiful animation and not relevant gaming models. They think offering us good looking movies, loud epic music, and lots of HD storage space is what the gaming community is all about and what it wants.

This is why Gabe can not see the forest, but only the tree that resides in it. He thinks the gamer should only be like him. And there is a lot of people who agree with that kind of thinking that are working in gaming.

Lyon Medina
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Link to where you got your numbers from please.

@ Maria

I argree with your point and your entire statement, just wanted to add this in about this comment.

"I think the problem with motion control from my point of view is that repetition is something you can do far more easily with your fingers when your hands and arms are in a relaxed position"

But I feel that as motion controls get better in the coming years. Buttons will be like pencils, reliable, but there are going to be better choices that are becoming available. Just my point of view.

@ A W

"This is why Gabe can not see the forest, but only the tree that resides in it. He thinks the gamer should only be like him. And there is a lot of people who agree with that kind of thinking that are working in gaming."

The major reason why I don't like Valve as a company.

Lyon Medina
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Thank you Christian. Taking a look at them now. Great find.

warren blyth
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I'm stunned at how many people misunderstand motion control/input. It really isn't just for health nuts (getting sweaty) or casual gamers (shallow play), despite all the comments here (or all the comments during the entirety of the Wii's existence).

Children prefer full body active play. It is how all developing humans learn to control their body. A child would rather jump around and roll on the ground than sit quietly and use only their fingertips for 10 hours straight. Sorry. We just haven't been able to make a meaningful adaption of "tag," "hide and seek," or "acting in a play" with the bullshittery of keyboard, mouse, or gamepad.

I'm stunned there aren't kinect games that encourage dressing up and acting out roles. I wonder if Hecker has considered a spy party variant where the party goer literally walks in the room and tries to act like an NPC with their whole body. I'm surprised xbox doesn't offer multiplayer charades. or dance central style exploration of how to give great speeches. or a police interrogation game, where the suspect sits in the tv screen waiting to see what you'll do or say to them.

The key to motion controls: is they are best suited to wildly different styles of games. (much like mobile games and touch surfaces. Developers are starting to wake up to how to approach these other devices, but are stull clueless about motion control).

Games that work best with existing controls should not be shoved into motion controls, just because we're used to making and marketing those kinds of games. (Ie, long story-based games, or repetitive hack and slash, or addictive looting, or all night multiplayer competitions - these all revolve around rewards that don't align with the rewards of motion control).

(+ I'd argue that violent actions like jumping, shooting, or bashing are preferable with a mouse or key click because this "high bandwidth" input allows you to roleplay a universe where you can actually do that shit 10,000 times in an hour. There's a power fantasy there that doesn't align with the power fantasys of motion control).

It's not that motion controls had their chance - it's that after 6 years (most) game developers still won't wrap their head around motion controls.

Kevin Fishburne
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@Maria Pretty insightful, though I do think it has a place in some sports games, golf in particular.

"Pressing a button is more of a deliberate act than an arm movement, which could be you scratching your nose or sneezing in the middle of game play as opposed to performing a gesture in the game."

This just gave me a vision of someone getting shot in the head during deathmatch, caught in the middle of sneezing.

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@Maciej Bacal

"What are you talking about. Nintendo focuses on the casual market and they make money off of it. It doesn't mean everybody else should do the same and that if somebody targets a different group, they're making a wrong decision. And if you say something like that about Valve, then how about "Nintendo can't see that there's a market for violent games. They think that games should only be played by the whole family or not at all". It's all bullshit."

Lack of understanding...

I say Gabe can't see the forest, because I just read that he can't from quotes out of his own mouth.

As for Nintendo, if they only target the casual market IYO then that is an opinion share by many. However the facts show that that is really not the case. My opinion suggest that Nintendo has catered more to the individual gamer that they have ever catered to the casual family gamers. It has only been in the past seven years or more that they have wanted to become more than just that lone gamer in the basement playing with their treasures. They have not tried to become relevant to living room gaming through making their box a movie store, a music box, or a DVD / BluRay player. That stuff attracts some of the core market because it makes them more isolated in their fantasy. So you could in fact say that Nintendo does want an expansion into the living space. If that living space is more casual than core, so be it.

What Gabe can't understand is that it doesn't matter if he sees motion as relevant in gaming. What matters most is if there is a good size group of people out there that can see its relevance and buy according to their wants and needs. If he can't implement it In Steambox there is no excuses for him to marginalize his shortcomings.

Saying motion is a gimmick doesn't make the case as to why biometrics isn't as well.

Zirani Jean-Sylvestre
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"Nintendo tried to keep things itneresting by adding other almost single purpose controllers to it"

Freek, how dare you! You've unleashed the hordes of Nintendo fanboys. They go berserk if you ever criticize anything related to Nintendo. They have been trained at it since elementary school. Now prepare to suffer!

Azure Azure
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@ A W

I don't think you are reading this correctly. You are taking Gabe's view that "As for motion control, we can't come up with anything interesting." as "motion control is a gimmick. That is incorrect. "Interesting" in this case is subjective, it refers to what the people at Valve feel is interesting for their target consumer group. Nobody is saying that motion control cannot work at all, it sure does, but not for everybody, and this "everybody" is the group that Valve is targeting. Logic would tell us that there cannot be a device that appeals to everybody, and that is indeed, reasonable.

To put it simply, Valve is doing selective marketing. I don't see that in any ways similar to "unable to see the forest". Have you ever considered that motion control might not be the "forest"?

Dave Hoskins
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They've fragmented the platform even before we get the first one's out!
This and Piston are just another mini PC, and they've been out for years.
...Some of those are pretty cheap and powerful as well.

Michael Joseph
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"We think that the store should actually be more like user generated content. So, anybody should be able to create a store, and it should be about extra entertainment value. Our view has always been that we should build tools for customers and tools for partners."

Maybe Joss Whedon will be able to create and sell his 24 biweekly episodic Minecraft adventures afterall...

Lyon Medina
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I looked for this box all over the CES floor and I could not find them. I honestly think (without having the chance to ask questions about it) that this device is unnecessary.

My PC is already hooked to my bedroom TV via a HDMI cable. Yeah big picture mode was a added value, but I still like sitting at my computer chair when I am going to be playing a pc game.

I honestly from my perspective do not see the value yet. Plus Gabe Newell talks about these features like if he was the one to invent them. Just irritates me to no end, but hey that is how the guy is.

Thom Q
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A steambox is obviously not targeted to people who already use Steam. Their target audience will be console players...

Lyon Medina
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By marketing a PC that can double as a console? Microsoft is already on that route with the 360 doubling as a computer gateway. And with Tablets taking over the in-between market of phones versus PC's I just donít see the market there for a device like this.

That is why I wanted to talk to a rep to get a better understanding of where they want this to fit into the home? Does it replace your TV extras or is it more like a portable PC and all you need is a TV and a power source to use it, but even then that is why we have laptops.

This device just doesn't seem to fit into anything I can think of that would work.

Thom Q
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I don't believe there's any significant pressure of mobile gaming on the PC market. Not only are their target audiences different, mobile games just can't compete with what PC games have to offer.

People who play on PC are mostly playing on it by choice: a far wider assortment of games to play, better interfaces, better multiplayer, better graphics, etc then consoles.

Al these points are by the way the perfect selling points for a steambox, which in my opinion should be geared toward non-casual console players: A steambox would be cheaper, perform better, and have far more games then any console, and I think if marketed correctly, console gamers will definitely see that.

Also, it won't be marketed as a mini PC, or at least I'd hope not. It should be marketed as a High-End console, which it effectively is.

Lyon Medina
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Mobile will always place pressure on the PC market. One example is when Plants Versus Zombies first came out only playable on the PC. It did well enough to become portable.

When it became available to mobile users the game flourished, and owes much of its success to the mobile platform. Since now with touch integration you basically have a finger that can be used as a mouse.

And I think marketing to the Non-Casual console gamer is like trying to steal fish from a bear. Its just dangerous and could have repercussions because the market is already volatile.

Now, well lets just say that the Console/PC/MicroMachine comes out two months from now, (or 6 months, your choice) and you were the one to market to the general public to make the switch to the SB (Steam Box.) What would you have in it, versus how much you would charge people to adapt? Versus what you think needs to be in it. Wireless controllers, HDMI, 4 Players connectivity ect ect.

Probably a long ended question, but something I personally cannot find an answer too. Because everything always leads me back to its just not evolutionary enough to warrant a large enough audience.

Yes there are a lot of console players in the world, but that doesnít mean they want to switch to the PC model. I as a player of both console and PC love what they both bring to the table. I love having disks, and I love digital downloading my games.

I can literally have both in this case and because in many ways I need to have at least a PC in my home. The console of my choice is based on preference. Itís just I already get the games on Steam on my PC.

*Edit add in-

I thought about it some more and I did find one way it "could" work. And that is if it becomes the first true next generation console.

The Rival to the Xbox 720, and the PS4 if you will. Then when people upgrade to new technology they just choose that as their home console, but that would have to be the marketing strategy

Curtis Turner - IceIYIaN
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TV's/Monitors have always been the main issue. Now that HDMI pretty much won(?), that issue is slowly going away. PC makers cannot change the mindset of current consumers. We need a gaming company like Valve to prance around pretending their PC is a console.

The next issue is the seperation of keyboard/mouse and gamepads. All that really happened there is all companies trying to mix and match. Like a gamepad with a thumbpad keyboard or a keyboard with control sticks.

I would like to see a keyboard seperated in the middle. One for each hand. With a control stick at TGB and YHN. Remove the numberpad to make both hands even. And SPLIT them, so, a tablet/laptop or handheld can go in the middle.

Finally, how will Valve solve the four wireless controllers? The only solution I know of is Microsoft's Wireless Reciever, that allows PC's to use X-BoX 360 stuff.

David Jackson
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The wireless controller problem is easy -- they can just use Bluetooth. It's worked out fine for the Wii and PS3, as far as I know.

Brian Anderson
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"That'll be a Linux box, [and] if you want to install Windows you can."

Linux! What! There are thousands of games on steam and only 41 of them currently support Linux.

No offense against Linux, but it has the same problem it has always had, lack of support. Why would I buy a box to play steam games when it doesn't play most of the games?

John Flush
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This is my hang-up with the device. As long as it is linux based I know it has barely more games than a Mac.

I think their goal though is to push Linux more as a viable option to program for. At some point I hope we get there.

warren blyth
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I think it is their way of saying "we're serious about pushing away from windows."

+ my anecdote: I switched back to using a mac at home about 5 years ago. Kept a windows bootcamp partition so I could play Steam games. Was thrilled to see more and more games support both operating systems so I wouldn't have to restart in windows for a game.

Now i've been looking to just buy a stand alone separate PC, purely for gaming, so i'm thrilled by all this steambox movement.

David Jackson
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Valve's Ben Krasnow said recently that Valve isn't (currently) planning to officially unveil the Steam Box in 2013 (

My guess is that Valve is holding off until their Linux offering is more compelling. Right now, the Steam client for Linux only officially supports one distribution (Ubuntu), and it isn't even out of beta. As they clean up the client and port over their own games, they can also make a strong cross-platform push on other developers.

Linux-focused promotions would make sense (similar to the sale on controller-supported games when Big Picture came out of beta). I also wouldn't be shocked if Valve quietly approached a few high-profile studios and offered a harder incentive -- cash, or a more generous profit split -- for Linux ports. Valve knows as well as anybody that they'll need some big names on Linux in order to attract people to the Steam Box. I imagine that there'll be at least a few AAA port announcements before the launch of Valve's hardware.

In any case, the point is that all this'll take some time. Valve's hoping that in a year or so, the Linux gaming landscape will look very different than it does right now. For that matter, so am I.

Brian Anderson
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It just makes it seem like they are making a version 2 console (version 1 being an actual PC) and it doesn't have backwards compatibility with the previous console, so you can't play any of your existing catalog of games.

A lot of people have been trying to get away from Windows for more than 15 years, but so far very little success. The Mac has had more recent success than Linux.

Zirani Jean-Sylvestre
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Right, the Linux catalog is very weak to say the least and well mister Newell must know that you buy a machine for what it can run.

So far there's no real answer on what they will make it possible to play the huge steam catalog on Linux.

Terry Matthes
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No touch pad controller please. Just copy the play station one controller as close as you can without being sued. That thing is my idea of perfection.

Wylie Garvin
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Really? I don't like the ergonomics of the PS3 controller very much. Its a little too small for my hands, its a little too light, the triggers are a terrible shape. The PS2 controllers (and PS1 controllers) were slightly better, but I liked even the Xbox 1 controllers better.

My personal all-time favorite controllers are the Xbox 360 wired controllers. The wireless ones are okay too, but with a battery pack they feel slightly too heavy to me, and the battery pack gets in the way of my fingers on the bottom of the controller. The wired ones are absolutely perfect for comfort (for me at least), the placement of the sticks and ABXY buttons is just right, and the trigger / bumper shape is perfect. The early models had crappy d-pads but newer ones seem a little better. The analog sticks are comfortable and precise, out of the analog sticks on all of the various console controllers I've ever used, I think the Xbox 360 ones are the best.

Comfortable controllers are important!
I own both an Xbox 360 and a PS3, and when a game is released for both platforms I always prefer to pick up the 360 version, for the simple reason that I prefer the 360 controllers.

Brian Anderson
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I agree with you Wylie, the PS controllers are not comfortable to hold, 360 are much better (I also prefer the wired version)

Luis Guimaraes
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Trackball controller please.

James Hofmann
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Rotary input please. It's not legit if it can't play Pong.

James Margaris
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The silliest thing about these motion control arguments is that the mouse is clearly a motion controller.

Also the Wii Remote has a pointer that is much more accurate than an analog stick for shooting.

"Motion controls" are clearly not a great fit for every game but anti-motion-control zealots are essentially delusional.

"Precision and latency is something other companies don't talk about at all"

Why even bother making statements that are clearly false? It smacks of misguided agenda.

James Margaris
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This is what you said:

"Precision and latency is something other companies don't talk about at all"

What you said is false. Full stop. And now instead of saying "I guess I was wrong, other companies do talk about precision and latency" (in fact more than Valve does!) your response is a non-sequitor about keyboard smacking.

IMO factual accuracy is somewhat important in discussions and I don't see how correcting a falsehood is inappropriate or a sign of anger.

Curtis Turner - IceIYIaN
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Hopefully this puts pressure on the big 3 to actually have mouse support.

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Uh... News flash... the Wii U does use motion controls. It's built in to the game pad, several games use it, and the Wii U uses Wii Motes.

Zirani Jean-Sylvestre
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"The silliest thing about these motion control arguments is that the mouse is clearly a motion controller."

Right, but while I can sample my mouse at 1000 Hz, I have yet to see that with Kinect.

James Margaris
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If you believe that all motion controls are bad then you must believe that the mouse is bad. That's first-order logic.

If you believe that the mouse is not bad then you believe that motion control can be good when used appropriately, despite whatever protestations you make to the contrary.

I'm not a big fan of Kinect. That doesn't mean motion control is bad, it means Kinect is pretty limited and is often used in inappropriate ways. That said there are Kinect games that people swear they enjoy, so clearly it's working for some people in some genres. I suspect Dance Central is not as fun with mouse / keyboard.

Bob Johnson
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All the guy is saying is motion control isn't for Valve and their games. And it is because of the latency of the input. And because they just haven't been able to come up with any cool new motion control gameplay ideas.

Also note that most STeam customers are presumably at their pc monitor. And not on the couch which doesn't help. Most probably use m/k still I assume? Not great for motion control functionality.

Personally I always viewed motion control on the Wii as additive not the only thing. Nintendo seemed to view it that way. Most of their games didn't use it as a primary or only control. IT was additive. And 4 or 5 months after the release of the Wii Nintendo came out with a balance board.

Dave Voyles
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So the (a?) Steambox is (not Valve's?)a $1k underpowered PC running linux on an integrated GPU......stop me if I'm wrong.

james sadler
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Well I was at CES this past week. I was away from the net the whole time I was there due to terrible wifi and just being too busy to really read more than email, so I missed a few of these articles last week talking about the possible Steam Boxes at CES. I saw the Piston and it looks kinda cool. Super tiny but has a nice load of ports. I saw it running a version of linux and it seemed to do well. Not sure about it being a gaming console but it would make a pretty cool miniPC for those that don't want or need mega performance. I also saw a little bit of the nVidia unit. It was pretty packed around the unit so I didn't get to see much other than the controller from a distance. Valve was there showing of Big Picture, but they were "closed" when I went by.

As for my personal thoughts on a SteamBox, I think we will see something along the lines of the Piston. Something small but really powerful running linux on an x64 intel CPU probably with an nVidia GPU based from a mobile GPU to keep power and cooling needs down. It will probably have an SSD and offer a few USB ports, Thunderbolt, and HDMI. Sounds like a pretty cool system and something on par with a glorified laptop/shuttle PC. But this console isn't targeted at the hard core audience, and I think that's something a lot of people are missing.

Valve aren't idiots, despite what many will say. They know that its a hard sell to hard core gamers to buy a dedicated console that wont really be that upgradable (if at all). So they've taken the aproach that the hardcore gamers are going to build their own rigs. The SteamBox is targeted at those that don't build their own systems, or care about stupid high frame rates on the latest FPS. They've said that you will be able to install the Steam software on any PC, which is pretty much Steam anyway. The big thing I think will be the controller they'll produce, but even that's going to be more designed for the console players.

As far as motion goes as a control input, I somewhat agree with Gabe. Motion is a cool concept, but we've still yet to really see it be done well. The Wii did ok, but I can't say how many games annoyed the heck out of me due to badly implemented controls. Kinect has pretty much performed about the same. Mostly we've used both the Wii and Kinect games as party games. I like the way that Sony implemented the Motion in that it used body motion but still used a controller. This is needed in many cases where just simple actions get annoying to try to do with a hand movement. Also there comes a point where I'm tired of waving my hands around, walking in place, or whatever and just want to sit down and play my game. I'd like to see how the Leap Motion does on the market with its super accurate motion capture. Either way, motion is cool, just can't be the only option.

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I hate to be a naysayer...

I really want this to do well, but if it's just a PC with a controller attached I'm not sure how into it I'll be.

They will have to deliver something with either a price advantage or feature advantage to really grab me and "tight Steam integration" in and of itself won't do it.