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Valve is up to something, and it has to do with the future of Steam

Valve is up to something, and it has to do with the future of Steam
September 20, 2013 | By Kris Graft

Alright, so our readers know that we don't typically run stories about teaser sites, but this particular tease points to something that could be quite a big deal.

Over on Valve Software's official Steam site, there's a countdown timer set to hit zero on Monday morning. At the top of the page, it says "The Steam Universe Is Expanding in 2014," with additional hints of a big move by Valve into the living room. Valve said in an email that we can expect three announcements, the first one taking place Monday.

Any additional move by Valve towards greater living room presence for games is noteworthy. The platform has 50 million registered users, and this announcement will come at a time when major next-gen consoles from Sony and Microsoft are about to hit, not to mention probable Android-based entries from Google and Amazon.

Whatever is revealed will be what Valve founder Gabe Newell was hinting at earlier this week at LinuxCon, where he said, "Next week we're going to be rolling out more information about how we get there and what are the hardware opportunities we see for bringing Linux into the living room."

More vague messaging is seen on the Steam teaser site, which suggests that Valve will be tapping into the community -- something that Valve tends to do -- to help shape the future of whatever is on the horizon:

Last year, we shipped a software feature called Big Picture, a user-interface tailored for televisions and gamepads.

This year we've been working on even more ways to connect the dots for customers who want Steam in the living-room. Soon, we'll be adding you to our design process, so that you can help us shape the future of Steam.

Newell hasn't been shy about his vision of Steam in the living room. Aside from launching Big Picture mode, Valve has talked openly about releasing its own hardware, a "Steam Box," that would connect to televisions, offering convenience of a game console with the openness of the PC platform.

That openness of PC has been a focal point of Newell's vision of the future. Long a proponent of open systems, he said Windows 8 is a "catastrophe" that signals a larger move to a closed ecosystem, and pointed to open-source Linux as sort of a lifeboat that just needs some games and serious support in order to become more viable an option for users.

"Systems which are innovation-friendly and embrace openness are going to have a greater competitive advantage to closed or tightly regulated systems," he said at LinuxCon.

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