Steam Box Emerges, Vaporizes in a Week
One week ago, The Verge reported that Valve was hard at work on a Steam-branded video game console. Several days later, Valve marketing director Doug Lombardi told Kotaku that Valve was a "long way" from shipping any sort of hardware, and that we shouldn't expect to see anything this year. While Lombardi didn't totally rule out Steam-branded hardware in the future, it sounds like we shouldn't expect such a thing in 2012.
Frankly, I can't see any real downside to a Steam console, or Steam Box. If Valve did start shipping hardware, like the MicroATX-based PC that was unearthed on Twitter, it would have zero negative impact on the PC gaming community. If you're like me, and building a high-powered gaming PC is something you do on the regular, you can still do that, and you will still be playing games on High or Ultra settings with 60+ fps. That said, you could go the $500 Steam Box route, spending significantly less cash on a "console" that would play any PC title at acceptable settings for 3-4 years. Four year might be a stretch, but three is fairly realistic, I think.
And what if the Steam Box comes out and bombs? Valve is reportedly worth USD $3 billion, and the bulk of their revenue comes from its games marketplace. Since Valve wouldn't be making any hardware - the company would simply use off-the-shelf components while teaming up with Alienware and the like - the risk is minimal. The worst case scenario: The Steam console flops and disappears like a 21st century Virtual Boy, and Valve continues to make piles of cash via the Steam store.
Either way, we're all looking forward to Half Life 3 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, right? -Devin Connors
[Note: I put the Valve logo in this picture, it is not in the original.]