Gabe Newell talks Steam Box biometrics and Windows 8 at CES

first_imgValve’s presence at CES this year isn’t to show off some new games, it’s all about meeting with hardware manufacturers behind closed doors to talk about Steam Box. What that also means is Gabe Newell is in attendance, and The Verge was lucky enough to get a very revealing interview with him. Here’s a summary of what he had to say.Good, Better, or Best hardwareUntil now, the general description of a Steam Box has been a cheap mini PC that sits under your living room TV and is driven with a controller. But according to Gabe it’s much more than that. In fact, he says there’s three levels of Steam Box: “Good, Better, or Best.” The Good level is basically a media streaming device, Better is a decent CPU/GPU combo for games playing, and Best is a high-end small form factor PC that includes everything you’d expect from a performance machine.Valve has already confirmed it is going to offer its own version of the Steam Box, and Gabe says it will be at the “Better” level. That means a box with a CPU/GPU combination capable of running all games, combined with Steam for Linux. Windows won’t be offered, but there will be nothing to stop you installing Microsoft’s OS on Valve’s Steam Box.High precision controller and no motion inputAs for the controller, Valve wants something that’s more high precision than anything else out there at the moment. Experiments are also underway to include some forms of biometrics, with particular emphasis on those you as a gamer probably won’t even notice are being monitored and used. A key example of that is gaze tracking.Motion control on the other hand, seems unlikely to make an appearance. That simply comes down to the fact Valve hasn’t been able to find a good use for it, and they still class Wii Sports as the pinnacle of motion control gaming. It simply doesn’t work as well as a controller for games, and I’m sure many would agree with that statement, myself included.Steam Box is actually two projectsWhat you may be surprised to hear is that Steam Box is actually two projects at Valve. The first is codenamed Bigfoot and focuses on the hardware for use in the home with a TV. But there’s a second project codenamed Littlefoot that’s investigating mobile gaming. For the moment, Littlefoot seems to be more experimentation than real product, with Valve looking into better input on tablets and phones and how to extend Steam to mobile platforms.Bigfoot is also an evolving platform, and one that Gabe says will take full advantage of more powerful hardware that will appear in the coming years. For example, Valve intends to make Steam Box a server, which can serve games on multiple TVs around the home simultaneously. So you could purchase a single Steam Box and use it with multiple controllers for playing games on the different TVs around your home.Windows 8 is a “giant sadness”Moving on to software, Gabe talks about Windows 8 being a “giant sadness” for him that hurts everyone. He also says the impact of Windows 8 has been a 20 percent decline in PC sales rather than the 40 percent uptake it should have brought. That, for him, shows that Microsoft’s latest OS is flawed and “unusable.”Steam set to become multiple storesSteam as we know it may also experience some major changes in the near future. We’ve already seen Big Picture Mode introduced and Steam Greenlight go live, but Valve has plans to open the service up for individuals. The idea being, you can create your very own custom Steam store.Valve wants to offer anyone the opportunity to build their own store with the content they want. That could be a “worst games of Steam” store, a store dedicated to multiplayer games, or one setup for a team of gamers who focus on a small set of games they enjoy playing together.But Valve also has content creators in mind and wants to better support their creations and hopefully expand that service to games from all publishers. In doing so, Steam will become a platform not only for the games, but all the additional content created around a title–be that from the developer or individuals.Read more at The Vergelast_img