Valve's Steam portal has helped keep PC gaming alive, providing a new distribution model as disc sales and retail shelf space have diminished. Now the company may be working with partners on a new device that could compete with video game consoles -- and maybe an entire gaming ecosystem that might change the face of PC gaming.
The Verge is reporting that Valve showed potential partners a "Steam Box" concept with specs that included an Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, an Nvidia graphics card, and the ability to play any PC game. Wilder is the potential controller it would come with, which could come with the ability to swap out parts to customize the controller for particular games. It may also make use of biometric feedback, which might be monitored by a device (like a bracelot) worn by the gamer.
The Steam Box would also use the yet-unreleased Big Picture mode to help get computer games onto your HDTV. As a result, the Steam Box would compete with existing gaming consoles like the Xbox 360 and PS3, OnLive's streaming gaming service, and anything that Apple could dream up either with Apple TV or an Apple television.
But Valve may not stop with this Steam Box concept. It may intend Steam to be an open platform that would be the gaming equivalent on Android. The Verge recounts the rumor that the new Alienware X51 gaming PC could be updated to make use of the new platform, and the software would be available to partners to build systems to their own specs.
Would you be interested in a Steam Box gaming console if it becomes available? What kind of specs would you want it to have, and what would you want it do? While we wait for more word from Valve -- possibly in the form of an announcement at the GDC (Game Developers Conference) this week -- let us know your thoughts in the Comments section below.