Valve Distancing Itself From Piston, Xi3 Corp.

During CES 2013, we assumed, like many news outlets, that the Xi3 Piston compact PC was indeed Valve Software's rumored Steam Box. We couldn't get anyone to cough up an actual confirmation during the show, but Valve's involvement with the handheld PC seemed to validate our assumptions. But that all changed on Monday when Xi3 opened up pre-orders, revealing a pricetag that Valve didn't have in mind with its PC-based "console" system.

The Steam Box rumor seemingly solidified into an actual project when Valve and Xi3 said that a modular computer game system optimized for Steam's Big Picture Mode would be revealed at CES 2013 in January. Even more, Xi3 said that it received an investment from Valve. Put two and two together, and you have Steam Box. Boy were we fooled.

Or maybe not. To some degree, both parties were up front and honest about Piston. It's a $1000 compact, modular gaming system optimized for Big Picture Mode and packed with a Radeon 7000-series GPU, a 3.2 GHz AMD Trinity Quad Core (R464) processor, 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, and an SSD with capacities ranging from 128 GB to 512 GB. The beauty of this rig is that it's easily upgradeable thanks to its modular design.

What nuked the rumors linking the Piston to Valve's mystery PC gaming console were several factors: (1) the price, as Valve planned to offer initial pricing competitive to new consoles; (2) Gabe Newell said he plans to release Steam Box prototypes to consumers later this year for feedback; and (3) Newell said back in January that there will be a variety of Steam Boxes, one of which will be offered directly to customers by Valve.

Now Valve's Doug Lombardi is actually distancing the studio from Xi3 Corp., saying that Valve at one point had some dealings with the compact PC maker, but those days are over. "Valve began some exploratory work with Xi3 last year, but currently has no involvement in any product of theirs," he said.

That comment is somewhat strange given the seemingly buddy-buddy relationship they shared during CES 2013 -- even their booths were in the same neighborhood. What is a little annoying about the whole Piston-Steam Box story is that when asked if the Piston was indeed Valve's PC gaming console, the Xi3 rep provided a "no comment". Was it too hard to say "no, this isn't Valve's Steam Box"? OR did something change between now and January?

Now we're back to square one.


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  • HEXiT
    at 999 it is overpriced junk and will only every be a novelty. you can build the same spec in a slightly bigger box for half as much. so although it looks very nice CNC machined aluminum isnt worth 500 bux.
    as for game im pretty sure he will want the best value hardware so customers are willing to part with there cash. after al he is basically gonna ask them to buy a possible linux machine to replace there windows gaming pc.
  • Pailin
    Yeah, if they'd come in at a Decent price and gone after money in numbers instead this could have been great.

    I would honestly expect to pay more for this than a console because it will "not" be subsidised by overpriced games...

    Should add that it still irks me somewhat that new Steam games cost the same as shop bought games that come with box + DVD etc and extras (+ have to cover all the costs involved)

    (and yeah, I can see it helping not kill an area of the market... which ended up pretty dead anyways)

    Steam Only regained some respect from me with their regular special offers
  • contrasia
    they should ditch the SSD. SSD is really really nice and everything, but the pricehike for a decent sized one is massive, and the cheaper SSDs underperform what you'd expect (You get what you pay for kind of thing). A standard SATA would be fine, especially considering the sizeable plethora of games available from Steam and how easy it is to get them. Rather than speed, you'll want space in a case that only allows you one drive. You could get the consumer to buy externals too to backup the steam content to when they arn't using it, but then you're talking about extra costs, effort and time on the consumer side. The point of a console is to make things easy afterall.