While we may never see the next release of Half-Life: Episode 3 in our lifetime, Valve is rumored to be working on a new project that may make the final chapter in the Black Mesa world seem less important. Valve's co-founder Gabe Newell spoke to Penny Arcade and hinted at the company possibly making a physical console that could go toe-to-toe with the next-gen versions of the Xbox and PlayStation. Newell said, "well, if we have to sell hardware we will."
Under normal circumstances, we'd chalk this up to another Internet rumor that is merely fun to chat about on a message board, however this time there may be some proof behind this speculation.
First, Newell spoke a bit more on the subject that could lead us to believe a console is in the near future.
It's more we think that we need to continue to have innovation and if the only way to get these kind of projects started is by us going and developing and selling the hardware directly then that's what we'll do. We'd rather hardware people that are good at manufacturing and distributing hardware do that. We think it's important enough that if that's what we end up having to do, then that's what we end up having to do.
Second, we've been hearing the term "Steam Box" being thrown around for a while now. That, paired with private screenings at CES to show possible partners what the hardware might be capable of, seems to make everything gel here. Rumor has it the "Steam Box" at CES had a Core i7, 8GB RAM and a Nvidia video card, so we're looking at a system that would run PC-based games.
Next, we have learned of a patent Valve filed last year that involves a proprietary USB controller that allows the user to swap out the pieces depending on which game you decide to start playing. We may also see biometric feedback come standard as part of the controller.
Lastly, the kicker is that Valve has been reported to have said, at least internally, that it wants to not only take on existing console systems, but to go right for Apple TV's jugular. Newell has said publicly to the Seattle Times that,
On the platform side, it's sort of ominous that the world seems to be moving away from open platforms...They build a shiny sparkling thing that attracts users and then they control people's access to those things.
This week Valve responded to what's been speculated from their interviews and their patent filing. While they have built test machines for their Big Picture Mode UI, their game interface and have messed around with a couple of biometric feedback features, they are still a long way away from producing any hardware, or so they say. Valve marketing director Doug Lombardi told Kotaku that,
All of that is stuff that we're working on, but it's a long way from Valve shipping any sort of hardware.
So would we possibly see Valve's work-in-progress at E3? Are they really as far away from producing hardware for consumers as they say they are? If any part of this rumor is true, I'm excited to see what's in store. This information was pulled in from several different places, so this is a conclusion I've come up with. Have you heard other pieces you'd like to add, or something completely different? Tell us about it in the comments section below.