Legendary PC gaming company Valve Software has been experimenting with its first foray into living room and television-based gaming for a while, but now it looks like the company will bring its new ideas to market sooner than gamers expected.
Speaking in an interview with the BBC, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell said an early prototype of his company’s new “Steam Box” hardware could be released within three to four months.
"We're working with partners trying to nail down how fast we can make it," Newell said. "We'll be giving out some prototypes to customers to gauge their reactions, I guess, in the next three to four months.”
Valve is best known as the software company behind acclaimed video games like “Half Life” and “Left 4 Dead” and its digital distribution platform Steam, and the Steam Box is a rare and unprecedented step. In his comments, Newell admitted that some developmental hurdles remain with the new device.
"There are noise issues and heat issues and being able to [deal with] that while still offering a powerful enough gaming experience is the challenge in building it,” Newell said.
Newell also said the company is still working on the final features and design of the Steam Box controller. Confirming earlier comments that he made to The Verge at this year’s CES, however, Newell maintained that Valve is still pursuing different ways to incorporate biometric feedback into the device.
"If you think of a game like 'Left for Dead' - which was trying to put you into a sort of horror movie -- if you don't change the experience of what the player is actually feeling then it stops being a horror game," Newell explained. "So you need to actually be able to directly measure how aroused the player is -- what their heart rate is, things like that -- in order to offer them a new experience each time they play."
It’s hard to say whether Valve’s new Steam Box classifies as a “console,” exactly, since it’s being built to support all of Steam’s PC content. But in any case, Valve will face steep competition in the living room gaming market from entrenched rivals like Sony (NYSE:SNE), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Nintendo (PINK:NTDOY), all of which are expected to have a next-generation console out in time for the 2013 holiday season.