Valve Distances Itself from Piston
Valve has said it no longer has any involvement with Xi3, whose Piston mini-computer will be the first to sport Steam's Big Picture mode.
"Valve began some exploratory work with Xi3 last year, but currently has no involvement in any product of theirs," Valve's Dough Lombardi told Eurogamer.
At CES in January this year, Xi3 and Valve announced a joint project called Piston. The tiny PC was designed around bringing Steam's HDTV-friendly Big Picture mode to gamers. At the time, Xi3 said it received an investment from Valve to develop the PC, and while it wasn't quite clearly quoted as such, the Piston mini-PC was quickly dubbed as the unofficial Steam Box.
In response to Lombardi's statement, Xi3 wrote to Kotaku to address the confusing situation:
"We reaffirm the fact that we received an investment from Valve Corporation (as we previously disclosed during the 2013 International CES trade show), and we did so with Valve's written permission," said Jason A. Sullivan, founder, president and CEO of Xi3 Corporation. "Second, we were asked to build a product specifically for Valve, and both companies showcased this product—the Piston Console—in their respective booths at CES 2013.
"Then, during a meeting with Valve at CES, Gabe Newell personally asked me that we not disclose additional information about our relationship with Valve. We have honored that request and will continue to do so. That said, there are other items we need to cover.
"For example, the assumption of many in the media has been that Piston is the ‘official' Steam Box. We've never said that and neither has Valve. That hasn't changed. But just because Valve may not ‘currently' have any ‘involvement with any product of (ours)' doesn't mean that such involvement won't exist in the future.
"It's also important to note that the Piston Console will allow gamers to access Steam regardless of what our relationship is or isn't with Valve. Additionally, Piston will also support a raft of other Internet-based gaming and entertainment platforms, which is more than what Valve apparently has planned for its official Steam Box. In this way, the Piston Console could be perceived as something more than just a Steam Box, which makes sense because at its core the Piston Console is a Modular Computer that can run any operating system or application designed to run on an x86-based 64-bit computer.
"To be clear, the Piston Console will ship initially with a Windows operating system specifically because that's where the vast bulk of game software and computer gamers are today. That said, the Piston Console can also run Linux (and other operating systems), which means it can support the Linux-version of Steam.
"Contrary to Valve's vision, Xi3 believes that the way to take this to market today is to do so with a Windows OS at the core, coupled with the ability to not just get to one platform/store for games, but to get access to all game stores/platforms. Studios should have the option to go through Steam if they choose or to go direct to the end-user if they so choose. That will be the difference between Piston and other Steam Boxes. You'll be able to access Steam if you choose, but you'll also be able to access other platforms as well-all through the Piston Console.
"We have opened Piston Console pre-orders and have been amazed at the interest and amount of pre-orders we have received thus far. This just reaffirms to us our decision to open pre-orders, because we are seriously concerned we will not be able to meet the demand for Piston Consoles for the 2013 Holiday Season.
"In closing, what Valve does or doesn't do with its Steam Box will be up to them. So Gabe, it's up to you. The ball is in your court."This week, Xi3 announced that Piston would ship this Holiday season at the starting price of $999. The PC would come equipped with a 3.2Ghz AMD Trinity quad-core processor, AMD Radeon 7000 series GPU, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD drive, which could be upgraded to either 256GB or 512GB for an additional cost.
Valve has said previously that it will release its own Steam Box sometime this year. It plans to distribute Steam Box prototypes to customers soon.