Steam Box Prototypes Coming Soon

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Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony are going to have some stiff competition soon. According to Valve CEO Gabe Newell, the Steam Box prototypes will be ready in “three to four months.”

“We’re working with partners to try and nail down exactly how fast we can make it,” Newell said yesterday on BBC. “We’re also working hard on the input side to try to take a step forward in terms of the kinds of games you can play. So very much on the development side, and we’ll be giving out some prototypes to customers to get their reactions, I guess, in the next three to four months.”

These prototypes will come with multiple controllers, to determine just exactly how players will be using the system. The company is also considering using biometric sensors to measure player’s vital signs. For example, Left 4 Dead players could be monitored to see just exactly what makes people feel fear and excitement.

“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 continue to offer them a new experience each time they play,” Newell said. Biometrics won’t just be used for the Steam Box, either. The CEO hinted strongly towards using these observation techniques for the PC as well. “The nice thing,” he said, “Is all the consoles are moving in the direction of personal computers.”

Newell reported that, as of right now, the Steam Box’s biggest challenges are noise and heat. He feels confident, however, that players already know what to expect. “I think your average gamer has a pretty good idea of what it will be like. The openness and flexibility of a PC, yet done in a way that makes it work well in a living room, so there are noise and heat issues. Being able to do that while still offering a powerful gaming experience is the challenge in building it.”

Still no word yet on a price or definite release day, but due to the success of the Steam engine on PC and Valve’s constant AAA quality games, the Steam Box will definitely be worth a second look when it finally gets released. Let’s just hope it’s before Half-Life 3.