At the company’s 2014 CES press conference, Valve announced its third party partnerships with PC manufacturers that will produce and sell the first Steambox devices. Valve noted a total of 14 initial hardware partners including: Alienware, Alternate, Cyberpower PC, Digital Storm, Falcon Northwest, Gigabyte, iBuyPower, Maingear, Materiel.net, Next Spa, Origin PC, Scan, Webhallen and Zotac.
Valve detailed its plans for the Steambox back in 2013, noting that the console-like hardware would play PC Steam games via the company’s Linux-based OS called Steam OS, using the company’s new Steam controller. It’s a clear play for Valve to extend its reach into the living room, competing against Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4.
Valve co-founder Gabe Newell also noted that approximately 250 games have been ported to the Steam OS, which can currently be played natively on the Steambox hardware. Other steam games can be played on the Steambox; however, the process requires users to stream the gameplay from a Windows gaming PC.
Apparently Valve hasn’t burdened its partners with too many hardware restrictions, as the first round of Steambox consoles looks quite diverse, with the most affordable machines being listed at $500, while the more expensive configurations can cost upwards of $6,000. Pricing isn’t the only variable with these devices either, as each console looks to employ a completely unique design and form factor. While the Steambox is being pitched as a PC/console hybrid, the various builds and designs are far more akin to the traditional gaming PC marketplace.
The first Steambox consoles are expected to be made available for purchase in the second half of 2014, with the more affordable devices such as the iBuyPower and Cyberpower PC machines costing no more than the current next-generation video game consoles, at around $500. The higher-end rigs such as the Digital Storm and Falcon Northwest Steam machines on the other hand will be far more comparable to well-equipped gaming PCs, with prices starting at around $1,800 and up. Other manufacturers such as Alienware and Origin PC have yet to announce pricing plans all together.