Valve’s Steambox prototype may be imminent

We’ve been hearing rumblings about a Linux-powered gaming machine from Valve for some time now.

Earlier this week, pictures of such a system with an Infinity Ward logo tipped up, confirming that game developers at the studio are already testing at least one variant of the console in the form of the Xi3 Steambox Piston.

Valve head Gabe Newell recently said during an interview that prototype hardware was due to start arriving for a number of users in the next 3 to 4 months.

Some initially believed that the prototype hardware sent to beta testers would only include controllers designed to work with Steam Big Picture mode. However, it appears that the beta hardware being sent out some users will also include actual prototypes of the Steambox console.

“We’re working with partners trying to nail down how fast we can make it [Steambox],” said Newell.

Newell also discussed a few reasons for the delay in getting Steambox hardware into retail outlets. He pointed to problems with noise and heat concerns as part of the holdup. In the meantime, Valve is also working with other hardware partners, which is where Xi3 comes in with its Piston prototype.

Interestingly, Newell also hinted that some sort of biological monitoring capabilities would be built into the game controller. He said, “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.”

That controller is a major roadblock to the availability of the Steambox according to Newell.

“The main thing that’s holding us up right now is nailing … we have a couple of different controller prototypes that we’re using, and that’s one of the things that we’re giving to customers,” he added.