There's always been a gap between console and PC gaming. Besides companies like OnLive and Razer, there hasn't been much in the way of dedicated PC game platforms. Valve may be the upset that changes all of that.
The Verge recently got the exclusive scoop that Valve may be working on a game console. The rumors suggest that it won't be a game console in the strictest sense of the word, but rather a uniform standard PC that would break down the barrier to PC gaming for a lot of people.
The rumors suggest that Valve has created a prototype of this potential game console. If it goes into full production, the specs and design would vary by manufacturer and distributor. The software would also be open allowing anybody to put their service on the box. This would mean that EA's Origin and GameStop's Impulse could co-exist with Steam on such a device.
There are also rumors that say Valve showed off the console to potential partners and interested parties at CES in January. The specs of the device include an Intel Core i7, 8GB of RAM and an Nvidia GPU. If you're not too familiar with PC hardware, that's a beast of a machine.
Now all of this so far just sounds like Valve is making a mini-PC. It essentially is, but there's more to it than that. By giving developers a set structure to work with instead of having to deal with the countless configurations currently in PC gaming, they could really tap into the power that a Valve console could offer. It would also, as The Verge points out, give developers a set lifecycle of three to four years.
The rumors also state that the console would ship with a custom controller that could have its parts switched out depending on the type of game the user is playing. It would also include some form of biometrics to track a player's breathing and heartbeats in a way similar to the curious Wii Vitality Sensor that never made it to production.
Kotaku got a picture of the rumored device from a tipster, but nobody is sure if it's the rumored device or not. The specs of the pictured machine line up with what the rumors say it will have.
This isn't the first time, however, that there have been attempts to make a PC gaming console. The aforementioned OnLive and Razer solutions aren't really consoles, but rather ways to standardize PC gaming. The ill-fated Phantom platform that was never actually released despite numerous E3 appearances sought to take PC gaming into the console business. If the rumors are true, it will be interesting to see if Valve succeeds where Phantom failed.
The rumors suggest that Valve will show off the hardware at GDC this week or E3 in June. Let's hope the reveal is sooner rather than later. We'll be covering GDC this week so we'll keep you up to date on the rumored Valve console as well as any other announcements made during the event.