Xi3 Making Valve’s Fabled Steam Box? That’s News to Valve, It Turns Out

Earlier, we came across a hot item about Valve and their rumored Steam Box gaming console. Word came out that modular PC maker Xi3 was Valve’s hardware partner on the project and was showing off the result, a beautifully designed computer called the Piston. However, when we eagerly scooted over to Valve’s booth here at CES 2013 in Las Vegas, they told us that the story simply was not true.

According to Valve, there are several--potential--hardware partners, and in fact that’s pretty much all Valve’s booth is for at CES; press wasn’t allowed in. When we pushed a bit for more details, Valve’s representative was polite but firm: We were unable to enter the booth and inspect the various potential hardware, and there were no demonstrations to be seen.

Valve booth
The Valve Booth at CES 2013; note consoles by the TVs

Further, Valve was completely mum on whether or not a Steam Box exists at all or is in the works. That said, we were allowed to take a photo from outside the booth, and you can clearly see that an Xi3 device and several others are connected to a pair of TVs. Presumably, these are all hardware prototypes for the Steam Box, which isn’t officially anything yet.

Valve Xi3 Piston

With apologies, Valve would only give us this boilerplate response:

"Valve will be at CES to meet with hardware and content developers in our booth space. We are bringing multiple custom HW prototypes as well as some off-the-shelf PC’s to our CES meetings, which are low-cost, high performance designs for the living room that are great candidates for Steam and Big Picture. We will be sharing more information to the press and public in the coming months."

Xi3, however, was also adamant that its Piston PC is the real deal, leaving us to conclude that Xi3 was misinformed about Valve’s commitment to its hardware. (For what it’s worth, Xi3 has some very intriguing products of its own that we’ll report on soon.)

As the dust is settling on this PR misfire, two things are clear: Xi3 is not making a Steam Box console for Valve, but Valve is testing hardware and vetting partners for something that will eventually be a Steam console, or at least something along those lines.