Valve teases Steam Box reveal, claims Linux is the future of gaming

Gabe Newell
What sort of hardware are we in for?

Linux is the future of gaming, according to Gabe Newell. But the Valve co-founder would say that, wouldn't he?

During a presentation today at LinuxCon 2013, taking place this week in New Orleans, Newell laid out why Linux, an open platform, will drive PC gaming where closed systems fail. More concretely, he teased that we're in for some hardware news soon.

"Next week we're going to be rolling out more information about how we get there and what are the hardware opportunities that we see for bringing Linux into the living room, and potentially pointing further down the road to how we get it even more unified with mobile," he said.

Might next week hold the Valve Steam Box, the gaming hardware Newell has confirmed the company is building? It's entirely possible, but not the only potential development we could see from the Valve team.

Inputs and others

Newell touched on input obstacles during his talk, so a controller or other input solution could be in the cards too.

"There are some issues to making sure that whatever computing platform you have works well in a living room environment," he said.

"There are thermal issues and sound issues but there are also a bunch of input issues, so the next step in our contributions to this is to release some work we've done on the hardware side."

While we very well could see the Valve Steam Box, Newell could also have been referring to a product or service aimed at third-party hardware makers or, as he talked about unification with mobile, something aimed at smaller screens.

Linux challenges

The allure of Valve hardware is strong, but at least today Newell was far more interested in making a case for the adoption and support of Linux in PC gaming.

Newell spent most of his presentation extolling Linux's openness, yet while he proclaimed it's the future of gaming, still pointed out its miniscule market numbers.

According to Newell, the experience of gaming with Linux "is pretty painful". According to just about every metric, from the number of players to player minutes to revenue generated, Linux typically holds less than 1%.

That's not to say there isn't growth; Newell cited there are currently 198 Steam games running on Linux. While PC sales are tumbling by double digits year-over-year, Newell said Steam's own sales have grown by 76%.

He also revealed Valve is co-developing a Linux debugger per the suggestion of developers who want to see the tool, a solution that should help with future software development.

You can watch Newell's LinuxCon 2013 talk below:

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.