In a BBC interview ahead of last night's BAFTA Game Awards, Gabe Newell revealed that prototypes of Valve's "Steam Box," their planned living-room friendly PC, could be ready to ship to customers within the next three to four months.
"We're working with partners trying to nail down how fast we can make it," Newell said. "We'll be giving out some prototypes to customers to gauge their reactions, I guess, in the next three to four months."
While so far, all that's been officially unveiled are third party Steam partnerships, like Xi3's Piston, here it sounds like he's taking about Valve's own internal efforts. If that's the case, then "customers" could be referring to anything from consumers, to publishers, developers or hardware manufacturers. Given Valve's love of testing, though, it wouldn't be a surprise if they were eager to get something out to members of the public.
While most of the early work has been done on the console, Newell says there are issues that still need to be resolved. "There are noise issues and heat issues and being able to [deal with] that while still offering a powerful enough gaming experience is the challenge in building it." Components aside, it seems the biggest problem Valve faces is the controller design, and has created multiple versions for customers to test.
The full four minute chat is available to watch on the BBC News page . As well as Steam Box, Newell also talks about biometrics, saying "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."
And then, inevitably, he dodges questions about Half-Life 3. "We're always looking at all of our different games - even Ricochet and Day of Defeat - thinking about how we can evolve them in the changing gaming landscape."