If Xi3’s Piston isn’t a ‘Steambox’, nobody’s told Xi3: “We were asked to build a product specifically for Valve”


When the coke-can sized modular PC named Piston was announced at CES, it was accompanied by a litany of winks and nods which indicated that, yes, this machine comes with Valve’s blessing – not to mention their financial investment. Well, Valve revoked that blessing in a curt statement yesterday, and it’s evidently come as something of a surprise to Xi3 CEO Jason A. Sullivan.

“We reaffirm the fact that we received an investment from Valve Corporation (as we previously disclosed during the 2013 International CES trade show), and we did so with Valve’s written permission,” Sullivan told Kotaku. “Second, we were asked to build a product specifically for Valve, and both companies showcased this product—the Piston Console—in their respective booths at CES 2013.”

Sullivan went on to claim that Xi3 have, if anything, understated the extent of their relationship with Valve, at Gabe Newell’s request.

Sullivan cryptically elaborated: “The assumption of many in the media has been that Piston is the ‘official’ Steam Box. We’ve never said that and neither has Valve. That hasn’t changed. But just because Valve may not ‘currently’ have any ‘involvement with any product of (ours)’ doesn’t mean that such involvement won’t exist in the future.”

Sullivan noted that the Piston will support Steam “regardless of what our relationship is or isn’t with Valve”, and claimed that the tiny PC will likely be capable of more in the way of internet-based gaming and entertainment than Valve’s own Steambox.

“In this way, the Piston Console could be perceived as something more than just a Steam Box, which makes sense because at its core the Piston Console is a Modular Computer that can run any operating system or application designed to run on an x86-based 64-bit computer,” he said.

The statement further disclosed that Xi3 don’t share Valve’s vision for Linux, which is why the Piston uses Windows as its default OS. So there.

“In closing, what Valve does or doesn’t do with its Steam Box will be up to them,” said Sullivan. “So Gabe, it’s up to you. The ball is in your court.”

I can’t help but think this would be a conversation better had over the phone. But Gabe, if he’s there, is more than welcome to respond in the comments. In the meantime, let’s hear what you lot think.

Thanks, RPS.