MCV caught up with Microsoft EU head Phil Harrison at CES, and poured the words ‘Steam Box’ and ‘Nvidia Shield’ into his ear via a pipette. Eyewitnesses talk of disconcerting gurgling noises as the information drained into Harrison’s skull, but seconds later the man’s mouth was seen to open, and the following to fall out:
“CES is always very interesting. But entering the hardware business is a hard thing to do.”
“You need to have deep pockets,” explained Harrison. “Hardware can be successful but it’s rare to get new hardware to scale. I’m talking tens or hundreds of millions. It’s about having a supply chain and a distribution model, it takes thousands of people to make a reality.”
Harrison knows his business - the man had a hand in nearly every PlayStation launch to date. But Valve aren’t looking to enter the console market as Sony or Microsoft know it. And Xi3’s Piston isn’t the only Steam Box; rather, it’s only one of a number of planned third-party Steam-based living room devices to be developed in the coming years.
Doug Lombardi said at CES that Valve were shopping several prototypes to hardware developers at the show, and that all were “low-cost, high-performance designs for the living room that are great candidates for Steam and Big Picture.”
In short: Valve want to make the PC better, and better-suited for spaces more communal than the study. And their supply chain, I suspect, will be those of existing PC manufacturers. What do you think?