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Xi3 Piston console will initially ship with Windows installed

by Mark Tyson on 13 March 2013, 11:30

Tags: Valve, PC

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Earlier in the week there were reports that Valve was distancing itself from the Xi3 Piston project. Valve representative Doug Lombardi was quoted by Eurogamer as saying “Valve began some exploratory work with Xi3 last year, but currently has no involvement in any product of theirs”. This brief statement raised more questions than it answered; actually the Lombardi quote on Eurogamer is almost without context.

Following lots of games industry news head scratching yesterday the CEO of Xi3, Jason A. Sullivan, has made a statement to try and clear up the now muddied waters of the Valve/Xi3 relationship.

“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” said Sullivan. “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 also stated that he was asked by Gabe Newell not to disclose any further info about the two company’s relationship to the press. “We have honored that request and will continue to do so” he added.

Explaining the Lombardi quote

Turning to discuss some of press misconceptions, Sullivan then said “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”.

Valve or no Valve – Piston can run Steam

“It's also important to note that the Piston Console will allow gamers to access Steam regardless of what our relationship is or isn't with Valve,” explained Sullivan. He went on to say that the Piston may well be a more capable platform than the official Steam Box “Piston will also support a raft of other Internet-based gaming and entertainment platforms, which is more than what Valve apparently has planned for its official Steam Box. In this way, the Piston Console could be perceived as something more than just a Steam Box...”

Windows preinstalled

Continuing his lengthy statement Jason A. Sullivan talked about the Piston and Windows; “To be clear, the Piston Console will ship initially with a Windows operating system specifically because that's where the vast bulk of game software and computer gamers are today. That said, the Piston Console can also run Linux (and other operating systems), which means it can support the Linux-version of Steam”.

Bone of contention

Now we see some intercompany relationship cracks start to appear; “Contrary to Valve's vision, Xi3 believes that the way to take this to market today is to do so with a Windows OS at the core, coupled with the ability to not just get to one platform/store for games, but to get access to all game stores/platforms”. Sullivan added that this will be a big difference between Piston and other Steam Boxes. Steam will only be one as important as the user wishes it to be with the Piston. Perhaps Sullivan thinks that this extra flexibility will be enough to justify the pricing strategy Xi3 has in mind. Apparently Xi3 has been “amazed” at the amount of pre-orders it has received for the Piston so far (until 17th March with SXSW $100 discount).

Sullivan concluded his Xi3/Valve relationship statement with a casual gauntlet toss; “In closing, what Valve does or doesn't do with its Steam Box will be up to them. So Gabe, it's up to you. The ball is in your court.”

Is the Xi3 Piston console more attractive if paired with Windows? At least this accounts for another $100 or so of the unexpectedly high price.

HEXUS Forums :: 19 Comments

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So it's essentially it's just an overpriced small form factor PC that ships with windows on it. What makes it a console?
Think I'll stick to my more traditional gaming PC, sure its in a big case, but its a lot more powerful than this thing and cost about the same (maybe less?)
So it's essentially it's just an overpriced small form factor PC that ships with windows on it. What makes it a console?

My thought exactly, “console” implies appliance-level low maintenance, fool-proof integration. This news just reinforces that the Piston is just a low-spec, over priced, ugly & non-standard form factor PC. A Lian-Li ITX case, 2.5" SSD, top line AMD APU, RAM would cost a lot less, look nicer and probably perform better without being that much bigger.

The real Steam box needs to be as easy and simple as other consoles, it could be Linux underneath but it needs to just boot straight a simple 10ft UI, I'm sure Valve know this. If the mass-market future of living room entertainment and gaming was a full blown Windows PC then Microsoft would waste no time sticking it on the NeXtBox, fact is most people want something a lot simpler and easier and a full Windows box dedicated for your TV is a small niche of nerds like me. Most folk who want to see their Windows device output on their TV are better served by buying an HDMI cable/WiDi etc. Microsoft know this from experience, everyone else knows this, Xi3 are the only ones who seem not to.
A Lian-Li ITX case, 2.5" SSD, top line AMD APU, RAM would cost a lot less, look nicer and probably perform better without being that much bigger.

It would be a heck of a lot bigger - this Piston is only approx 10x9x9cm!

It's certainly overpriced for actual performance, and I would personally also opt for an ITX based rig, but that form factor is absolutely tiny.
I'm not sure where this product is aimed. PC Gamers are already going to have PCs and console gamers are just going to stick with a Playstation or Xbox. Then people who have neither probably aren't interested in gaming at all.