A rift may be forming between Piston Console maker Xi3 and Valve.
A partially transparent veil of secrecy hangs over Xi3's pint-sized Piston Console. When first unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this year, some surmised it was the official Steam Box, though Xi3 never came out and said it. And now that Xi3 is taking pre-orders, there's still no mention of it being a Steam Box, though it's clearly intended for living room gaming using Steam's Big Picture mode. Xi3 released a statement today that adds a little insight into its relationship with Valve, and also hints that things aren't as rosy between the two as previously thought.
"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," Xi3 President and CEO Jason A. Sullivan said. "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."
According to Xi3, it received an investment from Valve, a fact it's able to divulge with written permission from the Steam publisher. Furthermore, Xi3 confirmed it was "asked to build a product specifically for Valve," which it showed off at CES.
"Then, during a meeting with Valve at CES, Gabe Newell personally asked me that we not disclose additional information about our relationship with Valve. We have honored that request and will continue to do so," Sullivan added.
What Xi3 is willing to clarify is that the Piston Console allows gamers to access Steam regardless of its relationship with Valve. it will also support a "raft of other Internet-based gaming and entertainment platforms" beyond what Valve currently has planned for its official Steam Box.
Xi3 then hinted at a bit of disagreement with Valve over the future of PC gaming.
"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 said. "Studios should have the option to go through Steam if they choose or to go direct to the end-user if they so choose. That will be the difference between Piston and other Steam Boxes. You'll be able to access Steam if you choose, but you'll also be able to access other platforms as well—all through the Piston Console."
So to recap:
Gabe Newell asked Xi3 not to disclose additional information about its relationship with Valve
Xi3 can be considered a Steam Box of sorts, but it's not Valve's official Steam Box
The Piston Console will ship with Windows but can also run Linux
"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," Sullivan added.