I lost a bet with myself at CES 2013. In the gaming preview we published ahead of this week's big show, I wrote, "As per usual, the games industry and CES are acquaintances at best -- at least from what we've heard thus far. Perhaps this will be the year that bucks the years-long trend, but we're not betting on it." Wrong. Wrong. But hey, this is one of those, "glad to be wrong" situations. NVIDIA shocked everyone with its first Tegra 4 device, Project Shield, which is essentially NVIDIA's first in-house dedicated gaming handheld. Not only does it play Android games, but more importantly, it streams full retail games from your NVIDIA GPU-based PC, all on its high-res 5-inch screen. Heck, it even has Steam's Big Picture Mode built right in, allowing you to explore Steam and purchase games, as well as push them directly to your television (employing Shield as your controller).
And then Valve's internal hardware prototypes popped up, confirming what we've heard murmurs of for months: the company's head down on creating a PC for your living room. Not exactly shocking, but certainly exciting; the plans are still nebulous, but Valve's confirmed we'll see hardware in 2013. We even saw some third-parties stepping up with their own versions of Valve's initiative. Xi3's Piston is the first such creation revealed, though the company's staying tight-lipped about specs -- we do know that Xi3's working directly with Valve on its tiny, modular PC. It's barely 2013, and already Valve's Steambox initiative is dominating gaming news. Let's call it right here -- this is the year that Valve attacks.