Valve co-founder Gabe Newell didn't drop any major announcement bombs during his DICE keynote address, but he did provide insight into Valve's current, internal approach to the gaming industry. Newell discussed the evolution of Steam software within the context of future hardware, notably Valve's Steam Box, and stressed the continued importance of the PC.
As for the Steam Box's in-home PC streaming system, Newell said it would be a cheap addition to any TV, starting at $100 and eventually hitting $0. "The price point that's going to be hit is going to be much, much lower than things we've traditionally seen in living room devices. Better, it's basically a PC in the console form factor and at the console price point. There's nothing really magical about the hardware – this is the great thing about PC, is that it's been evolving so quickly."
Businesswise, make the in-home streaming experience a great one and it could serve as a gateway to high-end PC gaming, Newell said: "A user who has a great experience using in-home streaming is going to be much more likely to upgrade to a PC in a console form factor and then continue to invest."
The Steam Box will hinge on in-home streaming rather than cloud gaming, and Newell explained that he was a long-standing skeptic of cloud gaming. As he saw it, the cloud incurred a huge network cost that could collapse the system upon its own success, and it put latency compensation in the wrong place, at the center of the network rather than the edge.
"One thing we believe is latency sensitivity is going to increase in the future," Newell said. "The ability to do local, high-speed processing will become more important than it is right now."