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Valve Steam Box console to take on Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo

Valve is working hard on a device it calls the Steam Box, a games console designed to play PC games, with a view to unveiling the console at E3 this year.

Speaking to German-language gaming site Golem.de, a Valve spokesperson confirmed that the company is working on a hybrid device which combines technology from the console world with technology from the PC world - creating an affordable, easy-to-use system for playing the latest PC games.

Based on the open-source Linux operating system, which has previously been largely ignored by games publishers who prefer to target the mass market of Windows gamers, the Steam Box uses Valve's Steam digital distribution platform to allow users to quickly purchase, download and install games. The company has recently been running a beta test of its Steam for Linux client, allowing users to try out the experience - and test the Big Picture Mode, a special user interface designed to allow users to control the entire Steam experience through a game controller on a large TV screen, something the Steam Box will be using heavily to provide a more console-like experience.

The Steam Box, Valve has previously explained, will offer something between a console gaming experience and a PC gaming experience: the hardware will be powerful, but not so powerful as to make it hugely expensive, while the games themselves will not support the same level of tweaking and modding as their full-fat PC counterparts - but will nevertheless show more flexibility than traditional console titles.

Valve is thought to be planning to unveil the Steam Box PC-stroke-console at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) later this year - interestingly, the same event at which Microsoft is thought to be unveiling its own next-generation Xbox 720 console - although industry rumours point to the device first appearing at the Game Developers' Conference (GDC) in March.

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