A year from now, the world’s gaming environment will look totally different than it does today. Three major new consoles are rumored to be released around the Holiday 2013 season. Those consoles are the new Xbox (aka the Xbox 720), the PlayStation 4, and a new entry called the Steam Box that aims to compete head-to-head against its established competition.

The origins of the Steam Box

Most PC gamers have used Steam at some point in their gaming careers. Steam is a useful way to buy and manage games while chatting to your friends, and it’s the only legal way to play many of the world’s most popular PC games. Steam was created by Valve, which is arguably the world’s most popular PC gaming company.

Valve has made a habit out of revolutionizing the PC gaming scene. Which is good because Microsoft clearly doesn’t want to. And the latest Valve-powered revolution involves taking the power of PCs into your living room. Valve recently added ‘Big Picture’ mode to Steam, which is basically a console UI that can easily be accessed over controllers and is perfect for big screen TVs.

In a recent interview with Kotaku at Spike’s Video Game Awards, Valve CEO Gabe Newell revealed that Big Picture mode was far more popular than the company expected. Newell also stated that the new Steam Box console is currently in development and will compete against Microsoft and Sony in the near future.

Steam Box features, pricing, and other details

So far, details about the Steam Box are few and far between. And by “few and far between” we mean that they basically don’t exist. As the release date draws closer, we’ll learn more about the Steam Box’s features. And it’s likely we’ll see a massive release of the Steam Box’s features at E3 2013 alongside the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4.

Here’s what is known or suspected about the Steam Box thus far:

-It will come with Steam built-in and ready-to-go. In fact, Steam might be the only operating platform on the device.

-It will build off Steam’s ‘Big Picture’ mode, which uses larger icons and a more controller-friendly interface for gamers accessing Steam over their big screen HDTVs.

-The hardware will be more locked down than a traditional PC, although it will be significantly less locked down than traditional consoles. Valve CEO Gabe Newell claims that Steam Box users will be able to upgrade internal components from third-party manufacturers.

Confirmed by Valve and currently in development

The Steam Box has been confirmed by Valve to be currently in development. Although release date information is scarce, many are suspecting the Steam Box to be released around the same time as the next generation of consoles.

In any case, I’m going to have a lot of fancy electronics to put on my wish list for December 2013. I can’t wait!

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