Steam Box prototype in customers' hands in three to four months

Valve boss Gabe Newell has revealed that the first Steam Box games console prototypes will be released to some customers for a testing period in three to four months' time.

Speaking to the BBC before the BAFTA Games Awards - at which he was honoured with an Academy Fellowship for his outstanding creative contribution to the games industry - Newell said there were a few technical challenges, including heat and noise issues.

"We'll be giving out some prototypes to customers to gauge their reactions, I guess, in the next three to four months," he said.

"There are noise issues and heat issues and being able to [deal with] that while still offering a powerful enough gaming experience is the challenge in building it."

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Another thing cited as holding up the project is that Valve is yet to choose the type of controller it will adopt for the finished product. Newell said the company would be giving a couple of different prototype controllers to the customers for the testing phase, to see what the "differences are in their play patterns when they have those controllers".

The Valve chief executive also explained more on the company's stance on alternative forms of gaming for the Steam Box. Instead of a Kinect-style motion controller, Valve is looking towards other interesting interactivity options, perhaps even biometrics.

"If you think of a game like Left For Dead - which was trying to put you into a sort of horror movie - if you don't change the experience of what the player is actually feeling then it stops being a horror game," he said.

"So you need to actually be able to directly measure how aroused the player is - what their heart rate is, things like that - in order to offer them a new experience each time they play."