When we checked out the Xi3 Piston game console at CES 2013, Xi3 made clear that Valve had backed the unofficial Steam Box. Now, Valve has changed course and announced that it has no involvement with the project.
"Valve began some exploratory work with Xi3 last year, but currently has no involvement in any product of theirs," Valve's VP of marketing Doug Lombardi said in a statement to Eurogamer.
The timing is interesting. Xi3 announced earlier this week that the Piston would be available around Christmas this year with a $1,000 (£668} price tag, whereas last week Valve announced its official Steam Box prototype would be in testers' hands in three to four months' time.
It's not clear why Valve and Xi3 severed ties. Perhaps Valve just wanted to get Xi3 on its feet towards creating the first unofficial Steam Box, or Valve might now want to focus on its own solution.
At any rate the Piston, which has also been backed by Kickstarter users, will offer an interesting look at Steam in the living room via Big Picture mode. In our hands-on time at CES, we found a Rubik's Cube-sized box with a metal grille, metal connections on the back, and a 128GB SSD inside. It will be available for pre-order 18 March, though UK pricing has not been revealed.
Valve declined to provide any further information.
Update Xi3 has expanded on the situation in comments to Kotaku.
"The assumption of many in the media has been that Piston is the ‘official' Steam Box. We've never said that and neither has Valve. That hasn't changed. But just because Valve may not ‘currently' have any ‘involvement with any product of (ours)' doesn't mean that such involvement won't exist in the future. It's also important to note that the Piston Console will allow gamers to access Steam regardless of what our relationship is or isn't with Valve."
We wonder if that $1,000 price tag played a role in the split-up.
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