Following the Xi3 Piston's big show at CES, and the emergence of a rather hefty $1000 price tag, both Xi3 and Valve have been quick to try and clarify the situation surrounding what hass been dubbed the first third-party Steam Box.
However, it would seem that Valve are trying to distance themselves from the project, whilst Xi3 have reiterated that the product was built "specifically for Valve".
“Valve began some exploratory work with Xi3 last year, but currently has no involvement in any product of theirs," Valve's Doug Lombardi told Eurogamer this week.
This seemed to contradict statements given by Xi3 when they unveiled the Piston at the top of the year, suggesting that Valve were backing the small form factor PC.
However, it would seem that the operative word in Lombardi's statement might be "currently", as Xi3's CEO moved to clarify the situation in a statement to Kotaku this morning.
"We reaffirm the fact that we received an investment from Valve Corporation (as we previously disclosed during the 2013 International CES trade show), and we did so with Valve's written permission," said Jason A. Sullivan, founder, president and CEO of Xi3 Corporation. "Second, we were asked to build a product specifically for Valve, and both companies showcased this product—the Piston Console—in their respective booths at CES 2013.
"Then, during a meeting with Valve at CES, Gabe Newell personally asked me that we not disclose additional information about our relationship with Valve. We have honored that request and will continue to do so. That said, there are other items we need to cover.
"For example, 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. Additionally, Piston will also support a raft of other Internet-based gaming and entertainment platforms, which is more than what Valve apparently has planned for its official Steam Box. In this way, the Piston Console could be perceived as something more than just a Steam Box, which makes sense because at its core the Piston Console is a Modular Computer that can run any operating system or application designed to run on an x86-based 64-bit computer.
"To be clear, the Piston Console will ship initially with a Windows operating system specifically because that's where the vast bulk of game software and computer gamers are today. That said, the Piston Console can also run Linux (and other operating systems), which means it can support the Linux-version of Steam.
"Contrary to Valve's vision, Xi3 believes that the way to take this to market today is to do so with a Windows OS at the core, coupled with the ability to not just get to one platform/store for games, but to get access to all game stores/platforms. Studios should have the option to go through Steam if they choose or to go direct to the end-user if they so choose. That will be the difference between Piston and other Steam Boxes. You'll be able to access Steam if you choose, but you'll also be able to access other platforms as well-all through the Piston Console.
"We have opened Piston Console pre-orders and have been amazed at the interest and amount of pre-orders we have received thus far. This just reaffirms to us our decision to open pre-orders, because we are seriously concerned we will not be able to meet the demand for Piston Consoles for the 2013 Holiday Season.
"In closing, what Valve does or doesn't do with its Steam Box will be up to them. So Gabe, it's up to you. The ball is in your court."
So, essentially, it's very much a small-form factor PC designed to be as open as possible.
No wonder Valve are trying to distance themselves.