There's some comments by Gabe about Linux and their next-gen plans that have been posted on Kotaku.com. Some highlights include:
- "[Gabe Newell] said the reaction to Steam's TV-friendly Big Picture interface has been "stronger than expected," and that their next step is to get Steam Linux out of beta and to get Big Picture on that operating system, which would give Valve more flexibility when developing their own hardware."
- Expect sales to begin in 2013 to compete with next-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft.
- A next-generation game engine is being worked on for their forthcoming hardware products.
The comments shouldn't be entirely surprising. There's been news already that Valve is working on a new game engine to succeed the Source Engine. For months they have been also hiring hardware engineers, device driver writers, etc. I have also written about their eventual foray as a Linux-based gaming hardware console and made other comments in months past on Phoronix as well as in video interviews about some of what to expect.
From the Kotaku information though, I do have one point to make. While the author says "Valve's hardware might not be as open-source or as malleable as your average computer" and "will be a very controlled environment", do not expect it to be locked-down. If you take those comments to mean that Valve will be making a TiVo-like device and block users from making software modifications, you will most likely be proven wrong.
In talking with Gabe in the beginning of the year, it's not going to be a very restricted and locked down device. While the default software environment isn't going to be some crude terminal UI booting to a root console, Valve isn't going to ignore the modding community and those Linux enthusiasts that may want to tinker with the device. Valve also wants to make their console platform much more attractive to game developers/studios than the restrictive devices out of Microsoft and Sony. Knowing some of the details about what's going on is why I am not excited about the Android-based Ouya gaming console.
As I said back in May and still stand by, "I wouldn't be referring these important open-source contributors if I thought Valve was just using it as a crude way to kill open-source software or in the secret pocket of Microsoft. I'm very confident in Valve and their Linux intentions; the impact of their work can greatly benefit the entire Linux ecosystem in huge ways. Whether you're a Linux gamer or not, it's to everyone's benefit that Valve's striking Linux work is steaming with greatness."