Update: On Monday, September 23rd, Valve announced a crucial component of its push for the living room: SteamOS. With two additional announcements teased for the coming days, we're expecting to get a first look at Valve's official Steam Box hardware this week. Stay tuned to our StoryStream for the latest news.

Original Story: Valve's Steam Box is coming, and if the company behind Half-Life, Portal, and Team Fortress 2 gets it right, the next gaming console in your living room could be much different — and more compelling — than your Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, or PC.

Valve is trying to build a game console that you haven’t seen before: something that brings the PC (the big thing sitting on your desk) and the traditional console (the little thing sitting under your TV) together into a single device. A device that will run Valve’s Steam platform: the biggest digital game distribution service on the market, with upwards of 50 million users. (By comparison, Xbox Live has somewhere around 40 million subscribers.) But what does that really mean?

If you know any PC or console gamers, they’re sure to have some talking points on hand about why their gaming platform of choice is the platform to have. That’s because PCs and traditional gaming consoles each have a lot to offer for everyone who likes playing games. Consoles are easy to set up and play, great for gaming with friends and family, and comfortable to use (just try using a keyboard and mouse on the couch). Lots of people can hook up a Wii or an Xbox to the television, pop in a disc, and start playing without a huge learning curve. And while console games are usually more expensive, consoles cost much less than powerful gaming PCs upfront (high-end gaming PCs can cost thousands of dollars).

On the other hand, PC gaming has better-looking graphics that you can’t get on consoles, lots of ways to customize the look and feel of games to your liking, and more options for original content, like free games you can play in your web browser. PC gaming has also embraced the cloud in recent years, allowing users to completely ditch physical media — PC gamers can choose to never worry about losing or breaking a disc again. Did I mention great-looking graphics? Good, because they’re really great.

Based on what Valve has told us, its Steam box will — like a console — be something small and quiet that you can fit near your television while you kick back on the couch with a wireless controller. Like a PC, it will let you buy and download your games as many times as you want without needing any discs, and choose from a vast library of free game customizations. The Steam Box will also include a few unique twists, like controllers that can passively sense your feelings (biometrics), and wireless technology that can connect the console to several rooms and screens in your house at the same time.

Valve is shopping for the right ingredients — the features, parts, and partners — to make the Steam Box a reality. But why would a software company like Valve, known for its game-making chops, want to bake its own consoles and controllers? Let’s look back at 2012 to find out.