Gaming giant expanding into untapped market.
Since March of 2012, gaming company Valve has been rumoured to be in development of a Steam-based piece of hardware. This past week, it delivered three huge announcements, which included the announcement of the long-rumoured ‘Steam Box’. Officially called Steam Machines, the hardware will run on the new operating system under development called SteamOS, which is a Linux-based operating system designed to play Linux games and stream Windows and Mac games, along with other media from your computer, to the big screen. SteamOS will allow you to stream over your own home network onto your TV using the Steam Machine. Valve also unveiled a controller to go along with the SteamOS and Steam Machine.
The Steam Controller includes two circular track pads that will appeal to gamers who are used to inputs associated with PC gaming and will allow for “a far higher fidelity input” than having toggles like other console controllers. It will also include a high-resolution clickable touch screen and sixteen buttons, two of which are on the back.
Before the Steam Machine hits the market, Valve will produce its own prototype device to test out the SteamOS, but it will only be made available to 300 Steam users. To get your hands on the free Steam Machine, you will have to complete an ‘eligibility quest’ on Steam before October 25. This requires you to make ten Steam friends, create a public Steam profile, and play a game in ‘big picture mode’, among other achievements.
Valve did not share any details about what the device actually looks like or its internal specs. They also were vague on the timing, saying only that the devices will ship sometime this year. However, since SteamOS is an open source, ambitious gamers can build their own box to run SteamOS once it is released to play PC games on their TVs. The advantage of SteamOS compared to a PlayStation or an Xbox is that the specs can be interchanged. There will be upgrades on the system that will be similar to upgrading your computer.
However, the Steam Box is a media player built for a TV while a PC can do pretty much anything that requires a screen. So while it is tempting to think people could gradually migrate to a Steam Box when it’s time for a PC upgrade, the question is whether or not they would be prepared to axe the benefits they’re accustomed to.
This brings up major questions for PC gamers. Do they even want to play on the TV? Is this a waste of money for Valve? Or is it a godsend package to PC gamers who have felt underwhelmed with all the console news over the past few months?