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Can Steam Machines succeed?

Can Steam Machines succeed?

Tue 01 Oct 2013 7:26pm GMT / 3:26pm EDT / 12:26pm PDT
BusinessHardware

It's important to realize that Valve won't be measuring success the same way that Sony or Microsoft or Nintendo will

Last week Valve revealed its grand plan for putting Steam into the living room, and in the process raised many questions. Is Gabe Newell crazy, or crazy like a fox? Will Valve's new controller really allow keyboard and mouse games to work in the living room? Can the 'GabeCube' take business away from video game consoles by Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft? What's the real potential for profit here?

Valve's announcement, presented in three parts, puts forth an interesting picture. Valve is creating its own Linux-based operating system, SteamOS, centered around running games. This OS will be free, and people are encouraged to install it on any computer. Valve already has many games running on SteamOS and plans to get many more on the OS. Games can also be streamed within your home from a PC or Mac to a device running SteamOS.

The intent is to have an easy-to-use way to run PC-style games in the living room/family room on your big-screen TV, and for the hardware part of it Valve is creating a specification for Steam machines.

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9 Comments

Pier Castonguay Programmer

189 106 0.6
I'm curious to see how SteamOS fixed the problem of supporting every hardware possible on Linux. It's impossible that they fixed every usual problems you see when using Linux as a desktop OS, but we'll see.

I see the SteamMachines succeeding as a very lite box in under the $100 range used only for streaming from the Windows Gamer PC in the bedroom to the SteamMachine in the living room. That will be the most used configuration. Running a full blown SteamMachine with a high-end video card and RAM and running games natively on Linux? No, Valve is delusional on this part.

As for the input, I'm sure the gamepad is very nice, I can't wait to try it. Probably much better and more precise than the Mircrosoft/Sony gamepads. On the other hand, a lot of PC gamers are worried that this will mean less and less games designed with a more complex key mapping with the keyboard in mind.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,584 1,438 0.9
On the other hand, a lot of PC gamers are worried that this will mean less and less games designed with a more complex key mapping with the keyboard in mind.
It honestly can't get any worse than it already is.

Posted:A year ago

#2

James Boulton Tools & Tech Coder, Slightly Mad Studios

133 171 1.3
I just struggle to find any point to this device. It's either a cheap underpowered PC running Linux you stream games from your gaming PC running Windows, or a powerful PC running Linux (and all the associated problems with that) with few games on it that you then have to stream games from your other powerful Windows PC. Sure if it takes off, then you will get more support for Linux native games, but Linux in general isn't fun. Even the streamlined dedicated distros are a pain.

Plus I find the big TV in the sitting room tends to have a lot of people wanting to use it, my PC with it's own monitor away from the rabble doesn't.

The streaming functionality of this device built into a TV, I can see having its merits. Perhaps that's the way they are headed...?

Posted:A year ago

#3

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,584 1,438 0.9
Plus I find the big TV in the sitting room tends to have a lot of people wanting to use it, my PC with it's own monitor away from the rabble doesn't.
Oddly enough, I never see this argument when it comes to consoles. Though it is the exact reason why, unless I'm playing Need for Speed or Burnout with my girlfriend, I like to play on my PC.

Posted:A year ago

#4

James Boulton Tools & Tech Coder, Slightly Mad Studios

133 171 1.3
@Morville It depends what games are being played and by who, I guess. PC games for me are "my games", which may involve violence or be deemed boring -- these aren't going to make it onto the big TV. The latest princess adventure or dancing game, however, is quite alright as it keeps the kids amused and is non offensive. Depends on the audience I guess, I'm viewing this from a parent / kids household angle where the kids often get the monopoly on the TV.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,254 421 0.3
I know this hardware was designed with big picture, and the living room in mind, but is there any reason it will not still be decent when stuck on a desk with a keyboard attached? Is there still not positives to be found in the standardization of budget/mid level gaming PCs? (I understand at high level, customization is more key).
Is it not just the case that they are good in the living room, rather than crap elsewhere?

Posted:A year ago

#6

Eyal Teler Programmer

87 85 1.0
There are several parts of the new Steam package which make sense for many users. Multiple users playing the games installed on one PC is a good new feature (in particular for console use, but not only). Streaming certainly has its uses. The controller may be good for couch gaming (time will tell).

SteamOS? I figure it's a fine way to cut the Windows tax, especially if you want a second PC or HTPC. I have a Windows HTPC which can support basic games. If I were to buy one when SteamOS becomes an option and didn't have Windows, then a Steam box with SteamOS could have been an alternative.

What I assume SteamOS does is give people a console-like view of their PC. That could be welcome for people who want a console-style PC.

Posted:A year ago

#7

James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
@ James Boulton

or a powerful PC running Linux (and all the associated problems with that) with few games on it that you then have to stream games from your other powerful Windows PC. Sure if it takes off, then you will get more support for Linux native games, but Linux in general isn't fun. Even the streamlined dedicated distros are a pain.


Well, you could make the argument that Dos 3.11 and Win 95 weren't great for games either and both had a lot of problems associated with the platforms - and this was pre-internet in most places so no group-sourcing of solutions!! The interesting thing is that it took almost 15 years to really start getting Windows and usability "right" when it comes to games (and it's still not all sorted!) but we have already been through that and already solved those problems.

SteamOS can fork from the main Linux kernel and focus on supporting hardware if necessary (for speed) and reintegrate later on. This is a long-term plan and linux gaming support and linux hardware support will improve hand-in-hand. The recent gestures from Nvidia point to that acknowledgement within the industry as Valve puts their weight behind the platform...

Posted:A year ago

#8

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,183 973 0.8
If it has a competitive - low price and publisher support, then yes.

Either are technically doable, just needs the will. I think the Steam distribution service (especially in a world where game prices are escalating on consoles), plus the innovative controller are very attractive propositions.

Posted:A year ago

#9

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