Valve CEO Gabe Newell kicked off the New Year with a bang this week, as news broke across the gaming world of the impending launch of a range of Steam Machines—Valve’s entry into the console wars, with a distinctly PC-oriented twist. While Microsoft and Sony have a significant early advantage on any competitors that eventually emerge in the console marketplace, Valve’s Steam Machines manage to differentiate themselves from the two established industry giants by melding PC functionality and the power of millions of existing Steam accounts into a single new console concept.
But what hope does Valve have against the two current gaming superpowers? Quite a bit, as it turns out. Steam, the popular PC-based digital gaming platform, has accumulated 65 million user accounts since its inception. Further, Valve isn’t on the hook for any actual hardware manufacturing—that’s all turned over to the several PC manufacturers lining up to offer a diverse range of Steam Machines for a varied group of consumers, ranging from high-end to low-end hardware based on budget. Valve has no plans to create their own hardware in the near future, but that could change going forward.
Valve’s SteamOS is a Linux-based OS that enables you to connect and play your library of Steam games easily on your television, while additionally acting as a fully-featured OS. But if you’re not a Linux fan, never fear—Steam Machines come in both Windows and Linux flavors (and perhaps Mac as well down the road). Steam Machines will have the added benefit of acting as both PCs and entertainment units.
Perhaps the biggest development to come out of Valve’s venture is the attempted mainstreaming of PC gaming. Traditionally, PC gaming has been for a fairly niche group of gamers, who frequently modded their own equipment and routinely upgraded their hardware in order to keep up with the rigorous graphical demands of cutting-edge games. The Steam Machine simplifies this process for end users with the intention of making PC gaming a living room activity for the masses. Factor in the exponentially more affordable prices of games on Steam, and Valve’s console has the potential to make some serious waves in the gaming landscape.
The first Steam Machines are set to hit the market by the end of this month, with various other Steam Machines from different manufacturers launching throughout the year. We’ll be sure to check in on Valve’s progress as the year goes on.
In other gaming news this week, Telltale targets Bond, the Witcher goes tabletop, and Sony announced PlayStation Now. Read on!
- The Uncharted series almost wasn’t called Uncharted, which initially resulted in rather unflattering community-given title, Dude Raider. Fortunately, Naughty Dog managed to nip this unfortunate moniker in the bud.
- China’s ban on gaming consoles appears to have been lifted—temporarily, at least.
- If you’ve been hankering to catch up on the Far Cry series, now’s your chance. Ubisoft is releasing a Far Cry compilation for PS3 on February 11 which contains Far Cry 1-3, as well as the excellent standalone title Blood Dragon.
- Telltale Games, the studio behind the hit Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us episodic games, is reportedly interested in obtaining the James Bond license in the hopes of adjusting his character via the gaming medium. The Bond license would be quite the haul for the studio, who managed to acquire the license for Game of Thrones episodic adventures late last year.
- In today’s gaming climate, unfinished games appear to be becoming viable business models for studios. Is this good for the gamer?
- If you’re a fan of the highly recommended (by us and pretty much everyone else) Witcher series, you may want to check out the tabletop game, coming later this year.
- Finally, Sony’s big news of the New Year so far is all about PlayStation Now—a streaming service that will enable gamers to access PS3 games on a variety of Sony devices, including the PS3, PS4, Vita, and next-gen Bravia TVs.