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Ask Slashdot: Can Valve's Steam Machines Compete Against the Xbox One and PS4? 348

Posted by Soulskill
from the microsoft-and-sony-are-in-hot-water dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Valve has announced SteamOS, Steam Machines, and a Steam controller — the components necessary for it to create a viable living-room gaming experience. Valve's strategy with these releases seems pretty clear: create a platform based on openness (SteamOS is a Linux-based operating system), in contrast to the closed systems pushed by console rivals such as Sony and Microsoft. If Valve chooses to release Half-Life 3 in conjunction with its Steam Machines' rollout, it could help create further buzz for the system, given the years' worth of pent-up demand for the next chapter in the popular FPS saga. But can Valve's moves allow it to actually compete against Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony on equal terms? What do you think?"
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Ask Slashdot: Can Valve's Steam Machines Compete Against the Xbox One and PS4?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @02:50PM (#45017373)

    Like the Neo-Geo did, for a brief while.

    Valve may last longer though, it's got a stronger basis behind it and years worth of invested development.

    • by Wootery (1087023)

      Please clarify 'premium'. Marketing bullshitters have made it totally meaningless.

      I know little of the Neo Geo, but I vaguely recall it was expensive.

      Agree that they'll probably last a while. Valve's been going strong for a while now, and if anyone can leverage the existing world of PC gaming to make a 'console', it's them. I wonder what the uptake rate will be like.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        [ as modifier ] relating to or denoting a commodity or product of superior quality and therefore a higher price: premium beers.

        When you say you knew that Neo-Geo was expensive I feel as though you were being coy about what premium meant. Neo-Geo was arcade quality games in your home.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:39PM (#45017939)

          [ as modifier ] relating to or denoting a commodity or product of superior quality and therefore a higher price: premium beers.

          When you say you knew that Neo-Geo was expensive I feel as though you were being coy about what premium meant. Neo-Geo was arcade quality games in your home.

          More than merely arcade quality, it was identical to arcade hardware, plus extra circuity to modulate audio and video suitable for consumption by TVs, and some superficial physical changes to keep arcade operators and home users from being able to run the same cartridges.

      • by rwa2 (4391) *

        I wouldn't call it the "Premium" market, but I'm pretty sure Valve/Steam has a much different market than the console titles.

        The Steam Machine seems like yet another settop box that would allow you to remote into your gaming computer from your entertainment center. All of the PC people probably already have their gaming PCs plugged directly into the biggest monitor they have, so I don't think this will help that market segment much. But I can see it making inroads on the console community... though proba

        • All of the PC people probably already have their gaming PCs plugged directly into the biggest monitor they have

          What makes you think that? The biggest monitor in the typical household is in the living room, and I gather from other users' comments like those linked here [slashdot.org] that the majority of people are unwilling to move the gaming PC into the living room. Living room PCs are beyond the lowest common denominator [slashdot.org].

        • by TWiTfan (2887093)

          Its target audience is the huge number of PC gamers who are sick of the keyboard and mouse and just want to sit on their couches with a controller for once.

        • by lordofthechia (598872) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @04:59PM (#45018927)

          The Steam Machine seems like yet another settop box that would allow you to remote into your gaming computer from your entertainment center.

          This is where you missed the bigger point. The Steam machine can have different iterations and the most popular won't be just "streaming machines", the streaming option is there to answer to two things: "But I wanna play my windows games!" "Or I'd love to keep my battlestation PC in it's room, but occasionally game on the couch and I don't want to pay for two gaming pc's!"

            The most promising is a self contained gaming system which will use Valve's optimized operating system - SteamOS (based on Linux) with new "AAA titles coming soon" and with the bonus of running any steam games you currently have that already have Linux ports (of the 3,000 games on Steam currently 300 are ported and the number is growing). As they have shown, PC gamers will get more bang out of their buck using their OS than Windows since the whole package will be optimized for gaming.

          Now, don't compare it to your PC. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who owns a PS3/XBox360, doesn't own a gaming PC, and has $400 burning in their pockets for the next console release. What does a Steam Machine offer them?

          * Cheaper games
          * More launch titles (300 so far + the unannounced AAA titles)
          * More precise FPS controller
          * Ability to stream games from their gaming PC (if they have one)
          * No monthly fee to play games online
          * Ability to use any controller they want - system is open and PS3 and Xbox 360 controllers already work with it.
          * Choice (and competition) of hardware providers
          * Ability to mod into a full fledged PC (remember the Sony other OS debacle?)
          * Upgradeable
          * Easier game acquisition. Why run to the store to get your game? Fire up Steam, click on the game, click buy, tell it "yes" to install, enjoy!
          * Game modding!
          * More/better patches for their games
          * More peripherals

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:13PM (#45017669)

      "Does Nintendo really think they can compete with Atari, Magnavox, Intellivision, and Coleco with their upcoming 'NES'? Can they really elbow their way into this crowded market full of entrenched and experienced companies?"

      --

      "Does Sony really think they can compete with Sega, Nintendo, NEC and Neo*Geo with their upcoming 'Playstation'? Can they really elbow their way into this crowded market full of entrenched and experienced companies?"

      --

      "Does Microsoft really think they can compete with Sony, Nintendo, Sega, 3D0 and Atari with their upcoming 'Xbox'? Can they really elbow their way into this crowded market full of entrenched and experienced companies?"

      Yeah, I think history says it can be done.

      • "Yeah, I think history says it can be done."

        History also says there are a lot of dead console compaines, let us not forget Sega was pushed out of the console business. MS and Sony were already huge companies with tonnes of money to establish themselves in the console market. Sony got lucky that Nintendo in the 90's didn't understand the importance of technology (and to some extent it still doesn't).

        If I were Valve and entering the console market I'd be snapping up developers to make exclusives. Half-life

        • by spire3661 (1038968) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @04:38PM (#45018633) Journal
          Valve is not entering the console market in the traditional sense. It is taking off the shelf hardware and applying some glue to tie it all together. Its not a new product, its a remix of what we already have. This is not a 3DO/Neo-Geo situation. Everything that works today will be able to be integrated with Steam OS machines too.
      • by Applekid (993327) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @04:02PM (#45018237)

        "Does Nintendo really think they can compete with Atari, Magnavox, Intellivision, and Coleco with their upcoming 'NES'? Can they really elbow their way into this crowded market full of entrenched and experienced companies?"

        The bottom fell out of gaming in 1983. The entrenched and experienced companies were all twisting in the wind when the NES arrived. A lot of the secret to Nintendo's success in the west was distancing itself from existing video game systems that plug into a tv and billing itself as a toy you plug into the tv. The loss of a joystick was also great in pushing this image, although a feature of the original Famicom and not a change made for the exclusive benefit of taking market share. They also had a great PR machine that drove customer demand while simultaneously strong arming their partners and retailers: no discounting, no consignment, hardware lockout to enforce licensed developers only and bill it as a "quality" seal.

        "Does Sony really think they can compete with Sega, Nintendo, NEC and Neo*Geo with their upcoming 'Playstation'? Can they really elbow their way into this crowded market full of entrenched and experienced companies?"

        When you consider that Sony's Playstation is less of a from-scratch built platform than it was really a spin-off the SNES, the analogy doesn't make sense. A better analogy for the period for a from-scratch platform from the time period might be 3DO, which you mistakenly placed in your following section. As far as the competitors? SNK's NeoGeo never really hit any big numbers for home use, and NEC's position was obliterated from the west, and they were so desperate in Japan that they began to encourage out-and-out pornographic games on their PC-FX platform.

        "Does Microsoft really think they can compete with Sony, Nintendo, Sega, 3D0 and Atari with their upcoming 'Xbox'? Can they really elbow their way into this crowded market full of entrenched and experienced companies?"

        By the time XBox was out, The only real players on the market were Sega, Sony, and Nintendo, and Sega was on it's last legs as a hardware maker. 3DO and Jaguar were already jokes and dental x-ray machine covers. Microsoft still hasn't make dime one on their gaming division, their existence in the market is due mostly to Microsoft's deep pockets.

        Yeah, I think history says it can be done.

        It can be done, but none of the moments of opportunity are here for Valve to make it the way you suggest. Steambox merely going to wind up a slightly better funded Ouya, a more fondly remembered than OnLive, and a money maker only for ebayers that will hoarde and sell it in 20 years.

      • There are some distinct differences between Value's situation and the examples you provided.

        1. All three of those successful consoles from outsider were price competitive within the existing market. If you look at the literal pile of failure consoles throughout history they were all substantially more expensive, and so far what we know about the Steam machine says it will be substantially more expensive.

        2. All three of those successful consoles from outsiders were presented as a singular hardware mode
        • there's literally NOTHING it can play that couldn't also be played on a PC or elsewhere.

          Except for games designed around couch multiplayer. Several other Slashdot users have repeatedly reminded me that the majority aren't willing to connect a PC to a living room TV. Nor do people already own gamepads. This leaves people having to buy gamepads and having to crowd around a comparatively tiny PC monitor in order to play a game together. The Steam Machine avoids this by shipping with a Steam Controller and coming in a consumer-electronics-style case.

      • by tepples (727027) <tepples.gmail@com> on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @04:38PM (#45018631) Homepage Journal

        Does Nintendo really think they can compete with Atari, Magnavox, Intellivision, and Coleco with their upcoming 'NES'?

        In 1983, store shelves had become filled with me-too shovelware for the Atari 2600, and people stopped buying video games altogether after having dropped upwards of $60 (inflation adjusted) on something that's no fun. After a recession in the North American video game market through 1983 and 1984, Nintendo elbowed its way into the market by using lockdown to reassure retailers that the NES wouldn't have the same sort of me-too shovelware that the Atari 2600 had. Valve is doing the exact opposite.

    • by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:18PM (#45017719)

      I kinda took it differently. When they announced this an Alienware equivalent doesn't come to mind. Instead I get the same picture as the $300-400 budget gaming PC's that I've always built. When the parts are bought in bulk I'm willing to bet that an OEM could assemble a small equivalent set-top box for even cheaper and have a fairly capable system to compete with the $400-500 Sony and MS offerings.

      I'm kinda envisioning the Steambox being offered at more of a $250-300 price point. If you want a monster rig you can still build it yourself and run SteamOS.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Compact PCs tend to be more expensive and less flexible. Unless you are talking about a compact form factor that you can already build your own boxes with now, I would expect Steam boxes to be MORE rather than less than your typical extreme bargain bin machine.

        Anything much bigger than an Asrock or Zotac is going to have trouble getting much traction in living room.

      • I kinda took it differently. When they announced this an Alienware equivalent doesn't come to mind. Instead I get the same picture as the $300-400 budget gaming PC's that I've always built. When the parts are bought in bulk I'm willing to bet that an OEM could assemble a small equivalent set-top box for even cheaper and have a fairly capable system to compete with the $400-500 Sony and MS offerings.

        I'm kinda envisioning the Steambox being offered at more of a $250-300 price point. If you want a monster rig you can still build it yourself and run SteamOS.

        Add to that the economies of scale they get from all sides...

        The games they sell will also be sold to Linux Desktop users, and Windows PC users, so a larger market on day one. It also means a much larger catalog of games than any other console has EVER opened with.

        The console itself is open, and can be used for other purposes. (Like xbmc, or whatever) This means a larger market than just game players.

        The game delivery platform has much lower barriers to entry, and you already see tones of inde delev

      • Nah they are going to be like that Piston machine. $1000 and above. PC makers have no desire to cut their margins.
  • Steam, HL3 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Megahard (1053072) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @02:52PM (#45017393)

    That's a lot of vapor.

  • by Hsien-Ko (1090623) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @02:52PM (#45017397)
    Maybe. Especially on the TV.

    Xbox didn't get foothold until all of those "Only on XBOX" TV ads for multiplatform games.
    • by Guspaz (556486)

      Estimates were that Steam had a total revenue of about a billion dollars in 2010, and Valve has been saying that Steam revenue has been growing at about 50% per year. That would put their 2013 revenue at somewhere between three to three and a half billion dollars. That's about half as much as Nintendo. Valve's cut is estimated to be 30-40%, and they likely don't have much in the way of costs (ironically because they aren't currently manufacturing hardware and have a tiny fraction as many employees as a comp

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Launch HL3 with a small exclusivity period - I think a week will do - and they'll get plenty Steambox publicity.

    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      Well, guess this is as good an opportunity as any to whip this out:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_xHueP7bQ0 [youtube.com]
      (Console Wars the Musical)

    • by barc0001 (173002)

      They don't need it like Microsoft did. Microsoft as a gaming company was an unknown quantity and their debut was back when games were "kids" activities so they had to market heavily. Valve on the other hand is a well known game company with a proven track record, even in the console space. Try and find a console gamer who hasn't at least played Left for Dead, Portal, Team Fortress 2 or Half Life 2 on a console at least once.

      Also, the age demographic has shifted since the introduction of the Xbox more tha

  • AsnswerPoster (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @02:52PM (#45017401)

    Yes, it can compete.

    No. No one knows if it will.

    Yes, it is a stupid question.

  • The average Nintendo gamer is going to be quite different than the average Steam gamer (though I realize there are fans of both). So it doesn't feel like it's going to be one of those things where someone says, "Should I get GTA V on Steam or Super Mario 3D World on Wii U?"

    As far as XBox One and PS4, those are closer to Steam's audience, but in the age of having multiple consoles, I don't see it cutting into their sales much.

    • "Should I get GTA V on Steam or Super Mario 3D World on Wii U?"

      Why would you think that? My Steam library has shooters like Metro 2033 or the Saints Row series, it's got side-scrollers like Trine and Trine 2, it's got RPG's like the Neverwinter Nights series; there's goofy point & clicks like Deponia, and a whole swath of other game types from stuff like Brutal Legend to sports sims.

      Why can't I have both games? I'm not a big fan of the GTA series (well, I liked the top scrolling GTA and GTA2), but you could easily substitute Saints Row 4 and I would be having the s

      • by TWiTfan (2887093)

        No one's saying you can't have both types of games (and no doubt, plenty do). But you're probably not typical.

    • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

      As far as XBox One and PS4, those are closer to Steam's audience, but in the age of having multiple consoles, I don't see it cutting into their sales much.

      I don't have any consoles, much less multiple consoles.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @02:54PM (#45017425)

    Outsell either of those 2? No. Sell a good chunk, and added with people who installed the Steam OS and run their own hardware, total in the millions, help push Nintendo out of the hardware business, and put themselves in a good spot for the generation after this coming one? Sure, that's a possibility.

    • by bloodhawk (813939)
      Of the 3 console makers Nintendo is the least likely to be impacted by Steam as their platform is the most different and really appeals to a different audience (and I say that as someone that is not interested in nintendos current offerings). Even MS and Sony are unlikely to feel much impact, the core reasons to buy a console over a computer/steambox don't seem to be being addressed by Valve and they are more likely just to end up with a customized gaming PC/console that will appeal to a small segment of PC
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...that Half-Life is popular enough among the console crowd to be the system's killer app. It's lost most of its mainstream brand recognition by this point, and today's market no longer has an absence of story-based FPSs.

    HL3 will sell like HOTCAKES among nostalgic PC gamers, but I just don't see it moving SteamBoxes among people who are console-only.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      story based ? ?

      thing with the steambox though is that they don't have to roll out a million at a time.

      they can just produce them as they sell.. and they don't need special motherboards, special chips... unless they're stupid and want to tie hundreds of millions of money into it.

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        If they publish some basic specs they don't really need to roll out any hardware at all. For the 'console-only' crowd, they can buy a Steam Box ... the rest can provide their own if they wish.

        • If they publish some basic specs they don't really need to roll out any hardware at all. For the 'console-only' crowd, they can buy a Steam Box ... the rest can provide their own if they wish.

          From what I can tell, and Linux computer supporting Steam and a controller and you have a "steam box" now.

    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:03PM (#45017543)

      ...that Half-Life is popular enough among the console crowd to be the system's killer app.

      I think this skips over an earlier question we could ask: Is this move by Valve meant primarily to take on the consoles or to be an evolution for PC gaming so they can't be boxed in by Microsoft (or both, or something else entirely)?

  • It depends. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aaronjp (51549) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @02:56PM (#45017449)
    If the price for the console is right (read reasonably less than the competition), the hardware isn't lame (no red ring of deaths, no overheating, good controllers), the game selection is there (fps, rpg, fighting (Tekken et al), etc) and game quality (no horrible control layouts, stuttering, lousy gameplay); I believe they have a shot, now, before the new consoles get established in the market. The ability to upgrade the console and have a better experience sooner than the competition certainly will be draw, as well.
    • In addition to those criteria, if SteamOS has the capability to install and run emulators of my choice (PSXe, Nesticle*, et. al), as well as having AAA games available on launch day, there's about a snowball's chance in hell I'm going to buy one of the other consoles.

      * Yes, I still have a copy of Nesticle stashed on a drive somewhere; No, I'm not sending you the binary.

      • In addition to those criteria, if SteamOS has the capability to install and run emulators of my choice (PSXe, Nesticle*, et. al), as well as having AAA games available on launch day, there's about a snowball's chance in hell I'm going to buy one of the other consoles.

        * Yes, I still have a copy of Nesticle stashed on a drive somewhere; No, I'm not sending you the binary.

        Since it is just a Linux system with a new GUI, I am guessing there will be emulator hacks out on day 1.

      • Why run Nesticle in DOSBox, an emulator in an emulator, when much better NES emulators such as FCEUX and Nestopia are ported to desktop Linux? It got to the point where some newly produced NES games have to detect Nesticle (which takes four lines of 6502 assembly language) and throw up a warning screen that Nesticle's inaccuracies may affect game performance.
  • by fightinfilipino (1449273) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @02:56PM (#45017451) Homepage

    I think Valve actually wants to approach this by introducing a number of different machines at different spec levels, but all running Steam OS. Then, like how Steam operates now, they sell licenses to a wide variety of games (and possibly applications) that have different levels of system requirements.

    The end goal is to reach out into a wide audience of different levels of gamers, from the casual to the hardcore, from puzzle game fans to FPS fans, etc., and to provide different kinds of devices geared towards each audience.

    There's a danger of segmentation, of course. But I think the way Valve is approaching this is quite brilliant. The PS4, XBone, and Wii platforms have the advantage of being "do-it-all" machines, but they're also prohibitively expensive (at least in the cases of the PS4 and XBone) and might not be interesting to casuals, fans of games requiring lesser resources, or even hi-end gamer enthusiasts. Valve is taking a page from Android and casting a wide net.

    • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:11PM (#45017641) Homepage Journal

      There's a danger of segmentation, of course. But I think the way Valve is approaching this is quite brilliant. The PS4, XBone, and Wii platforms have the advantage of being "do-it-all" machines, but they're also prohibitively expensive (at least in the cases of the PS4 and XBone) and might not be interesting to casuals, fans of games requiring lesser resources, or even hi-end gamer enthusiasts. Valve is taking a page from Android and casting a wide net.

      Plus, if I buy a PS4 game, I can only play it on a PS4 (more than likely, I can only play it on my PS4); whereas if I buy a game from Steam, I can play it on literally any machine that meets the system requirements.

      I like that.

    • by P-niiice (1703362)
      I don't think the a Steambox is going to be even remotely interesting to casual gamers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @02:59PM (#45017479)

    Personal desktop computers are falling out of favor with the general populace, replaced by smaller devices which can do almost everything a PC can do....except playing big, blockbuster games. Current consoles play games, but they lack the ability to handle the same kinds of games a computer can--they don't do well when games need complex keyboard based input, and they don't have the same sort of access for indy games. Valve is aiming to fill the gap here, with a console targeted to play PC games. Steam allows them to make money on distribution even if people can in theory buy third part games--we know they will still love to use steam.

  • by Lithdren (605362) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:00PM (#45017489)

    I think we need some actual specs before we can make such a judgement.

    Based on what we've been told, im assuming its going to work more or less like a normal PC currently, switch in and out hardware as you please, but we dont nessisarily know that for sure yet. There might be 'options' but it may be limited to whats supported by the OS or something. I think its safe to say this will change the landscape, in my opinion for the better.

    Weather or not they can compete is really really hard to judge right now. What games will be coming out and supported on it? We dont know. What hardware will work and currently does work? We dont know. Is support mainly geared at PC type games or will we be getting effectivly a third console option? We dont know (though it sounds like its mainly a PC port of sorts, as opposed to a SteamMachine only release of a game).

    I'd say with good support we should see them compete well, and make more profit even if they fail to sell more machines and games overall. If I had to guess, that would be my guess of how it will play out.

  • by FictionPimp (712802) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:02PM (#45017533) Homepage

    That's what I think!

  • One word. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:03PM (#45017541)
    Price
    This is what drew me to Steam, this is what keeps me buying from Steam while my ps3/wii/etc gather dust.
    If they keep up the constant sales and fairly good games on the Steam Machine like they're doing now on PC, yes, yes they can.
    • Re:One word. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ElForesto (763160) <elforesto@ g m a il.com> on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:37PM (#45017921) Homepage
      You're right on the money. Traditional consoles are terrible at pricing elasticity on their games, something Valve has mastered. They could definitely make the pitch that the console may be $800 with all the controllers, but most of the games are under $20 instead of $60-80 a pop. It wouldn't take too many holiday/summer sales before you're ahead on the deal.
  • over before it began (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bolas (2239328) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:05PM (#45017567)
    Valve has already won. I've owned a computer since the 1980's, and gamed on computers non-stop since then. I already have a steam library of over 1,200 games. I have never owned a console. Although once in my youth I saved up $100 to buy an Atari 2600, but then blew it all playing Defender at the arcade. Living room is for television. Man-cave is for gaming on triple 30" monitors with a custom water cooled desktop computer that the consoles could only dream of powering, with a library of games available that puts the consoles to shame. Not to mention the portability of steam games. I can install and play them on desktop, on my Alienware m17x r3 laptop in a hotel room or back seat of a car, or on my Alienware m11x r3 laptop on the tray table as I fly across the country in an airplane ... one account, many devices. It's nice. Consoles lose in terms of power (can't run triple 30" monitors), price (five game bundles for $5 are frequent), selection (thousands of games), convenience (download easily), sharing (share games with friends with the new steam family share plan), and portability (try gaming with a console in the back seat of a car?).
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:09PM (#45017617) Homepage

    It depends on what you want out of your gaming experience.

    Old curmudgeons like me who want to play video games offline and without needing a network connection won't want this.

    And I'm sure lots of people will want the kind of gaming experience this platform has to offer.

    I guess it depends on how much people trust Valve and want their stuff. And how many people Microsoft annoyed with the XBone announcements.

  • For me - yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sheehaje (240093) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:10PM (#45017629)

    I own an Xbox 360, a Wii, I owned a Wii U (but was so underwhelmed I brought it back).

    I've had several consoles over the years, but I keep going back to PC gaming. My 360 collects dust - it's not worth paying the online tax to even watch netflix on it. The Wii is used for Wii Fit only. My 4 year old son prefers the games on the computer. I don't know why - he just does - with one caveat - they work with a controller.

    I was looking at possibly the XBone for the living room - but it won't play 360 titles - and the entry price is very high considering I'd have to restock the titles at ~$60 a pop.

    Now that Steam has announced SteamOS, Steam Machines and the Controller - I can kill many birds with one stone. I can buy a modern console for the living room. I can keep my current library of titles (that I've been building since 2006). My son can have a controller that's the same for both devices. I can stream old games, hopefully though there will be enough native releases - because that will be a key point to most people. Now that Steam will offer Family Sharing/Controls, I can finally stop buying for 2 accounts and just focus on building one library. For myself, this is a great solution.

    Now, will people who exclusive use PS/Xbox switch? I don't think so easily. First, you have the Madden crowd - good luck getting EA to budge on releasing sports games for the PC again. Then there are the exclusives and the kinect. I know Kinect is a failure to a lot - but it is a great family device and one of the only things I fire the Xbox up for all anymore is stuff like Sesame Kinect...

    But - as these machines proliferate - I can see more and more people picking them up. This is pure speculation - but I imagine they will refresh the hardware frequently - like phones and tablets. Being and Open System - I can see many of it's own exclusives - whether whole titles or features in a title. The idea of being able to self-upgrade is phenomenal. I imagine over time these machines will become more than just different form factor PC's - and may offer some sorely needed innovation in the market... SteamOS makes that possible - kind of like an Android for Consoles - just even more open.

    The worse case scenario is it doesn't pan out great, and not a lot of manufacturers fizzle out on the idea and SteamOS/Machines become a footnote - but the damage is already done - because a game optimized kernel will exist with opitmized graphics drivers - something sorely lacking for Linux for many years... So even a short term failure could lead to greater things down the road.

    • by DdJ (10790)

      Now, will people who exclusive use PS/Xbox switch? I don't think so easily.

      Some of us may.

      I am not a regular Windows user, and haven't been for over a decade. (I try to use it a little, to keep my familiarity up, but I just can't really get work done on it.) I also have zero interest in going back to building systems myself. For my general computing, I use a mix of portable devices and MacOS and Linux systems.

      I also just do not like gaming with a keyboard and mouse. I know lots of people do, I know the

      • by sheehaje (240093)

        I think initially - any steam machine will play any title - but the Video Quality will be scaled to the price. I can't imagine releasing hardware that doesn't play anything in the steam library. Even a cheap PC these days with integrated GPU to the CPU plays most titles at lower graphics settings.

        I had a friend just switch back to PC gaming after years dedicated to the XBox -- a HUGE halo fan that was involved in that community... But he was also off put with the recent announcements from Sony and Xbox -

    • by stud9920 (236753)

      First, you have the Madden crowd - good luck getting EA to budge on releasing sports games for the PC again.

      FIFA 14, running the same engine as your silly ballet with epaulettes, is still being published to Windows

  • I prefer a developer-friendly, open source environment for my gaming, when I do it. Of course, some of my favorite things are modding them and programming them - there's such a huge kick in things like putting a "Best of Both Worlds" Borg Cube into Homeworld, or writing a GURPS-like skill system for a MUD. I personally think that people that merely consume content instead of creating even a little of it somewhere are missing out.

    As such, Steam's making the first console platform that even comes close to w

    • by tepples (727027)

      Of course, some of my favorite things are modding them and programming them [...] Steam's making the first console platform that even comes close to what I want.

      I thought it was the second, the first being OUYA. How does Steam's greenlight process compare to OUYA's sandbox process?

  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:12PM (#45017651)
    Of course they can compete. Can they earn a significant share of the market? Probably not at first but then it took Sony years to catch up to Nintendo and then Microsoft years to catch up with Sony. Since SteamOS is free it can proliferate rapidly if it can actually deliver what it is promising. For the uninitiated who just want to hook a console up and have it work the SteamBox while pricey is a good option and not much more than the original PS3 but without all the pesky restrictions. Valve has been moving in this direction slow and deliberately for the last year. They aren't rushing into anything.
    • ...I assume anyways, so they won't die if this isn't a hit right off the bat. Sort of like MS and the original XBox, with a steady stream of software revenue they can afford to give the console time to catch on.
      • by ArhcAngel (247594)

        And they have deep pockets...

        Why? Valve isn't making the boxes. They are refining a Linux distribution specifically for running Steam. They've been refining Steam to work on a big screen for over a year already. The really hard part is getting Windows only titles to work on a Linux based system. They are partnering with PC manufacturers [engadget.com] to bundle the SteamOS and controller with. If they don't sell they can throw Windows on there and sell them as a regular PC.

  • Depends (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Saethan (2725367) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:15PM (#45017689)
    Depends on how many Steam library games will eventually work under their Linux OS. If a large portion of my library becomes playable, you bet I'll build or buy a steambox.
  • If I were Gabe, I would use HalfLife 3 as the hook to jumpstart the Steam Machine install base, much like Sony used the PS3 as the BluRay hook. That was Sony's lone storage format win in a couple decades, even if they didn't win the last round of console wars.

  • Steam will have to get a much more stable product. Seems it tries to self-update on a weekly, occasionally daily basis on my machine. I can't see the average gameboy putting up with having to wait while his Steam Machine updates yet again. "Continuous Integration" may be good for a development/integration approach, but it is neither appealing nor particularly effective as a software delivery approach.

    • by ledow (319597)

      Dunno if we live in the same decade, but almost EVERYTHING I touch wants to update constantly now unless I turn it off. Windows installs updates on a daily basis if you leave it on the defaults. All modern smartphones. And, yes, consoles.

      And given that Steam updates so often, in comparison I hear only a minority complaining about that. Usually when it updates it's either a fix or a new feature. I haven't witnessed a broken update in other 10 years, enough that I consider it one of the most privileged o

      • Guess I'm an old fart, I let very few applications self-update. To me, the frequency of these updates is an indication of code quality. I don't doubt that most applications are written so poorly that they need to update on a daily basis. Guess that's all part of being "agile" (as opposed to being "correct".)

        Steam itself had a horrible memory leak for months before it got fixed, so it's not like bugs are getting fixed instantaneously...

        • by jandrese (485)
          For things like Acrobat, leaving auto-update off is risky because new security flaws are fixed in there all the time. Same with Java, and especially with Flash. Sure you can just avoid those apps altogether, but I get asked to read a whole lot of PDFs so they're kind of hard to do without. Ghostscript's PDF renderer can leave something to be desired sometimes.
          • I have no problems reading PDFs without Adobe Acrobat on my Mac using Preview.app. And I need to enable Java maybe once or twice per month, if at that. Your mileage may vary.

  • by PPalmgren (1009823) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:34PM (#45017903)

    SteamOS has a unique problem that no other ecosystem has to deal with: In order to leverage steam's strength, the size of the community, they had to do two things. First, ensure that the catalog of games is playable on the TV, and second, that this userbase can interact with the steam community on PCs. If the system can't do this, it requires a huuuge shift of users in order to make it successful, which requires the kind of investment microsoft did with the XBox.

    The second bullet point above leads to an interesting problem if they go down the path of interoperability with PC clients: controllers and mice. PCs have several genres that are unplayable with a controller, and the mouse and keyboard combo offers a significant advantage in almost every kind of competitive gaming and multiplayer. I hope that their controller bridges the gap, and chances are it might.

    The touchpad-based movement is a huge change from a joystick. Precision movement on a touch-style pad like that is the only way a controller could handle snap turns and accuracy that muscle movement on a mouse pad offers. The way its set up, I'd expect it to work sort of like the Thinkpad nib. If it works and people adopt it, it will allow people to play things like RTSes, turn-based games like Civ, and a host of other options. Yeah, hotkeys are another important point, but one more easily overcome than the massive gulf that currently exists between the mouse and the analog joystick.

    There are other factors that will tie to its success, but I think the future of the system ties to its interoperability with the PC gamers. If it doesn't, its just going to be an also-ran.

    • by garyoa1 (2067072)

      Yep. If they can manage a hook up for a keyboard and mouse, they won't win, they'll eliminate.

      Half the hard core gamers (or more) aren't fond of controllers. If you hand one to them you'll likely get hit with it. Why the "boxes" never added an option for KB/mouse is beyond me. That's been an argument against them from day one.

  • The thing I like best about a Steam box is that I already own several hundred Steam titles.

    And no matter what, my Steam games are there. New computer, laptop, Steam box...my games are there.

    What's Sony's policy on moving games from your PS3 to your new PS4? If I remember correctly, not every Playstation game has required Internet registration and activation.

  • underestimating... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @04:02PM (#45018245)

    Everything I've read so far is underestimating Valve imo. Keep in mind what they've done in the past, how they've been basically the single bastion of decent game programing left in the market now... how nearly every game they come out with changes the industry in one way or another. Valve IS innovation when it comes to gaming. If they were a publicly traded company I'd be all over their stock.

    I doubt the steambox will be what we expect. None of Valves products ever are. They are releasing hardware requirements for free... the OS is free... do you really think this things a console? Is something so outdated their goal? I seriously doubt it. Within the next few years I expect to see T.V.s come with Steam per-installed. No console what-so-ever. You just pick up your Steam controller and viola, away you go. In the near term, you can get a set-top-box to upgrade your older TV or just install it on your PC. In the long term I expect to see Steam become the primary Media center on most TVs as it pushes out Microsofts offering as it's pricey.

    This is going to be just like Android. Valve wants control of the market so they are giving the hardware manufacturers hardware specs, a free OS and promising to maintain it for them in return for access to your living room.

  • If Valve came out and said "Good news! Halflife 3 (or Halflife 2 Ep 3) is ready for release! It's a Steambox exclusive!" that would certainly sell a lot of boxes, but I know a lot of people would be really unhappy about it. I would be grumbling all the way to the store to buy the box.

    I guess they kind of did the same thing with Steam itself and Halflife 2, but Steam is free software so at least you weren't out of pocket for it.
  • Simply having a console, a platform, and a controller doesn't put you on equal footing with Sony or Microsoft. Sony has 13 first party studios making games for the PS4. Microsoft has about 20 first party studios. These companies are spread out over Asia, North America, and Europe. They have a similer number of second party support. (companies that make exclusive games not owned by Sony and Microsoft) Nintendo is organized a bit differently. They have several groups in 4 divisions that make games. PC gaming
    • Both Sony and MS have at least an order of magnitude more sunk costs in their respective consoles. Valve is doing this all on the cheap, relatively speaking.
  • I think Valve has a good chance here to really smash the big 3 players. Nintendo was out of the race before it even began. That leaves Sony and Microsoft. Valve at the moment have the only console that at launch will run every movie file you have lying around. That alone is a massive thing. How many people bought into the PS3 as a media system idea, only to have their hopes crushed by the terrible DLNA support? The Steambox will work with XBMC, and once people start getting it in their homes and it actually

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