October 1, 2013
Valve made several announcements last week regarding the release of new devices, an operating system and a game controller. One main target for their operating system, SteamOS and its Steam Machine hardware is Microsoft, its Xbox consoles and the Windows PC business. Gaming could be a Trojan horse that Valve uses to control the post-PC operating system. Yet, there are little details as to the type of hardware and who are its manufacturers.
“Valve has revealed SteamOS, its own operating system based on Linux, designed for living room gaming PCs,” reports The Verge. “It’s the first step towards Valve’s Steam Box, its vision for an open video game console.”
Following Google’s Android strategy, Valve is making its Linux-based operating system freely available to hardware manufacturers, and is creating the foundation for a gaming ecosystem. SteamOS’s TV designed interface will be combined with Valve’s video game digital distribution platform.
“[People] just needed a simple, responsive, intuitive operating system with thousands upon thousands of applications that could be easily purchased, installed, and distributed across the world,” suggests The Verge in a related post. “Valve has repeatedly said that Steam won’t be limited to games, recently adding a small selection of non-gaming programs to its catalog and building a Web browser into its user interface.”
“Beginning in 2014, there will be multiple SteamOS machines to choose from, made by different manufacturers,” the company reports. While Valve has yet to announce which manufacturers will carry its software, the company has commissioned about 15 to 20 hardware manufacturers to create a Steam Box prototype.
“There will be several Steam Box prototypes ‘with an array of specifications, price, and performance,’ all of which will be freely hackable by their users,” notes The Verge in a third post. “You can even install another operating system on the boxes. The prototypes will ship this year.”
What the upcoming Steam Box will look like has yet to be disclosed. The company has also not revealed the technical specifications of the devices, which makes it difficult for game developers to create games without knowing what the hardware will be to run them.
But Valve plans to offer three different tier devices, from “Good,” “Better,” to “Best,” with the “Good” likely selling for $99 and the “Better” for a probable $300, according to co-founder, Gabe Newell. “Best” could potentially be whatever users and manufacturers decide, without limits, says Newell. With Steam Box, the company may be creating a new class of small, low-cost computers that consumers can play in the living room with a wireless controller.
Engadget reports that Valve has also announced Steam Controller, a gaming controller with dual trackpads that provide desktop mouse-like resolution. The controller also includes haptic sensors that not only relay information to the player physically, but also “play audio waveforms and function as speakers,” according to Valve.
An API will be available later this year, once the Steam Machines are offered in their live versions, reports the company.