Valve Wants to Make PC a Better Entertainment Platform

Image: Seattle TimesImage: Seattle TimesA number of hands-on previews of Valve's Steam Box are starting to appear, one of which is from the Seattle Times. The paper states that Valve didn't really want to overhaul the entertainment PC business, but felt that the big industry players were dropping the ball. That's where the studio's Steam Box initiative comes in, consisting of a "console," controller and Linux-based operating system.

"We think the PC OEM space ought to have been doing this for quite some time," Valve designer Greg Coomer said. "Really, every year you could watch one PC OEM or another say, 'We are going to build the entertainment PC for the living room' and build something that lives under the TV. They would often do pretty well at cooling or industrial design, but that was only a fraction of the problems they need to solve for customers to have a good entertainment experience in the living room."

The paper also states that to battle heat and noise, Valve developed a series of baffles to better handle cooling and airflow in its Steam Machine PCs. Valve also developed the Linux-based SteamOS that will be light while also looking and feeling like a polished, consumer electronics system. And unlike Amazon's Fire OS, which is a forked version of Android, users will still have access to the underlying Linux platform. Users will also be able to load Windows onto the Steam Machines like any other desktop PC.

"It isn't until this coming year, when there are going to be enough of those pieces that all work together that we can say in a credible way to all of our customers — 'Hey, if you're one of the people who likes to play games in the living room, and we know there are a lot of you — now we have enough dots connected that we think you should try this,'" Coomer said, referring to the new controller, SteamOS software and Steam Box offerings.

The Seattle Times reports that the new Steam controller feels like the new PlayStation 4 controller, with distinctly curved handles. Instead of analog sticks, the device provides touchpads that are clickable, and can sense the speed, direction and pressure of gestures. Developers who have handled the controller are "intrigued," but gamers used to Xbox-type controllers may be faced with a learning curve.

"The fact that the input device is something you can pull apart and play with is fantastic — both for us as developers, but also as gamers and people who like to tinker," Hannes Seifert, head of Copenhagen studio IO Interactive, told the paper via email. "Bringing traditional PC gaming to the couch shows incredible ambition, but if anyone can pull off something like this, it's probably Valve."

Agreed. To read the full preview, head here. Meanwhile, Valve has confirmed that SteamOS will not have exclusive titles, including Half-Life 3.

"Whenever we talk to third-party partners, we encourage them to put their games in as many places as possible, including not on our platforms," said Valve's Anna Sweet. "Because we think that customers are everywhere, and they want to put their games wherever customers are. That would go against our whole philosophy, to launch something that's exclusive to SteamOS or Steam machines."

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  • vertigo_2000
    Google for more information.

    They aren't preventing you from using a KB+M... the controller is for your traditional console kiddie.

    It's not a "gaming device that does nothing else". Hulu and Netflix will probably show up. You can also load Windows onto the machine.

    I don't understand why people can't grasp the concept. It's not difficult to understand at all.
    17
  • Other Comments
  • killerclick
    Sorry, can't play without a keyboard and mouse.
    Sorry, don't want to have a dedicated gaming device that does nothing else.
    Sorry, if I wanted a console, I'd buy PS4 or Xbone.
    -20
  • vertigo_2000
    Google for more information.

    They aren't preventing you from using a KB+M... the controller is for your traditional console kiddie.

    It's not a "gaming device that does nothing else". Hulu and Netflix will probably show up. You can also load Windows onto the machine.

    I don't understand why people can't grasp the concept. It's not difficult to understand at all.
    17
  • killerclick
    The point of having an OS and a certification (what makes it a Steam Box?) is that the developers will come to depend on some aspects of it. If developers find it hard to port the game for the PC and have decent controls (so called Consolitis), will they make games for Steam Box that work as well with both types of controls? Seriously doubt it. If Steam Boxes ship with controllers, games will be optimized for controllers and nothing else.
    Hulu and Netflix were not the kind of things I was thinking about. I don't want to have one device for work and one device for games. If a Steam Box doesn't run Adobe and Autodesk software, it in fact does nothing else except play games.
    And how can you load Windows onto the machine. Don't games need Steam OS to run? Do you mean booting with multiple OSes? How is that convenient?

    This is crap, Valve is basically trying to compete with Microsoft and Sony and Nintendo (only give manufacturers and users some leeway on the exact specs of the consoles), and PC gaming is as good as dead if Steam Box takes off.
    -14