Over the past two weeks, we've seen a lot of news about Valve Software's Steam Machines initiative. Last week brought to light 14 OEMS signed on to produce a Steam Machine later this fall. This week during Steam Dev Days we've seen a revised controller and heard lots of important news about these gaming solutions. It should come as no surprise that the streaming aspect of Valve's fight into the living room starts right now.
"We've sent out invitations to development partners to try out the streaming beta. As we iterate we'll add more and more people to the beta, so if you haven't gotten your invite, stay tuned! For those who have gotten your invite, I'd love to hear how things are working for you!" reads the Steam group page.
As it stands now, the entire Steam catalog will not be available to Steam Machines on a native level. Sure, there are a number of Linux games, and developers are currently working on titles that will run natively on SteamOS. But until there's more to offer, the next-best way to get PC games on a Steam Machine is to stream them from another Windows-based computer.
"Any two computers in a home can be used to stream a gameplay session and this can enable playing games on systems that would not traditionally be able to run those games," reads the company's explanation. "For example, a Windows only game could be streamed from a Windows PC to a Steam Machine running Linux in the living room. A graphically intensive game could be streamed from a beefy gaming rig in the office to your low powered laptop that you are using in bed. You could even start a game on one computer and move to a more comfortable location and continue playing it there."
Naturally, the responsiveness of the end computer receiving the stream will depend on the network communication between the two machines. Valve says power line networks are good, but their quality varies depending on the age and configuration of the electrical wiring within the house. According to Valve, wireless networks are the biggest challenge because they're tuned for reliability and high bandwidth scenarios like downloading files and streaming movies.
"Some wireless routers can also periodically pause or take a second or two to switch from a low power to high power mode," reads the company's blog. "Even if you have a good router, your wireless network may be congested with chatter from other overlapping networks or even your microwave oven."
Valve demonstrates several networking methods here. As for when the streaming aspect goes public, that's unknown at this point. If it's not too late, you may be able to sign up by joining the In-Home Streaming group here.