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Steam OS – Valve Wages War on the Living Room

Steam OS – Valve Wages War on the Living Room

Sep 26, 2013

Valve have been gaining “Steam” (sorry) for some years now. Their latest news? Steam OS. This was fairly unexpected, but their intent is clear. They want to bring Steam to the living room, away from the traditional desk.

 As we’ve been working on bringing Steam to the living room, we’ve come to the conclusion that the environment best suited to delivering value to customers is an operating system built around Steam itself.

It seems ‘Big Screen’ was not enough for Valve. Laptops with correct connectivity and devices was still hindering the transition for the platform. But now it seems, their own OS allows them to come to ‘living room machines’. After Gabe Newell, the head honcho of Valve, called Windows 8 a ‘catastrophe’, maybe it makes sense they wanted to move away from the platform, and try something new. Microsoft are also competing by selling software of their own, with their own app store selling games.

 SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen.It will be available soon as a free stand-alone operating system for living room machines.

Why Linux?

Gabe Newell had already claimed the PC is where innovation in gaming happens, and saw the open platform of Linux as having a lot of potential, due to the freedom that comes with it. Windows and MacOS seem to constrictive, and so when developing their own OS, they have adapted Linux to their own needs. Not only are these machines built around Steam, but you will also be able to stream games from your computer to your television.

 You can play all your Windows and Mac games on your SteamOS machine, too. Just turn on your existing computer and run Steam as you always have – then your SteamOS machine can stream those games over your home network straight to your TV!

After this streaming, Valve have said that they are looking to get AAA titles developed specifically for Steam OS. Which could be bad news for Windows.

Although Gabe hates Windows 8, most people still use the Windows platform for PC gaming. But perhaps have not updated to Windows 8. And if Microsoft are looking to focus their main OS on touch screen interfaces, then what does that mean for PC gaming in the future? Well Valve are offering their own alternative. It is backwards compatible with all the Windows titles you currently love, and in the future will have it’s own catalog developed for Steam OS itself.


The future?


So, what does this mean?

Well, instead of Steam being mere software for another operating system, the whole system revolves around gaming. Steam OS seems like a similar concept to Android, which is gaining traction by the day for mobile platforms. After Apple pretty much invented the smart phone and tablet as we know it today, Google implemented openness and freedom regarding hardware for the Android operating system. Valve are sure to offer the same. It has been said Valve will offer their own edition of the Steam Box, but will allow others to make certain pieces of hardware for a variety of different audiences, whether they need power or are sticking to a budget. With the news of Steam OS, it means these will be installed on mobile PC-gaming boxes. Essentially creating a console where you can alter the hardware inside. Steam OS on a variety of hardware means competition with good value, alongside implementing digital games onto the TV at a fast pace.

This news could bring together the PC ‘master-race’ gamers, and the console gamer markets. If you can essentially play PC games on your TV, then what is the difference? Does this mean Steam are essentially entering the next-generation console war?

Alongside the other recent announcement of ‘Family Sharing’, it looks like Valve are going after a very different market to the classic concept of the PC gamer. It could be that they want to see families, from adults to young kids, enjoying the huge array of games that Steam has to offer. Diverting from the PC platform means it is much more accessible and easy to use; something that would attract those who are not so computer literature, including young family members. And perhaps the elder generations too. Valve is also working on expanding their library to providing access to music and video too, something which surely cements their change of audience to casual markets.


Let everyone play your games


The end of console wars?

Essentially, this could mark the end of the classic generational console battles. The Wii U seems to be a mere alternative to the main consoles, coming out way before the main contenders, and being much less powerful than it’s competitors. Microconsoles are also popping up everywhere, and again, prove to tempt people away from expensive home consoles. The Steam Box has been rumoured for some time, and with the news of Steam OS, it seems this could be closer than ever. And it is not a mere PC for your TV; it is built for gaming.

Further news is coming this week, tipped to be on the Steam Box itself. What will make or break the system is what the ‘living room machines’ entail. This could be a huge step forward for the future of digital game distribution. Let’s be honest; all it would take is for Valve to release Half Life 3 on Steam OS and the public will flock to it. Here’s hoping that is one of the announcements.


Adam Barsby is a writer for Gaming IQ, alongside running Social Media. If you are partial to stalking, you can follow him on Twitter @barsby3, or read his articles here.


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