In an earlier post, I mentioned that I was thinking of sitting out this upcoming generation of console gaming, as neither the Xbox One, the Playstation 4, or the Wii U really showed much appeal to me at all. My attitude was that I would probably do what I did during the Playstation 1/Nintendo 64 generation, and stick to PC gaming. I already had a PC, and there was nothing that really grabbed me for console that wasn’t coming out for PC as well. I saw the same thing happening with this generation. My only concern was that my consoles are connected to a 32″ HDTV, which is obviously a better display than my 24″ PC monitor.
As it turns out, those concerns have been assuaged.
On Monday, Valve introduced SteamOS, a specialized Linux distribution designed for gaming on PCs connected to televisions. There were two specific traits about SteamOS that drew my interest. The first was that as SteamOS was a software platform and not a combined platform, it opened the way for PC developers such as Lenovo and Asus to produce their own SteamOS consoles, while not having to worry about the actual software portion of the console development process. They would just need to abide by Valve’s quality certification.
More interesting, however, was the fact that SteamOS could stream games playing from a Windows Steam client. As SteamOS is a Linux distribution, it cannot natively run Windows programs. Valve had released Steam for Linux some time ago, and a number of games are available for it now (including most/all of Valve’s own library). Those games will be available on SteamOS, but the streaming feature will be needed in order to play Windows Steam games on the SteamOS box. As I have a number of Steam titles under Windows already, that will make playing them a bit more convenient. :-)
Earlier today, Valve announced that they are beginning a beta test of the Steam Machines, which will be their reference machines for other hardware manufacturers to build from. Three hundred people will be chosen from the applicant pool; I’m not naive enough to think I actually have anything but an extreme long shot to get into the beta, but I’m entering anyway. The only step I can’t yet fulfill in their list of requirements is playing a game using a gamepad in Steam’s “Big Picture” mode, and that’s because I’m at work right now.
In any event, it should be interesting to see if game developers will be making SteamOS ports of their games once SteamOS (and its development software) is actually released. I already have one friend tell me he plans on building his own SteamOS box once the software is released, and I’m honestly torn on whether I would build my own SteamOS box or (more likely) buy a pre-built Steam Machine via Newegg. It’s still early, as the platform won’t be going into full-swing until early next year, but the rate things are going I think the console I’ll be playing on in a year’s time will be a Steam Machine.