The war between console gaming and PC gaming is about to heat up, and become a lot more confused. Valve the creators of many things gaming are said to be planning a Steam based Console PC. According to website ‘The Verge’, Valve is designing a set-top box / console gaming device that would incorporate Steams new interface. Allowing the Steam Box to run all of Steams PC games. Some are calling it the Steam Box but we prefer Steam Console PC.
At its heart the Steam powered Console PC would run on standardized Windows PC hardware with the emphasis being a TV integrated experience. Steam is said to be attempting to bring the easy to use console experience to PC hardware, all wrapped in a compact exterior.
There is no mention of pricing, which will be one of the major factors for establishing such a system. The concept actually becomes extremely interesting if fast and cheap are combined successfully. With the potential of making the entire Steam catalog of games available to a whole new group of gamers, Console PC gamers. There is also no detail on the final look or design of the console, here at Highpants were just hoping they take the obvious queues, a Steam Punk console would be incredible.
Taking a leaf out of Google’s book Valve have been concentrating on the software while developing a standard hardware specification for vendors to use. The Steam software will be free and available for all system developers. There is even speculation that the Dell X51 mini desktop was designed to this original specification, it is after all the perfect spec for such a device. It is even possible that Dell will sell Steam certified gaming machines with Steams software pre-installed, eventually. Dell already include the current Steam for PC’s on their custom installation lists.
Steams software will manage the consoles interface, game installation and patching. The Console PC will of course be a PC dressed in sheep’s clothing, under the hood will be a standard windows PC, allowing users to install any windows application or game outside of the Steam interface.
Steam’s Big Picture mode will come out of testing for the console, with a TV friendly design it is the perfect interface for big screen gaming and will be the default theme and look for the initial release of the software.
The Big Screen software with its TV friendly interface will also give users access to the Console PC’s other functions. Valve have big idea’s for the console and will try to leverage all of the advantages of using a PC based platform, everything from allowing other gaming services to be installed to Internet TV and media streaming. Valve look to be aiming to compete with Apple TV as well as the consoles. Who needs a Boxee media playback device when you have a Steam powered Console PC.
Valve co-founder Gabe Newell even recently told Penny Arcade: “Well, if we have to sell hardware we will.” So expect Steam to produce an OEM version for manufacturers to copy, just as Google did with the Android Nexus phone. A demonstration machine was on display at CES, behind closed doors a fortunate few were said to have been shown a beta version of the software running on a hand built machine. The specifications were fairly standard Core-i7 with 8GB of Ram and NVidia graphics. It may even be necessary for Valve to produce a number of differently priced standard machines, from low end to high end hardware.
Expect more news and possibly demonstration units at this week’s Game Developers Conference or at E3 in June. Steam is shaking things up in the gaming world it seems, not happy to leave the PC gaming experience solely in Microsoft’s hands Steam is looking to take on all players in the video game market. If Steam do this right they could be bring the best of PC and Console gaming together, let’s just hope they don’t bring the worst of both together, it won’t be pretty.
Reference: The Verge