Gabe Newell, Valve's co-founder and managing director, has officially taken one too many medications. Either that, or he's finally snapped. I say this because he's been on a bit of a tear lately. First, Valve accidentally leaked some news about a rumored Steam Box, which is unusual for them, only for Gabe to turn around and deny it all. Then, Gabe said plainly that there would be no announcements at E3, only for the company to announce Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Since it happened the day before E3 officially started, we'll chalk that one up to a technicality. Lastly, he flat-out bashed the Windows 8 operating system during the Consumer Preview for being so different from Windows 7 that everything that was developed in the past five years would be time wasted. As an aside, earlier today I played Garry's Mod, Star Trek Online and Team Fortress 2 all on my upgraded Windows 8 Pro PC, via Steam, without any issues. Well, this week, he finally went overboard as Valve announced the nonexistant Steam Box, but also said that a PC is what everyone wants in their living room and it would take over consoles for both gaming and entertainment. Mr. Newell, I believe the Xbox 360 would first like to talk with you on being the center for all family gaming and entertainment, and they have NPD numbers to prove it.
It turns out that Gabe took the time at the Video Game Awards to officially say that the Steam Box hardware will be coming out and he believes it will be in every living room around the country. He also gives some interesting opinion as to why.
I think in general that most customers and most developers are gonna find that (the PC is) a better environment for them. Cause they won't have to split the world into thinking about 'why are my friends in the living room, why are my video sources in the living room different from everyone else?' So in a sense we hopefully are gonna unify those environments.
Well certainly our hardware will be a very controlled environment. If you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general purpose PC. For people who want a more turnkey solution, that's what some people are really gonna want for their living room.
Okay, so clearly Gabe has become so disconnected from reality for such a long time that he is stuck in the past. Lately, the push has been to get away from having to have a computer in the living room. At the very most, consumers were getting by with their laptop, using WiDi (wireless display technology), to connect it to a TV to play their movies or show off some pictures. More and more often, however, we're seeing products being introduced at the International CES that allow that same user to use their smartphone or Xbox 360/PS3 to accomplish the same goal, cable and adapter free. Having to put another piece of hardware in an already crowded entertainment center, in this day in age, just seems like a waste of time and space unless you're a business person. And that's not who this box is for.
This box is for the gamer. Perhaps the hardcore ones would put it in their living room, so long as they own the house or apartment, because we know moms and dads won't let the 12 hour League of Legends session occur in place of primetime TV. At any rate, though, I suppose we should talk details. What we know is that we should see something around late June of next year, which will have the term "Steam Box," or something similar, be more of a certification of hardware than a Valve-created machine, although we'll see that, too. Third party manufacturers will have to design a rig that meets Valve's design and technical specifications, and will come with Steam pre-loaded. I wonder what operating system they will decide to load on it, since Gabe now despises Windows so much. I heard Steam on a Mac works just as well, with about 10% of the game catalog available, so that should be perfect for Windows gamers everywhere.
For the actual tech specs, Valve, per usual, kept that under wraps. I'm sure it will be something more powerful than current-gen consoles and probably a step more than what we'll see in the PS4 or Xbox 3 (I refuse to call it the 720, because that's dumb). Either way, I doubt we'll see it put an end to console gaming, which is what everybody seems to think. Console gaming is gaining more popularity because it's easier to do and there's no upkeep or upgrading involved in the process. You turn on the console, everyone has the same specs, and you play. There's no viruses, no upgrading every six months to a year and no difference in the machine itself. I think that will be what keeps console gaming strong and growing each month. However, I do know that I will still be purchasing SimCity in March and we won't be seeing that on any Xbox or PlayStation for some time.
What do you think? Will this kill off consoles? I'd love to hear someone factually defend the other side. Drop some knowledge in the comments below.