This year has been quite the year of gaming, with next generation consoles now out around the world and with them a whole new set of next generation games as well, which look to push the boundaries of what can be achieved in gaming.
Valve has not been alone in joining the next generation, but its direction seems to be taking it in a completely different direction than most gaming companies at the moment.
It all started at LinuxCon earlier this year, when Gabe Newell gave a speech about why Linux was the “future of gaming.” For those of you that are unaware of what Linux is, it is a Unix based operating system used mostly by programmers and developers – and is also famously bad at being able to run games.
The speech at the time was somewhat cryptic, but Newell made it quite clear that Valve and the Steam platform want to move as far away as possible from operating systems Windows and Macintosh, as well as blur the line between developer and user.
Check out the speech here:
A few weeks after Newell’s speech a new site emerged, teasing three new announcements from Valve. The first announcement to arrive was the new operating system created by Valve, SteamOS. The operating system is Linux-based, and will become open source once it is finally released, so anyone will be able to take advantage of the new operating system.
On top of that, Newell said during his speech at LinuxCon that they have been working together with hardware manufacturers to put together graphics drivers that will bring optimal performance for almost all graphics cards.
SteamOS will be loaded onto the Steam Machine, which was the second announcement to arrive. The Steam Machine is Valve’s entry into the console market and “living room entertainment”, and could well be a game changer.
SteamOS, the first Linux-based operating system made for games.
One of the reasons to be interested is because SteamOS is open source, meaning any hardware manufacturer will have access to the software, and Valve has said that this is exactly what they want. This may seem small, but in all likelihood has given all PC producers the chance to enter the console market with their own version of the Steam Machine, so there will be a large variety of Steam Machines to choose from as more hardware manufacturers enter the fray.
Valve has also said there will be different kinds of Steam Machines as well. For those who don’t own a decent gaming computer rig, there will be Steam Machines that pack all the processing power you need to be able to tackle or your favourite games.
Valve's Steam Machine and Steam Controller.
For those that do have a gaming rig already and don’t want to spend too much money on getting Steam into your living room, Valve already have the solution at hand, thanks to the Steam Livingroom Streaming option which will be available.
This type of Steam Machine will allow you to use the processing power of your actual computer to play games, and will just stream it straight through to your living room, allowing you to still effectively use your computer for living room entertainment.
You can’t have a console without a controller however, and the third announcement to come in the set was indeed the Steam Controller, which looks quite unlike any controllers seen in the past.
The Steam controller will have you navigating around your games on two touchpads, and the few people that have managed to try out one all seem to like the concept very much. Check out the Steam Controller demonstration here:
Another big factor about the Steam Controller is the fact that is it “hackable”, meaning the controller can be taken apart and improved on if someone feels like they have a better idea. We could well see a variety of different Steam Controllers before the end 2014, and it will be interesting to see what ideas people come up with.
Beta’s for the Steam Machine and Livingroom Streaming are scheduled to take place sometime in early 2014, with an expected release some time later in the year. Valve has said that it plans to launch the Steam Machine in 2014, and it could well change the future of computer gaming before our very eyes.