Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gabe Newell confirms “Steam Box”

Guest Article by HerrOttesen

In news that’s practically better than Half-Life 3 ever being finally announced, Gabe Newell has confirmed the existence of the Steam Box. What is this magical sounding product you’re wondering? A few months ago, Steam announced a new service on the Steam client called ‘Big Picture’. This allowed anyone with a HDMI port in their TV and their computer to sync the two and essentially play their Steam Library on their TV. A very neat idea in itself, Vale wants to take it a step further. The Steam Box is Valve’s own console. From what we can gather so far about it, it will be a console that is built to play the vast majority of games that Steam has to offer. The selling point is that Steam wants you to put everything else aside and just play video games. Because this is a console, it’s built with your living room in mind. 
The major concern about the Steam Box is why one would play this over their PC that already has Steam and their game library. Many have already jumped to answer this question. The Steam Box won’t be for everyone. It’ll be for people who can’t afford a high end gaming computer, or those who want to separate their work space with their gaming environment. Of course with the Steam Box being a console, it can be inferred that concerns are being derived because of its ‘Console’ label. Whatever specifications the Steam Box comes out with, it’ll be just like the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, and etc. It’s almost like a locked computer. It will have pre-loaded software, and hardware that should be able to play many games that Steam has to offer. However that’s it; you’ll never be able to upgrade it to your own wants-it is what it is. Again, this is not a bad thing whatsoever.
It’s speculated that Steams Big Picture will be heavily involved with the Steam Box, which makes sense. Originally, Big Picture was developed with a controller in mind. The idea was that a player would hook up their PC to their TV and play their Steam games with a controller. The player of course still had the option to use a keyboard and mouse; however it’s certainly plausible that this was a test for the Steam Box. With that being said, would the Steam Box come with its own controllers or could you use any third party PC game controller?
An important question that isn’t seeing much attention would seem like an important one: What is the fate of micro-transactions on the Steam Box. It’s well known that Xbox has Microsoft Points, the PS3 has PSN Points, and so will players still have access to Steams iconic store?  Steam is well known for the affordable games they list for sale, along with the items the sell in the games themselves. The biggest example is Team Fortress 2- a now free to play First Person Shooter, that is still constantly updated for free, and thrives on the games store. Valve has made a killing selling Hats to players in their dubbed ‘War themed hat simulator’. Will we still see that with the Steam Box (assuming Team Fortress 2 is supported)?
In the end, what we have is many different gaming companies all fighting for your attention, and your living room with their Next Generation Consoles. It was a wonderful surprise to see that Valve wants to take part in this as well. I know that I would buy this console because of the idea to play some of my favorite games on my TV that I normally can’t. That’s my reason, and everyone else with have theirs to justify this console. Hopefully this will truly become an innovative idea, and not a forgotten relic. 

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