By Max Cohen, Staff Writer
The last time there was a major entry into the console market was in 2001 with Microsoft’s Xbox. The industry has since been ruled by the warring Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Championing a changing market this year, independent consoles like Ouya and the Nvidia Shield failed to be anything more than novelty, showing the difficulty of usurping any market share. However, one of gaming most innovative companies, Valve, wants to alter the gaming universe.
Valve created Portal, Left for Dead and Half-Life, which all made millions and garnered sparkling reviews. They also revolutionized PC gaming with their program Steam, which allowed PC gamers to have an ever-expanding game marketplace on their computer. So they’re legit. Thus far, Valve has been successful, integral even, in the gaming landscape. Now they’re aiming for the home-console market with last week’s reveal of the Steam OS and Steam Machines (noticing a theme?)
The first reveal was for a non-proprietary operating system running on Linux: Steam OS. This autonomous OS allows Valve creative control over their marketplace rather than bowing to the regime-like tendencies of Microsoft and Sony.
In addition, the OS will allow gamers access to Valve’s independent Steam library of 3000+ games.
The second reveal was Steam OS’s platform: Steam Machines. Although specs haven’t been disclosed, it is expected to release in 2014 with an unspecified number of different models.
“I don’t believe there’s a one-size-fits-all strategy,” said Valve mastermind Gabe Newell regarding consoles. His Steam Machines will natively run Steam OS, with all Steam marketplaces, deals and exclusives therein. With their independent marketplace, Valve may use the Machines as a sanctuary for the surging indie-gaming studios that would revel in no longer paying Microsoft/Sony’s exorbitant publishing costs.
Additionally, there is evidence that Valve plans on releasing the feverishly anticipated Half-Life 3, exclusively for Steam Machines. With a possible price tag of 100 dollars and indie-games and Half-Life exclusivity, Valve could have a real winning combination to break onto the market.
But there is an ongoing debate about the Steam Machine’s purported success. To succeed, Valve would have to time and market their releases precisely. But it shouldn’t be that difficult. They have a cheap, non-proprietary product geared towards both the casual and hardcore gamer. I’m sold.