Steam OS

SteamOS: How Valve Could Potentially Take Another Huge Chunk of the Gaming Market

If you haven’t been keeping up with the latest news from the gaming industry, a couple of weeks ago, Valve made a series of three announcements that have caused quite a stir among the gaming community.

The first announcement was that Valve will soon launch SteamOS. Basically, SteamOS is going to be a Linux-based operating system that is tailored to bring PC gaming to your TV and living room.

The second announcement was that Valve will accommodate their SteamOS by partnering up with hardware manufacturers to produce their own Steam-based hardware, which some people are calling Steam Boxes, or Steam Machines.

Finally, in their third announcement, they introduced us to the controller that would be used for their new platform.

According to Steam’s website, they have “…set out with a singular goal: bring the Steam experience, in its entirety, into the living-room.” The SteamOS is definitely a bold and exciting move and it is something that could potentially have a huge impact on the landscape of gaming.

What You Need to Know About SteamOS

Perhaps the two most important things to note about the SteamOS is that it will be FREE and you can install it on pretty much any PC (or Mac).

How is this beneficial?

Well, according to Steam, the SteamOS will allow you to stream your Steam games from your desktop, laptop, or Mac to your big-screen television (or any TV for that matter) in your living room. However, it sounds like that in order to do so, you will need Steam’s hardware in order to accomplish this.

Fortunately, Steam is working with hardware manufacturers in order to produce a variety of “Steam Machines,” each with different purposes and functionalities. So, basically, if you already have a computer and you want to stream your games to your living room, you will definitely be able to do so. Whether that will be by streaming directly to your TV, or to some kind of wireless receiver is yet to be known.

Additionally, since Steam is partnering with other manufactures to create their machines, you can expect to see fully dedicated Steam Machines that act basically like a Steam-driven console (except that instead of console games, you’ll be able to play games from your Steam library). These machines will be hardwired in, will sit right next to your television, and will likely offer you the best in-the-living-room gaming experience possible.

Two other key points about the SteamOS are that it is Linux-based and it is going to have an ‘openness’ to it. The open nature of SteamOS will allow hardware manufacturers to more easily tailor systems for living room gaming and therefore, should allow PC gaming in the living room to be as easy to setup and use as it is for console gaming.

Steam’s support for openness could also be a big step towards a truly open source gaming platform. This, of course, is beneficial for the platform because openness promotes innovation, which, in turn, leads to more advancements and a better overall experience.

Why SteamOS Is Important

SteamOS is ground breaking on so many levels. First, if Steam can get game developers on board (which it claims it already has, saying that there are many AAA game titles that are running smoothly on their new platform) they then can create games specifically designed for the hardware in their Steam Boxes.

This would instantly give SteamOS a huge advantage in gaming over Windows-based systems that don’t often take full advantage of their hardware.

In fact, Steam has already stated that they have achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing through SteamOS.

Another important factor with SteamOS is that it has the potential to change the landscape of living room gaming forever. It should be noted that, as far as functionality goes, SteamOS appears to be fairly similar to the next generation consoles that are set to be released soon. They will both play games and support media playback and media streaming (movies, music, televisions shows, etc.).

However, what SteamOS brings to the table that the next generation consoles do not is that it has the potential to bridge the gap between the performance of the PC and the comfort of the living room.

Perhaps the most genius part of Valve’s plan is that they are offering different hardware options. For Valve, offering the option to use your current gaming computer is an incredibly smart move. Essentially, they already have a market that they know will buy their product: PC gamers. This means that Valve can pretty much guarantee a successful launch with SteamOS.

The other side of this is that while SteamOS will definitely appeal to PC gamers, it also has huge potential to steal console gamers away from the dark side and bring them into the light. If done right, SteamOS will be the biggest and most convincing reason for console gamers to switch to PC gaming.

So, not only will Valve have the first few years of SteamOS covered by being able to instantly grab the attention of PC gamers, but over time, it could potentially snag a huge chunk of console gamers as well.

Is SteamOS the Answer to Merging the PC and Console Platforms Together?

There are many hurdles that Valve will have to jump through in order to make their new platform a hit. The biggest being that they will need to convince AAA titles to port to their platform.

However, with over 50 million users and Valve’s estimated worth at well over a billion dollars, SteamOS definitely has some serious backing to make their platform work. Not to mention, the prospect of finally brining a viable PC gaming solution to the living room will definitely give them plenty of supporters.

Ultimately, Valve has got a very interesting product on the horizon and if you fancy yourself a game enthusiast (be that as a PC gamer, or a console gamer), you will definitely want to pay attention to SteamOS.

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