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Ask Slashdot: Can Valve's Steam Machines Compete Against the Xbox One and PS4?

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the microsoft-and-sony-are-in-hot-water dept.

Games 348

Nerval's Lobster writes "Valve has announced SteamOS, Steam Machines, and a Steam controller — the components necessary for it to create a viable living-room gaming experience. Valve's strategy with these releases seems pretty clear: create a platform based on openness (SteamOS is a Linux-based operating system), in contrast to the closed systems pushed by console rivals such as Sony and Microsoft. If Valve chooses to release Half-Life 3 in conjunction with its Steam Machines' rollout, it could help create further buzz for the system, given the years' worth of pent-up demand for the next chapter in the popular FPS saga. But can Valve's moves allow it to actually compete against Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony on equal terms? What do you think?"

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348 comments

I think they plan to compete on the premium end. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017373)

Like the Neo-Geo did, for a brief while.

Valve may last longer though, it's got a stronger basis behind it and years worth of invested development.

Re:I think they plan to compete on the premium end (2)

Wootery (1087023) | about 6 months ago | (#45017603)

Please clarify 'premium'. Marketing bullshitters have made it totally meaningless.

I know little of the Neo Geo, but I vaguely recall it was expensive.

Agree that they'll probably last a while. Valve's been going strong for a while now, and if anyone can leverage the existing world of PC gaming to make a 'console', it's them. I wonder what the uptake rate will be like.

Re:I think they plan to compete on the premium end (3, Informative)

Timothy Hartman (2905293) | about 6 months ago | (#45017741)

[ as modifier ] relating to or denoting a commodity or product of superior quality and therefore a higher price: premium beers.

When you say you knew that Neo-Geo was expensive I feel as though you were being coy about what premium meant. Neo-Geo was arcade quality games in your home.

Re:I think they plan to compete on the premium end (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017939)

[ as modifier ] relating to or denoting a commodity or product of superior quality and therefore a higher price: premium beers.

When you say you knew that Neo-Geo was expensive I feel as though you were being coy about what premium meant. Neo-Geo was arcade quality games in your home.

More than merely arcade quality, it was identical to arcade hardware, plus extra circuity to modulate audio and video suitable for consumption by TVs, and some superficial physical changes to keep arcade operators and home users from being able to run the same cartridges.

Re:I think they plan to compete on the premium end (2)

rwa2 (4391) | about 6 months ago | (#45017803)

I wouldn't call it the "Premium" market, but I'm pretty sure Valve/Steam has a much different market than the console titles.

The Steam Machine seems like yet another settop box that would allow you to remote into your gaming computer from your entertainment center. All of the PC people probably already have their gaming PCs plugged directly into the biggest monitor they have, so I don't think this will help that market segment much. But I can see it making inroads on the console community... though probably not much more than the OnLive "remote cloud-hosted gaming" service.

Biggest monitor is a TV, and majority have no HTPC (2)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#45018487)

All of the PC people probably already have their gaming PCs plugged directly into the biggest monitor they have

What makes you think that? The biggest monitor in the typical household is in the living room, and I gather from other users' comments like those linked here [slashdot.org] that the majority of people are unwilling to move the gaming PC into the living room. Living room PCs are beyond the lowest common denominator [slashdot.org].

Re:I think they plan to compete on the premium end (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017669)

"Does Nintendo really think they can compete with Atari, Magnavox, Intellivision, and Coleco with their upcoming 'NES'? Can they really elbow their way into this crowded market full of entrenched and experienced companies?"

--

"Does Sony really think they can compete with Sega, Nintendo, NEC and Neo*Geo with their upcoming 'Playstation'? Can they really elbow their way into this crowded market full of entrenched and experienced companies?"

--

"Does Microsoft really think they can compete with Sony, Nintendo, Sega, 3D0 and Atari with their upcoming 'Xbox'? Can they really elbow their way into this crowded market full of entrenched and experienced companies?"

Yeah, I think history says it can be done.

Re:I think they plan to compete on the premium end (2)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 6 months ago | (#45017957)

"Yeah, I think history says it can be done."

History also says there are a lot of dead console compaines, let us not forget Sega was pushed out of the console business. MS and Sony were already huge companies with tonnes of money to establish themselves in the console market. Sony got lucky that Nintendo in the 90's didn't understand the importance of technology (and to some extent it still doesn't).

If I were Valve and entering the console market I'd be snapping up developers to make exclusives. Half-life 3 is not enough for anyone to get a steambox. Without software why would anyone get a steambox?

Re: I think they plan to compete on the premium en (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45018335)

The 3,000-odd library of titles on Steam aside from a potential release of HL3 says your second point is moot.

Re:I think they plan to compete on the premium end (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45018359)

Sega's a bit of a special case. I have read stories that Sega made the classic mistake of partnering with Microsoft for Dreamcast development.. guess what M$ did? Stole all the fruits of their research, left them with a dud platform that most Dreamcast devs didn't use, and released the original XBox to cut the Dreamcast off at the knees soon after its launch.

Valve is specifically keeping their platform free of any 'inside-job' sabotage by supposed 'partners' from the entrenched competition.

Re:I think they plan to compete on the premium end (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45018065)

Agreed that a disrupting product can always upend the market place. I think the story is off base in asking if Valve can compete "...on equal terms." I don't think Valve is looking to compete on equal terms, nor does it matter if they can't. The question is simply if Valve can be profitable with this strategy. Much like tablets don't compete on equal terms with home PCs but still manage to make serious inroads into their market share, Valve can be successful without going toe-to-toe with MS and Sony.

(Note that I'm not saying a Steammachine compares to an Xbox the same way a tablet compares to a PC in terms of power, etc. I'm just using that as an example of two dissimilar products existing in the same market space.)

Re:I think they plan to compete on the premium end (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45018207)

Bad questions.

Atari, Magnavox, Intellivsion, and Coleco had taken a big hit from the video game crash, they weren't entrenched or successful in the market, heck back then Magnavox was already just a nameplate for Phillips who hardly cared about the video game market anyway.

Sony was a 800-pound gorilla coming into a market with decades of electronics experience behind them.

Microsoft was an 800-pound gorilla coming into a market with buttloads of cash and only two market competitors to worry about.

Re:I think they plan to compete on the premium end (5, Interesting)

Applekid (993327) | about 6 months ago | (#45018237)

"Does Nintendo really think they can compete with Atari, Magnavox, Intellivision, and Coleco with their upcoming 'NES'? Can they really elbow their way into this crowded market full of entrenched and experienced companies?"

The bottom fell out of gaming in 1983. The entrenched and experienced companies were all twisting in the wind when the NES arrived. A lot of the secret to Nintendo's success in the west was distancing itself from existing video game systems that plug into a tv and billing itself as a toy you plug into the tv. The loss of a joystick was also great in pushing this image, although a feature of the original Famicom and not a change made for the exclusive benefit of taking market share. They also had a great PR machine that drove customer demand while simultaneously strong arming their partners and retailers: no discounting, no consignment, hardware lockout to enforce licensed developers only and bill it as a "quality" seal.

"Does Sony really think they can compete with Sega, Nintendo, NEC and Neo*Geo with their upcoming 'Playstation'? Can they really elbow their way into this crowded market full of entrenched and experienced companies?"

When you consider that Sony's Playstation is less of a from-scratch built platform than it was really a spin-off the SNES, the analogy doesn't make sense. A better analogy for the period for a from-scratch platform from the time period might be 3DO, which you mistakenly placed in your following section. As far as the competitors? SNK's NeoGeo never really hit any big numbers for home use, and NEC's position was obliterated from the west, and they were so desperate in Japan that they began to encourage out-and-out pornographic games on their PC-FX platform.

"Does Microsoft really think they can compete with Sony, Nintendo, Sega, 3D0 and Atari with their upcoming 'Xbox'? Can they really elbow their way into this crowded market full of entrenched and experienced companies?"

By the time XBox was out, The only real players on the market were Sega, Sony, and Nintendo, and Sega was on it's last legs as a hardware maker. 3DO and Jaguar were already jokes and dental x-ray machine covers. Microsoft still hasn't make dime one on their gaming division, their existence in the market is due mostly to Microsoft's deep pockets.

Yeah, I think history says it can be done.

It can be done, but none of the moments of opportunity are here for Valve to make it the way you suggest. Steambox merely going to wind up a slightly better funded Ouya, a more fondly remembered than OnLive, and a money maker only for ebayers that will hoarde and sell it in 20 years.

Re:I think they plan to compete on the premium end (2)

twistedsymphony (956982) | about 6 months ago | (#45018319)

There are some distinct differences between Value's situation and the examples you provided.

1. All three of those successful consoles from outsider were price competitive within the existing market. If you look at the literal pile of failure consoles throughout history they were all substantially more expensive, and so far what we know about the Steam machine says it will be substantially more expensive.

2. All three of those successful consoles from outsiders were presented as a singular hardware model by a single manufacturer there was no significant hardware differences from one model NES to the next or one Xbox to the next, Valve is planning on developing more of a spec and opening hardware development and marketing up to multiple hardware manufactures... a strategy used by several consoles in the past (most notably the 3DO) to great failure.

3. All three of those successful consoles from outsiders launched with a strong list of exclusive titles that you couldn't get on any other platform. Valve finds themselves in the situation where anything developed for the Steam Machine will also be available on PC, without the machine, this inherently makes their hardware less valuable as there's literally NOTHING it can play that couldn't also be played on a PC or elsewhere.

In general the three factors that historically have contributed to a successful console (by a new entrant into the market or otherwise) has been price competitiveness, and desirable exclusive games, as well as a desirable feature set (such as the PS2's DVD player or the Wii's waggle controls, or the 360/PS3's ability to play games in HD). So far the Steam Machine seems to be missing the mark on most points.

Then again, the iPod looked like a turd on paper when it was released and that thing sold like gang-busters so who knows, stranger things have happened.

Re:I think they plan to compete on the premium end (4, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 6 months ago | (#45017719)

I kinda took it differently. When they announced this an Alienware equivalent doesn't come to mind. Instead I get the same picture as the $300-400 budget gaming PC's that I've always built. When the parts are bought in bulk I'm willing to bet that an OEM could assemble a small equivalent set-top box for even cheaper and have a fairly capable system to compete with the $400-500 Sony and MS offerings.

I'm kinda envisioning the Steambox being offered at more of a $250-300 price point. If you want a monster rig you can still build it yourself and run SteamOS.

Re:I think they plan to compete on the premium end (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 6 months ago | (#45018287)

Compact PCs tend to be more expensive and less flexible. Unless you are talking about a compact form factor that you can already build your own boxes with now, I would expect Steam boxes to be MORE rather than less than your typical extreme bargain bin machine.

Anything much bigger than an Asrock or Zotac is going to have trouble getting much traction in living room.

If Valve had a big marketing budget (3, Insightful)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about 6 months ago | (#45017397)

Maybe. Especially on the TV.

Xbox didn't get foothold until all of those "Only on XBOX" TV ads for multiplatform games.

Re:If Valve had a big marketing budget (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017697)

Why would Valve need a big marketing budget to say "Halflife 3 only on Steam Machine" for a period of time (say a month or two earlier than a November console release)?

Sure it wouldn't make much sense from a lot of angles, but it would most certainly shift a lot of gamers attention to the new Steam hardware.

Re:If Valve had a big marketing budget (2)

Guspaz (556486) | about 6 months ago | (#45017789)

Estimates were that Steam had a total revenue of about a billion dollars in 2010, and Valve has been saying that Steam revenue has been growing at about 50% per year. That would put their 2013 revenue at somewhere between three to three and a half billion dollars. That's about half as much as Nintendo. Valve's cut is estimated to be 30-40%, and they likely don't have much in the way of costs (ironically because they aren't currently manufacturing hardware and have a tiny fraction as many employees as a company like Nintendo).

Valve could likely play with the console manufacturers in terms of marketing and subsidized hardware if they really wanted to.

Re:If Valve had a big marketing budget (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 6 months ago | (#45017799)

Launch HL3 with a small exclusivity period - I think a week will do - and they'll get plenty Steambox publicity.

Re:If Valve had a big marketing budget (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017931)

HL3 alone wouldn't work. HL2 sold on a physics-abuse gimmick. What would HL3 do?

AsnswerPoster (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017401)

Yes, it can compete.

No. No one knows if it will.

Yes, it is a stupid question.

Different audience (1)

gameboyhippo (827141) | about 6 months ago | (#45017407)

The average Nintendo gamer is going to be quite different than the average Steam gamer (though I realize there are fans of both). So it doesn't feel like it's going to be one of those things where someone says, "Should I get GTA V on Steam or Super Mario 3D World on Wii U?"

As far as XBox One and PS4, those are closer to Steam's audience, but in the age of having multiple consoles, I don't see it cutting into their sales much.

Re:Different audience (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 6 months ago | (#45018083)

"Should I get GTA V on Steam or Super Mario 3D World on Wii U?"

Why would you think that? My Steam library has shooters like Metro 2033 or the Saints Row series, it's got side-scrollers like Trine and Trine 2, it's got RPG's like the Neverwinter Nights series; there's goofy point & clicks like Deponia, and a whole swath of other game types from stuff like Brutal Legend to sports sims.

Why can't I have both games? I'm not a big fan of the GTA series (well, I liked the top scrolling GTA and GTA2), but you could easily substitute Saints Row 4 and I would be having the same type of decision to make. I don't think I'm in the minority when it comes to gamers... most of the gamers I know have a variety of games they play.

Re:Different audience (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#45018141)

As far as XBox One and PS4, those are closer to Steam's audience, but in the age of having multiple consoles, I don't see it cutting into their sales much.

I don't have any consoles, much less multiple consoles.

Compete in what sense? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017425)

Outsell either of those 2? No. Sell a good chunk, and added with people who installed the Steam OS and run their own hardware, total in the millions, help push Nintendo out of the hardware business, and put themselves in a good spot for the generation after this coming one? Sure, that's a possibility.

Re:Compete in what sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017847)

I really don't think the Nintendo crowd and the Steam crowd are one and the same. It's not enough just to see gamers as gamers and pretty much every Valve branded title goes for the more mature gaming market that Nintendo is noticably absent in.

Re:Compete in what sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017941)

Steam is home to plenty of indie games, and plenty of cheap games, and plenty of gimmicky games. That might not work for the likes of a new Zelda, but it competes with a lot of the market the Wii cornered. As for the AAA titles... Steam has those too.

Re:Compete in what sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45018351)

Steam has those too

You'll only be able to play those AAA titles on a Steambox by streaming them from a powerful Windows computer which most console gamers don't have. None of the major studios are currently supporting Linux nor are they planning to. Valve thought they could entice game companies to port their games, but it's simply not happening and the dreadful monthly Linux Steam statistics aren't helping.

Indie games and a couple token Valve titles won't sell consoles.

Re:Compete in what sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45018465)

I think there's some other differences in there that should be addressed.

Sony has a history of pissing off it's customers, just reference the PSN network hack, removal of Other OS, among other shenaningans that Sony Corporate has done (rootkits et al). So far with the PS4 they are trying to tout that they've learned their lesson, that they love their customers, etc. Just look at the "here's how you lend a game on the PS4" video, as well as the free games on PSN.

Microsoft is not much better off. Xbox Live has been the defacto standard for console gaming network, but MS as a company has a history of not listening to it's customers either. Look at XBOne and the nastiness that swelled when they tried to go to a steam-like all-digital model. It took quite a while before they backpedalled and did an about face. Before it was "our market research shows digital distribution is the way to go", after the uproar "our market research shows people still like disk-based games". Not to mention how MS corporate has a Embrace, Extend, Extinguish mentality and a real penchant for vendor lock-in.

Valve comes along with the steam box and is promising an open architecture. They are making the hardware (system, controller, software) available, but not necessarily required. There is nothing stopping anyone from buying one or more of their offerings, and none are required per se. I presumably could use the controller for World of Warcraft (say), or I could by the steambox and throw a dozen emulators on it. Or I could even roll my own setup and throw the SteamOS at it. In terms of hardware, the PS4 and XBone are mid to mid-low grade desktops that run dedicated/optimized software. The Steambox can be whatever you want, though I'd think that the off-the-shelf version is comparable to the console brethren.

All told, I'm liking Valve's offering the most right now. Not only am I no longer locked in to a corporate walled garden (XBL, PSL) for net play, but I can actually tweak or upgrade the hardware as needed in the future. As an added bonus, I can throw on my own software (emulators, other games I bought, XBMC, whatever) and it won't void my warranty. I was thinking about bowing out of the console wars this time around and go strictly PC. Valve just made that choice much easier.

Color Me Skeptical... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017433)

...that Half-Life is popular enough among the console crowd to be the system's killer app. It's lost most of its mainstream brand recognition by this point, and today's market no longer has an absence of story-based FPSs.

HL3 will sell like HOTCAKES among nostalgic PC gamers, but I just don't see it moving SteamBoxes among people who are console-only.

Re:Color Me Skeptical... (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 6 months ago | (#45017461)

story based ? ?

thing with the steambox though is that they don't have to roll out a million at a time.

they can just produce them as they sell.. and they don't need special motherboards, special chips... unless they're stupid and want to tie hundreds of millions of money into it.

Re:Color Me Skeptical... (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 6 months ago | (#45017985)

If they publish some basic specs they don't really need to roll out any hardware at all. For the 'console-only' crowd, they can buy a Steam Box ... the rest can provide their own if they wish.

Re:Color Me Skeptical... (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 6 months ago | (#45017507)

Seems to me that they're more going after the computer gaming crowd with an extra console-like box than after the console crowd directly. Of course, MS has also done this to some degree in the past, so there will be some competition here. But it's more that the computer gamers can now build/buy their top-of-the-line SteamBox to do their gaming. We may discover that instead of impacting N/M/S, this impacts people who were about to buy a new gaming PC -- they'll keep the one that's still good enough for web browsing and photo editing, and get a steambox or the equivalent for the actual gaming.

Re:Color Me Skeptical... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 6 months ago | (#45017543)

...that Half-Life is popular enough among the console crowd to be the system's killer app.

I think this skips over an earlier question we could ask: Is this move by Valve meant primarily to take on the consoles or to be an evolution for PC gaming so they can't be boxed in by Microsoft (or both, or something else entirely)?

Re:Color Me Skeptical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45018271)

They're not boxed in by Microsoft today. They offer Linux and OSX games. I know my Steam usage has mostly been OSX only for nearly the last year. If more companies port/release their game on alternate OSs they'll have more of the same. Valve seems to have an in by producing their own OS to run these games but the question of alternative OSs has already been answered.

It depends. (3, Insightful)

aaronjp (51549) | about 6 months ago | (#45017449)

If the price for the console is right (read reasonably less than the competition), the hardware isn't lame (no red ring of deaths, no overheating, good controllers), the game selection is there (fps, rpg, fighting (Tekken et al), etc) and game quality (no horrible control layouts, stuttering, lousy gameplay); I believe they have a shot, now, before the new consoles get established in the market. The ability to upgrade the console and have a better experience sooner than the competition certainly will be draw, as well.

Re:It depends. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 6 months ago | (#45017513)

In addition to those criteria, if SteamOS has the capability to install and run emulators of my choice (PSXe, Nesticle*, et. al), as well as having AAA games available on launch day, there's about a snowball's chance in hell I'm going to buy one of the other consoles.

* Yes, I still have a copy of Nesticle stashed on a drive somewhere; No, I'm not sending you the binary.

Re:It depends. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017635)

Valve needs to make better hardware for less price than consoles already sold at a loss, with better game selection and better quality to even have a shot? Damn, I bet you get pissed off when someone only gives you a 20% pay increase with a couple extra weeks of vacation.

Google Play model... (4, Insightful)

fightinfilipino (1449273) | about 6 months ago | (#45017451)

I think Valve actually wants to approach this by introducing a number of different machines at different spec levels, but all running Steam OS. Then, like how Steam operates now, they sell licenses to a wide variety of games (and possibly applications) that have different levels of system requirements.

The end goal is to reach out into a wide audience of different levels of gamers, from the casual to the hardcore, from puzzle game fans to FPS fans, etc., and to provide different kinds of devices geared towards each audience.

There's a danger of segmentation, of course. But I think the way Valve is approaching this is quite brilliant. The PS4, XBone, and Wii platforms have the advantage of being "do-it-all" machines, but they're also prohibitively expensive (at least in the cases of the PS4 and XBone) and might not be interesting to casuals, fans of games requiring lesser resources, or even hi-end gamer enthusiasts. Valve is taking a page from Android and casting a wide net.

Re:Google Play model... (3, Informative)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 6 months ago | (#45017641)

There's a danger of segmentation, of course. But I think the way Valve is approaching this is quite brilliant. The PS4, XBone, and Wii platforms have the advantage of being "do-it-all" machines, but they're also prohibitively expensive (at least in the cases of the PS4 and XBone) and might not be interesting to casuals, fans of games requiring lesser resources, or even hi-end gamer enthusiasts. Valve is taking a page from Android and casting a wide net.

Plus, if I buy a PS4 game, I can only play it on a PS4 (more than likely, I can only play it on my PS4); whereas if I buy a game from Steam, I can play it on literally any machine that meets the system requirements.

I like that.

Re:Google Play model... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017981)

The flipside is that if you buy a PS4 game, you're guaranteed that it will work on your system with no further thought required.

If you buy something on Steam, then you have to evaluate whether it will work with your system, etc.

Re:Google Play model... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 6 months ago | (#45018405)

No. The real flipside is PS3 and PS4 games.

You can run pretty much everything ever developed in terms of DOS and Windows games. Some of these you can even emulate under other operating systems quite effectively.

It's like a PS4 that can run ANY Sony game ever.

Re:Google Play model... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017917)

I think Valve actually wants to approach this by introducing a number of different machines at different spec levels, but all running Steam OS. Then, like how Steam operates now, they sell licenses to a wide variety of games (and possibly applications) that have different levels of system requirements.
...
taking a page from Android and casting a wide net.

 
Uh, I think this way of thinking about the gaming market preceded Android by a couple decades. We've been doing this on the PC market since at least the mid-80s. Steam has been doing this on their own before Android or iOS.

Re:Google Play model... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017923)

SteamOS with couple of exlusives like HL3, new Counter-Strike, Dota 3.. might be it. Also, lots of people have some older but still capable hardware, if one could load performant SteamOS on the old box and convert that old PC to a 'console' of sorts than would be amazing.

Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017455)

Cheaper, similar power, and with the advantage of a far wider library at release which is only going to explode moving forward.

Freedom from the shackles of Windows.

Throw in a few Valve exclusives (or even just rumors, like filing for a trademark on "Half Life 3" in Europe), a unique new controller, and serious tech news buzz...

I think this generation is going to be defined almost exclusively by Steam Machines and the PS4.

The end of classic PCs makes this inevitable (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017479)

Personal desktop computers are falling out of favor with the general populace, replaced by smaller devices which can do almost everything a PC can do....except playing big, blockbuster games. Current consoles play games, but they lack the ability to handle the same kinds of games a computer can--they don't do well when games need complex keyboard based input, and they don't have the same sort of access for indy games. Valve is aiming to fill the gap here, with a console targeted to play PC games. Steam allows them to make money on distribution even if people can in theory buy third part games--we know they will still love to use steam.

Errmm.. (2)

Lithdren (605362) | about 6 months ago | (#45017489)

I think we need some actual specs before we can make such a judgement.

Based on what we've been told, im assuming its going to work more or less like a normal PC currently, switch in and out hardware as you please, but we dont nessisarily know that for sure yet. There might be 'options' but it may be limited to whats supported by the OS or something. I think its safe to say this will change the landscape, in my opinion for the better.

Weather or not they can compete is really really hard to judge right now. What games will be coming out and supported on it? We dont know. What hardware will work and currently does work? We dont know. Is support mainly geared at PC type games or will we be getting effectivly a third console option? We dont know (though it sounds like its mainly a PC port of sorts, as opposed to a SteamMachine only release of a game).

I'd say with good support we should see them compete well, and make more profit even if they fail to sell more machines and games overall. If I had to guess, that would be my guess of how it will play out.

Steam Machines are an entirely new monster (1)

Irick (1842362) | about 6 months ago | (#45017523)

It's not a question of if they can compete with established living room giants, It is if there is a niche for it to carve out. Valve has got great inroads with the PC gaming community. I don't see Steam Machines displacing consoles but I definitely see them as a way for Valve to carve out a place in the living rooms of their current clientele. SteamOS to throw on the old box in the living room, Steam Machines for the pre-built crowd wanting something that fits in with their other equipment.

Shutup and take my money! (4, Funny)

FictionPimp (712802) | about 6 months ago | (#45017533)

That's what I think!

Re:Shutup and take my money! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017633)

Suckling on the DRM teat like a good consumer whore. Oh Slashdot, how you've changed...

Re:Shutup and take my money! (2)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 6 months ago | (#45017955)

Exactly. I remember when this place was completely free of nerdy gamers. Oh wait...

Re:Shutup and take my money! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45018005)

Does it hurt to be that retarted?

One word. (5, Insightful)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about 6 months ago | (#45017541)

Price
This is what drew me to Steam, this is what keeps me buying from Steam while my ps3/wii/etc gather dust.
If they keep up the constant sales and fairly good games on the Steam Machine like they're doing now on PC, yes, yes they can.

Re:One word. (3, Insightful)

ElForesto (763160) | about 6 months ago | (#45017921)

You're right on the money. Traditional consoles are terrible at pricing elasticity on their games, something Valve has mastered. They could definitely make the pitch that the console may be $800 with all the controllers, but most of the games are under $20 instead of $60-80 a pop. It wouldn't take too many holiday/summer sales before you're ahead on the deal.

Re:One word. (1)

ardeez (1614603) | about 6 months ago | (#45017937)

Price and a non intrusive and fair DRM system.

Sony obviously screwed this one up quite badly, and Microsoft are trying to use their
platform to build a walled garden around gamers. Increasingly - probably due to
more competition from mobile, these companies are squeezing their customers too hard.

If Valve can take a more liberal approach to protecting games from casual piracy
and manage still to allow games publishers to turn a profit then I could see their platform
attract both parties.

Good on them.

Trollolol no (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017547)

Consoles aren't for geeks. They're for average folks. Folks who don't want to have to upgrade stuff. This Steam box is basically a PC that runs an embedded (Linux) OS. It'll still require upgrades, compatibility issues, inconsistent performance, etc. Surely it'll please the virgins who love their cheap DRM'd Steam rentals.

over before it began (5, Interesting)

Bolas (2239328) | about 6 months ago | (#45017567)

Valve has already won. I've owned a computer since the 1980's, and gamed on computers non-stop since then. I already have a steam library of over 1,200 games. I have never owned a console. Although once in my youth I saved up $100 to buy an Atari 2600, but then blew it all playing Defender at the arcade. Living room is for television. Man-cave is for gaming on triple 30" monitors with a custom water cooled desktop computer that the consoles could only dream of powering, with a library of games available that puts the consoles to shame. Not to mention the portability of steam games. I can install and play them on desktop, on my Alienware m17x r3 laptop in a hotel room or back seat of a car, or on my Alienware m11x r3 laptop on the tray table as I fly across the country in an airplane ... one account, many devices. It's nice. Consoles lose in terms of power (can't run triple 30" monitors), price (five game bundles for $5 are frequent), selection (thousands of games), convenience (download easily), sharing (share games with friends with the new steam family share plan), and portability (try gaming with a console in the back seat of a car?).

Re:over before it began (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45018493)

Congrats, they've already won.. with cave-dwelling nerds like yourself. Do you really think you're the majority of the gaming market? Guess again, buster.

For some yes, for some no ... (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#45017617)

It depends on what you want out of your gaming experience.

Old curmudgeons like me who want to play video games offline and without needing a network connection won't want this.

And I'm sure lots of people will want the kind of gaming experience this platform has to offer.

I guess it depends on how much people trust Valve and want their stuff. And how many people Microsoft annoyed with the XBone announcements.

Corporate trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45018413)

Between Microsoft, Sony, and Valve, there is only one company that has not yet screwed over customers, intentionally broke their products, or drove people to expensive upgrades by planned obsolescence. I think it would be wise to chose that company.

Re:For some yes, for some no ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45018437)

I don't see any reason why they would change how you can play games offline on Steam right now.

For me - yes (5, Insightful)

sheehaje (240093) | about 6 months ago | (#45017629)

I own an Xbox 360, a Wii, I owned a Wii U (but was so underwhelmed I brought it back).

I've had several consoles over the years, but I keep going back to PC gaming. My 360 collects dust - it's not worth paying the online tax to even watch netflix on it. The Wii is used for Wii Fit only. My 4 year old son prefers the games on the computer. I don't know why - he just does - with one caveat - they work with a controller.

I was looking at possibly the XBone for the living room - but it won't play 360 titles - and the entry price is very high considering I'd have to restock the titles at ~$60 a pop.

Now that Steam has announced SteamOS, Steam Machines and the Controller - I can kill many birds with one stone. I can buy a modern console for the living room. I can keep my current library of titles (that I've been building since 2006). My son can have a controller that's the same for both devices. I can stream old games, hopefully though there will be enough native releases - because that will be a key point to most people. Now that Steam will offer Family Sharing/Controls, I can finally stop buying for 2 accounts and just focus on building one library. For myself, this is a great solution.

Now, will people who exclusive use PS/Xbox switch? I don't think so easily. First, you have the Madden crowd - good luck getting EA to budge on releasing sports games for the PC again. Then there are the exclusives and the kinect. I know Kinect is a failure to a lot - but it is a great family device and one of the only things I fire the Xbox up for all anymore is stuff like Sesame Kinect...

But - as these machines proliferate - I can see more and more people picking them up. This is pure speculation - but I imagine they will refresh the hardware frequently - like phones and tablets. Being and Open System - I can see many of it's own exclusives - whether whole titles or features in a title. The idea of being able to self-upgrade is phenomenal. I imagine over time these machines will become more than just different form factor PC's - and may offer some sorely needed innovation in the market... SteamOS makes that possible - kind of like an Android for Consoles - just even more open.

The worse case scenario is it doesn't pan out great, and not a lot of manufacturers fizzle out on the idea and SteamOS/Machines become a footnote - but the damage is already done - because a game optimized kernel will exist with opitmized graphics drivers - something sorely lacking for Linux for many years... So even a short term failure could lead to greater things down the road.

Re:For me - yes (2)

DdJ (10790) | about 6 months ago | (#45017787)

Now, will people who exclusive use PS/Xbox switch? I don't think so easily.

Some of us may.

I am not a regular Windows user, and haven't been for over a decade. (I try to use it a little, to keep my familiarity up, but I just can't really get work done on it.) I also have zero interest in going back to building systems myself. For my general computing, I use a mix of portable devices and MacOS and Linux systems.

I also just do not like gaming with a keyboard and mouse. I know lots of people do, I know the arguments in favor of that scheme, but I personally have less fun when I'm gaming with a keyboard and mouse.

So, I've been on game consoles for a while now.

But the PS4 and XB1 have put me off. I'd embrace the Wii U if I thought there was a realistic chance publishers would, but evidence seems counter to that.

If I can get a cheap pre-built Steambox, that may take over for my own gaming. I would not be getting a bleeding-edge machine, and would probably not be able to play "current" titles, but that's okay. I'd never have the display set higher than 720p anyway, and there's enough of a back-catalog there to keep me busy for a few years at least.

If they can put together a steambox that meets that kind of need for, oh, let's say in the area of $350, then I'm most likely in.

(Otherwise, I'll probably just keep my current hardware going as long as I can, set up WINE and DOSbox on my other systems, and try to wait out this generation. Or maybe Android and iOS will hold my answer.)

Re:For me - yes (2)

stud9920 (236753) | about 6 months ago | (#45017795)

First, you have the Madden crowd - good luck getting EA to budge on releasing sports games for the PC again.

FIFA 14, running the same engine as your silly ballet with epaulettes, is still being published to Windows

Re:For me - yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017857)

My 360 collects dust - it's not worth paying the online tax to even watch netflix on it.

I was looking at possibly the XBone for the living room - but it won't play 360 titles - and the entry price is very high considering I'd have to restock the titles at ~$60 a pop.

If your XBox 360 sits on the shelf collecting dust, then why do you care if the XBox One plays 360 titles? Why would you have to "restock the titles" that you aren't playing?

Re:For me - yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45018061)

You don't have to buy the $LATEST_TITLE immediately, you have the option to wait. It only takes a few months for $20 to get knocked off, then a further $10-15 on Amazon daily deals. Unless you are unemployed or a kid, you cannot have enough time to play all the decent games, let alone any GoTY packs and none AAA advertised titles.

It already won my vote (1)

Dasher42 (514179) | about 6 months ago | (#45017643)

I prefer a developer-friendly, open source environment for my gaming, when I do it. Of course, some of my favorite things are modding them and programming them - there's such a huge kick in things like putting a "Best of Both Worlds" Borg Cube into Homeworld, or writing a GURPS-like skill system for a MUD. I personally think that people that merely consume content instead of creating even a little of it somewhere are missing out.

As such, Steam's making the first console platform that even comes close to what I want. I think they're going to have a good shot at raiding the other console's home turf.

Reality (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017649)

It's a nice ideal, openness, but who here really thinks you'll be able to get into the system to modify packages and/or kernel parameters without circumventing some type of control?

Define your parameters (2)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 6 months ago | (#45017651)

Of course they can compete. Can they earn a significant share of the market? Probably not at first but then it took Sony years to catch up to Nintendo and then Microsoft years to catch up with Sony. Since SteamOS is free it can proliferate rapidly if it can actually deliver what it is promising. For the uninitiated who just want to hook a console up and have it work the SteamBox while pricey is a good option and not much more than the original PS3 but without all the pesky restrictions. Valve has been moving in this direction slow and deliberately for the last year. They aren't rushing into anything.

And they have deep pockets... (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | about 6 months ago | (#45017753)

...I assume anyways, so they won't die if this isn't a hit right off the bat. Sort of like MS and the original XBox, with a steady stream of software revenue they can afford to give the console time to catch on.

Re:And they have deep pockets... (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 6 months ago | (#45018283)

And they have deep pockets...

Why? Valve isn't making the boxes. They are refining a Linux distribution specifically for running Steam. They've been refining Steam to work on a big screen for over a year already. The really hard part is getting Windows only titles to work on a Linux based system. They are partnering with PC manufacturers [engadget.com] to bundle the SteamOS and controller with. If they don't sell they can throw Windows on there and sell them as a regular PC.

Depends (3, Insightful)

Saethan (2725367) | about 6 months ago | (#45017689)

Depends on how many Steam library games will eventually work under their Linux OS. If a large portion of my library becomes playable, you bet I'll build or buy a steambox.

Rule #1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017699)

The first rule of targeting gamers with a product is to never, ever ask their opinions on anything, because every answer will be either "give me everything in the world for free" or some bizarrely misspelled racist, sexist retarded screed.

Can a company compete? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017725)

Can Sony compete against Nintendo and Sega?
Can Microsoft compete against Nintendo and Sony?
Can Valve compete against Sony and Microsoft?

I think the answer is yes, it can compete. History shows that if the new person knows what they're doing and has support of developers, they will do just fine.

Re:Can a company compete? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017853)

History shows that if the new person knows what they're doing and has support of developers, they will do just fine.

Don't forget "and has a really large bankroll"

Come on Slashdot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017739)

First we rage when the Xbox One has always on DRM. Now you guys cheer for a console with always on DRM*. Which is it?

* Yes yes it isn't every day. Try playing your games for a week without internet, or longer like our deployed service folks do.

HL3 ~= BluRay (1)

Dracos (107777) | about 6 months ago | (#45017763)

If I were Gabe, I would use HalfLife 3 as the hook to jumpstart the Steam Machine install base, much like Sony used the PS3 as the BluRay hook. That was Sony's lone storage format win in a couple decades, even if they didn't win the last round of console wars.

Steam's often daily updates (1)

david.emery (127135) | about 6 months ago | (#45017767)

Steam will have to get a much more stable product. Seems it tries to self-update on a weekly, occasionally daily basis on my machine. I can't see the average gameboy putting up with having to wait while his Steam Machine updates yet again. "Continuous Integration" may be good for a development/integration approach, but it is neither appealing nor particularly effective as a software delivery approach.

Re:Steam's often daily updates (1)

ledow (319597) | about 6 months ago | (#45018053)

Dunno if we live in the same decade, but almost EVERYTHING I touch wants to update constantly now unless I turn it off. Windows installs updates on a daily basis if you leave it on the defaults. All modern smartphones. And, yes, consoles.

And given that Steam updates so often, in comparison I hear only a minority complaining about that. Usually when it updates it's either a fix or a new feature. I haven't witnessed a broken update in other 10 years, enough that I consider it one of the most privileged of programs on my computer in that I let it update itself every time (which is a privilege few others get).

I think that's the least of their problems to be honest. The biggest is really just going to be how to meet demand.

Re:Steam's often daily updates (1)

david.emery (127135) | about 6 months ago | (#45018143)

Guess I'm an old fart, I let very few applications self-update. To me, the frequency of these updates is an indication of code quality. I don't doubt that most applications are written so poorly that they need to update on a daily basis. Guess that's all part of being "agile" (as opposed to being "correct".)

Steam itself had a horrible memory leak for months before it got fixed, so it's not like bugs are getting fixed instantaneously...

Re:Steam's often daily updates (1)

jandrese (485) | about 6 months ago | (#45018327)

For things like Acrobat, leaving auto-update off is risky because new security flaws are fixed in there all the time. Same with Java, and especially with Flash. Sure you can just avoid those apps altogether, but I get asked to read a whole lot of PDFs so they're kind of hard to do without. Ghostscript's PDF renderer can leave something to be desired sometimes.

Big name publishers (1)

phorm (591458) | about 6 months ago | (#45017811)

I wonder if having a hardware console will help bring big name publishers (mainly EA) back into the fold. It pisses me off to no end that to play ME3 or various other games I need to have the damn Origin client installed. Much as I dislike EA as a corporation, having their AAA titles made available on Steam/Linux would definitely do a lot for both the Steambox and Linux gaming in general.

Success hinges on the controller (5, Interesting)

PPalmgren (1009823) | about 6 months ago | (#45017903)

SteamOS has a unique problem that no other ecosystem has to deal with: In order to leverage steam's strength, the size of the community, they had to do two things. First, ensure that the catalog of games is playable on the TV, and second, that this userbase can interact with the steam community on PCs. If the system can't do this, it requires a huuuge shift of users in order to make it successful, which requires the kind of investment microsoft did with the XBox.

The second bullet point above leads to an interesting problem if they go down the path of interoperability with PC clients: controllers and mice. PCs have several genres that are unplayable with a controller, and the mouse and keyboard combo offers a significant advantage in almost every kind of competitive gaming and multiplayer. I hope that their controller bridges the gap, and chances are it might.

The touchpad-based movement is a huge change from a joystick. Precision movement on a touch-style pad like that is the only way a controller could handle snap turns and accuracy that muscle movement on a mouse pad offers. The way its set up, I'd expect it to work sort of like the Thinkpad nib. If it works and people adopt it, it will allow people to play things like RTSes, turn-based games like Civ, and a host of other options. Yeah, hotkeys are another important point, but one more easily overcome than the massive gulf that currently exists between the mouse and the analog joystick.

There are other factors that will tie to its success, but I think the future of the system ties to its interoperability with the PC gamers. If it doesn't, its just going to be an also-ran.

Huge library of games (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 6 months ago | (#45017913)

The thing I like best about a Steam box is that I already own several hundred Steam titles.

And no matter what, my Steam games are there. New computer, laptop, Steam box...my games are there.

What's Sony's policy on moving games from your PS3 to your new PS4? If I remember correctly, not every Playstation game has required Internet registration and activation.

R U Serious? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45017989)

This thing is a game-changer (pardon the pun) and is gonna dominate. Total disruptive tech. to the gaming industry.

It's always about the games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45018151)

If developers can write good games for the platform, it will succeed. Hardware specs are not as relevant, and few will purchase because SteamOS is "open". It's up to Valve to ensure that there are good games at release.

underestimating... (4, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#45018245)

Everything I've read so far is underestimating Valve imo. Keep in mind what they've done in the past, how they've been basically the single bastion of decent game programing left in the market now... how nearly every game they come out with changes the industry in one way or another. Valve IS innovation when it comes to gaming. If they were a publicly traded company I'd be all over their stock.

I doubt the steambox will be what we expect. None of Valves products ever are. They are releasing hardware requirements for free... the OS is free... do you really think this things a console? Is something so outdated their goal? I seriously doubt it. Within the next few years I expect to see T.V.s come with Steam per-installed. No console what-so-ever. You just pick up your Steam controller and viola, away you go. In the near term, you can get a set-top-box to upgrade your older TV or just install it on your PC. In the long term I expect to see Steam become the primary Media center on most TVs as it pushes out Microsofts offering as it's pricey.

This is going to be just like Android. Valve wants control of the market so they are giving the hardware manufacturers hardware specs, a free OS and promising to maintain it for them in return for access to your living room.

Wow, that would be the dick move of the century (1)

jandrese (485) | about 6 months ago | (#45018303)

If Valve came out and said "Good news! Halflife 3 (or Halflife 2 Ep 3) is ready for release! It's a Steambox exclusive!" that would certainly sell a lot of boxes, but I know a lot of people would be really unhappy about it. I would be grumbling all the way to the store to buy the box.

I guess they kind of did the same thing with Steam itself and Halflife 2, but Steam is free software so at least you weren't out of pocket for it.

Re:Wow, that would be the dick move of the century (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45018495)

What of console exclusives? How can something like HL3 exclusivity be 'the dick move of the century' when Microsoft and Sony do the same thing every month or two?

Developer Count (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 6 months ago | (#45018353)

Simply having a console, a platform, and a controller doesn't put you on equal footing with Sony or Microsoft. Sony has 13 first party studios making games for the PS4. Microsoft has about 20 first party studios. These companies are spread out over Asia, North America, and Europe. They have a similer number of second party support. (companies that make exclusive games not owned by Sony and Microsoft) Nintendo is organized a bit differently. They have several groups in 4 divisions that make games. PC gaming has some built in edge with 3rd party developers. I would say Steam has a better chance than Amazon or Apple.
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