Steam Box Catch-All

DanB wrote:

That price is a pretty tough sell. And it likely means that the plan is not to compete in the console market, it's competing to replace your desktop machine. I can imagine entertaining the idea of picking one up when my current PC is just too old but then it'll come down to what I can get for the same money elsewhere.

Perhaps the gaming HTPC market. With big picture it does seem like they're looking at that side of it rather than "one box to rule them all".

Am I the only one that has reservations about this? I'm all for more games coming to Linux, but I don't need a dedicated Steam-box to run it. If Valve's power within the industry can indeed lead at least some, if not most of the main developers to release games for their Linux Steam box, fully tested and optimised for that device, where does that leave the port to 'normal' PCs? We already get the sh*tty end of the stick when it comes to ports from horrible, corner-cutting console titles - will this not just mean that there is even less reason for a dev to make sure their game works on normal PCs, if Valve change their tune from requiring it to work on PC, to requiring it to work on their SteamBox?

I don't want Steam on my TV for the most part, and if I really did, then simply plugging in an HDMI cable can give me that. By all means have Steam on Linux (yay!), even have Stebuntu as a whole new distro (neat!) but please don't take away my choice of PC

omnipherous wrote:

Am I the only one that has reservations about this? I'm all for more games coming to Linux, but I don't need a dedicated Steam-box to run it. If Valve's power within the industry can indeed lead at least some, if not most of the main developers to release games for their Linux Steam box, fully tested and optimised for that device, where does that leave the port to 'normal' PCs? We already get the sh*tty end of the stick when it comes to ports from horrible, corner-cutting console titles - will this not just mean that there is even less reason for a dev to make sure their game works on normal PCs, if Valve change their tune from requiring it to work on PC, to requiring it to work on their SteamBox?

I don't want Steam on my TV for the most part, and if I really did, then simply plugging in an HDMI cable can give me that. By all means have Steam on Linux (yay!), even have Stebuntu as a whole new distro (neat!) but please don't take away my choice of PC :-(

I think I have reservations for the opposite reasons; how long is it until we see games coming out that just aren't ported to Linux/Steambox? 18 months after the initial push has worn off? And even the ones that do come out then I can see 'coming to Steambox in 4 weeks!'. As much as Steam push the service to developers there's only so long they can maintain a level playing field with gaming PCs, never mind offering something that I'd go out and purchase because it's giving me a better experience.

There's certainly a lot of "if"s around steambox, but it's an attempt at something new, a potential change in the market that doesn't come around so often.

That hardware package is awesome looking! That premium price point pretty much makes it DOA though. Unless they figure out a way to subsidize it but... I don't know how though. Hmmm...

I saw a picture I think on Polygon showing a component half the size of the cube like "Piston" hardware but it was screwed into the back of a HDTV where the wall mount screws are located. Anyone know what exactly that was?

DanB wrote:

That price is a pretty tough sell. And it likely means that the plan is not to compete in the console market, it's competing to replace your desktop machine. I can imagine entertaining the idea of picking one up when my current PC is just too old but then it'll come down to what I can get for the same money elsewhere.

Price might be a problem - or it might not. Here's something people need to remember: the low end PS3 launched at $499. Next gen consoles will not be cheap; $400-$500 looks like a good target at launch, IMO.

If Valve hits $499, and has competitive specs, they're certainly in the game. If they're talking $1000, they're DOA.

EDIT: also worth noting, Valve doesn't need to make the same margin on the box itself. Xi3 is a hardware maker, while Valve's long game is from selling software, so Valve can afford to subsidize the launch. I think we can safely ignore the non-Valve Xi3 prices, except as a baseline maximum price.

Also, a Steam Box promises a much greater market and much longer shelf life than Xi3 could ever hope for otherwise, so economies of scale apply.

Yeah, but Sony launched the PS3 at $499, came in with a massive amount of momentum from the PS2, provided something that wasn't really otherwise available at the time (PS3 games, bluray player at a reasonable cost), and STILL managed be a massive problem for Sony. They lost a big chunk of market share and may still be operating at a loss on it.

The Steam box is going to be up against the current console brands, trying to either convince console gamers that this PC thing is for them, fighting against the perception that PC games are all mouse and keyboard strategy fests. It's also going to have to convince PC gamers that this is better than just building their own box and hooking it up to their TV. Priced at $500, I think this thing tanks before it ships. At $400, it's got a shot. In order to really make inroads, I think it has to be closer to $300, and even then I think it's going to be a rough ride.

All that said, I'm definitely interested in this depending on price and specs. Having a small box I can play couch games with the fiancee without having to move the whole PC in would be neat, but I could also just build a new machine and put the current one in there too. But I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this thing.

If I could have a "box" that sits in the office under my monitors, replacing my desktop machine and can also seamlessly broadcast it's video signal to the TV in my living room (or any of the other countless displays in the flat) then I would buy such a device like a shot. I don't want more boxes under my TV or in my house, I'd much rather just have one central box that all my displays can connect to.

Chaz wrote:

It's also going to have to convince PC gamers that this is better than just building their own box and hooking it up to their TV.

I take your point overall, but on this point I'm not sure they do. Valve 'wins' anyway if you buy a game through steam whatever form your gaming PC is in. Apparently there's a bit of a movement now from current consoles to PC gaming, so if a steambox maintains that momentum, and maybe convinces a few more people to dip their toe in the PC waters then it's good for them.

Scratched wrote:
Chaz wrote:

It's also going to have to convince PC gamers that this is better than just building their own box and hooking it up to their TV.

I take your point overall, but on this point I'm not sure they do. Valve 'wins' anyway if you buy a game through steam whatever form your gaming PC is in. Apparently there's a bit of a movement now from current consoles to PC gaming, so if a steambox maintains that momentum, and maybe convinces a few more people to dip their toe in the PC waters then it's good for them.

True, but Valve has to do a non-zero amount of legwork to make this potential box really work on the back end. Already they had to put development time into creating big screen mode, which is a cool feature, but not mandatory in a world without a Steambox. The big stumbling block going forward will be getting a critical mass of games supporting the Linux OS that this will likely be running on.

Here's my thing:

Yeah, you could build a "couch" PC, but at $500 or less, it's almost guaranteed to be bigger than a PS3 or 360, and I think that's where most people hesitate. I certainly don't want even a mid-tower glowing/humming next to my TV stand. When you start pricing small form-factor cases and the components that would fit (and play games smoothly, with high settings, at 1080p), you're looking at something that would be upward of $1k.

This is something I've been researching a lot of, since this is exactly what I've wanted to do-- have a living room PC on which I can play all the console titles that I bought for cheap on Steam, in a small box that would not be an eye-sore in the living room. I think Chaz is sort of right, in that Valve would need to convince console gamers that a Steambox is better than a 720 or PS4, but here's the thing: Steam already has almost all the games that the consoles do (minus exclusives, obvee), with fantastic controller support, and they go on sale for ridiculous prices at fairly regular intervals. There's you inroad. The notion that PCs are for M&KB strategy and FPS games has largely been done away with in the last few years. Just look at the variety already in the Steam library! There's also the idea that Scratched brings up, that current consoles are moving towards being walled-garden PCs anyway-- you can surf the internet, watch TV and movies, listen to music, chat with friends etc, all on current gen consoles.

Anyway, enough rant. My thought is, if Valve and Xi3 can build me a SFF PC that will play my steam library of console ports and games intended for controllers in my living room, for less than it would cost me to build a SFF that, let's face it, wouldn't be nearly as small or quiet as what they're showing at CES today, then I am all for it. Will I throw out my PS3? not likely. Will I never get a PS4 or 720 (when they finally arrive)? Depends largely on their exclusive offerings. But for most games, I'd rather save the cash by buying on a Steam sale.

Yeah, the Xi3 is just one form a PC can take, and I think they've gone for it at CES to grab eyeballs as something different (a 3-4" cube). I want to see what other companies offer too, or perhaps boilerplate self-builds.

WipEout wrote:

Anyway, enough rant. My thought is, if Valve and Xi3 can build me a SFF PC that will play my steam library of console ports and games intended for controllers in my living room, for less than it would cost me to build a SFF that, let's face it, wouldn't be nearly as small or quiet as what they're showing at CES today, then I am all for it. Will I throw out my PS3? not likely. Will I never get a PS4 or 720 (when they finally arrive)? Depends largely on their exclusive offerings. But for most games, I'd rather save the cash by buying on a Steam sale.

While Valve could put together something that resembles a general purpose Linux desktop environment, I doubt they will, and the UX is probably going to be more akin to current consoles. Even if this does work like a general purpose Linux computer, you can kiss your Windows software goodbye completely, and this thing is going to be so different from a Windows PC no matter what that they can't really be thinking about that market at all.

Most importantly, there's no guarantee that any non-Valve back catalog Steam games will work on the device (in fact, there's a guarantee that many if not most of them will not work).

The right way to think of it, IMO, is a brand new console with some limited Steam back catalog support, and probably some future "buy a game on this console, also get it on the PC, share saves in steam cloud between them" type features.

I'd guess that Valve will sell this thing with a subscription option that offers a selection of free games each month, similar to what we're expecting from the next XBox. I'm still curious to see what kind of graphics setup they can wedge into that tiny case though. Probably a GeForce GT 650M, but I'll keep my hopes up for a desktop-grade card.

I think all of the trepidation is overblown. I can't see how this negatively impacts PC gaming. Steam isn't going to cannibalize itself in order to offer a steam-box exclusive, rather it is more likely that certain titles will be "steam exclusives" which will include steam box and traditional PCs.

The push to challenge consoles is about growing the steam audience, not about changing the current audience.

All the worries that I have seen, seem to imagine a world where Valve wants YOU gaming on the sofa, the truth is Valve wants everyone that is gaming on their sofa to be shopping on Steam along with YOU.

What is PC gaming? It isn't the desk or the monitor size or the KB/mouse, hell you can use all those things with that xi3 box if you want. PC gaming to me is characterized by 2 things. The low entry barrier for devs, which brings us the flourishing indie scene. And, the mod community, which exists because of the openness of the platform. If it lacks these things that steam-box is just another console (that I won't ever buy). since both of these things are baked into Steam (greenlight/workshop), I assume that it won't.

The console paradigm is a drag on gaming if you ask me, I am glad that Valve wants to shake it up.

that's my 2c, I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens, 2013 will be an interesting year!

I can't wait to see a version that is all Valve branded and colored. I don't see this thing going anywhere due to the Linux/Windows issues, but I'm still very interested.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

I don't see this thing going anywhere due to the Linux/Windows issues, but I'm still very interested.

I can't really see it doing worse than the OSX version, and somehow that was worthwhile and got done.

Scratched wrote:
tuffalobuffalo wrote:

I don't see this thing going anywhere due to the Linux/Windows issues, but I'm still very interested.

I can't really see it doing worse than the OSX version, and somehow that was worthwhile and got done.

I should have said that I play too many Windows based games, so this wouldn't be a living room solution unless I ended up putting Windows on it. Out of curiosity, what percentage of the Steam library can be played on a Linux machine?

40 or so games the last time I checked.

Thanks! It sure would be cool to have a version of Linux that just booted directly into Big Picture mode. Can't wait to see the final version.

tuffalobuffalo wrote:
Scratched wrote:
tuffalobuffalo wrote:

I don't see this thing going anywhere due to the Linux/Windows issues, but I'm still very interested.

I can't really see it doing worse than the OSX version, and somehow that was worthwhile and got done.

I should have said that I play too many Windows based games, so this wouldn't be a living room solution unless I ended up putting Windows on it. Out of curiosity, what percentage of the Steam library can be played on a Linux machine?

Under 1% I'm sure. Pretty much just Valve and Indie stuff.

The fundamental thing people need to understand is that this is effectively a new platform, rather than an extension of "PC Gaming" (which is a synonym for "Windows gaming" presently). Any existing Steam games that work on it should be considered a nice bonus at best.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Valve makes it very difficult for people who want to escape their walled garden, and I definitely wouldn't count on the ability to run Windows on this thing (especially if Valve does sell it at a loss).

And another article indicating that the "Piston" is but one of many prototypes.

I'm a little confused at this point. I was thinking that there was a single "Steam Box" console, but that's apparently not true. It looks like Valve is partnering with anybody making a living room PC to slap Steam Big Picture onto... whatever. Is that in addition to the "console" Steam Box running Linux that we've been hearing about? Or instead of it?

Guess we'll have to wait and see...

gore wrote:

I'm a little confused at this point. I was thinking that there was a single "Steam Box" console, but that's apparently not true. It looks like Valve is partnering with anybody making a living room PC to slap Steam Big Picture onto... whatever. Is that in addition to the "console" Steam Box running Linux that we've been hearing about? Or instead of it?

I think reading between the lines from past statements suggested that they were working with multiple partners, with probably a "Valve" branded version as a reference design.

Wait, so they're doing this WITHOUT a Kickstarter? Weird!

I would consider the PS3 being priced at $500-600 at launch a mistake, not something we can point out as a good example. One of the several reasons that the 360 is still in the lead over the PS3 was the launch price. For most people they will have to be pretty sold on something to shell out $500 for a low end model.

There are just too many legacy (including stuff from a the last couple years) games that will never have a chance at running on Linux. Basically, Windows has to stay. Linux could be great for future games if there were real benefits but as long as I'm on Win7, and I continue to cower in ignorant fear of Linux, I'll be staying away.

Spoiler:

This is a pathetic cry hoping someone will point me to how easy it is to install / use Linux.

mrtomaytohead wrote:

There are just too many legacy (including stuff from a the last couple years) games that will never have a chance at running on Linux. Basically, Windows has to stay. Linux could be great for future games if there were real benefits but as long as I'm on Win7, and I continue to cower in ignorant fear of Linux, I'll be staying away.

Spoiler:

This is a pathetic cry hoping someone will point me to how easy it is to install / use Linux.

Linux Mint. Done in one.

Could also be that Valve is investing in different manufacturers to foster competition for the final contract, a la Lockheed/Northrop competing for the USAF's contract for the ATF.

EDIT: Sorry nevermind.

maverickz wrote:

Linux Mint. Done in one.

Which version of Linux Mint? I am also confused.

Is there a thread called, "I always wanted to switch to Linux, but was afraid to ask."