Valve should let someone else make a Steam Box console

first_imgWe know that Steam for Linux is right around the corner, and that the first game to be released for the platform (Left 4 Dead 2) was achieving frame rates of over 300fps long before final builds were being talked about. We also know that Steam is shopping around for some talent with regards to hardware development. Now, with Steam’s new Big Picture mode, everything is in place for someone to create a dedicated console to plug in to your television and play Steam games.Personally, I find that idea very exciting, and I hope that we don’t have to wait too long before something like the often rumored Steam Box console comes to market. I just hope Valve isn’t the one to make it.Big Picture is a cool idea, but it lacks some kind of finality. Most people I know have media centers connected to their televisions, but few of them have the hardware in them to run games. Serious PC gamers aren’t going to be rushing out to the living room with their machines. Even if they were comfortable using a gamepad like the Big Picture video suggests, there’s not many hardcore PC gamers willing to relocate to the living room yet, and in the process give up keyboard and mouse control.What Big Picture needs is a hardware experience that matches the software. A console-ish box that looks nice in the entertainment center and offers the Big Picture experience above anything else. A decent sized Linux box that has been optimized to run Steam in Big Picture mode isn’t even that complicated. Once Steam for Linux is released I am sure there will be several builds that accomplish exactly this.What if Roku made a special version of their TV kit that included a Big Picture channel and the hardware inside necessary to enjoy it? Or if Alienware took some of the design chops that has gone into their X51 Best Price at Amazon and made a TV-focused piece of hardware that just ran Steam Big Picture? It wouldn’t be hard to price the box to compete with current generation gaming consoles, and the chances are good that it would outperform those consoles while offering the massive game library Steam has to offer.Looking at indie game-driven devices like the Ooya Kickstarter, it is more than clear to me that the market is ready to bring fresh blood to our TV screens. Steam is filled with amazing indie games at great prices, to say nothing of the major titles that are added all the time, and the regular sale pricing that can add tens of games  to your library for a few dollars.Right now the console manufacturers are busy creating ecosystems. Microsoft and Sony are so busy offering extras, add-ons, and different types of content to create a lock-in ecosystem, that there’s less focus on the system itself. The Steam community is already massive, and nothing about Big Picture affects their core audience for the moment. Hardware partners would allow Valve to grow Steam in a whole new direction without needing to dedicate internal resources to anything other than making Steam better.It’s obvious that something interesting is going to happen soon. There are too many puzzle pieces here that fit together way too perfectly for there not to be conversations happening about pulling the trigger. Big Picture is a great first step to start moving people to the television for Steam content, but the big news will be when users start to prefer the Big Picture experience in their living rooms over what we have right now. To do that, I hope Valve finds hardware partners so they can continue to focus on the all-important software.last_img

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