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Hardware Games

Valve Announces Hardware Beta Test For 'Steam Machine' 271

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-it-while-it's-hot dept.
Valve's second major living-room-gaming announcement landed today: they have produced a prototype model of their first "Steam Machine." They've made 300 units, and they'll be sending the machines to users in a very limited beta test. Valve hastens to add that this device isn't the only Steam-focused hardware: "Entertainment is not a one-size-fits-all world. We want you to be able to choose the hardware that makes sense for you, so we are working with multiple partners to bring a variety of Steam gaming machines to market during 2014, all of them running SteamOS." They haven't released specs, but they guaranteed the prototypes will ship this year. They explicitly permit using it in any way — swapping parts, changing the OS, installing any software, etc. "The specific machine we're testing is designed for users who want the most control possible over their hardware. Other boxes will optimize for size, price, quietness, or other factors."
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Valve Announces Hardware Beta Test For 'Steam Machine'

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  • An open system (Score:5, Informative)

    by crashcy (2839507) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:20PM (#44950075)
    From the Questions section, they say you can hack it as you like, change the OS, change the hardware, and that the SteamOS source code will be available.
    • Does that mean this could be the Year of the Linux Set-top?
      • That was 1999, when the TiVo came out.

        • The TiVo DVR was tivoized and couldn't run anything but TiVo's own software. Did the TiVo DVR have games? And is there any evidence one way or the other as to whether these SteamOS devices will allow running X11/Linux games obtained from unknown sources?
    • From what I can see, they WANT folks to hack it. They see the value in an active community hacking the box. (Unlike Sony) This feels so strange... :)
      • Re:An open system (Score:4, Informative)

        by crashcy (2839507) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:54PM (#44950563)
        Valve has a long history of finding value in community creations. Most of their biggest games started out as mods. So it makes sense that they would want to keep up this concept of seeing what the users can come up with.
      • by TWiTfan (2887093)

        I'm going to hack mine to allow permanent offline play of my games, without it ever needing to check in with the Valve server gain. Gabe says its okay, right?

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      From the Questions section, they say you can hack it as you like, change the OS, change the hardware, and that the SteamOS source code will be available.

      And that's something you can do with PCs today.

      But very few people care to upgrade their PCs - they just buy new ones because upgrading is just an annoyance.

      So unless the steam box is supposed to appeal to hardcore PC gamers who basically build their own PCs, regular buyers wanting a console experience would just say "screw it".

      They want a box that sits in

      • by DrGamez (1134281)

        And now you have to do upgrades of hardware?

        Why would a Steam Machine be so vastly underpowered it couldn't outlive a comparable console? A mid-range machine will last you a good 5-7 years of decent gaming, even more if you want to keep playing the same games.

        With a console, when it's EOL hits, you get NO more games. There will be no PS4 game that comes out that is real simple in graphics/design and can run on your PS3 - it's just a straight up end of life for your games.

        With a Steam Machine you may not be able to play the newest AAA games, but you can play all the games you once enjoyed, and if the game isn't too demanding, you might be able to still play brand-new games.

        • by DrGamez (1134281)

          Wow why did I post this without reading the preview.
          I deserve the special level of hell I'm going to be banished to for this.

        • With a Steam Machine you may not be able to play the newest AAA games, but you can play all the games you once enjoyed

          Unless the game gets an update, and the update has increased the game's system requirements. Didn't this happen when Valve upgraded the Source engine not to run on older machines anymore, breaking existing copies of Half-Life 2? I know Sony did it with an EverQuest update back in 2001 [slashdot.org]. Or is Valve going to do something like what Apple recently introduced [slashdot.org], allowing users to download a previous version compatible with a given machine?

          • by DrGamez (1134281)

            I'm not going to ask you to list out every case this happened, and yes this would be unfortunate, but really how often do you see this being a problem?

            Honestly now. This is not getting in the water because one time you heard about a kid who peed in it.

  • So SteamOS will tread where Google (with Android) has before. Deliver a bridge to your content in the form of a streamlined OS. This is really going to give the common folk a console like experience (pick a game and play) while enjoying the benefits of gaming on a PC (upgrade ability, mods, better game prices).

    Hopefully folks will be more agreeable to downloading their games and this will succeed where the Phantom failed [wikipedia.org]!

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      The phantom never even shipped anything, so it might not be fair to compare it. Steam already has a lot of users for their PC product so this should be easier.

      Add in netflix and I will highly consider one.

      • by Lithdren (605362) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:31PM (#44950227)

        The OS is open source. If you want Netfix, you can add it yourself if you're motivated enough.

        Otherwise, just make a large enough demand and the company themselves will put one out im sure. I view this thing as a gamechanger, a console system that is upgradeable like a PC? Geez I might even consider one.

        • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:32PM (#44950233)

          Netflix is not opensource. So porting it is not possible. I could use the wine stuff, but that has performance issues.

          Neflix is owned by someone who sat/sits on MS's board and seems to have no interest in proper linux support.

          • Netflix is not opensource. So porting it is not possible. I could use the wine stuff, but that has performance issues.

            Neflix is owned by someone who sat/sits on MS's board and seems to have no interest in proper linux support.

            And this is why I just renewed Amazon Prime. Love that streaming on Linux.

          • My TV has netflix built right in. Chromecast is $35. Its not really a selling point anymore.
          • by Lithdren (605362)

            Netflix doesn't need to be open source. You can stream Netflix to a PC, so you can add it to SteamOS if you wanted to, even if its just through a browser.

            I loved my PS3 for some things, but browsing the web was horrible on their terrible piece of garbage of a web browser. This thing can be built to support Firefox or Chrome if you wanted, and im sure the devs of both of those will be working to make sure that happends. That opens up so many options..this thing IS a PC, but its a PC that you operate like

            • by Urza9814 (883915)

              Netflix's browser streaming doesn't work on Linux because it requires Silverlight DRM. So no, you can't just add a browser to Steam OS; you would need to actually port Netflix's streaming code to something else (or Silverlight's DRM code into Moonlight)

        • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:58PM (#44950627)
          Why is this a gamechanger? We already had a videogame playing system that was upgradeable like a PC. It's called "A PC."
          • by geekoid (135745)

            Because it's more then that.
            It looks like their goal is for the consumer to stream anything they want.

            Right now, getting thing streamed to the living room is a mish mash of technology.

            One box that could stream everything I want regardless of container? that would be a game changer.

          • Yes, I enjoy my current Linux-based gaming PC with a controller-based interface I can easily use from the couch to play a large selection of games and media.

            Wait a second...

          • Remember when netbooks changed the game, bacause nobody was mass producing cheap portable PCs that were portable enough, or when big screen smartphones changed the game, because nobody was mass producing smartphones that had a big screen, or when tablets changed the game, because nobody was mass producing a tablet that could run tablet software, or when the Raspberry Pi changed the game, because nobody was mass producing a cheap good enough computer with usefull I/O?

            Steam is now mass producing a PC that wil

          • by DrGamez (1134281)

            Because you refuse (through ignorance or stubbornness) to see this as something other people can get excited for, and thus, feel the need to ask some question that you think will blow the lid off this entire project.

            Right now there is someone at Valve who read your comment and is going "Oh shit that's right! We put literally no thought into this! Pull it! Pull it!"

            • I'm excited about it. Doesn't mean I think it's a totally revolutionary thing that will change the game games and cure cancer.
              • by DrGamez (1134281)

                Fair enough, sorry for being a bit defensive but I've been (willingly, no excuses) reading a bunch of FUD/misinformation about these announcements.

          • Why is this a gamechanger? We already had a videogame playing system that was upgradeable like a PC. It's called "A PC."

            Because Windows 8 sucks, and this is Valve putting more wood behind the Linux arrow.

            And their support of OpenGL has benefits for Mac gamers too, I might add.

          • It's a game changer because of perception. Unlike a typical desktop PC, these are designed from the ground up for the living room. Instead of a huge tower, they come in a sleek consumer electronics case. Instead of a mouse and keyboard, they come with a gamepad and encourage users to buy and connect more for couch multiplayer. And instead of having to build your own, they come with the convenience of being able to use out of the box.
      • > The phantom never even shipped anything, so it might not be fair to compare it.

        True. Apparently they didn't have the content delivery side ironed out and investors may have been hesitant to pump more money into such an odd concept.

        I'm just really stoked. This is such an awesome and smart move on Valve's part. Hopefully it will pay off for them like it did Google.

        One huge bonus I could see really soon is more big box store PCs coming with proper video cards (or the better AMD APUs) instead of the cra

  • This looks like this will just be a low profile PC tailored to gaming and Linux. In other words, it will pretty much be another variation on the ION nettops that some of us have already been using for quite some time now.

    It will be nice to get some fresh blood in this area. If the kit is reasonably priced, some of us might just buy it for our own purposes.

  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:37PM (#44950309) Homepage

    Valve's second major living-room-gaming announcement...

    ...so we're done now, I guess. Next they'll move on to a pair of kitchen-gaming announcements, and maybe a hallway-outside-the-living-room-gaming announcement just to keep the hype up, but interest will wane, anyway... until the upstairs-bedroom-by-the-window-gaming announcement, which will bring back hopes for a third living-room-gaming announcement, and Valve will see the pressure, and release a backyard-gaming announcement.

    • Well, how else am I going to get my holodeck?
    • by game kid (805301)

      I'm still waiting on the bathroom-gaming announcement. "Turn your tired old mirrored medicine-cabinet door into the place to smash headcrabs, sap sentries, make headshots, dock your Kerbals' spacecraft, and maybe even brush your teeth."

  • I'm looking to build a new HTPC. I have decided I was going to build a system powerful enough to do linux gaming and run plex on my TV. Just give me steamOS and I'll gladly use it (as long as I can still do my media center applications aka plex or something equivalent that works with my roku box).

  • This sounds curiously like the model that the 3DO console was supposed to embody 20 years ago (well, 20 years minus ten days or so). In fact, I'm having trouble identifying any significant differences from it.

    The idea as presented was to create a common reference platform and get multiple HW vendors to build to the spec and compete on price, like they all were doing with VCRs at the time. The 3DO Company itself wouldn't build anything, getting its money from per-disc royalties ($3/copy). Ultimately, th

    • by FreonTrip (694097)

      Technology and economies of scale have come a very, very long way from the 3DO. From what I've seen and heard I wouldn't bet against it, and I'd certainly place better odds on it than the 3DO.

      Man, that Doom port sucked.

  • by N1tr0u5 (819066) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @03:16PM (#44951585)
    Half Life 3 would be the launch title to get this platform off the ground.
    • by Pecisk (688001)

      It is quite clear that third thing in annoucement row is Half-Life 3 timed exclusive to this platform.

  • In order to get past the GamePad requirement if you don't have one:
    install HeadSoft VJoy [headsoft.com.au]
    open the Tray Icon
    Enable vjoy checkbox top left
    set Button #2 to a key on the keyboard (I set buttons 1 to 4 as numeric keys 1 to 4)
    open Steam in Big Picture mode
    navigate to library
    hover over game with mouse
    hit Button #2 to open game (Button A)
    hover over play icon with mouse
    hit Button #2 to open game (Button A)
  • free add-on (Score:2, Informative)

    by Tom (822)

    It also comes with a free "if it breaks, you're fucked and we'll laugh about you" add-on, courtesy of the Valve customer service [bbb.org].

    Wouldn't touch this with a ten-foot pole. Not with Valve behind it.

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