A New Era of Gaming: The Steam Machine

Back in September, Valve announced their living room gaming system, the Steam Machine, colloquially called the Steam Box, to the world. There was much excitement (and some upset over the fact they didn’t take the opportunity to announce Half Life 3), and with good reason. Here’s the rundown:

It’s a new challenger

The console gaming has arguably gone stale as of late. With the major players Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo looking to ape each other and steal away consumers rather than think outside of the box, perhaps it’s time for some fresh meat. Steam has been wildly successful in PC gaming, so it will be exciting to see what it does to the console market as well.

It will ‘bring Linux to the masses’

Steam Machines will run on Linux, a highly customisable and flexible operating system that  famously works under an open source distribution model. Linux has been highly popular with a section of gaming fans in the past, but now will find itself in thousands of gaming households. As Jack Wallen states, this could push Linux towards becoming a household name. Only time will tell if it truly takes off, but another competitor to the almost monopolised marketplace is very welcome.

You pick your hardware

This could be a huge boon or a huge pain, depending on your views. A Steam Machine isn’t a single machine to be bought, like an Xbox 360 or PS3. Instead, it will be any machine with the right types of components that can run the newly announced Steam OS. Any dedicated PC gaming fan will tell you this is a huge step forward for console gaming, allowing the player to tweak and fiddle with their gaming machine for the optimal experience. However, this may be a turn off for traditional console gamers who are used to the normal ‘plug in and play’ approach to their machines.

It’s something new

As mentioned at the beginning, it’s difficult to get excited about the console market when the companies are simply trying to outdo each other, rather than exploring new avenues in gaming hardware. With the Steam Machine, it may well be the catalyst required for console gaming to evolve properly into something new and exciting. The machines will have to be watched closely at launch early in 2014 just to see whether they can kick off a new era of gaming.