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.

Indie Games

First of all, what are ‘Indie Games’?  They are small groups or individual game developers without the financial support of a video game publisher to create independent games. They work from home, basement, rent rooms or if lucky rented office space.

Indie games started on PC back in the 1990’s, known as shareware. Which had small independent companies become huge leading game development studios such as Epic Games and id Software. Gamers were given the chance to try games like Demonsgate, before investing money in them and in return gave those companies exposure.

Fast forward to mid 2000’s with the launch of Steam and Xbox 360 we saw the number of indie games rise.  Games like Fez, Braid and many other games were released and were critically acclaimed, some even the best game’s in their genre. Thanks to Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade development tools and Adobe flash let developers create and sell their games on their desired platforms.

We will continue to see the rise of indie games in the next generation console’s, especially on the PlayStation 4. Sony took to the stage at E3 in Los Angeles and showcased a myriad of indie games. Games like Transistor from the makers of smash hit Bastion was shown off. They gave the developers time to be on stage and talk about their games and vision. This is rare publicity on the big stage at E3 been given to indie publishers, you would normally see a larger presence of indie developers at Penny Arcade Expo. This shows where the industry is going and the support companies like Sony, Valve and in the past Microsoft is giving to these up and coming developers.

Power to the Indies!