Will Valves Steam Box Really Kill Gaming?

– Steams new ix3 “Piston” Console, unveiled this week at CES.

PC Gaming is dead!? Really? No, the media is hyped through CES to tell you that Valve will kill PC gaming and rival the new generation of consoles with the release of the Steam box; Valves own console bridged with its Steam software. Steam is huge, with an estimated 50 – 70% of the digital gaming market and 1900 games available, 40 million accounts, and up to 5 million people signed in simultaneously.
So what’s holding this monolithic system from killing both console and PC gaming?

Incompatibilities
Steams development has always been on Linux which means Steam cannot use Direct X; Gabe Newell from Valve says that their will be the opportunity to install Windows which then would turn the system into a small factor PC. However, a Linux system will restrict it from major multimillion pound games including huge multiplayer’s such as Battlefield and Call of Duty series; Valve will need to work on a system that encompasses both OpenGL and Direct X if it’s to take the entire gaming market, switching between Linux and Windows for gaming will not be worth the time and effort so a Windows by default system would need to be put place.

Competition
Origin has some of the biggest titles out there including EA games and direct X capabilities and is Steams leading competitor. Most gaming companies will not move from Direct X, so Valve will need to compromise or forcefully take the growing share on Origin.

Pricing of the Box
Steam will need to carefully price the box, to compete with the next generation of games consoles; using high end nVidia gaming parts come at price, and the pricing model will have to be at maximum $500. The rumour is that the box will surpass this making it much more expensive than a parallel small form factor PC.

Consoles
Trust in PlayStation, Xbox and Windows has been paramount for years; Nintendo is finding it tough to compete and Steam will need to massively raise the bar over several years to be able to gain footing in the market. Consoles and PCs already have the flexibility to play, without fuss, all major titles not to mention exclusivity on certain titles.

Monitoring
Sony and Microsoft have a lot of cash to spend, let’s face it, and being able to study the development of Steam and digital gaming distribution will allow the big boys to monitor this process without much R&D costs and capitalise on their gains.

Its own Users
There’s already 40 million steam accounts, which is phenomenal, but will these users who are already avid PC gamers want to adapt their current arrangements, many major gamers already have their PCs set up to their entertainment systems in their living room.

Games Ownership
A small market will always want a physical copy of a game and to put trust in being able to play that game in years to come, trust issues with not having the game or concerns it could go offline are going to raise concerns with some mainstream gamers.

Steam’s box is going to be coming to us soon, but unless they can iron out these major problems, we have a very expensive piece of hardware with little market. PC Gaming will evolve in spec and with laptops, small form and tablet computing. I think the market will not need to worry about falling off a sheer cliff. Console markets are owned by the two biggest corporations in the world that will monitor changes in the digital market; is it just going to be an expensive glorified small form factor PC?

What do you think? Will you be buying Valves all new singing and dancing console?

This is a guest post written by Chris Turton, he enjoys gaming and tech and currently blogs for PC gaming company Palicomp

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