A few months ago, Gabe Newell released news of Valve’s new initiative to release a consumer level gaming console. This device was aimed at both creating a more consumer friendly PC experience, and competing in the same market as veteran companies like Sony and Microsoft did with their own console offerings.
Valve has finally released the first consumer level Steam Machines to 300 lucky beta participants. After a brief entry period, Valve shipped testers a slick looking crate complete with controller, cables and documentation on how to get the whole thing put together on December 13. Valve followed up with the release of their Steam OS the following day.
The PC platform, which has been traditionally friendly to MMO’s
for the past two decades, may introduce a new type of “PC Style” gaming experience to the living room. With controller and mouse/keyboard compatibility out of the box, the Steam Machine brings with it a host of Online capable games that has the potential of becoming the de facto platform for those looking to bring a multiplayer experience to their homes.
With sales of the PC stagnant, it begs to question whether or not the next logical step for the survival of the PC as a gaming platform is to bring it directly in contention with territory consoles have long been familiar with. While consumers have always had the option of simply plugging their PC’s into their Televisions, the idea never seemed to catch on with the consumer market. With the release of the Steam Machine, it may very well find a new life in entertainment centers across the globe.
Valve is no stranger to MMO gaming either
. With powerhouse titles like Defiance, Eve Online, Star Trek Online and Neverwinter
, it should come as no surprise to see Valve attempt to leverage its library and powerful hardware in an effort to pull traditional console gamers towards the company’s first foray into the hardware market.
Consoles, while having some entries into the online landscape, have been somewhat hesitant to adopt MMO’s as a competitive gaming medium. Even in cases when they do, it’s been at the cost of features like user configurable voice chat lobbies (Mumble Teamspeak and Ventrilo), and cross-platform play, effectively segregating the userbase from the rest of the community.
In any case, the Steam Machine has some large shoes to fill. The next few months of beta testing are crucial. With what’s been released to YouTube from beta testers, perhaps consoles do have something to worry about.
If you’d like to get a look at one of the lucky beta testers unboxing his brand new console, hit up the YouTube video below.