Is the Steam Machine a fourth player in the console wars?
The big story in video game consoles is the coming battle between the new systems from Microsoft and Sony. Nintendo, given their library of characters, will always be a player as well. But lurking in the shadows is a usurper to the throne, Valve. Over the past week they have been making some announcements, and they just might be crazy enough to work.
The rumor leading up to the announcements was that we were going to hear about the SteamBox. Finally, Valve was going to make its own hardware to work with their Steam software. That was an intriguing idea. The actual announcements are even more interesting. First, this goes way beyond making their own hardware. This is more akin to what Google did with Android. Valve is going to be releasing the Steam OS and you will be able to put it on whatever hardware you wish. And it is Linux, so the system will be very customizable. For those that don’t want to roll their own, there will also be Steam Machines from a variety of manufacturers, at a variety of component levels.
It’s all supposed to go down in 2014, and it should make Valve a part of the console conversation. With so much of gaming moving online, Valve is in a perfect position to enter the fray as all companies battle to take over the living room. Whether or not they can ultimately compete with Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony remains to be seen, but it should make the whole thing a lot more interesting.