The consoles of this generation are on their last leg, crawling by on the 6-year-old hardware they run on.
The next Xbox and the PlayStation 4 are rumored to come out late this year, but this could very well be the last year for these consoles. We have already started to see the low popularity for the Wii U and the same fate could await the other consoles next year.
For eight years, these consoles have dominated the living room. But game development and distribution company Valve is talking about releasing their own PC-console machine called the “Steam Box” with the pitch “a PC for your living room,” which should send chills down the backs of Microsoft and Sony developers.
Valve is a company that does everything right. Their immensely popular “Half-Life” series is considered one of the best games in history, and their popular online retail service Steam is the new place to go to buy all the latest PC games. I do not doubt that the Steambox will follow the same pattern.
The Steam Box will give gamers the ability to access Valve’s online marketplace, Steam, to download and play PC games. When you break down the Steam Box, you can see that it stands up as a strong competitor to the big three companies that currently run the console industry.
First, Steam Box runs on Linux., a low-powered operating system that can run on the oldest of computers. This will increase the performance of the Steam Box to more than what you would expect from an Xbox or PlayStation, and means games will run and load faster. Gamers can get PC-quality games right in their living room and not have to shell out $2,000 for a gaming rig – the Steam Box will run like a $1,200 system for half the price.
Second, it is a console-PC hybrid. It will offer everything great about consoles and everything great about PCs and put them together. If you want to fire up Skyrim and sit on the couch with a controller, you can, or if you want to check Facebook or watch Netflix, you can open your web browser and do that, too.
Third, it will run Steam. Steam is an extremely popular online distributor that was created by Valve to sell PC games at low costs. Steam has been known to have massive sales on games that are just a few months old. Steam users can sometimes see $50 game on sale for $9.99. It is a service that will dominate over the Xbox Live Marketplace and the PlayStation Network.
Fourth, the Steam Box will be using PC-grade hardware. Valve will not be creating its own type of processor or using a specialized graphics card – the Steam Box will be using PC-quality equipment, ensuring true PC gaming.
The company Xi3 has released information on a new modular computer called the “Piston,” which Valve helped develop. This device allows the user to upgrade hardware, which could also be the case for Steam Box. This could save customers from having $400 every couple of years in system maintenance and repair, as they could upgrade parts when they come out.The Steam Box will revolutionize the gaming industry. As much as I love my Xbox, I am very excited for this console-PC. It would be refreshing to see a new logo as I boot up my device, and instead of driving out to a store spending $60 on a game, I could pay almost half that and stay right on my couch.
The Steam Box will make the next generation of console wars very interesting, and perhaps even kill the console we’ve grown up playing.
Rahili, a freshman computer science major from Durham, is the graphics editor.