The rumored “Steam Box” that has sent the gaming world into a frenzy of anticipation was confirmed to be in existence today. Well, sort of. Many had been speculating that Valve would introduce one definitive product to the market and that the “Steam Box” would be its singular answer to home game consoles. But instead, the big V has decided to pull the curtains back on Steam Machines, an entirely new tier of SteamOS-based living-room hardware, coming in 2014.
“Entertainment is not a one-size-fits-all world,” said Valve. “We want you to be able to choose the hardware that makes sense for you, so we are working with multiple partners to bring a variety of Steam gaming machines to market during 2014, all of them running SteamOS.”
Valve already has a prototype designed and will be shipping a mere 300 of these units out to the public for beta testing by the end of this year. The prototype is said to be a high-performance machine optimized for gaming in the living room that will be completely upgradable and open to hacking. Steam users may want to rush on over
Essentially what Valve has done today is to announce a living room alternative to typical game consoles. Living rooms have been dominated by the Xbox-Nintendo-PlayStation tier of gaming for quite some time, and this may be the first true competitor to traditional home console gaming to date. My only argument against that is that while Steam Machines appear as if they’ll provide an optimum gaming experience for living rooms, the number of different available units may confuse the mainstream crowd that enjoys the monotony of having one SKU for every platform. In other words, I doubt a majority of gamers will intuitively catch onto Steam Machines early on.
But let’s talk about the third announcement that’s coming this Friday, for there must be a reason that the third announcement is the third and not the first or second. Could Valve be setting us up for an official confirmation of the third installment of one of its beloved franchises? Why is Valve allowing 300 units to be beta tested as opposed to 200 or 400? Surely Valve knows that releasing the third game of a certain series and making it exclusive to SteamOS would be the perfect way to end this week of announcements. With less than two days to go, I’m sure I’m not the only one who will be having nightmares about the number three up until Valve lets us in on its final secret.