If you follow tech or gaming news regularly, you may have heard that the current generation of consoles (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii) are coming to an end. Some might argue that it already ended with the launch of the Wii U. Sony and Microsoft, however, are widely expected to introduce their next systems in 2013. But what looked to be another 3-way battle might get a shake-up if Valve has their way.
Most people know Valve either from their popular titles such as Half-Life or Left 4 Dead or their ‘Steam’ platform, which has become the de-facto standard for digitally buying and playing games on your PC. If the recent year is any indication, Valve is looking to expand their dominance of the PC platform to the living room.
According to an interview given by Value CEO Gabe Newell to Kotaku, we won’t be seeing a Valve branded console anytime soon but rather a “living room-friendly PC package”. In other words, a PC specifically designed to be hooked up to a TV and played video games on. The company has already made a significant step in making this a reality through the introduction of Steam’s ‘Big Picture’ mode, an alternate interface that’s designed for the bigger screen in your living room and a controller as opposed to a traditional PC.
Big Picture mode is available now, so in theory you can take your existing PC to the living room, run it in Big Picture mode, and you have Valve’s version of a console. But what’s significant about this news is the idea of selling a package containing a system specifically specced, and possibly designed, by Valve to compete with the next-generation of consoles. In other words, a PC gaming console for your living room.
In fact, Newell states Valve’s PC gaming console is going to be a “very controlled environment”, meaning you will only be able to use the PC gaming console for what Value allows you to use it for (e.g. playing video games) and not as a general purpose computer. Newell even states “if you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general purpose PC”. (This the same guy who complained about Windows 8 making Windows a closed platform…)
Whether Valve’s PC gaming console can change the landscape of gaming in the face of the current Big 3 remains to be seen, but Valve sure isn’t helping to make 2013 any less exciting for gaming.