The first countdown timer on Valve’s living room teaser site reached 00:00:00 yesterday evening to reveal SteamOS. In Valve’s own words; “SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen”. The stand-alone ‘Co-operating System’ will be available “soon” for free. Valve says that there are hundreds of Steam games that already run natively on its new OS and many other AAA titles will be announced for it in the coming weeks. Besides these native games Steam OS users can use its ‘in-home streaming’ functionality to access the full Steam library of nearly 3,000 games and apps.
In its introduction to Steam OS Valve says that “SteamOS, running on any living room machine, will provide access to the best games and user-generated content available.” The firm says that it has worked on the OS and drivers to maximise gaming performance; “we have achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we’re now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level”.
Four new features of built into the new SteamOS are highlighted:
- In home streaming - will allow you to play your Windows and Mac games on your Steam OS living room machine.
- Family sharing – “Family Sharing allows you to take turns playing one another’s games while earning your own Steam achievements and saving your individual game progress to the Steam cloud.”
- Music, TV and Movies – Valve is working on media company partnerships and hopes to bring services you already “know and love” to the SteamOS.
- Family Options – this sounds like a user account feature so when you turn on your Steam Box you won’t find the home screen cluttered with your grandma’s favourite games.
What will the other two announcements be this week?
There are two announcements left. The first announcement, of the SteamOS, was at 6PM UK time on Monday. The second announcement is counting down to 6PM on Wednesday. So I expect the final, third announcement this week, to be 6PM on Friday.
One of the other announcements could be about the big name Music, TV and Movies streaming partnerships, as mentioned in the bullet points above. Spilling the beans, revealing this information would be an important announcement, it will be interesting to see what services will be available to the “open” SteamOS.
Many sites are reporting and hoping to see a new kind of home console hardware system introduced by Valve. Going from statements such as “Users can alter or replace any part of the software or hardware they want,” from the SteamOS announcement, it would have to be a modular system where users can swap out parts.
Hardware NO and YES!
Forbes magazine is in two minds whether there will be a Steam Box hardware announcement this week. In an article entitled Calm Down, Internet -- Valve Isn't Building Their Own Steam Box a Forbes contributor says that “It’s not happening, it never will”. The main reason is that Valve doesn’t want to lock out hardware partners by creating a ‘console’ of its own, it is in Valve’s interest to try and edge out Windows letting as many other people build Steam OS boxes as possible. Going the ‘console’ route goes against that idea BUT a reference design might be forthcoming to help partners along.
In contrast, also on Forbes, written about the same time as the above by another contributor, an article entitled Valve's Steam OS Isn't Competition For Xbox One and PS4...Yet concludes that “Valve has two more announcements coming this week, and I’ll be very surprised if the last one isn’t a real, physical, Steam Box.”
Do HEXUS readers have any inklings about the upcoming pair of Valve announcements this week?