Editorial: Valve’s Steam Box

The Overview
             I’ll say it: I love Valve’s Steam OS concept. Even though I’m a Microsoft user who should prefer Xbox services I think their model is not the best nor is it next generation worthy. Why? Well the Xbox Live services may be broad but to pay for Xbox Live Gold to get basic features like multiplayer or use the apps they laud like Netflix. Even though Steam itself doesn’t have any entertainment options as of yet it has major potential since over 70 million individuals use Steam.

The Good

Steam has over 3,000 games for download in the store most being either AA or AAA quality. Compared to current next gen consoles its a massive boost. Considering all you have to do is download them to your console and they follow you wherever you go in the Steam Cloud, it makes current consoles seem obsolete.

The Steam boxes I’ve seen all are capable of running games 1080p with max settings making games look beautiful unlike the Xbox One and PS4 which doesn’t always run 1080p. Also most console games are 20 to 30 GB’s which on a 500GB HDD makes the storage go by quick. With Steam you do have your big file sizes but beautiful ones like Strike Vector are 2GBs while still being heavily engaging. Another thing I like about it is the controller. I know it has two big circles on the side for your thumbs but Steam claims backed by 3rd party beta testers it has the convenience of a controller with the accuracy of a mouse/keyboard combo. Even though the official controller is not complete it still has an amazing design.

The Bad

While Steam has 3,000 games in their library only around 200 will be playable on the Steam box. Why? Because Steam OS is Linux based. Most games are made for Windows then Mac then Linux unless they are made by Valve. Is that a real big deal breaker? Well since those 200 plus games are made by devs who are nice and devoted they will run well and its still a bigger selection than either of the “next generation” consoles have. Also Steam boxes have been attacked because in reality there are too many of them. 14 to be exact.

I have to agree because Valve let a lot of boutique gaming PC makers make either expensive or super cheap boxes and some even dual boot windows that flood the market which really befuddles the message. The best I’ve seen so far is the Alienware box which also happens to be the flagship because of the beautiful design. Doesn’t hurt they make the best gaming laptops to buy.

The Final

Valve overall has a great vision that I think deserves the title of being truly next generation. From the graphic quality, hardware flexibility, and the new controller everything shows a first class gaming experience. The only setbacks are the current entrenched gamer community being either loyal to PC, Xbox, or Sony and the fact 14 Steam boxes exist creating confusion among potential buyers.

My recommendation is to have Alienware make three different boxes: a $499, $899, and $1299 console all with different hardware according to price range. Obviously that is my opinion which frankly to a company like Valve that has seen enormous success is really worth nothing more than a grain of salt. Still it has been echoed by voices like The Verge and Engadget because the struggle is real.

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