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What Valve's Announcements Mean for Gaming 182

Posted by Soulskill
from the steam-team's-dream-stream dept.
Now that we have the full picture of Valve's efforts to bring PC gaming to the living room (SteamOS, dedicated hardware, and a fresh controller design), people are starting to analyze what those efforts will mean for gaming, and what Valve must do to be successful. Eurogamer's Oli Welsh points out that even if Steam Machines aren't able to take the market away from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, they put us a step closer to the final console generation. "Valve has hopefully sidestepped the most depressing aspect of console gaming: the enforced obsolescence that makes you consign your entire games collection to a dusty cupboard every five years." GamesRadar notes that Valve's approach is fundamentally different from that of the current console manufacturers because it's about putting more power into the hands of the users. "The takeaway from SteamOS, then, is that openness breeds innovation. Valve's putting the very source code of its operating system in the hands of everyone who wants it just to see what happens. Comparatively, Microsoft is pushing its Windows Store, turning Windows into an increasingly closed platform (i.e. one that charges costly development licensing fees and restricts access to certain content providers)." Everyone's curious to see how the controller will perform, so Gamasutra and Kotaku reached out to a number of game developers who have experimented with prototypes already. "[Dan Tabar of indie studio Data Realms] said the configuration map for the controller allows you to do 'pretty much anything.' For example, developers can slice up a pad into quarters, each one representing a different input, or even into eight radial sections, again, each section representing whatever you want, mapping to key combinations, or to the mouse." Tommy Refenes, co-creator of Super Meat Boy, wrote an in-depth description of his experience with the device. He summed up his reaction by saying, "Great Start, needs some improvements, but I could play any game I wanted with it just fine."
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What Valve's Announcements Mean for Gaming

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  • by ShiftyOne (1594705) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @12:17PM (#44979549)
    I'd much rather see the headline "pro-gamers get their hands on the steam controller and approve" than anything else. Especially any that use the claw or hammer grips (aka keeping a finger on the a b x y buttons at all times). Game developers aren't necessarily known for being good at their games.
    • This. I'm most curious as to how this would work with the typical dual-stick layout of a first person shooter. How would something like Battlefield work, where there is also semi-extensive use of ABXY buttons? Having to take your thumb off the pad to push those seems like a possibly significant problem.
    • by stms (1132653)

      I've watched a bunch of stuff (indie-game the movie, Interviews, ext.) with Tommy Refenes and Honestly if I trust anyone's opinion on input it's him. Doesn't mean he couldn't be wrong but if he says it works well that's a pretty good sign to me.

    • by AdamHaun (43173)

      They're sending out controllers as part of the Steam Box beta. The participants are pulled from Steam users who volunteer and jump through a few hoops, so we'll no doubt see reviews from outside gamers very soon.

    • by westlake (615356)

      I'd much rather see the headline "pro-gamers get their hands on the steam controller and approve" than anything else.

      If the Steam OS is PC gaming for the living room, then the controller needs to be designed for the gamers who inhabit the living room. Lots of families playing there. Lots of casual and social gamers playing there. The prod not so much.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mechtech256 (2617089)

      The dev behind Super Meat Boy (comically difficult side scroller with a cult following) put up a nice synopsis of his experience testing the controller:

      http://tommyrefenes.tumblr.com/post/62476523677/my-time-with-the-steam-controller [tumblr.com]

      Pretty good review for a 3d-printed prototype. Importantly, it seems like it's not fundamentally flawed, and the touchpad based control system works fine in practice.

  • This is the future (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tom229 (1640685) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @12:18PM (#44979569)
    This is another company using open platforms, and standards, to sell their services. We've already seen this work extraordinarily well with Android, and being that Steam is already the largest online repository for games, I see this working out well for Valve.

    This is a fantastic leap forward for gaming and open standards. Unfortunately Microsoft is just barely figuring out how to poorly copy the declining success of the Apple model... looks like they'll have to play catch up again.
    • This is a fantastic leap forward for gaming and open standards. Unfortunately Microsoft is just barely figuring out how to poorly copy the declining success of the Apple model... looks like they'll have to play catch up again.

      "Open standards"? They're trying to grow their market to sell more DRM-based stuff, that's not really open. The Linux kernel is just a tool, not their target.

      • by Richy_T (111409)

        Exactly. The Linux kernel is a tool and not a marketing strategy designed to allow the creator to unfairly out-compete you when they decide to enter your market because they see you're doing well or to use their position to extract funds from your customers by forcing them to purchase newer versions of their software to allow those customers to continue to use the best features of your software (c.f. artificial directX restrictions).

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        "Open standards"? They're trying to grow their market to sell more DRM-based stuff, that's not really open. The Linux kernel is just a tool, not their target.

        More correctly, Steam is the original App Store. Just like the Apple App Store, except Valve did it first, and curated all the same (Yes, it's curated. Greenlight is merely a way for "the rest of us" to try to submit in a game. If you're not a major publisher, or a well known indie game, it's the only way to get into Valve's App Store).

        The reason we h

      • by tom229 (1640685)
        DRM is not a bad thing when used properly, and Steam is an example of it being used properly. Developers need a way to advertise their products, and also make sure they get paid for them. To this end, Steam has been wonderfully supportive of the indy communities and large game studios alike.

        This is an open standard. I'll be able to install Steam OS on my gaming computer, or I can buy the valve hardware, or I can buy third party Steam-boxes. I can also upgrade my "steam-boxes" at will, and continue to use t
        • DRM is not a bad thing when used properly, and Steam is an example of it being used properly. Developers need a way to advertise their products, and also make sure they get paid for them. To this end, Steam has been wonderfully supportive of the indy communities and large game studios alike.

          DRM is not necesary for steam to achieve these goals in any way.

          This is an open standard. I'll be able to install Steam OS on my gaming computer, or I can buy the valve hardware, or I can buy third party Steam-boxes. I can also upgrade my "steam-boxes" at will, and continue to use the Steam software on any platform of my choice should I not like the platform they create. I'll also be able to smartly stream my game to any display device in the house and use an open architecture style of controller that finally breaks the 10 year old original xbox/keyboard mouse paradigm. This compared to what we have now (x-box, playstation, nintendo, windows gaming) is certainly more of an open standard, and quite frankly a welcome revolution.

          If it's an open standard, please, explain to me how I port this over to my PowerPC laptop, or how someone else would port it to X architecture.

          Is it perfect from a pure fossie standpoint? Probably not.. but the pure Stallman view is never going to be 100% compatible with industry. Still, companies like Google and Valve are figuring out how to create real, profitable business models around open standards. Puritan ideals aside, this is what's best for the end user and should be applauded.

          How is it best for me, the end user? I have three computers, and due to DRM I need to download each game on EACH computer once, and one at a time. Without DRM, I can just copy the installer over.
          I moved recently, and had no internet for a few days. I could not install games I had on my desktop onto my la

  • by Jaktar (975138) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @12:22PM (#44979593)

    I think Valve's target audience are the console gamers that can't be bothered to build a gaming rig. I know quite a few of them from work. They're intimidated with using a keyboard and mouse for gaming.

    I'm not really interested with trying to play 99% of my library on the "big screen". There's really no benefit to bringing the remaining 1% to the TV as they play just fine with what I already have.

    I'm not their target audience.

    • Are you sure they're intimidated by keyboard/mouse, and it's not just that k/m is terrible from the couch?

      An Xbox 360 controller works just fine on PC, so k/m isn't really a factor when using the PC as a living room entertainment device.

      I wonder what percent of PC gamers are still sitting at a desk rather than playing from the living-room couch or in a home theater.
      • by Rockoon (1252108)

        An Xbox 360 controller works just fine on PC, so k/m isn't really a factor when using the PC as a living room entertainment device.

        ..but it IS a factor in playing games designed for k/m with that 360 controller. I can't imagine playing a PC RTS on a console controller, and you notice a distinct and complete gimping of console RTS's compared to PC RTS's because of the fact that a controller sucks giant donkey dick as an input device when it comes to any advanced RTS's.

        • . I can't imagine playing a PC RTS on a console controller,

          That implies you have never played a console RTS, if so what do you base the following on?

          and you notice a distinct and complete gimping of console RTS's compared to PC RTS's because of the fact that a controller sucks giant donkey dick as an input device when it comes to any advanced RTS's.

          #define advanced RTS.

      • by Dr Max (1696200)
        Controllers seriously suck compared to mouse and keyboard, at least for FPS (except maybe some 3rd person versions) and RTS. They tried a FPS competition with PC vs XBOX and PS3 (call of duty i believe) and PC mopped the floor with the consoles, it's damn hard to beat the precision and speed of the mouse. I'm very intrigued to see the steam controller because they reckon it's comparable to k/m, but I'm skeptical.
      • You would be very wrong. Until that Valve controller comes out, im stuck with a keyboard and mouse in my living room. Big picture cannot be fully navigated to game playing in some games with controller alone. (Skyrim, Far Cry 3, Fallout, etc) Anything with its own launcher requires mouse input to start.
    • by muffen (321442)
      You may not be in their target audience, but I am, and I am not "a console gamer who cannot be bothered to build a gaming rig". Instead, I'm an "old" gamer who now has kids and not enough space to have a room filled with computers... like I used to.

      A machine underneath the TV, where I can play the games I like (got 100+ steam games) on my TV, by hiding away a little box, is really appealing to me.
      Currently I have a laptop for gaming that I hook up to the TV (unless I play directly on it but 17" is not
  • by asm2750 (1124425) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @12:54PM (#44979767)
    I wish Valve would start announcing new games. This console infatuation is getting annoying.
    • Well, at least all our jokes are still intact. After the trauma of moving from "DNF" to "Valve can't count to three" I don't think I could live through the wave of memes associated with finding another glacial publisher of a beloved property.
  • by Tim12s (209786) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @01:00PM (#44979805) Homepage

    Nice, due to this we'll have Samsung and Huawei games consoles. Give it all away.

    • That could work similar to android I suppose. Hopefully fragmentation will be less of an issue with the OS, since fragmentation of hardware is already such an issue.
    • by aiadot (3055455)
      As a Xperia Android user myself, I think there is a few critical difference between Android and SteamOS and why Android success may not transfer to Steam:
      1)Smartphones are a necessity. Game consoles are a luxury.
      2)A smartphone is useful without buying any app. A game console is a paper weight without a game.
      3)Smartphones can be sold for cheap/free because they are subsidized thanks to the 2-year monthly payments. High end proprietary game consoles are also subsidized in the early years thanks to game sa
  • It's fairly obvious that SteamOS and its hardware is leading up to cloud gaming. They might support streaming from a PC as well in the short term but that's a side effect of where they are heading. I expect that when they finally out themselves that many existing titles will be instantly playable through the cloud if someone has already bought them. Not sure what they'd do for things like DLC though.
  • by swampfriend (2629073) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @01:28PM (#44979947)

    What I see is less power in the hands of users as all games become subscription and "early access." The developer is freed from its obligation to ever provide a finished product that actually belongs to the user, rather than being leased or sold "on spec"

  • Valve's putting the very source code of its operating system in the hands of everyone who wants it just to see what happens.

    Valve took our OS, improved it, and is going to give it back. It's the Open Source way.

    However, there are still a bunch of propriety extensions in SteamOS. But at least with Valve's effort non-Steam users will also benefit.

  • by Glendale2x (210533) <slashdotNO@SPAMninjamonkey.us> on Saturday September 28, 2013 @05:36PM (#44981493) Homepage

    No, the only thing this means is that they're still not working on Half-Life 3.

  • And it's why SteamOS I think, doesn't really have a huge draw towards it. Yea on Slashdot it will -- Linux OS made for gaming? What's not to love? But in reality PC gamers prefer the mouse/keyboard combo to play their games, and taking games that work *perfectly fine* in Windows and putting them into a dedicated box to play with a controller (which I still think won't work as well as KB/M) doesn't really have any allure to most 'mainstream' (ie, not technical -- just give me my goddamn game and let me play)

  • If this works out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drolli (522659) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @07:01AM (#44984469) Journal

    then Linux really has won. Game consoles are the last piece of customer devices casually used where Linux has not a strong foothold

    -e book readers: most based on linux
    -all sony entertainment equipment like cameras, television etc (PS3 excluded): Linux
    -most medium to high end media players:linux (exclude ipod)
    -most phones (except feature phones and iphones): Linux
    -netbooks for consumers: chrombook share seems to explode

    The last bastion where Linux never got any foothold were all things related to gaming. If steam now makes a "reference design" for a linux based gaming machine, that could settle some battles at ones. This has the potential to kill the PS4 and the XBOX, since every cheap chinese manufacturer can clone the thing. And like android the marketplace will be the cash-cow holding this together.

    • by Xian97 (714198)
      What I really see happening if this gets momentum is more and more publishers actually making Linux native clients for games. Once there is a large enough hardware base, the software will follow, the chicken and egg syndrome. Valve has enough weight to make this happen.
    • Yes, a Linux game console will kill PS4 and Xbox the way Linux killed Wintel boxes. (rolls eyes).

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