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Published on October 1st, 2013 | by APant1

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Steam Wants to Crash on Your Couch

Valve has made three new announcements in hopes of moving their Steam gaming service into the living room. First off, Ha! Joke’s on them, my computer is already in my living room, one of the many perks of a one-bedroom apartment. More importantly, they’re all pretty good news for gamers in general.

 

SteamOS

A free computer operating system designed for games. I like all of those words. More than that, it’s completely open to modding and hacking, so you can tinker with it until your gamer heart is content, which may be 0 minutes of tinkering. I’m the kind of guy who is looking to disable and remove unneeded crap from my computer at every turn, so something that, by design, focuses only on one thing sounds awesome to me.

Something with no Ask toolbars, or note syncing servers, or superfetch cachers, or Instagram-Tweet-TumblrDecks to slow down my Dota match. Fewer layers of junk between your game and you mean that Valve can implement other cool features, like telling you explicitly what games your computer can and cannot run. All that junk is just speculation on my part, but the announcement page says the OS is focused on games.

It’s based on Linux, so it will be free. I think there’s a lot to be said about how a free operating system could change the market. Not just the price, but all of Linux is built to be open to modifications of any kind.

 

Steam Machines

The most vague of the announcements, Valve said it would be teaming up with hardware manufacturers to make computers designed for use in the living room. Some units would focus on weight and quietness, while others would pump out high-end graphics. SteamOS is free for these companies to put on their systems, so it’s a safe bet they’ll all use it. Expect them in 2014.

Valve is making their own box, but it’s only for a 300-person hardware beta. There are a few requirements, but you can sign up to become part of the pool of potential testers. They’ll distribute the units this year, and they’ll be free. Again, it’s just for testing.

 

Steam Controller

This one took me by surprise the most. It’s a controller with no joysticks or easy-to-reach front buttons, only two “high resolution” trackpads and a touch screen on the front. It’s got a few other buttons around the screen, two shoulder buttons on each side, and buttons on the back for each of your ring fingers.

Oh, and it’s designed to be used for every past and future game on Steam. Strategy games to shooters to Euro Truck Simulator 2. You really need to just look at a picture.

I think it could be really good. The page says that you can hit eight of the sixteen buttons on the controller without ever lifting your thumbs off the trackpads, and touchscreens make everything better. I don’t know if this will be a replacement for my good old joystick-and-buttons controllers, but I’ll be buying one. It will also be easy to hack and modify, so it fits well with the other parts of Valve’s new push for gaming for everyone.


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