The gaming world has been holding its breath since Valve confirmed that they’d be making three major announcements in the near future, and now, it seems the first bombshell has been dropped. Fans of Half-Life 3 will be disappointed, as will those hoping to see an all-out announcement of the long-rumored Steam Box.
It’s been no secret that Valve plans to bring gaming to living rooms around the world, and with the newly-announced (and completely free) SteamOS, they’ll be using Linux to do it.
Valve announced on their official website today that rather than bringing the Steam experience to the every home’s TV through an outside operating system, they concluded that “the environment best suited to delivering value to customers is an operating system built around Steam itself.” Given that, the company has developed an operating system based on the Linux architecture.
Prior reports had claimed that Valve’s eventual Steam Box would run Linux – and considering how Valve boss Gabe Newell views Windows 8, a separation between the two has been expected for some time. As expected, Valve seems to be positioning their entry into the living room around the customer service made possible through PC infrastructure, specifically the lack of barriers between the game developer and the user (barriers erected by Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and Sony’s PS3 to a lesser extent).
So far, the exact answers PC and console gamers would most have are left unanswered, promised to be addressed in the future. For now, the description of the SteamOS as a system designed for “In-home streaming” implies a link between a consumer’s home PC and inevitable Steam Box that may not have been assumed before; in Valve’s words, players will be instructed to “turn on your existing computer and run Steam as you always have – then your SteamOS machine can stream those games over your home network straight to your TV!”
It’s not just games, of course. Valve also has plans to bring movies, TV and music through the new OS, in addition to a core structure around the newly-unveiled Family Sharing program. Of course, eagle-eyed readers will notice that there is still one item left out by Valve – specifically, the hardware that will actually be intended to run SteamOS. We previously argued that Valve might want to hold off on revealing their Steam Box, given the recent glut of Android-based hardware. It seems that’s their thinking as well, choosing instead to get fans excited about their operating system and long term plans, not ‘how cool the Steam Box will look.’
We’ll keep you updated as more details on SteamOS and its respective Steam Box are announced, and Valve continues with the rest of their reveals. For full details, head over to their official site.
For now, what do you think of a free, Linux-based operating system from those behind Steam? Does it seem like a necessary step in adapting their current, PC-based model to the living room, or do you think the full significance of SteamOS has yet to be revealed? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.