With the announcement of the SteamOS and Steam Machines, Valve seemed poise to introduce a Linux-based experience to the masses. However, as most gamers know, a console or platform can only get a company so far, it’s the games that will inevitably move substantial units.
DICE‘s Creative Director Lars Gustavsson doesn’t think it will take several triple-A games for the Linux OS to gain some traction either; it will likely only take “one killer app.” What exactly that killer app might be is unclear, considering Valve just announced Steam OS and the Steam Machines, but we have a few guesses.
In an interview with Polygon, Gustavsson points to the launch of the first Xbox and how it only took the launch of Halo before the console took off. Granted, the Xbox was a more traditional console — a direct competitor to the PS2 and GameCube — but that doesn’t mean with the right marketing push, Steam Machines can’t occupy a similar space.
Gustavsson goes on to say that “selling” the Linux platform is about convincing consumers that it can be an integral part of their lives. A lot of programmers and developers agree that Linux is a superior operating system to both Windows and the Mac OS, but the market penetration of those platforms is hard to overcome. That’s where the Steam Machines come in, as they will help ease the transition to Linux by showing how the platform works in a gaming context.
Steam Machines will, however, need that killer app — their own version of Halo, so to speak. And while Gustavsson says that his company would love to get into Linux development, he wasn’t prepared to say Battlefield might one day make its way to the new platform. DICE will be using Linux servers for Battlefield 4 multiplayer, but none of their games are planned for the platform…yet.
And so, with DICE only touting the potential of the Linux platform, we are left wondering what that killer app might be that pushes Steam Machines into the forefront? An easy candidate would be Half-Life 3, which gets more mentions per week than practically any other game in active non-development.
At the same time, it’s hard to imagine Valve would want to make Half-Life 3 a Linux exclusive, ostensibly shutting it off from millions of gamers. They might be able to incentivize the SteamOS version of Half-Life 3 by offering platform exclusive content, but there’s no way they would neglect their loyal Steam fan base on the PC and Mac.
Clearly, Valve is looking to put some skin in the game with SteamOS and Steam Machines, as well as a pretty unique controller, but how they plan to convince gamers of the viability of their platform is yet to be determined. We agree that a killer app will help the case for Linux-based gaming, but we’re unsure what that will be.
Do you agree that Linux is the “superior” operating system? What do you think Valve needs to do to give Steam Machines the proper amount of attention?