*I wrote this article several years ago and I felt it was relevant to revisit this now that the SteamOS machines have been released. I feel that this still is a huge issue, despite having the Steam Link available*
So we all know how Valve’s Steam Machine or SteamOS will work; It will stream games from a Windows or Mac PC to the Steam Machine or a designated PC running the SteamOS. Fine, we get that. However I speculated about this on our last “Loading Screen” podcast on how this is being marketed or shared with the public and while I don’t see any harm being done here I did want to point out one specific point that it seems many people are missing and that is what do you do if you don’t have a PC running Steam already.
That in it’s self is the killer question. Like mentioned the SteamOS or Steam Machine will connect to a PC that already has Steam running on it, we get that, but what about those who don’t already have a PC? What about those who are new entries into PC gaming, what does that mean for them? It’s pretty obvious that they would need to get another PC that would allow them to install Steam and then install the games on it in order to stream, right? But here’s where it gets hazy. We all know that Valve said they’re working with an undisclosed number developers to get existing games running in Linux or for new games to run on Linux which them running natively on the SteamOS or Steam Machine.
So for those who have a primary PC already you’re in the clue and we’re not worried about you so you can worry not and continue on waiting for Half-Life 3, since you can run everything that’s on Steam. For those who don’t already have a PC or have a Mac, we’re really here for you. So let’s tackle the Mac gamers first. If you check out Steam you’ll see there’s at least give or take 1,000 games for Mac OS, which isn’t too bad unless you want the latest or greatest games. Sure you’ll be able to play Borderlands 2, Portal 2, Team Fortress 2 and several others but you won’t see like Lego Marvel Super Heroes or Batman Arkham Origins, Shadow Warrior and so forth, you get the hint. Sure you’ll have a decent catalog but most of it is filled with games that are several years old or Indie games. Not that there’s anything wrong with Indie games, I love them. But you get the hint, Mac games on Steam are limited but you’ll still be able to play games via streaming them to SteamOS or Steam Machine.
However, this is the main issue; You have a Steam Machine but no PC or Mac to stream from which may be an issue for a lot of new comers of PC gaming. Does this automatically turn you off from the Steam in the Living Room push or will the SteamOS allow you to run Windows-based games on a emulator such as Wine or PlayOnLinux. And if not will it let you do some type of dual boot so they the Windows based games can be installed and then called to via SteamOs so they can be ran? This is what I’m curious about and I’d love some more details for Valve on the matter. More so I’d love for Valve to let us know so people would be more informed and so they’d stop asking me as if I knew, I don’t work for Valve guys. I don’t know everything! Ahem…. And before anyone says “What about the games that recently got Linux Support”, I haven’t forgotten about them and I for one am glad that’s happening but let’s be real, this should have happened years ago. Linux isn’t a new OS and it isn’t new in the desktop environment, support for PC games should have been more common place a long time ago. So at the very least there’s on apparent benefit to Valve’s big push.
I am by no way condoning Valve and their initiative into pushing PC gaming into the Living room, not at all. I for one am glad that someone is doing it since Microsoft still hasn’t gotten off their console high horse and has forgotten about PC gamers and maybe it’s for the best… anyone ever enjoy “Games for Windows Live”? Nope, I’m congratulating Valve and hope that the SteamOS and Steam Machine met with a high amount of success however I wish they were provide us with more detail on how exactly this is going to work so we don’t have to speculate on how this is all going to tie in. I know I’m more than likely jumping the gun as I’ve been known to do and I’m more than sure that Valve has this all planned and will likely show off more once the Steam Machine and SteamOS officially debuts at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, but the masses get impatient at times and would rather know now vs waiting for more input later, right Johnny Five?
Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
For hands-on reports regarding Valve’s Steam Machine, check out the links below.
P.S. I’m still waiting on my prototype Valve, pretty please!