The gears are turning quietly, but it’s time to pay attention.
“Steam Dev Days” is Valve’s power play to take over the PC industry
I’ve been trying to explain to what Valve’s plans for SteamOS and the Steam Machines is really all about, and here’s an article about exactly that, and how VR is a crucial part of it.
Steam Dev Days (which has an absolutely fascinating event information page) is a major conference Valve is hosting for the big players of the PC industry, including Intel, Nvidia, AMD, as well as game developers, publishers and so on. It will probably change the future of PC dramatically, and sooner than you’d think. The idea is for them all to band together, think smart, and pick a brighter future than the one Microsoft has in mind for them. Linux, OpenGL, VR, early access, etc. is on the table for discussion. It’s about explaining why there’s room for improvement and — of course — profit. What to avoid, what best practices are, and how to basically become good guys while generating buckets of cash: Valve’s specialty.
The article focuses on the virtual reality aspect in particular, with Ben Kuchera hyping up the joy of using SteamOS as the user-interface to fill the gaps between VR games and experiences. (Think about it: if you put on VR headsets and there’s no game being displayed, or you suddenly quit, what do you see?) I’ve already lamented VR — and particularly Valve’s push for it — but there’s no doubt that it will become a tsunami of hype and high expectations in the coming months and years. It’s the new dream. If Valve can exploit this dream, use it for the best possible good, and steer it in a healthy direction, maybe we’ll only have to sacrifice another 40% of interactivity and thoughtful gameplay instead of 90% while we enjoy the shallow, sensory-overload parade headed our way.
Steam’s in-home streaming functionality now being tested by real people
This NeoGAF thread is collecting and discussing the new “in-home streaming” beta tests for Steam and SteamOS. In case you don’t know, in-home streaming is when you can run a game on a powerful PC, but look at it and control it on another (cheap) device that’s also running Steam; allowing you to play your prettiest games on your crappiest laptop, theoretically. I’m sure you understand how the SteamOS, the living room, Steam Controller, and everything else fits in.
Steam Family Sharing is also in beta now
If you want to see another piece of the puzzle coming into view, then keep in mind that Steam Family Sharing is now in beta as well. Once these things all come together? You could be playing your family member’s games for free, using the Occulus Rift, on a cheap laptop running SteamOS, on your sofa, with a Steam Controller in your hand, while your powerful PC hums away in another room and beams the glorious action to your face. No matter what you, me, or anyone else says about that, it’s at least a vision of the future that’s more interesting than Kinect.
Microsoft should be scared indeed. Valve is taking the most powerful, prudent, flexible, and low-risk steps toward their goals as possible, and they’re not interested in waiting for the next Microsoft CEO to get on board or dictate their terms. Whether the average gamer sees it or not, the time is right for the PC industry to not just modernize, but futurize, economize, and strategize.