In March, Valve has announced its new “Steam Universe”. The Steam Universe is a collection of new ideas Valve is developing and all planning to be released in November this year. I will be going through the Steam Universe and will explain what this means for future gaming and Valves competitors.
Probably one of the biggest new things valve are attempting are the Steam Machines, new consoles which are designed for your living room which can be upgraded like a PC. These machines go from $479.99 to $4,999.99. This is a huge leap for console gaming, as before with the Xbox One or PS4, you can have only have fixed hardware. That means if a game FPS goes low you would have to deal with it, while with the new Steam Machines you can buy more CPU or RAM to improve your game play. Along with the Steam Machines will be the Steam Controller. This is a new controller with an innovative design to use with the Steam Machines. Instead of the usual left and right joysticks, they have 2 track pads with a D-pad on the left track pad, with 1 joystick left-centred on the controller. This controller is designed not only for console games, but for PC games too. This controller will also have configured controls to allow anyone’s personal preference to be used. You will also be able to upload your configurations and allow other people to use them. This is great for all genres of games as people can make configurations designed for one kind of fighting game or platforming game to improve the experience.
One of the things I’m personally excited for is the Steam Link. The Steam Link is a streaming device to allow you to stream your PC screen to your TV. You just plug the Steam Link into your TV and it will automatically discover computers running Steam on the same network. The Steam Link can have a wireless connection or plugged in via Ethernet to improve connection speed. The Steam Link is capable of 1920 x 1080 resolutions at 60 FPS, which is impressive for streaming devices. I’ve personally had bad experiences when streaming games as it is normally bad quality or inputs are laggy and hard to use. Though I am hoping that the Steam Link will improve the streaming experience.
One thing more and more companies are trying to achieve is their own VR headset, and Steam also decided to take a step into VR as well with all of their Source games having VR capabilities including Half Life 1 which was made is 1998. Steam has partnered with HTC to create the SteamVR. This headset comes with 2 base stations which you place in opposite corners of your room, and this allows movement including walking to be a input device. This is a new way of encountering Virtual Reality which could give incredibly immersive experiences. While I think you will probably need an big open area in the house, this could still be greatly used to bring back places like arcades where they could have a room made for this sort of thing.
All of these devices are meant to bring life back into people’s living rooms, as in some if not most families don’t really go into the living room that much, and either just stay in their bedroom or somewhere else. The Steam Machines will be a big problem for Sony and Microsoft as the Steam Machines can have better hardware than their current consoles, and Valve is known for having massive sales on their games encouraging people to move away from Xbox One and PS4. Valve have been recently been more open to what it does, with Valve just being a usual games company at first, to a game supplier, and now console and VR developers. They have also been working with other companies to create a new API and have been recently making a new engine “Source 2”. I feel like Valve has been becoming for well recognised for what it is and is more known as a strong competitor of Microsoft and Sony.
VR Headset Image by TechStage – https://www.flickr.com/photos/bestboyzde/with/16496006477/