Riposte: Valve's Turning up the Steam

Ever think to yourself, "I wonder what other video game enthusiasts think about this topic. Sure, I'd love to visit a forum but they're  scary and all my friends talk about is Call of Duty and Plants vs. Zombies"? Well, our new feature, Riposte, is just for you. Here we'll post our reactions to  the biggest news stories and events just for you. And you too. Today, we're talking about Valve's announcements regarding Steam's living room expansion.

Jon - Don't Bet Against Valve

“Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.” That’s the mindset I’m keeping as I go into Valve’s future with arms wide open. I’m always into adopting new technologies and seeing what the next big thing is and if anyone is going to break the mold it will be Valve. I remember people yipping about Steam as the thought of downloading games and being PC-centric seemed crazy, and we know how that has turned out. A lot of people are quick to criticize the OS and Valve’s radical controller but in reality it’s a keyboard and a mouse formed into a single unit. Valve knows its customers and, more often than not, I think Valve knows what their audience wants before they do. Yes, the OS is a “Linux” operating system but all that means is that Steam is using a form of Linux to create their own operating system. (Psst a company called Apple did something similar and no one complained.) Guess all we can do is wait and see but my money is on Valve succeeding, googly-eye controller and all.

 Hiram - It's all About the Controller

Valve is a smart company with their pulse on the people who play computer games. Now that there are so many good PC ports of console games, PC gamers are enjoying the hooking up of their rigs to TVs and enjoying exploring Skyrim or whatever on a much larger screen. As such, all of these announcements this week have been nothing to do but help facilitate you in that endeavor: an OS that allows you to stream without lugging your huge tower around; a small PC box to keep in your living room that runs said OS; a controller with a radical new input mechanic to make it so you can even bind keys and, they hope, can be used to replace a mouse and keyboard in RTS games and the like. What’s weird is how little they shown. No demos? No peaks at any of the boxes? There’s not even a real answer as to if you can upgrade individual chunks of said boxes, or if they’re going to be closed systems to plug in and forget about. There’s still a lot to find out about these announcements, but they sound like they’re pretty niche- as a man who has hooked up his laptop to his TV so he can play Civ V in a pointlessly large display, I don’t see the OS or the box as a huge convenience, and I just don’t REALLY know who the market is. PC gamers? But Linux has so few games that run on it, and it’s a more niche audience that’ll get less big game ports. And then what about upgrades? And it works for streaming, but then why not introduce a better solution for that instead of a mini PC? I just don’t really see who it’s for, though I really do want to try out that controller as soon as I possibly can.

John - Where's the Actual Info?

I’m excited – I think?  I like the sound of it, I suppose, but what’s the hook?  What games will it have?  Is it in competition with my PC, or is it in competition with my PS4 or my XBox One?   If it’s the latter, then what exclusives will it have?  Will it have exclusives?  If not, then why should I buy it?  How does faster performance from Linux translate into a better gaming experience?  If it means better games, then you have to have exclusives to show off what it can do.  Is Valve able to pony up the massive investment that it takes for those?  Are they going to turn all of their first party games into platform exclusives?  I am already buying a PS4 at launch so that I can enjoy that platform’s exclusive titles and multiplatform console-only titles.  What does the Steam Machine offer on top of the PS4 or my gaming PC?  I have a lot of questions before I buy.

Brian - Haha, Still no Half-Life 3

Steam stepping into the living room space is not a new idea. It’s one they have been working on for a while, and one that has been rumored about even longer then that. With the introduction of Big Picture last year, it was only a matter of time before the “Steam Box” was announced. What was more surprising, beyond the fact that the announcements were split up over a whole week to keep everyone attention rapt and the conversation solely on Valve, was the reveal of the controller. Well, not the reveal, because again, that was going to happen, but rather the innovative/ridiculously scary mess of a controller that was shown off as their final flourish. If there is one thing that Valve has proven, time and again, it’s that they are not afraid to experiment. The “haptic nightmare” looks like everything we never wanted, and yet, is probably going to be one of the most revolutionary things to come out of controls since force feedback. While I will withhold any true judgement, and try to keep back the coming night terrors about actually using that thing, until it’s released, I think, no matter the outcome, Valve comes out of this ahead.

Oh and they still haven’t announced Half-Life 3, in what continues to be the single biggest troll against the internet in the history of this foul online beast. So, kudos to them.

Jonathan - The Undiscovered Country

I like Valve. I like Valve a lot. Next to CD Projekt Red and Volition, they’re probably my favorite video game company. I like PC gaming. I like streaming movies. I like my TV. I like installing OS’s and building computers. Yet oddly enough, nothing that Valve announced has gotten me excited at all. The promise of Steam turned into a full OS sounds like it could be a good thing, but so did Google’s Chrome OS. And we all know how well that’s caught on. The Steam Machines? Well, I’ve yet to meet a Steam enthusiast that hasn't or doesn’t at least want to build they own rig rather buying one pre-made. Then there’s the controller. I’m sorry, but I can’t wipe the horrible memories of trying to play Star Wars: Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight on a trackpad and nothing short of getting my hands on that controller will do anything to change my mind. But honestly, the thing that has me the most apprehensive is Valve themselves. I know they have incredibly talented people within their walls but they are venturing into territory they have absolutely no experience in. So this Steam expansion will most likely end up being something truly awesome, but I highly doubt the first iterations will be very good at all. God knows Steam wasn’t when it launched.

Well, those are our thoughts on the matter. What say you? Can Valve do no wrong? Should they stop this tomfoolery and go make Half-Life 3? Tell us, in the comments below.

Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.