After months - even years - of speculation, Valve, the company behind Steam, has unveiled their plan to take on the PlayStation and Xbox in the living room. Valve has created SteamOS, an operating system for games and media on the living room TV. Major game developers are on board.
SteamOS is Valve's OS for TV gaming
SteamOS is part of a grand plan from the creators of the Steam service. Two more announcements will follow in the coming days, but let us start by taking a look at SteamOS.
SteamOS is an operating system designed for gaming on the big living room TV. The OS is free and can run on PCs from different brands and on PCs with different hardware. In addition to games, it will also be open to run video and music apps, as well as other apps. Games can be played with either a game controller or mouse/keyboard. In other words; a complete entertainment operating system for the TV.
SteamOS has been announced as a competitor to PlayStation and Xbox
So how does it work? SteamOS is based on Linux, which means that the current games running on Steam today will have to be rewritten. Valve says that major game developers – so-called AAA developers – are already on board and are developing games for the system. Other games that run only on for example Steam on Windows can be streamed over the home network. As a user you simply turn on your PC and stream the game to the living room TV via the SteamOS-based box connected to the TV.
Valve explains that they have put a lot of work and effort into SteamOS, and that it was necessary to develop an operating system to fully optimize video and audio quality, as well as reduce latency for game controllers. SteamOS will also have features such as Family Sharing that will allow different members of the family to share the same Steam account, and an option to restrict access to the most violent games for younger members of the family.
Valve has previously said that they intend to let pretty much any PC hardware maker produce a so-called Steam Box in three configurations; "good", "better", and "best". One can easily imagine that the cheapest of the three will be a streaming box, the next a more complete game console, and the last a more expensive and extreme game console. We will learn very soon.
This is the first of three announcements. Valve has already started a new countdown timer on their site. We will know more Thursday.