Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
arrowPress Releases
August 27, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


Valve's Linux push: What do game developers think? Exclusive
Valve's Linux push: What do game developers think?
September 26, 2013 | By Mike Rose

September 26, 2013 | By Mike Rose
Comments
    60 comments
More: Console/PC, Indie, Business/Marketing, Exclusive



Valve says it believes Linux is the future of PC games and this week, the PC game behemoth backed up that rhetoric.

This week has seen the behemoth PC gaming company reveal its own Linux-based Steam operating system, and plans for a line of living room "Steam Machines" to house it.

It's not exactly Valve's first brush with Linux either. The Linux client for Steam was launched earlier this year, while Valve founder Gabe Newell said recently that he believes Linux is the key to PC game success.

But how do developers feel about Valve's current focus on Linux as the future of PC games? One studio that was part of the big SteamOS reveal on Monday was Paradox Interactive, best known for its hardcore strategy games.

Paradox has been supporting Linux with numerous of its games for a while now, and Paradox CEO Fredrik Wester is excited to see where Valve's Linux push takes PC gaming in the living room.

"I think it offers a whole range of new opportunities and a much needed independent competitior to the big console and gaming platform makers," he tells me. "In the end I think the gamers will be the winners, because ultimately, the hardware best suited for the gamer is the one that will have most success."

Paradox has found porting games from Mac to Linux to be not a big deal at all, and notes that there are now a wide range of studios who can help with porting jobs if a development finds this to be a larger technical obstacle.

steamos.jpgSo why aren't more people using Linux then? What will it take for more gamers to see Linux as a more viable and appealing platform for playing games? Can Valve push the platform forward?

"I don't see this as an OS problem, and Valve has a lot of head start compared to the next-gen consoles," answers Wester. "First of all there are 200 games on Steam that are Linux native already, and there is also the opportunity to stream games directly from Windows to your SteamOS machine which gives you the full Steam library to buy from."

At the end of the day, it's all going to come down to what each machine has to offer in terms of content, and how easy the machine is to use compared to its competitors, reckons the Paradox exec.

"In this case I think Valve is well suited to bring a great appeal to Linux gaming as a platform and a serious competitor in the market," he adds. "If customers buy into this concept, developers will make the games. We started porting some of our games to Linux a year ago, and we will expand this effort going forward."

"It's probably best to think of it as a cross between console and PC development."

Ryan Gordon is well-known as the Linux guy. He supplies many of the Linux ports of Humble Bundle games, he's the heart of the Linux build of Epic's Unreal Engine, and he even put together the Linux port of Google Earth.

"It's probably best to think of it as a cross between console and PC development," he says of Linux development. "Some of it is special-case knowledge, the way one might know the details of the PS3 SPU, but all of it is much more open: you work on any old computer you like, you download the tools for free, and all the information -- documentation, technique, conversation and debate -- are all one Google search away."

Gordon believes that the big Linux push isn't on the way -- it's already here. Humble Bundle, Unity, Valve... all these big names are putting a big focus on Linux as a gaming platform, and it appears to be paying off.

For Zach Barth, the developer behind games like SpaceChem and Ironclad Tactics, Linux isn't so much about the sales figures right now -- the goodwill he receives from making Linux ports makes it all worthwhile for him.

"We build our games with OpenGL and C#, so porting to Linux only consists of a few days of figuring how to package the damn thing up," he notes. "For some developers it's a much larger technical challenge than it is for us, which I imagine makes it a difficult choice considering the smaller customer base than Windows or Mac."

Although he has no idea where Valve's Linux push is going to drive the PC game industry, he expects great things. "I think it's safe to say that, generally speaking, developers go where the money is," he adds. "If Valve finds a way to get game-purchasing customers on Linux, developers will be there in a heartbeat."

Kinks in the system

Not everyone is 100 percent sold on a Linux PC gaming future. id Software co-founder and Oculus Rift CTO John Carmack recently said that he doesn't think "that a good business case can be made for officially supporting Linux for mainstream games today."

Sauropod Studio is finding teething troubles with Linux, although the company is still excited to see what can be done with Linux now that Valve is very much onboard. Sauropod is best known for Castle Story, the highly successful Kickstarter campaign that pulled in $700,000 -- nearly nine times as much as its original funding goal.

Castle Story is being built in the Unity Engine, and while Linux support was not available when Sauropod started development (it was added late 2012 with the launch of Unity 4.0), Sauropod has been looking to include a Linux build of its game since that point -- with varying results.

machines_livingroom.jpg"It's true that we have a Linux version out there, but it is outdated," admits Sauropod's Thierry Begin. "We couldn't even push out the latest build because sadly the sound engine Wwise isn't compatible with Linux yet, so we have to redo all the sound work twice with Fmod."

This has affected both the game's development timeframe and the quality of the game itself, he tells me, and this has been a massive source of frustration for the team.

"Unity3D did a great job offering all the options for the developers and I only wish that other company will eventually do the same," he adds. "Steam as a distribution platform seem to understand that there is a market there and I do too."

Begin notes that video games are finally becoming more and more open for Linux players, thanks to Valve, Humble Bundle et al.

"We don't know how many Linux gamers have played our game yet, but it doesn't really matter to us," he says. "Gamers shouldn't be punished because they use a different OS from others - it simply makes no sense. That's why we try to support all platforms the best we can."

Lift off

Not every Unity developer is having such issues with Linux support. Kerbal Space Program team Squad has found that Unity for Linux has worked out great -- although the studio's Bob Holtzman notes that it pays to know which platforms you want to support from the get-go.

"[Linux support] wasn't something we needed to hire an external team to do for us," he says. "It's not a lot of work but on a small team like ours, you have to decide which platforms you’re going to support and do it. For us, both Mac and Linux were important options because we wanted to show our support for gamers on those platforms."

It's almost like a chicken-and-egg situation with both Mac and Linux, he notes -- "People say, 'well, there are no games on those platforms,' but we know gamers have Macs and use Linux, so we decided it was worth it for us to support the platforms as developers and publishers."

Kerbal Space Program's lead developer Felipe Falanghe agrees, adding, "It's a vicious circle that needs to be broken."

"There aren't many games on Linux now because there aren't many players, and the same goes for the other way around," he continues. "This might change now with Steam on Linux, as it gives a lot of developers a way in. Even if it's not a huge community right now, this is how it starts. And speaking for ourselves at least, it's already been worth it just seeing how much Linux users appreciated having KSP available there for them."

When it comes to Linux porting, Falanghe says that the situation is going to be different for every studio, especially when it comes to the tools you're using.

"For us, it was relatively simple, being based in Unity," he explains. "We just had to set up our build infrastructure to include a third platform really, and iron out a few minor details. Once it was all set up though, it works automatically as part of the build process."

"This is us though, and we completely rely on Unity doing the cross-platform work for us. For other studios using different tools, there is probably a host of other challenges to face."


Related Jobs

CCP
CCP — Newcastle, England, United Kingdom
[08.27.14]

Senior VFX artist
InnoGames GmbH
InnoGames GmbH — Hamburg, Germany
[08.27.14]

Software Developer Analytics / Big Data (m/f)
InnoGames GmbH
InnoGames GmbH — Hamburg, Germany
[08.27.14]

Backend Developer Marketing / CRM (m/f)
InnoGames GmbH
InnoGames GmbH — Hamburg, Germany
[08.27.14]

Mobile Developer iOS (m/f)










Comments


Dane MacMahon
profile image
Man, I am getting more and more paranoid this will shift PC gaming into being open platform console gaming, which I do not want.

Simon Deschenes
profile image
Why ?

Bob Fox
profile image
@dane

I'm sorry but as a long time PC gamer, PC gaming ended some time around 2001.

Where are games like Quake 3 and UT2004 in console land? Like nowhere to be found. The complex games from the 90's aren't coming back.

Almost all the games I've wanted have been console ports (darksiders, dark souls, saints row 3, saints row 4, etc).

Are you saying these games aren't great games on PC? I've been burnt out on military shooters (FPS) since the early 2000's.

PC gaming is hardly any different then console gaming as it is, there is really hardly any difference anymore. Since 3rd parties release their games on all platforms to maximize profits.

Dane MacMahon
profile image
@ Bob

I'm not trying to start a "PC vs. console" debate. I am saying a lot of things I consider core to PC gaming seem to be on the chopping block in the move towards the living room. The most obvious being mouse control.

They're not really promoting this SteamOS without saying "living room" in the same sentence, every time. This brings with it controller, and thus genre and utility, compromises.

Look at the bold print above about it being a halfway point. If developers see it that way, why shouldn't I?

Michael MacDonald
profile image
I don't know what you mean here. Right now, for games that don't work well with a controller and need a mouse, I use a wireless Logitech keyboard, and a wireless gaming mouse. It works incredibly well with no compromise. Also, I can use just about any controller I want to for games that support them. I have lost nothing, and gained quite a bit. I love my HTPC. It's awesome, and hearing Steam is getting into improving these things? So much better even.

Michael MacDonald
profile image
They just tend to have better graphics, more control options (on pc you can use a lot of different types of controllers), and better modding capabilities.

Titi Naburu
profile image
@Dane: Windows will get dirtier in each generation. Linux will gradually replace it in PC.

Harry Fields
profile image
I won't be making that bet anytime soon.

Dave Kay
profile image
I'm a hardcore PC gamer, and I, too, fear the death of the mouse. I think it enables a kind of fast-yet-precise interaction that you just can't get with an analogue stick no matter how used to them you get. Sure, analog sticks are great for things like driving sims, or flight sims, or controlling a characters walking... but for aiming they suck.

It will be interesting to see how things evolve. With the way Valve has been talking about their new living room stuff, I'm suspicious that they might announce something new and fancy with their controller that might somehow bridge the gap... but companies have been trying for a long time and nothing else has quite worked.

The only thing I can see doing it is maybe like a trackball integrated in the controller. I don't like trackballs because I'm not used to them... but they seem to offer everything the mouse does, just in a slightly different package. Just gotta get used to it...

Dane MacMahon
profile image
Someone else here talks a lot about trackball controllers. It's interesting for sure. Maybe we'll find out tomorrow what the future holds.

It's easy to see me as simply fearing change, but honestly I am worried about genres. The fast-paced FPS pretty much died when Halo came out to accommodate shooters moving to the living room. Is RTS next? Grand strategy? Point and click adventure?

Luis Guimaraes
profile image
@Dane

Haha true, even my new avatar is about it :D
I sustain that a trackball gamepad will revolutionize console shooters.

@Dave

I took me less than 1 hour to get used (never got used to aiming with analog sticks, feels like remote controlling a robot or something), after 4 hours you can almost do anything you can do with a mouse and for me I didn't want to play SP without it anymore because it felt so rewarding to be doing so well with thumb. Past that it's just about developing your muscle memory further.

But 1-3 hours is pretty much a threshold to where you can fell and realize all it's potential. And damn it gets you addicted, after 14 years of mouse gaming, every shot starts feeling rewarding again. So much fun.

Looking around freely also feels as good as mouse, checking the place, searching cabinets, choosing which loot you want to take or leave, everything.

Kaitlyn Kaid
profile image
it's not the loss of the mouse I fear, but the loss of the keyboard.

When developing for a console (or a game that will co-launch on a console), I constantly hear "We can't do X feature because we don't have the buttons". I never once heard that we were unable to include a wanted feature on a PC exclusive due to a lack of buttons on the keyboard.

Bob Fox
profile image
@dane

I'm sorry but as a long time PC gamer, PC gaming ended some time around 2001.

Where are games like Quake 3 and UT2004 in console land? Like nowhere to be found. The complex games from the 90's aren't coming back outside of a few exceptions.

Almost all the games I've wanted have been console ports (darksiders, dark souls, saints row 3, saints row 4, et

John Trauger
profile image
No, the PC will die except for specialty concerns. Tablets will eat the PC out of most homes the way laptops have already cannibalized desktops in many.

That's why Valve is pushing for living room action. They currently serve an endangered species that will eventually go extinct. SteamOS is to Valve what Android, definitely ChromeOS, is to Google.

Mike Griffin
profile image
Yep, it's a pretty long term (multi-year) transitional strategy.
A.k.a. the back-up plan.

Harry Fields
profile image
And what comes after Tablets? Are tablets the pinnacle of computing evolution? I'd have to argue not. They bring great things to the table, to be sure, but touch interfaces can only do so much. Have you tried doing extensive spreadsheet work or programming on a tablet? 3d modeling? You can do it to an extent, but it's far from the most productive format for that, even if you use Bluetooth computer peripherals to help with the interface problems.

I think PCs will continue to shrink. Smaller form factors will become the standard, but the desktop experience is far from dead. It's the Tower that is likely to die. Tablets are great for some tasks, laptops for some and desktops for some. Wearables are an X-factor at this point, but who knows what the next step in computing evolution is?

Dane MacMahon
profile image
@ John

People have been predicting the death of the PC and PC gaming for decades. Last I read despite overall PC sales being down enthusiast PCs and PC parts were up. PC gaming is more popular than ever.

I'm not saying traditional desktops will be a big thing in 10-20 years, but I bet PC gaming survives in some form. Whether it's SteamOS is yet to be determined.

John Trauger
profile image
The PC is going to be with us for a number of years yet, but the compression of the PC footprint others have referred to means a merger of PC, laptop and tablet is inevitable unless someone revokes Moore's Law.

Thanks to MS's late-to-the-party, mishandling of Win8, the odds are small that this merger platform will be a Wintel box. Smart money says it's going to be an ARM box.

Within 10 years, the only people who will have a desktop will be people like me and most core gamers who want one. There will be no *need* for one so most people won't have one.

Which is a bit of a pity. I like PCs. They're my comfort zone.

Most people will want their computing to be light and portable, suitable for lounging wherever...like the living room.

Keith Thomson
profile image
At the same time, it could keep it so that PCs can also be relevant and useful for gaming. Any game produced for SteamOS will probably be playable on Steam for Linux as well. That way PC users will still have a place to get all of their games.

Dave Reed
profile image
But people aren't going to be doing serious *work* on touchscreens any time soon. Tablets OK are for consuming content, but pretty useless for creating anything.

Coding, design, writing, big spreadsheets, music creation, video editing - heck, even heavy emailing - It all needs mice, keyboards, big screens, and true multitasking. And there's no sign of that changing anytime soon.

Michael MacDonald
profile image
They are pushing for living room action because those of us who are doing it already can vouch that it's awesome. No console can do what my HTPC can do. They are basically trash in comparison.

Michael MacDonald
profile image
Dude, you're looking in the wrong place. The HTPC/gaming market is growing like crazy. The dinosaurs are the ones with their computers sitting on desks with corded keyboards and corded mice. Learn to think with the times. They have changed, and moved on. The PC's *place* is no longer in an office, it's in the living room. Until you have run one, do not discount this. It's amazing.

Kevin Chulski
profile image
The PC is already a diminishing market and valve wants to further splinter it? That doesn't sound like a great idea. Yes, they are probably the main reason the PC is gaming relevant, but I don't think that is going to translate into being able to push their customers wherever they want.

This sounds more like an escape mechanism to try to convert more of their PC players into SteamOS players on any device. I.E. in your living room, or whatever platform they desire in the future. They're more likely to see future success outside the PC. The problem is getting people to adopt them anywhere else.

Keith Thomson
profile image
As a console gamer, this is more likely to supplant my normal 2nd or 3rd console purchase in my living room than it is to replace my PC. It could decrease the amount of time I spent playing games on PC, but that was already negligible.

(Which is bad news for the Xbox One, as that was probably going to be my 3rd console purchase this generation.)

Dave Reed
profile image
Valve don't want to splinter anything.

They want to escape a possible future where consumer-level Windows becomes WinRT (it's very much heading that way already), where all software is distributed through the Microsoft Store, and Steam would cease to exist.

With Microsoft showing no sign of a u-turn on pushing Metro onto desktop users - pushing it harder in 8.1 than 8.0? - an escape route from Windows is required.

Michael Thornberg
profile image
PC 'diminishing market' ... Yes, if you call a market larger than all consoles put together, and still growing as 'diminishing' then sure... I think you are confusing PC sales with game sales. PC sales are going down sure.. but most people I know (including me) noticed that performance increases in PC's essentially stopped five years ago. There is little need to buy something new, when the improvements doesn't justify the cost of purchase. PC's have become the new TV, and this is what PC manufacturers need to realize. People are simply not going to replace a perfectly good computer anymore like they used to.. Games sales are mostly digital today and much of that statistics is unknown to 'over the counter' sales charts.

I think Valve is doing a great thing here, trying to break the Microsoft dominance over a whole industry. Many good things can come from it.

Scott Lavigne
profile image
"The PC is already a diminishing market and valve wants to further splinter it?"

There were willing to do it with Counter-Strike (again), so why not?

Harry Fields
profile image
I think this thing will be a novelty device for gamers who have their big PC in another room and want to play their games on the couch. The Steam Devices, at anything approaching PC price levels (which they have to, since the hardware vendors won't take a bath simply to further Valve's agenda), simply will not sell. If they are 149$ steaming devices to let me play games remotely on the big screen and Linux is just the underpinnings for the streaming tech, then yeah.. I'd bite.

It'll take a hell of a lot more than Gabe Newell evangelizing Linux to actually start a movement for Linux gaming. And yes, I will happily put my money where my mouth is on that one. The PC is here to stay.

Dave Kay
profile image
Err... linux is still PC. Part of Gabe's problem with the current PC setup (i.e. Windows and MacOS) is that MacOS is already a heavily walled garden, and Windows is moving more towards that. They're both trying to proprietarize as much as they can, and lock people into stuff. Gabe is trying to free consumers from that. Sure, he's also trying to make a buck doing it... but there's nothing wrong with that.

His movement is as much about getting people using Linux on their desktop computers as it about getting them in the living room. If you read their stuff carefully, they have no intention of getting into the hardware business. They only have some hardware now because they have to. They want to get the OS off the ground, and then they hope other companies will carry the hardware torch (similar to Google's Android, and Samsung with the hardware).

Harry Fields
profile image
I know Academia hates Wikipedia and all, but:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PC

That's pretty much the definition I grew up with and work by.
So when I say PC, I mean Windows PC.

I also explicitly implied that hardware vendors would be the ones building "SteamBoxes". They simply won't do it if there's not money to be made. So if Dell sells a 600$ Steam OS machine or a 615$ Windows machine with the same specs, which would you buy? The one that can play 200 native games and stream others from another Windows machine or one that can run Steam anyway, in addition to a whole bunch of other things. What's the business case here?

If they were putting out a closed console running SteamOS and taking a loss, the product has a reason to exist. As it stands right now, I see it as a novelty for geeks like me who already built a cheap little Steambox to stick on the TV. A novelty and waste of resources that would be better spent making HL3, darn it!

All that aside and to semi-quote Hugh Darrow,
"The world will not change overnight just because Gabe Newell wills it...".

Keith Thomson
profile image
PC by my definition is something descended from the original IBM PC architecture in some way. This would still disqualify Mac computers, as they ditched the PC bios mostly when they moved to Intel. Linux and FreeBSD computers, however, still use PC compatible hardware and still boot from PC Bioses. PCs originally meant MS Dos or PC Dos, but that's fallen by the wayside. It then meant Chicago based systems like Windows 95, 98, and ME, but that too fell by the wayside. Now it means Windows NT based systems like XP, 7, and Vista. The only commonality between all of those is the PC Bios and x86 instruction set.

Windows itself is starting to move away from the traditional PC Bios systems as well with Windows 8, and going to EFI based bioses like the Macs use... So modern Windows 8 systems might not even have the right to be called PCs anymore. ;)

Harry Fields
profile image
fair enough, if you want to wax technical, but if you go to retail and pick up that copy of Sims3 that has the black and white "PC-DVD" logo on it, and stick it in your Linux machine expecting it to install (at least natively), you'll be pretty disappointed. That's my point, I guess.

Michael MacDonald
profile image
Mac will run Windows and Linux no problem. Their architecture and BIOS are fully compatible. Other manufacturer's PCs will also run OSX. You are drawing lines that do not exist.

Michael MacDonald
profile image
Hrm, a geek who has already built a cheap little Steambox? Considering that many of us have spent from $3000-$5000 on our HTPCs, you're pretty off base here. So many people in these forums are so far behind the times it's not funny.

William Richards
profile image
Just a simple point here. First off when you mass build a print model computer it's a lot cheaper than just building a PC. For example, take the PS3, now go to the store and build yourself an 8 core gaming PC for $399.

So the "SteamBox" will not be spec for spec the same price point as a comparable computer. Additionally software costs related to a piece of hardware are a lot more than $15. When MS drops an operating system on your average OEM you're looking at about $35 to start. Then you have other software to pay for like the whole digital rights for playback of DVD's etc. When you buy retail hardware (which costs a lot more) you often get software like that with it but OEM's pay for that crap you often don't want on your computer. Not the trial stuff, but the fully functional they do.

In the end, when Dell builds a computer, they pay out for the hardware, then the software and still have to leave themselves enough money reselling it to turn a profit and run their company.

Game systems are nothing even close to this, the model don't even apply. When a game maker sells you a console it's more like buying a cell phone from Verizon. You think you get that Galaxy Note 3 for $199 that's all Samsung got for it? No, Verizon paid closer to $400-$500 for it and bought down the phones price knowing they'll make it back on the service plan.

When you buy a console game system, be it a PS4, XBOne, WiiU, SteamBox, or whatever they very often lose money on the console selling it to you for less than it cost them because they are the ones that will make money off every game you buy.

Something like Dell has no such ability for investment return so they can't do that. So you'll in turn never walk into a store and put together a gaming rig that can do what a gaming console can do. Not even close.

William Richards
profile image
Just a simple point here. First off when you mass build a print model computer it's a lot cheaper than just building a PC. For example, take the PS3, now go to the store and build yourself an 8 core gaming PC for $399.

So the "SteamBox" will not be spec for spec the same price point as a comparable computer. Additionally software costs related to a piece of hardware are a lot more than $15. When MS drops an operating system on your average OEM you're looking at about $35 to start. Then you have other software to pay for like the whole digital rights for playback of DVD's etc. When you buy retail hardware (which costs a lot more) you often get software like that with it but OEM's pay for that crap you often don't want on your computer. Not the trial stuff, but the fully functional they do.

In the end, when Dell builds a computer, they pay out for the hardware, then the software and still have to leave themselves enough money reselling it to turn a profit and run their company.

Game systems are nothing even close to this, the model don't even apply. When a game maker sells you a console it's more like buying a cell phone from Verizon. You think you get that Galaxy Note 3 for $199 that's all Samsung got for it? No, Verizon paid closer to $400-$500 for it and bought down the phones price knowing they'll make it back on the service plan.

When you buy a console game system, be it a PS4, XBOne, WiiU, SteamBox, or whatever they very often lose money on the console selling it to you for less than it cost them because they are the ones that will make money off every game you buy.

Something like Dell has no such ability for investment return so they can't do that. So you'll in turn never walk into a store and put together a gaming rig that can do what a gaming console can do. Not even close.

Bob Johnson
profile image
Gabe is trying to protect his walled garden. Not free anyone from anything.

Kujel s
profile image
@Bob: Exactly, thank you for stating the obvious truth no one seems to want to admit.

Michael Thornberg
profile image
@Bob:

You can't possibly have been following the news :)

Besides.. all 'gardens' are enclosed by it's very definition. I think you refer to something else.. a more anarchistic view :)

Smoke Tetsu
profile image
Is it really now? Unless I'm dreaming I can run whatever software I want from whatever provider I want on my Mac. Perhaps you are confusing MacOS with iOS where you have to jailbreak it to run apps from outside the app store. Not even OS X Mavericks is like that.

Michael MacDonald
profile image
Many of us already have our PCs in the living room. This is just an evolution of that. Get your PC out of your office. It's pointless there.

Richard Eid
profile image
I'd like to see Gamasutra contact some of the AAA publishers to see what their take is. This article points to a couple of indie devs who, as we already knew, were happy to support Linux.

What about EA who is pushing their own platform? They aren't likely to return to Steam unless their DLC strategy changes or Valve eases up on their control over how their partners run their businesses. And besides, by and large, third-party game launchers like Origin don't really offer a great experience when combined with Big Picture Mode.

What about Ubisoft who is pushing Uplay? Their Uplay launcher is another good example of how a third-party launcher breaks the Big Picture Mode experience. You need to head over to your KB+M to finish launching a game.

What about Activision? What about 2K, WB, Rockstar, Bethesda, Square Enix? These are the big players that can push a platform. It's nice that Valve has 185 games running on Linux (though their SteamOS announement stated "hundreds") but how many are from these AAA publishers? They also stated they have some AAA publishers on board, but don't go into any detail. If they're on board why not hype the train even more by naming them?

I'd like to get behind this push by Valve, but so far I'm completely underwhelmed. Sure, there is one more announcement, but it's likely to be some sort of controller. (O+O : I'm guessing some sort of glasses.) Sure, I can stream my entire collection but what's the point of having a platform when you need another competing platform to make it of any value? If this isn't aimed at me that already has the means to build my own living room experience then it's aimed at current gen console gamers, right? So for those types of gamers they don't just need to buy a Steambox to get going. They need a Windows PC to see any sort of value. But then they're entering the realm of PC, where they need to tinker and tweak to get things working satisfactorily. This isn't what a living room experience has been about for the past 30 years so why would anyone be happy it's starting now?

Furthermore, it doesn't seem like Valve has the resources to pull this off. Can they support 300 beta devices? Yeah, probably. What about when it goes live? There is a high ticket volume notice on their support site that has been up for over two months now. Wait times are > two weeks to get a first response. Valve can barely support their customers now. Why will they be able to support a larger audience in a few months when the first devices become widely available?

I say good luck to them, but since the first rumblings of a Steambox going back to last year I saw it as the new MPC. It didn't go over back then and I can't figure out how it's going to work out now, other than to promote more of a console experience than a PC experience. Games will be targeted to run on certain configurations. There won't even be Low/Medium/High/Ultra type settings in the menu because these sorts of options can degrade or even break the experience, so why include them if you're going for a hassle free experience? Console players don't mess around with settings and toggle switches and config files and most of what makes PC gaming PC gaming anyway. So what is the value in providing these features going forward? And how would they distinguish a Steambox from a regular PC to even be able to optionally surface these settings from one machine to the next?

Gabe Newell decried Windows 8 as a catastrophe. His agenda is plainly obvious now, but isn't his strategy something of a catastrophe for the PC gaming space? It's already an "if you aren't on Steam you're barely selling" type of market (with a couple of exceptions). How does this make the situation any better? It only serves to give Valve even more control over the stranglehold they hold on PC gaming.

Harry Fields
profile image
EA will not be returning to Steam. The supposed purpose of the whole executive changeup was to strengthen their mobile and digital strategy. Their digital strategy is Origin, plain and simple.

Jay Anne
profile image
If current trends continue, we're going to be seeing fewer and fewer AAA console titles from those publishers you listed, and therefore fewer AAA console ports to Steam. Another question might be whether F2P PC companies find enough incentive to port their games to SteamOS.

Dave Kay
profile image
Except the idea is that you can build your own steam box. It's just a specialized linux distro running on any PC hardware you want. It isn't special, locked down, tiered hardware... So you'll still be able to tweak, hack, mod, adjust, upgrade, configure, etc as you do now.

In fact, it will bring all of that flexibility into the living room where you've never had it before. The only thing that comes close is Ouya, but it's too new and too limited to see where that might go still.

He's (ostensibly) trying to open things up, not close things down. His main complaints with Windows 8 is how they're locking stuff down with the store. That's (what he claims) he's trying to combat. And I believe him, for now.

Harry Fields
profile image
Yep, I built my own Steambox. It's great. It runs most of my games flawlessly. and supports controller pretty well in big picture mode. So why would I want to wipe the drive and install a Linux distro on it? What would I get out of it? More games? Nope. Better performance? Not likely, especially if it's running through wine or something on the backend. The ability to also install all these other media apps? Maybe a few.

Maybe I'm wrong on it... but I just don't see the "why".

And how is Windows 8 locked down? I run Steam, Origin and tons of old apps and everything just fine on it.

Keith Thomson
profile image
It's not running Wine on the back end, it's native. Also, Valve has ported some of their own games to Linux and found that they actually perform better on that platform. Not a great deal better though, less than a percentage point difference, but still there are benefits from getting rid of all that Windows NT overhead.

Windows 8 isn't YET locked down for the DESKTOP side, but for the "modern ui" side it is completely locked down, and you can only distribute applications through Microsoft's store. The Desktop mode is only in there as a legacy thing to allow old applications to continue to work in the transition period to full "Modern UI" that will happen in a future release of windows.

Mike Griffin
profile image
I'll end up dual booting with SteamOS on a strong rig.

Come next year, if I'm faced with a platform decision on a AAA game, and it turns out the SteamOS version is significantly more optimized than the Windows version, but the game supports Steam Play (buy for PC, own it for Mac and Linux too), I'll be more than happy to boot into SteamOS to enjoy a superior experience.

Whether it's a desktop-style KBM experience, or a living room-style analog controller/driving wheel/fighting stick etc. experience.

Lo and behold, I'll be able to pick up my SteamOS Steam Play game where I left off on my Windows laptop when traveling.

That's the sort of flexibility I'm looking at for my Steam experience when SteamOS comes into the picture. Options and more options, with game purchases 'unlocked' across multiple OS platforms. Pick yer poison based on config, location, genre, and relative performance.

Michael MacDonald
profile image
For me the question will be whether or not they can get enough games ported to SteamOS, and if they can replace XBMC. If they can do this, if they can pull it off, they will be awesome. In any case, these Steamboxes will run Windows as well, so no one will be left in the cold. I like Windows 8, honestly, but I would like something more comprehensive and easy to use for my HTPC. XBMC is nice, but it's a little clanky in spots and a lot of work to set up.

Scott Lavigne
profile image
@Dave Kay

Valve wants to open things up as far as it serves them. They're trying to close things for consumers. Yes, you'll be able to do more with this distro than you can with Windows, but from the way they package it, it'll likely be presented as pretty closed to uneducated users. They want to secure a piece of the console market. That market wants simplicity in their devices. These devices will still be pushed in a way that you use them out-of-box, and I wouldn't be surprised if its interfaces didn't resemble modern console OSes.

Michael MacDonald
profile image
Though I would really like for this to move forward. I may end up running Windows 8 with Steam in the living room, but streaming to SteamOS machines in spare rooms. this seems the best case. Hopefully, though, a lot more games get ported to Linux/SteamOS. This would make my life so much less complicated, sigh.

Mark Fronstin
profile image
Will we then develop our games on tablets?

Harry Fields
profile image
What? You don't want to bang out C## or C on a virtual keyboard on a 9 inch screen?!?!? Blasphemy, you anti-progress troglodyte!

Nathan Mates
profile image
According to the Steam Hardware & Software survey, it looks like less than 1% of users are on some flavor of Linux. And that's far behind Macintoshes at 4-5%. As much as Linux gets buzz, it doesn't -- so far -- appear to be paying off in terms of mass switching. Maybe Valve is being really forward looking, and trying to say to users "for your second (or fifth) PC at home, consider Linux."

I have a ~8 year old laptop hooked up to my TV at home. Tried dual-booting Linux on it. That didn't play very well with Skype -- my kids want to see their grandparents (or vice versa). Now back to 100% Windows XP all the time on that laptop. I'm the sort that ought to be an early adopter of a SteamOS, as I've built PCs from scratch, and have a fileserver running FreeBSD -- not Mac, not Linux. I don't like each flavor of Linux deciding to move config files around each and every release. FreeBSD is a more complete and coherent OS, as the same group is responsible for the core kernel and application/filesystem layout. Linux is too much throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. Then moving things on a whim.

Michael MacDonald
profile image
Understand that there are a HUGE number of people who are only running Windows because they have no choice. They would RATHER be running Linux. The rest are either stubborn and have no clue what they are talking about, or they just run what came on the machine. Port the games, and the user base will follow.

Robert Schmidt
profile image
Who other than a linux user would develop games for linux? Are you going to get your money back? If indies have a hard time making back their money on PC games what chance do they have on linux? Perhaps if you can create a low cost open source linux console...good luck with that.

E Zachary Knight
profile image
If you are using a cross platform engine like Unity or Haxe, then porting to Linux is not that much of an additional cost. No more than making a Mac port of your game.

Mike Griffin
profile image
I recall interviewing a bunch of mobile devs and middleware providers at a conference right in the midst of the Ouya's multi-million dollar rise on Kickstarter, asking about the microconsole's chances to disrupt Android gaming, and properly bring it into the living room.

More often than not, we came full circle and asked if the Ouya could instead unify gaming on Android. In a sea of massive Android hardware fragmentation across countless devices, could the Ouya (or another upstart Android microconsole) act as a unifying force, gathering Android game developers under a designated SDK and spec? With a sort of baseline Tegra 3 level of afforded power, and a target input device.

Anyway, we could look at Valve's move with SteamOS as a potential unifying force in the realm of development and play on the Linux platform, which is also its own small sea of fragmentation.

Give developers a slick SDK, a powerful new engine in Source 2, ensure the most popular middleware is supported, in a single, unified, optimized-for-media-and-gaming, development environment. To 'solve' Linux fragmentation on a certain level by making SteamOS the umbrella for future game development on the OS.

So teams can stop thinking of the effort as simply "making a Linux version" (for a tiny audience) and rather see it as entering the SteamOS development environment to make a SteamOS version of a game, to capitalize on its strengths and openness, and harness the reach of the service platform behind it.

The rigs that come out of the SteamOS hardware partners will play their own role in assisting the unification efforts -- despite the proposed broad range of devices, they're likely to be guided by a Valve-recommended "minimum spec" of sorts, as will system builders.

This seems to be the general M.O. here: Linux is merely the open platform they're catching a ride on, but SteamOS is meant to be the driving force.

Because it's free and unlicensed, they don't necessarily need to parade a huge list of studios that are onboard with SteamOS games, as the console makers do. It's not about supporting a Steambox; it's about using the OS to power games and entertainment. However, Valve will need a strong line-up of quality titles from a broad spectrum of studios to show the public that this vision has the support of the industry.

You want people saying "this is great code" and "it's a pleasure to develop for SteamOS" and "the porting process is a breeze" instead of "fuck it, not worth the effort, people can just stream our PC version to their Steambox if they want. We'll include Big Picture support to cover our asses."

Jay Anne
profile image
I would prefer to have people saying "we recouped our costs on day one sales" or "games are selling a million copies on Steambox". Development ease is nice, but platforms live and die on sales.

Ross Wilson
profile image
wow..i'm all for open platform...but i'm a risk taker by nature...if you all haven't tried out the virtual reality..you must get an oculus..if you really wanna experience gaming, try out this new mmo rpg....it's being dev'd out of atlanta and is integrating VR, specifically oculus rift into it...seems pretty awesome: http://kck.st/GGu124


none
 
Comment: