Valve introduces ‘Steam Machines’

Stuart Benjamin, Arts Editor

Over the last two decades, the video gaming community has seen the release of three home consoles from each of the three major video game corporations: Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft.  In all this time, wouldn’t it seem likely for a new company with a new system to surface?  Well, after 20 years of the home console domination, computer video game corporation Valve is proud to introduce its very own “Steam Machines.”

Valve came on the scene in the late 90s, when a disgruntled Microsoft employee, Gabe Newell, decided to take after John Carmack from ID Software and start his own independent production company. Their first game “Half-Life” changed the idea of first-person shooters, with a complex and in-depth storyline, intricate puzzle solving, and crowbar-swinging action. This game launched Valve into the forefront of the gaming community, but at the time computer gaming was outshone by the new home consoles Playstation and X-box.

Over the years Valve released critically acclaimed games that anybody in the interactive arts business will recognize by name. They are also well known for their online game store and platform, Steam. Through Steam, gamers can interact with others, form groups, purchase games (at extreme discounts), and read news from the gaming world. Steam has provided somewhat of a social-media/online community for these gamers; it was no wonder people wanted to see them come out with a console. Back in 2012, Valve made an announcement that they would soon be working on a computer operating system that they would ship to hardware developers with the intention of having systems made specifically for Steam. These “living room computers” will be designed specifically for optimal gaming experience and fully customizable. The plus side to allowing multiple companies to make different systems is that it allows a lot of room for a price range and tailoring to each gamers computing needs.

Early last month, Valve added a new hardware section to the Steam client, stating that Steam Machines will be available in November 2015. They currently have 15 different system choices with prices ranging from $479.99-$4,999.99 posted on their website. In addition to these systems, Steam has various other hardware projects going on. At the end of 2014, mobile device company HTC teamed up with Valve and began working on a new Virtual Reality headset for gaming, VIVE, which will combine high quality graphics with motion sensing technology to fully immerse players in the gaming experience, placing them right in the action.

So whether it’s the advent of a new gaming platform or the innovative technology that is VIVE, 2015 belongs to Valve Corporation. The Xbox One and PS4, which already have poor approval ratings, won’t stand a chance against PC gaming superiority.