Steam Machines

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romxxii:
A gaming-only Linux distro sounds nice, and hopefully Steam Machines + SteamOS will convince devs to start building Linux ports. What I'm more concerned about are my old games, and the stuff I bought off GOG. Other than the streaming feature advertised, will they build emulators into the OS for those old Windows/DOS games?

DOS games already have a free and high-quality emulator for Linux. It's called DOSBox, and it's exactly the same one that gog.com ships with each game.

http://www.dosbox.com/download.php?main=1

As you can see, they've already got a version tailored to the major distros, and you can bet your bottom that they'll have a SteamOS version up within days of launch. It may require a bit of fiddling to get the game working, but if you use the DOSBox options shipped with the game in question, it's far from impossible. Plus, a sudden spike of interest in SteamOS would probably get gog.com to make SteamOS-tailored versions of their games.

Old Windows games probably run fine with Wine.

But as someone else already said, you don't have to abandon your current Windows setup. Dual-booting is easy.

lacktheknack:
DOS games already have a free and high-quality emulator for Linux. It's called DOSBox, and it's exactly the same one that gog.com ships with each game.

http://www.dosbox.com/download.php?main=1

As you can see, they've already got a version tailored to the major distros, and you can bet your bottom that they'll have a SteamOS version up within days of launch. It may require a bit of fiddling to get the game working, but if you use the DOSBox options shipped with the game in question, it's far from impossible. Plus, a sudden spike of interest in SteamOS would probably get gog.com to make SteamOS-tailored versions of their games.

Old Windows games probably run fine with Wine.

Well that solves all my problems. Thanks buddy!

But as someone else already said, you don't have to abandon your current Windows setup. Dual-booting is easy.

Dual-booting means re-partitioning; I'm too lazy to do that. :P In all seriousness though, I'm not abandoning my main desktop (not until obsolescence, anyway). I'm thinking of adopting SteamOS exclusively for a planned mini-ITX build.

romxxii:

Infernal Lawyer:

viranimus:
-insert insane rant here-

Hey buddy, might want to tuck that shirt in, your irrational hatred of Steam is showing.

Seriously though, perhaps it's obvious to you but I'm not sure anyone else gets what you mean by "anti-consumer policies" or "duping people into willingly abandoning their money". It helps to elaborate when shitting on a system that most people like so that there's a chance that they'll take you seriously, if only so they can refute your viewpoint.

He's probably talking about the fact that you're technically leasing, not owning, digital downloads. Probably uses it to justify his constant piracy of games from the publishers he mentioned. Otherwise, what the hell is he doing on a gaming website?

My guess is, he's a holdover from the time when Steam was still shit. That, or he has a shitty connection. Those are the usual suspects when it comes to irrational Steam hatred.

Why does that make him a pirate? It's not impossible that he just buys the game elsewhere or not at all if he's that against it. But maybe we shouldn't talk about someone in the third person like this anyway :P

lacktheknack:

Infernal Lawyer:
Hey buddy, might want to tuck that shirt in, your irrational hatred of Steam is showing.

Seriously though, perhaps it's obvious to you but I'm not sure anyone else gets what you mean by "anti-consumer policies" or "duping people into willingly abandoning their money". It helps to elaborate when shitting on a system that most people like so that there's a chance that they'll take you seriously, if only so they can refute your viewpoint.

This is just what he does. He's taken it upon himself to bear the cross of "consumer rights" to the exclusion of sanity and artist rights. He's got a right to it, he just doesn't get very many people following him on it. I will admit that he's pretty good at what he does, though.

His point for years is that since you're only purchasing a "license" that can be revoked at any time, Steam is pure evil. He doesn't seem to comprehend that I'm entirely OK with merely "renting" the games I get on Steam, because I get them for so cheap. If Valve wiped my library tomorrow with good reason, I'd be really annoyed, but it wouldn't be a massive loss of investment. I'd only want Tomb Raider, Skyrim and Civilization V back.

He does have a point in that these ARE just "rentals", which is why if I have a choice between gog.com (who actually sells you a copy to do what you want with) and Steam, I'll pick gog.com every time. But for when there is no crossover, I have no problem with paying a comparitively small amount for a license.

That, and I can't imagine a situation where Valve would see it viable outside of plain going bankrupt to cut off service to the games for the shitstorm that would occur, and (not really a good defense for Steam but oh well) it's hardly morally objectionable to pirate a game that you've paid for if you lost access to it.

I've said this elsewhere, but the difference IMO between Valve and other corporations like EA and whatnot is that they don't pull anywhere near as much shit that other corps do, despite technically being allowed to. For example, Steam is notorious when it comes to refunding purchases (not re-selling btw), but they've never threatened to ban someone's account for asking for a refund they were PROMISED. I imagine Valve wouldn't be held in such high regard by most people if it abused it's power as much as some of the other players.

Dexter111:

Shamus Young:
But on the corporate side, the debate has been over for almost a decade, and consoles won. It wasn't even close.

I'd beg to disagree: http://www.newzoo.com/press-releases/newzoo-announces-new-report-and-projects-global-games-market-to-grow-6-to-70-4bn-in-2013/
image

The image you're using is a bit misleading: here's another one, which subdivides it into per segment:

image

As you can clearly see, the per-screen 39% gets collapsed to 21% MMO, 9% social, and a measly 9% for non-MMO, non-social (i.e. "core"), PC games. Conversely, Entertainment Screen, Floating Screen, and Personal Screen all get smushed and re-grouped into 43% console and 18% mobile. Even if you add the MMO to the 9% for boxed PC downloads, you only get 30%. So yeah, unless you're willing to be grouped with your Facebook friends who keep spamming you Farmville requests, then consoles have definitively won.

Infernal Lawyer:

Why does that make him a pirate? It's not impossible that he just buys the game elsewhere or not at all if he's that against it. But maybe we shouldn't talk about someone in the third person like this anyway :P

People who hate Steam and its clones (GFWL, Uplay, Origin) have very few options: they could buy from GOG, and from Humble Bundle, the only two legal sources of DRM-free games. That gives you abandonware, indies, and some CD-Projekt titles. So, if you hate any form of DRM, and you want access to everything, even new shit? Well, you pirate, then tell yourself you're stealing from evil people, which makes you a good guy.

Great article again, Mr. Young!

You know, I'm STILL confuzzled on what this announcement is supposed to be about. More what people are saying about it, actually, as if the 'SteamBox' or 'entering the console market' was Valve's blatant plan all along.

The way I see it, SteamOS is Valve's most important and potentially innovative announcement. An OS dedicated to gaming you don't see every day, and being free, like most linux distributions, is only meta-icing on the cake. If an OS dedicated to gaming, which this sounds like, can improve the performance of current and future games, then Valve will continue to earn their reputation and following.

The 'SteamBox', however, just sounds like a pre-made PC. What's the big fart about that? I highly doubt (and I could be wrong here) that SteamOS will be locked to these SteamBoxes. It's not so much a console than a computer in the guise of one; a partnership with PC manufacturers to net in some revenue/keep everyone happy. But seeing how I can install quite a few linux distributions on my PC now, and Valve works primarily with PC, I'll assume I'm free to switch from Windows to SteamOS if I see fit to.

The controller is...just a controller. It looks unique, and I'm quite glad/excited to try haptic feedback. The ABXY buttons are placed pretty wierdly, however.

One of the biggest arguments I see in the console/PC debate is the location of where you can play and how TV's are bigger than computer monitors (typically). The usual PC counter is that people can just plug their tower into the TV. If that's what PC gamers are doing now. I don't see any reason why they would buy something they essentially already own.

Oh right, if it's the only thing that has Half-Life 3 everyone will buy it. Of course then Steam would be responsible for holding a game everyone wants hostage in order to boost sales for a product no one wants. Either one would be hilarious for me to watch.

Also:

romxxii:

My guess is, he's a holdover from the time when Steam was still shit. That, or he has a shitty connection. Those are the usual suspects when it comes to irrational Steam hatred.

Isn't the PC crowd always up in arms when single player games released with an online requirement? And yet "people with bad connections hate steam." Does that mean PC gamers don't actually care about the online requirement, it's just a vocal minority that also hates Steam?

fix-the-spade:
The graphic immediately above that predicts that PC downloads and boxed games will only make nine percent of that total market, the other thirty percent coming from casual gaming and MMOs.

That more or less agrees with the assertion that for big boxed sale games PC is now the minor market, there are anomalies (specifically Dice, Valve, Relic and Blizzard) but most developers and publishers expect the major sales to come from console players.

I'm not sure classifying MMOs as a thing by itself is entirely fair as it skews the figures against PC games somewhat, but it also holds true that MMO markets are separate from the annual/bienniel triple A release cycle and follow different trends.

romxxii:
The image you're using is a bit misleading: here's another one, which subdivides it into per segment:

image

As you can clearly see, the per-screen 39% gets collapsed to 21% MMO, 9% social, and a measly 9% for non-MMO, non-social (i.e. "core"), PC games. Conversely, Entertainment Screen, Floating Screen, and Personal Screen all get smushed and re-grouped into 43% console and 18% mobile. Even if you add the MMO to the 9% for boxed PC downloads, you only get 30%. So yeah, unless you're willing to be grouped with your Facebook friends who keep spamming you Farmville requests, then consoles have definitively won.

It's not really "misleading", it's all part of PC gaming albeit being somewhat fragmented. While you might argue that Social/Casual games aren't part of the "core" that isn't entirely true, there are for instance Browser games like these:
https://www.herokon-online.com/
http://www.drakensang.com/

And even if you want to argue that this "isn't PC gaming" I think you'll have a much harder time arguing that phenomenons like League of Legends or World of Tanks which are counted as MMOs aren't "core PC games":
http://www.newzoo.com/infographics/the-global-mmo-market-sizing-and-seizing-opportunities/

While we're at it you could nitpick the console data too, since all consoles (Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo) including older ones like PlayStation 2 and even handhelds are included in said numbers. Not only that but they apparently also count revenue from second-hand trade-ins that don't add anything to publishers coffers and DLC so the numbers are likely over reported.

Consoles remain the highest revenue generating platform, with $30.6 billion (-1% y-o-y) equal to 43% of global games revenues. This includes all DLC spend and business-to-consumer second-hand trade.

All that considered and the PC market is still about as large as the entire console market put together.

On the other hand it is notoriously hard to get any revenue numbers out of Valve/Steam, since they are a privately held and run company with the ninth consecutive year-over-year sales growth of nearly 100% so they are likely to be underreported: http://www.valvesoftware.com/news/?id=4502
http://www.gametrailers.com/side-mission/1768/steam-reports-100-sales-growth-for-7th-consecutive-year
http://www.vg247.com/2013/09/17/steam-continues-to-show-growth-despite-steady-year-over-year-unit-declines-in-pc-sales-says-newell/

irishda:
Isn't the PC crowd always up in arms when single player games released with an online requirement? And yet "people with bad connections hate steam." Does that mean PC gamers don't actually care about the online requirement, it's just a vocal minority that also hates Steam?

Mostly. Steam users embrace its online requirement, which is usually used for one-time activations, syncing cloud saves, updating Steam, and of course, downloading games and their patches/mods. However, none of these require you to be online while you play (Save for the actual MMOs and MP games). Additionally, there's an Offline Mode which lets you play even when your connection's down -- sans the aforementioned online features, of course.

The vocal minority of complainants usually have older builds of Steam, which had a really buggy Offline Mode, preventing people from playing when their connection went down. That, or they were stupid and tried to play a game that had another DRM layer, like Origin, Uplay, or GFWL. To my knowledge, the only one of those that has functional offline is Uplay. Origin warns you in-game when connection drops, which is annoying as hell.

Dexter111:
It's not really "misleading", it's all part of PC gaming albeit being somewhat fragmented. While you might argue that Social/Casual games aren't part of the "core" that isn't entirely true, there are for instance Browser games like these:
https://www.herokon-online.com/
http://www.drakensang.com/

Er, those look like browser-based online RPG's to me. They wouldn't be filed under social -- which covers Mafia Wars and Farmville -- but under MMO, which, as stated already, is already covered under the 21% heading of "MMO".

And even if you want to argue that this "isn't PC gaming" I think you'll have a much harder time arguing that phenomenons like League of Legends or World of Tanks which are counted as MMOs aren't "core PC games":

There's a reason I put "core" in quotation marks to begin with; it's a term I don't like to use. In fact, if we go back to my statement:

Even if you add the MMO to the 9% for boxed PC downloads, you only get 30%.

Yeah, I have no problems lumping them together, because those are your typical PC gamers.

While we're at it you could nitpick the console data too, since all consoles (Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo) including older ones like PlayStation 2 and even handhelds are included in said numbers.

Hence, my statement that you would need the casual/flash/facebook demographic to surpass console gaming, which is still your 36% Entertainment screen (to remove handheld).

On the other hand, If we didn't remove handheld, and we didn't remove facebook games, consoles still win at 43%-39%. A closer game, true, but still one they win hands down.

Not only that but they apparently also count revenue from second-hand trade-ins that don't add anything to publishers coffers and DLC so the numbers are likely over reported.

Are you saying DLCs don't get counted in PC sales? Because if they aren't, it's unfair. But only if they aren't.

As for trade-ins, the stores still earn something from that, so I guess you can add it because someone in the industry's getting paid. Just not the people who made the game, unfortunately.

On the other hand it is notoriously hard to get any revenue numbers out of Valve/Steam, since they are a privately held and run company with the ninth consecutive year-over-year sales growth of nearly 100% so they are likely to be underreported:

It could also be overreported, too. The point is, we don't know unless the publishers release the numbers (and they seem to be contractually obligated by Valve to not disclose that info).

irishda:
One of the biggest arguments I see in the console/PC debate is the location of where you can play and how TV's are bigger than computer monitors (typically). The usual PC counter is that people can just plug their tower into the TV. If that's what PC gamers are doing now. I don't see any reason why they would buy something they essentially already own.

Oh right, if it's the only thing that has Half-Life 3 everyone will buy it. Of course then Steam would be responsible for holding a game everyone wants hostage in order to boost sales for a product no one wants. Either one would be hilarious for me to watch.

This is pretty much the way I see it was well.

Those who are already primarily console gamers are likely to stick with the form factor they're used to, playing in the way they're used to, and playing the series/genres they're used to.

Those who are dedicated PC gamers are likely already fans of the strengths that the PC gaming side already has. They're unlikely to be interested in buying a pre configured box (even if it is upgradeable) and can already do the connection to TV, strean media, etc. stuff if they want to.

There isn't really any sort of established market for the small slice of gaming that exists outside of those two options. Sure, Valve may make strides in creating it, but it's a space just as likely to be invaded by Apple or Google over the next few years. And, let's be honest, as beloved as Valve is amongst the devoted PC gaming crowd, they'd be crushed by either of those two competitors amongst the consumer public at large.

StriderShinryu:

irishda:
One of the biggest arguments I see in the console/PC debate is the location of where you can play and how TV's are bigger than computer monitors (typically). The usual PC counter is that people can just plug their tower into the TV. If that's what PC gamers are doing now. I don't see any reason why they would buy something they essentially already own.

Oh right, if it's the only thing that has Half-Life 3 everyone will buy it. Of course then Steam would be responsible for holding a game everyone wants hostage in order to boost sales for a product no one wants. Either one would be hilarious for me to watch.

This is pretty much the way I see it was well.

Those who are already primarily console gamers are likely to stick with the form factor they're used to, playing in the way they're used to, and playing the series/genres they're used to.

Those who are dedicated PC gamers are likely already fans of the strengths that the PC gaming side already has. They're unlikely to be interested in buying a pre configured box (even if it is upgradeable) and can already do the connection to TV, strean media, etc. stuff if they want to.

There isn't really any sort of established market for the small slice of gaming that exists outside of those two options. Sure, Valve may make strides in creating it, but it's a space just as likely to be invaded by Apple or Google over the next few years. And, let's be honest, as beloved as Valve is amongst the devoted PC gaming crowd, they'd be crushed by either of those two competitors amongst the consumer public at large.

Thanks for posting this because ever since this site got flooded with this news I've wanted to know who this thing was actually made for and never really got as clear an answer. Like you said if Apple or Google made something, as a strictly console/handheld user, I'd probably get them just because I buy a lot of their products and they're household names, whereas with Valve and Steam, I've never even heard of them before joining this site, so their name/product's effect is quite lost on me.

romxxii:
People who hate Steam and its clones (GFWL, Uplay, Origin) have very few options: they could buy from GOG, and from Humble Bundle, the only two legal sources of DRM-free games. That gives you abandonware, indies, and some CD-Projekt titles.

Being the resident GOG white knight, I'd just like to point out that there are games on GOG which don't fall into these categories. I mean the ones which are a few years old but haven't become abandonware, like the Gothic series or King's Bounty. Or Heroes of Might & Magic V.

So, if you hate any form of DRM, and you want access to everything, even new shit? Well, you pirate, then tell yourself you're stealing from evil people, which makes you a good guy.

Or you know, you buy a physical copy. On a disc. In a box. Not all of them have DRM.

You don't even have to interact with people to do it nowadays.

OT: I tended to steer clear of all those announcements, because the amount of sloppy blowjobs that Valve receives from Escapist contributors makes me a bit queasy. But now that Shamus touched upon it, I have no choice.

Here's my question: what is the big deal about SteamBox? They seem to indicate that to play most Windows games, you still have to stream them from PC. So SB is something that lets you use your TV as a screen for PC gaming. I already have something like that. It's called a cable. And I'm pretty sure it's cheaper.

I can sort of see the advantage of SteamOS though, as I remember Linux users complaining to no end that their chosen system doesn't work too well as a serious gaming platform. It seems like Valve is trying to use its clout to force expansion of the gaming market into Linux. And I can stand behind such an idea. TBH, Linux's inviability as a gaming platform is the one thing keeping me back from adopting it (now that I got a work computer and don't have to run work-related software on my laptop).

And if that plan (forcing expansion into Linux) works, then SteamBox might become a successful console - a year or two down the line. Because at launch, I don't see much potential beyond "It's Valve! It's Steam!", which is not enough for me, personally. However, won't we end up running into the same problem it's supposed to combat? I.e. that SteamOS would become the only "proper" Linux distro for gaming, effectively another closed system?

Valve announces something, everyone pisses themselves with happiness and worship and next thing everyone assumes Half Life 3.

Normal day.

For the record, the SteamMachines are, IMHO a stupid idea. They don't do anything that can't already be done by Steam users (read, their existing fan-base has no reason to buy them) and Linux won't suddenly turn into the gaming platform per se, so people won't get all the games they want so they won't see a use for the machine either if, in order to play them, they still need a PC and need to stream it.

But it's Valve, so it's obviously the way forward, progressive and amazing.

RyQ_TMC:
Being the resident GOG white knight

Why do you have to white-knight GOG? It's a decent service with good sales and no DRM. That's a pretty good idea, hampered only by its comparatively smaller catalogue.

I'd just like to point out that there are games on GOG which don't fall into these categories. I mean the ones which are a few years old but haven't become abandonware, like the Gothic series or King's Bounty. Or Heroes of Might & Magic V.

That's still a relatively limited catalogue, especially when compared to Steam's. Legal and DRM-free purchases give you a very, very small menu to choose from, which was my point in the first place. Sorry if excluding "mildly successful games from the mid-00's" put a bee in your bonnet.

Or you know, you buy a physical copy. On a disc. In a box. Not all of them have DRM.

You don't even have to interact with people to do it nowadays.

Really now? Pray tell, please give me a title that isn't pre-360/PS3 era, that doesn't have DRM, or whose DRM can function with Windows 7 or 8? I personally can't recall any.

Here's a little story for you: I bought Prince of Persia: the Two Thrones back in the day, and recently had the urge to play through it. Inserted my disk, installed, failed. You know what happened? Starforce happened, that's what. Windows 8 didn't even want to install that shit on my system.

Here's my question: what is the big deal about SteamBox? They seem to indicate that to play most Windows games, you still have to stream them from PC. So SB is something that lets you use your TV as a screen for PC gaming. I already have something like that. It's called a cable. And I'm pretty sure it's cheaper.

The streaming bit is to reassure people who intend to switch over that they'll still have access to all their games. Remember that right now, there are only a couple hundred Linux-ready Steam games at best, with very few of the AAA titles or older games, like the Sands of Time trilogy.

However, won't we end up running into the same problem it's supposed to combat? I.e. that SteamOS would become the only "proper" Linux distro for gaming, effectively another closed system?

They said that they would continue to keep SteamOS as open as the day they built on it, that you could install third party applications without issue. Now, if your case is that SteamOS will become so optimized for gaming that it trounces other Linux distros, what's to stop people from copying the optimized drivers from SteamOS to say, Ubuntu? Valve can't exactly change the terms of the open-source licenses that cover Debian, on which SteamOS is based.

Aardvaarkman:
Apple doesn't do this. If you sell software through the App Store, you are free to make Windows, Linux or Android versions of your software too. They do not have to be exclusive to Apple's store.

You misunderstood me. What I meant is that the only official method to install software in an Apple device is through the AppStore. They've set it up so if you want to use/publish software on their hardware, you must subject yourself to their policies.

Compare to Android, where you can upload apps without using their store. And yes, you could jailbreak your Apple device, but when installing software requires voiding your device's warranty, there's something not right there.

It's even been touched before in articles on this very site that the Windows 8 Metro interface and App Store are a transparent attempt at replicating the AppStore locked down market.

My worry is the exact same thing happening with Valve/Steam if they reach a position of power, resulting in the only games being playable on a SteamBox/OS being ones installed exclusively through Steam, thus giving Valve absolute control over the type of content that is "acceptable" on their system... Just as *all* console manufacturers, and Apple, do.

It might be just me, but if I fork over money for a piece of hardware, say an iPhone, and want to install an app that Apple's content standards don't like, say one that shows a floppy penis on the screen, I'm well within my rights as an adult to do so, and I don't see why Apple, or any other company, should have a say on what content I choose to use on the hardware I payed for.

They build hardware. They are not the moral guardians of the world. And I don't give a rat's ass about what they consider suits their marketplace or doesn't, I only care if it serves my needs.

Furthermore, as a hobbyist developer, I don't like the idea of subjecting myself to the whims of a corporation. Why should I limit my creative vision to fit their corporate image?

Hence my comment. I'd be onboard with an OS/Box that is open to third party software, like Android is. If not, I'll just pass, as I do with iOS and consoles.

But that's just me.

romxxii:
That's still a relatively limited catalogue, especially when compared to Steam's. Legal and DRM-free purchases give you a very, very small menu to choose from, which was my point in the first place. Sorry if excluding "mildly successful games from the mid-00's" put a bee in your bonnet.

I see your point and I never tried to claim that GOG can rival Steam in terms of size. Just wanted to point out that there are a few games they have which run on modern systems without their tweaking, and are neither indie nor abandonware.

Really now? Pray tell, please give me a title that isn't pre-360/PS3 era, that doesn't have DRM, or whose DRM can function with Windows 7 or 8? I personally can't recall any.

The Witcher 2. OK, that's only one example from a publisher who makes a point about being DRM-free. And maybe we shouldn't continue this tangent, since I can't think of any off the top of my head that I would know are DRM-free. I think that Total War games are...

Here's a little story for you: I bought Prince of Persia: the Two Thrones back in the day, and recently had the urge to play through it. Inserted my disk, installed, failed. You know what happened? Starforce happened, that's what. Windows 8 didn't even want to install that shit on my system.

Incidentally, that's another game GOG has in its catalogue, so yes, this is a game you can have a copy of, DRM-free, without resorting to piracy. Although they don't guarantee Win8 support at this point, AFAIK.

The streaming bit is to reassure people who intend to switch over that they'll still have access to all their games. Remember that right now, there are only a couple hundred Linux-ready Steam games at best, with very few of the AAA titles or older games, like the Sands of Time trilogy.

That's part of my point. Early on, there wouldn't be much point in switching to SteamBox from PC. They don't seem to offer anything you can't have on other platforms. The argument that Linux is more efficient than Windows only becomes valid once the Linux-ready catalogue expands. And it's not obvious that it will. Limited catalogue means less potential customers. Less potential customers means that publishers will be less willing to invest in producing Linux versions of their games. Less Linux versions means a more limited catalogue. And Valve trying to force publishers to adopt by measures like refusing to accept non-Linux ready games on Steam might backfire horribly.

They said that they would continue to keep SteamOS as open as the day they built on it, that you could install third party applications without issue. Now, if your case is that SteamOS will become so optimized for gaming that it trounces other Linux distros, what's to stop people from copying the optimized drivers from SteamOS to say, Ubuntu? Valve can't exactly change the terms of the open-source licenses that cover Debian, on which SteamOS is based.

Not too well-acquainted with the niceties of Linux and my question was a hypothetical that I was hoping someone more knowledgeable would answer. So I wasn't mounting a case against SteamOS, it's more that I have a hard time believing that Valve wouldn't try to keep a large bit of the market to themselves. Introducing some level of "exclusivity" would be a way of accomplishing that.

romxxii:

Infernal Lawyer:

Why does that make him a pirate? It's not impossible that he just buys the game elsewhere or not at all if he's that against it. But maybe we shouldn't talk about someone in the third person like this anyway :P

People who hate Steam and its clones (GFWL, Uplay, Origin) have very few options: they could buy from GOG, and from Humble Bundle, the only two legal sources of DRM-free games. That gives you abandonware, indies, and some CD-Projekt titles. So, if you hate any form of DRM, and you want access to everything, even new shit? Well, you pirate, then tell yourself you're stealing from evil people, which makes you a good guy.

Consoles don't require steam/Origin, and there are still quite a few (although less AAA) games that are still sold as hard copy and only have disc based protection. It's not all steam/origin :-/
As much as I like steam I like to keep my options open, I only get from steam when its cheap as being digital it has little value by default, thus I pay little for it. Hard copies are what I pay premium for.

romxxii:

Here's a little story for you: I bought Prince of Persia: the Two Thrones back in the day, and recently had the urge to play through it. Inserted my disk, installed, failed. You know what happened? Starforce happened, that's what. Windows 8 didn't even want to install that shit on my system.

Off the top of my head:
ArmA 1/2/Operation Arrowhead
Take on Helicopter
Rescue 2013
Trainz Series upto 2013
Train Rail Simul ---- just simulators in general normally have hard copies that don't require online
Command and Conquer 3
Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3
Medal of Honor (2010)
That's just a few off the top of my head. Although if you want to play offline consoles are the best choice for now, which is why the XBone was so heavily hated.

As for older games not working, sofar I haven't had that issue which couldn't be fixed with compatibility mode, I have every game I've ever purchased and they all still work to this day. Some may need fiddling around but they work.

Shamus Young:
But on the corporate side, the debate has been over for almost a decade, and consoles won.

There seems to be a typo here - you accidentally wrote "won" instead of "lost". To start with, this entire article is about a PC exclusive company releasing a line of PCs, so it's really rather odd that you brought consoles up at all. But on top of that, consoles are pretty much dead already. The PS4 and Xbone are both PCs built with standard PC hardware, they just happen to run non-Windows OSes. The only actual consoles that still exist are made by Nintendo, and the WiiU isn't exactly known for it's stunning success. Yes, the debate has been over for a while, and PCs won conclusively. The only question these days is how locked in to which company you want to be. And given that most PCs are either Windows or OS X, that's certainly not a way to distinguish "consoles".

RicoADF:

romxxii:

Here's a little story for you: I bought Prince of Persia: the Two Thrones back in the day, and recently had the urge to play through it. Inserted my disk, installed, failed. You know what happened? Starforce happened, that's what. Windows 8 didn't even want to install that shit on my system.

Off the top of my head:
ArmA 1/2/Operation Arrowhead
Take on Helicopter
Rescue 2013
Trainz Series upto 2013
Train Rail Simul ---- just simulators in general normally have hard copies that don't require online
Command and Conquer 3
Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3
Medal of Honor (2010)
That's just a few off the top of my head. Although if you want to play offline consoles are the best choice for now, which is why the XBone was so heavily hated.

As for older games not working, sofar I haven't had that issue which couldn't be fixed with compatibility mode, I have every game I've ever purchased and they all still work to this day. Some may need fiddling around but they work.

Great, you just quoted a list of games I don't play; I haven't even heard of some of these. So none of these games came with Steam, Origin, Starforce, or SecuROM? I used to acquire most of my games pirated prior to 2010, and I do not recall any game that did not need to be at least cracked of its DVD-based DRM. Those are worse than online DRM, IMHO. As based on my example there, I can no longer play my physical copy of Two Thrones because of disk-based DRM (which Windows considered as a big piece of malware, and did not allow me to install even with full admin privileges.

RyQ_TMC:
That's part of my point. Early on, there wouldn't be much point in switching to SteamBox from PC. They don't seem to offer anything you can't have on other platforms. The argument that Linux is more efficient than Windows only becomes valid once the Linux-ready catalogue expands. And it's not obvious that it will. Limited catalogue means less potential customers. Less potential customers means that publishers will be less willing to invest in producing Linux versions of their games. Less Linux versions means a more limited catalogue. And Valve trying to force publishers to adopt by measures like refusing to accept non-Linux ready games on Steam might backfire horribly.

Not sure where you got that last part. As Valve has constantly said, it's business as usual over at the Windows gaming side of things. Valve's not touching that.

Obviously their main challenge is catalogue, but think about it: their "limited" catalogue numbers in the hundreds. It's more than enough to support a year of gaming, especially if some already popular games like DOTA 2 and TF2 already run solid on the platform. To compare, the other consoles are hoping to squeak by with 30 games at launch, max. Most likely, they'll have 10 or so, 15 tops.

Here's one thing to remember: All the next-gen consoles have zero backwards compatibility (i.e. fresh game library), so they've been vaguely promising some stream service like Gaikai to give you access to your old games on teh new consoles. This is what Valve's promising with the streaming. The difference is, instead of depending on an external service like Gaikai, you'll be streaming from your home PC to your living room.

RyQ_TMC:
Introducing some level of "exclusivity" would be a way of accomplishing that.

I think that's what Half Life 3 is for.

romxxii:

Great, you just quoted a list of games I don't play; I haven't even heard of some of these. So none of these games came with Steam, Origin, Starforce, or SecuROM? I used to acquire most of my games pirated prior to 2010, and I do not recall any game that did not need to be at least cracked of its DVD-based DRM. Those are worse than online DRM, IMHO. As based on my example there, I can no longer play my physical copy of Two Thrones because of disk-based DRM (which Windows considered as a big piece of malware, and did not allow me to install even with full admin privileges.

So because you don't play them the list is invalid, rather funny one sided "only games I like are any good/valid" view...
Hate to break it to you mate, but not everyone plays only the latest CoD/other boring MMS games/other generic crap. I would point out that the last 4 games on the list are made by EA, not indies, and even ArmA are made by a AA studio which sells the game (rebranded) to the US/UK/Australian militaries as a training simulator, best games I've ever played personally.

I'm not sure about securom, they do require the disc so I assume yes to that, but they all work without issue and don't require online, Steam/Origin etc. Basically put disc in, install and play. I prefer disc based games to digital, never had an issue with them running (although I've never pirated so not sure if that's why I've never encountered issues).

EDIT: Expanded abit.

Oskuro:
My worry is the exact same thing happening with Valve/Steam if they reach a position of power, resulting in the only games being playable on a SteamBox/OS being ones installed exclusively through Steam, thus giving Valve absolute control over the type of content that is "acceptable" on their system... Just as *all* console manufacturers, and Apple, do.

First off, relax: this FAQ explicitly states that SteamOS still functions like a standard Linux distro, and will allow third party apps.

Second, aren't Valve already in a position of power? They own majority market share on digital distributions for PC. Have they abused that in any way, shape or form? Not to my knowledge.

Third: Valve already exercises a certain level of veto for content on Steam (e.g. pornography), but other than that, they've actually opened up the vetting process with Greenlight.

RicoADF:

So because you don't play them the list is invalid, rather funny one sided "only games I like are any good/valid" view...
I'm not sure about securom, they do require the disc so I assume yes to that, but they all work without issue and don't require online, Steam/Origin etc. Basically put disc in, install and play. I prefer disc based games to digital, never had an issue with them running (although I've never pirated so not sure if that's why I've never encountered issues).

No, I meant I can't verify if those games had no DRM. And you seem to be missing my point: install and play is well and good, but do they ask you to plug in the disc as you play? Because if they do, then they still have DRM, and again, I will say it again since you didn't get when I said it the first two times:

Disk-based DRM is the worst kind of evil that the video game industry has ever created. It is Hitler levels of evil. Online DRM is like a mildly annoying sore in comparison.

romxxii:

RicoADF:

So because you don't play them the list is invalid, rather funny one sided "only games I like are any good/valid" view...
I'm not sure about securom, they do require the disc so I assume yes to that, but they all work without issue and don't require online, Steam/Origin etc. Basically put disc in, install and play. I prefer disc based games to digital, never had an issue with them running (although I've never pirated so not sure if that's why I've never encountered issues).

No, I meant I can't verify if those games had no DRM. And you seem to be missing my point: install and play is well and good, but do they ask you to plug in the disc as you play? Because if they do, then they still have DRM, and again, I will say it again since you didn't get when I said it the first two times:

Disk-based DRM is the worst kind of evil that the video game industry has ever created. It is Hitler levels of evil. Online DRM is like a mildly annoying sore in comparison.

Disc based is NOT DRM, nor is it evil. Wow you have a weird view of gaming if you think having a physical copy to play a game is a bad thing. It's far better than digital DRM, as much as I like Steam I prefer disc over it anyday. As do many others, hence why the XBone was so heavily hated against. I did read what you said about 'disc' drm but ignored it because I don't care about your strange view on it.

However I can say ArmA runs without disc. So do some of the others, but thats besides the point.

Tanakh:

Sleekit:
snip

Nahh, it is outside the bounds of possibility, entirely.

First of all the original xbox hardware is dated, like 12 years dated, there is no point at all to use that hardware or build an OS for it outside nostalgia.

Secondly, it has custom made CPU, GPU, MoBo, everything.... and the data for those components is not available, meaning you will need to do a fucking lot of high level reverse engineering to fit your OS to that.

In short, you would need to be a genius and devote years to reverse engineer the specifications of that hardware and then fit it to an OS, all to use crap super dated hardware; or have been an intel and nvidia engineer and be willing to have your ass sued to China. It is NOT going to happen.

you don't know what is actually do-able on an (original) xbox do you ?

well if you feel like edumacating yourself google "xbox media center" for a start...

and for "it has custom made CPU, GPU, MoBo, everything..." don't kid yourself: its a PC.

Shamus Young:

No single gaming device is objectively better than the others. It depends on how you play, why you play, and where you play. There really is no clear winner. But on the corporate side, the debate has been over for almost a decade, and consoles won. It wasn't even close.

Well of course it depends on the objective measure you apply, consoles are better for people who find PCs too complex, hate tinkering or who like to play in their living room, for example. PCs are generally the most powerful system by a large factor.

Obviously corporations went for the former, it's much more lucrative to offer standardised parts, at an outrageous mark up, over a period of time so length they have effectively become obsolete, on a closed system you control.

The Steambox might remove the closed system, although I have my doubts, but what's the spec and will you be able to upgrade it? Otherwise it's just another console.

RicoADF:
Disc based is NOT DRM, nor is it evil.

Allow me to introduce you to my old friend, SecuROM. It's part of the reason I limit buying disk-based games, and prefer digital downloads. In case you didn't want to click through, here's the definition:

From Wikipedia:
SecuROM is a controversial CD/DVD copy protection and digital rights management (DRM) product developed by Sony DADC. Its purpose is to resist home media duplication devices, professional duplicators, and reverse engineering of software, primarily commercial computer games running under the Microsoft Windows platform. The method of disc protection in current versions is Data Position Measurement; this may or may not be used in conjunction with online DRM components.

Or how about my old nemesis, the reason I can't install old Ubisoft games, Starforce?

RicoADF:
Wow you have a weird view of gaming if you think having a physical copy to play a game is a bad thing. It's far better than digital DRM, as much as I like Steam I prefer disc over it anyday.

I've had disks die out on me over the years. Physical copies go bad; that's a reality of the DVD's engineering. They did not design it to last. What makes it worse is that the DRM requires the disk in the drive, which is pointless since all the data's already on your hard drive. What these programs do is they expose your disk to more wear and tear when it didn't have to be.

RicoADF:
I did read what you said about 'disc' drm but ignored it because I don't care about your strange view on it.

Glad to know you're ignoring my arguments because you don't care. Next time, try not replying. It'll be easier on the both of us.

I think the best thing about the steambox is that it's the "pc vs. console" killer. Whenever someone enraged lunatic comes up and start's spouting about how PC/Console is clearly superior, you just "but what about the steambox?", and they'll have no idea whether you're agreeing with them or not, be forced to concede, and buy you a turkey sandwich.

I assume that's what happens when you win a flamewar on the internet, you get a free turkey sandwich? I'll be honest, I can't see why someone would get involved in the damn things otherwise.

romxxii:

RyQ_TMC:
And Valve trying to force publishers to adopt by measures like refusing to accept non-Linux ready games on Steam might backfire horribly.

Not sure where you got that last part. As Valve has constantly said, it's business as usual over at the Windows gaming side of things. Valve's not touching that.

That was just an idea of what measures they could try and introduce to force publishers to fund Linux versions of their games. My idea, not based on any statement by Valve. And bear in mind that anything they say now, they can very wall backtrack from if they decide a different course of action is better for them. I'm not holding it against them, it's how a lot of companies operate.

But how exactly they would act to induce catalogue expansion is not the point here. What I'm trying to say is that if Valve tries any strategy other than banking on the Steam brand and hoping the expansion occurs naturally, other publishers might decide it's better to establish a competing platform. And I don't mean Origin or GFWL, it might even come to a little coalition of big names joining forces to create an "anti-Steam". Right now, Steam is a major distribution platform for them and trying to undermine it doesn't really work in their interest. But they might decide otherwise if Valve starts throwing its weight around.

Here's one thing to remember: All the next-gen consoles have zero backwards compatibility (i.e. fresh game library), so they've been vaguely promising some stream service like Gaikai to give you access to your old games on teh new consoles. This is what Valve's promising with the streaming. The difference is, instead of depending on an external service like Gaikai, you'll be streaming from your home PC to your living room.

I can definitely see the advantage of using what is effectively a Linux PC as a game console, with regards to backwards compatibility for later generations. And I think it's really good. I just don't think it's such a big factor for most gamers. For us at the Escapist Forums, sure, we like to engage in some nostalgia, replay old games and whatnot. But is backwards compatibility really that important for the majority of AAA consumers? Games are simply toys for most people, they don't look for profound experiences, as long as they can frag when they can't shag. If they can't run the 5-year old edition of their favourite AAA franchise, they're just gonna shrug and move on.

RyQ_TMC:
Introducing some level of "exclusivity" would be a way of accomplishing that.

I think that's what Half Life 3 is for.

And would it be SteamBox/SteamOS-exclusive? If that's what Valve is planning, then it's a big gamble.

romxxii:

RicoADF:
I did read what you said about 'disc' drm but ignored it because I don't care about your strange view on it.

Glad to know you're ignoring my arguments because you don't care. Next time, try not replying. It'll be easier on the both of us.

After you had that attitude about the games listed, I stopped caring about your view. Securom hasn't caused me issues, all my discs work so unless your pirating games I see no issue.

The most interesting thing here is that Microsoft have been trying to battle Steam for years now on the PC market.
Their Games For Windows Live was a complete failure (I thing I remember hearing somewhere that they actually discontinued it).
The news that their main competitor on the PC market is moving to consoles must be a huge shock for them.
With the game backlog of Valve and their complete and total dominance on the PC market (not counting the battlenet and arenanet userbase) I think Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo have a real battle on their hands trying to fight Valve here.
They have the userbase, the OS, the games, the resources and the hardware to give the competition a run for their money and run away with their money.

Next year will surely be a year to behold.

RicoADF:
Consoles don't require steam/Origin, and there are still quite a few (although less AAA) games that are still sold as hard copy and only have disc based protection. It's not all steam/origin :-/
As much as I like steam I like to keep my options open, I only get from steam when its cheap as being digital it has little value by default, thus I pay little for it. Hard copies are what I pay premium for.

Same. At the very least, you also get an offline copy for storage which in the case of the ps3's blue rays could be up to 100 gigs. 10 years or more down the line, I'll probably be able to rip and emulate them without resorting to piracy and 20 gig torrent downloads. Steam is great for trying games and pc games but if it's a game I want to hold onto, I'll get console version

On topic, it's one of the only things dividing me on the SteamOS and Steam boxes. You're basically still limited to download only cause disk based drm has basically made disks pointless on pc. If Valve also came out with some form of physical media, I'd be more than sold (though I probably download the OS anyway)

RicoADF:

romxxii:

RicoADF:
I did read what you said about 'disc' drm but ignored it because I don't care about your strange view on it.

Glad to know you're ignoring my arguments because you don't care. Next time, try not replying. It'll be easier on the both of us.

After you had that attitude about the games listed, I stopped caring about your view. Securom hasn't caused me issues, all my discs work so unless your pirating games I see no issue.

And like I said, the one disk that was giving me trouble was an original copy. I stopped pirating games a while back, and if you don't believe me you can add me on Steam and see how many games I own legally.

Honestly, the nerve of you to be a jackass, even when I already explained what I meant. Next time, just don't reply if you don't really care.

RyQ_TMC:
That was just an idea of what measures they could try and introduce to force publishers to fund Linux versions of their games. My idea, not based on any statement by Valve. And bear in mind that anything they say now, they can very wall backtrack from if they decide a different course of action is better for them. I'm not holding it against them, it's how a lot of companies operate.

Well if Gabe's smart, he won't. This is the man whose view on piracy was that it's a service issue, and that to combat it meant to add value to his service. Hence, Steam sales, cloud saves, download and install onto any machine. That's the kind of convenience that I've given up disks for.

But how exactly they would act to induce catalogue expansion is not the point here. What I'm trying to say is that if Valve tries any strategy other than banking on the Steam brand and hoping the expansion occurs naturally...

I'm guessing they're trying to work out the same agreements that MS and Sony have with the publishers. As to what they're bringing to the table? They're probably using their current user base as a measuring stick.

...other publishers might decide it's better to establish a competing platform. And I don't mean Origin or GFWL, it might even come to a little coalition of big names joining forces to create an "anti-Steam". Right now, Steam is a major distribution platform for them and trying to undermine it doesn't really work in their interest. But they might decide otherwise if Valve starts throwing its weight around.

Doubtful. On the off chance that Valve does become evil or anti-competitor, the most that the publishers will probably do is back another distribution platform. However they all know that Steam is the man to talk to if they want their games published on PC.

I can definitely see the advantage of using what is effectively a Linux PC as a game console, with regards to backwards compatibility for later generations. And I think it's really good. I just don't think it's such a big factor for most gamers. For us at the Escapist Forums, sure, we like to engage in some nostalgia, replay old games and whatnot.

Glad we're on the same page here.

But is backwards compatibility really that important for the majority of AAA consumers? Games are simply toys for most people, they don't look for profound experiences, as long as they can frag when they can't shag. If they can't run the 5-year old edition of their favourite AAA franchise, they're just gonna shrug and move on.

I'd say backwards compatibility is a pretty big issue, at least if you look at this whole XBone/PS4 debacle. When they were first announced, nearly every gaming site, every forum, had at least three loud blokes who couldn't understand why the new consoles couldn't be backwards compatible (short answer: change in architecture; emulation would cost extra).

And would it be SteamBox/SteamOS-exclusive? If that's what Valve is planning, then it's a big gamble.

I think if they do release it in 2014 as a launch title, they could make it Steam (Windows PC) and SteamOS exclusive. That's one way to rake in the big bucks: Those with PCs (i.e. fully indoctrinated to Steam) will purchase en masse to record numbers, while those on consoles (continuing to stick to their "I don't know hardware" defense)end up buying Steam Machines just to play Half Life 3. Of course, to be a system seller it has to be really, really, really good.

I'm hoping that the steam boxes will do two things.

1. Make the pc into a party box, which the consoles have thus far owned thanks to multiple controller inputs and easy plug and play elements that any hope of multiplayer on a single pc would require an extensive understanding of input/output use. Not to mention software that has been made for pc hasn't bothered with such a subject of local single machine multiplayer.

2. Create a standardized tiered market standard for pc requirements. This could be a lot more mobile than the console market with a new box every year that represents the next upper tier while not being as varied as the pc market as a whole. If the steam box manufacturer becomes just one or two companies, then we could even see some optimizations if the hardware is standardized.

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