Today the high-end gaming industry is controlled by two players Sony and Microsoft. It’s becoming a very tightly controlled walled garden leaving no place for 3rd parties.
The situation of gaming is similar to that of smartphone space under Apple. Apple locked everyone else out of that market leaving no space for them to enter, until Android arrived. Android rewrote the mobile history and it seems Valve is going to do the same with its SteamOS.
SteamOS is a GNU/Linux based operating system which Valve will offer for free of cost or via licence to hardware vendors. Steam OS will allow other hardware vendors to enter the high-end gaming market to compete with Microsoft and Sony. Unlike Windows OS, the open source nature of Steam OS will give these hardware vendors more control over the user experience so they can differentiate their own offerings from the competitions while retaining the standard Steam gaming experience.
It doesn’t stop here. Valve has started to offer Steam Machine hardware which also follows the same open source philosophy. Initially, Steam hardware (the 300 prototype machines) will offer following components:
- GPU: some units with NVidia Titan, some GTX780, some GTX760, and some GTX660
- CPU: some boxes with Intel i7-4770, some i5-4570, and some i3
- RAM: 16GB DDR3-1600 (CPU), 3GB GDDR5 (GPU)
- Storage: 1TB/8GB Hybrid SSHD
- Power Supply: Internal 450w 80Plus Gold
- Dimensions: approx. 12 x 12.4 x 2.9 in high
Copy friendly hardware
Valve has not published any image of the hardware as it’s not ready for pictures yet. The real game is that Valve will also offer CAD files for the enclosure of Steam Machines so people can easily replicate them. This approach is in stark contrast to that of Microsoft or Sony which hold copyrights on their hardwawre design and would never allow anyone to replicate it.
User generated content
Valve knows the value of the community or user generated content. During LinuxCon Valve CEO and founder Gabe Nawell said that no company can beat the content generated by it’s users and there is so much content being created by Steam users. So the company is encouraging its users to create their own content.
The value that Valve is brining to the gaming space through SteamOS and hardware is definitely going to change the market dynamics. I think it’s going to succeed because it’s inclusive and not exclusive.