Valve made headlines in the gaming sector with last week’s Steam Machines and SteamOS announcements, both of which saw the Half-Life developer shift its focus to the living room. The couch-and-tv combo has always been the home turf of console gaming, but Valve is stepping out of their native realm to vie for dominance of the big-screen against the leading competitors, Sony and Microsoft.
The current leaders in the console race watched as a new contender emerged from the realm of digital gaming to become a potential threat to their market, however Valve’s Steam Machine is in its early stages and most likely won’t be readied for launch for months to come.
At this year’s Eurogamer Expo (EGX), Sony and Microsoft executives delivered responses as to how they feel about Valve’s new PC-powered Steam Machine, as well as the potential impact it could have on the console industry.
In a recent interview with Eurogamer at EGX 2013, Sony’s Fergal Gara spoke out on how the Japanese console-maker felt about Valve becoming a direct contender to realm of consoles.
According to Gara, Valve hasn’t “rattled” the gaming titan with their recent announcements, however he conferred that Sony “can’t afford to ignore [Valve]” and that they’ll certainly “keep their eye on Valve” as their plans come to fruition.
“In this market you’ve always got to expect some broadside disruptive technologies to come along, and it seems like a potentially good example of that.
“I haven’t had a chance to study it in much detail. What I would say is, I don’t think anything about it is significantly rattling our confidence at this point in time and what we’re doing as PlayStation. We have to keep an eye on Valve and many other competitors.
“We can’t afford to ignore it. Steam is arguably the pre-eminent digital download service for gaming. So we’ll watch it.”
Microsoft’s Phil Harrison also divulged his two cents on the subject, praising Valve’s innovation while saying that they’ll be “watching what [Valve] does with great interest”. At EGX
“The announcement was only made last night so I’m still studying all the facts Valve has released. But Valve is a very impressive company, and obviously we’re going to be watching what they do with great interest.
“But it actually goes back to an earlier question. I think the death of the video game console was prematurely announced.
“Clearly there is a lot of excitement around gaming in the living room on the biggest screen in the house, oftentimes connected to a great sound system and creating that real intensely high-quality game experience with a very powerful CPU and a very powerful GPU.
“Our point of view, clearly, is that Xbox One is the best incarnation of that, but competition is good!”
From their statements, both Harrison and Gara are well aware of Valve’s potential in infiltrating their currently dominated playing ground, and it will be interesting to see how both Sony and Microsoft aim to contend with the new competitor.
The living room is being targeted by other peripherals and devices as well; the Android-based Ouya as well as the Gamestick are both centered on a couch-based experience, however both lack the uniformity of a consolidated eco-system.
Powered by the innate power of a PC, Valve’s Steam Machine taps Steam’s expansive digital library and puts the flexible Steam Controller in the hands of gamers–all of which come together to create a formidable opponent for the console sector.
Xi3’s Piston will further crowd the focus on the living room when it’s released this November, however its high price tag and lack of GPU/CPU specifications make it an iffy choice for gamers.
While gamers have quite a bit of options in the way of gaming, the Xbox One and PS4 have stolen the spotlight in terms of anticipation and will be the dominant choice in the way of console gaming. The next-gen war has been an interesting spectacle thus far, and things will no-doubt get even more intricate as Valve flexes its pistons and readies its contender.