Pros and Cons of a Steambox
The Valve Steambox is coming whether you like it or not. A Console that runs Steam and plays on your TV is looking very real and might be coming sooner than you think. However, not everything about a Steam-only console is as good as might initially seem. Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons of Valve's upcoming PC-based console.
Pros of a Steambox
PC gaming requires a large monetary investment. Whether you’re replacing your graphics card every year or two or upgrading all sorts of innards, you have to spend a lot to max new games out. An advantage the Steambox can tout is a simple base setup that costs say $400 that everyone can start with and gives the hardcore users options to upgrade as they please. One of the problems with PC gaming is that there is no universal spec sheet that everyone has (like the 360 and PS3 specs) which makes PC gaming a mess for developers and players.
Games on Steam are cheap, especially during holiday sales. Usually you need an expensive gaming rig to enjoy these sales, but with a Steambox you might be able to keep the cost barrier low and still snag a bunch of games on the cheap. Steam has the best prices in gaming, often obliterating retail prices of the same games on Xbox 360 and PS3, which will get more people buying games they might have skipped otherwise
You can use a controller. Not having to rely on a mouse and keyboard was instantly making PC gaming more accessible to the general public and especially console gamers. A Steambox that ships with its own controller would be a great idea that developers can keep in mind while they develop PC games. Having a standard controller is the best way to go up against consoles, especially for those gamers who might be thinking of making a permanent switch from consoles to the Steambox.
Cons of a Steambox
The console business is tough to get started in. There’s a reason that there are only three console manufacturers in the world (Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony) and that’s because it’s a tough business to get started in and maintain, just ask Sega. Valve could be pushing the actual console development to a different company but it’ll still present a difficult challenge as to why people “need” this in their living rooms. The next Playstation and Xbox are supposedly coming out this year and will provide big competition to the Steambox. Valve has to take measures in order to combat these threats if they want to be successful.
Unfortunately, not every game is available on Steam. So while console players can play Battlefield 3 by just entering a disc, PC gamers have to use EA’s Steam competitor, Origin. Competitive services like Origin could foil the Steambox from really taking off since it has all of the EA games linked to it. This wouldn’t be a problem if Valve somehow incorporated Origin just for those games, but that isn’t likely.
The Steambox operates on Linux. This seems like a minor issue, and Valve surely knows what they're doing. However, it is important to note that the Linux portion of Steam only has 62 games available. While that number can surely scare potential buyers of the Steambox, chances are that it will use some sort of Windows emulation to allow users to play Steam's full library of games. Whether or not Gabe Newell accepts Windows 8 as a viable platform, Windows is still the number one operating system with the most supported games. Not having some sort of Windows integration would just seem silly on Valve's part.
What do you think about adding a Steambox to your living room? Would you rather have something like this or a PS3/360 or the next Playstation and Xbox? Let me know in the comments below