Steam Box, Controller, and Hype!

Many of you are likely aware of a little company called Valve. Steam, the company’s digital distribution platform, is likely the most influential platform of all PC, Mac, and Linux gamers alike! With games spanning from Portal and Half Life to Team Fortress and Dota 2, there’s something for every hardcore PC gamer to enjoy.

Recently Valve has also been teasing their new “living room” project. Starting with the “Big Picture” beta, they created a UI which is more controller (and more living room) friendly. Within the month of September they actually announced their plan to bring Steam, with all of its games and community, into the living room.

SteamOS will allow games to be streamed over your home network from your sweet gaming rig to a smaller computer connected to the TV. Don’t have a sweet gaming computer? There will be multiple options for a “Steam Box” running the operating system from multiple manufacturers, or feel free to build your own and download the OS straight onto it. As SteamOS is Linux based, the entire platform will be open source (individuals will be able to mod to their heart’s content).

The most exciting news? This baby:

The Steam Controller is probably the most innovative controller to come out in recent years, even exceeding last generation’s “motion control” fad including the Wii Remote, PS Move, Xbox Kinect, and Razer Hydra. The controller is designed to make games typically unplayable with a controller accessible from a couch without the need of a mouse and keyboard.

With 16 physical buttons already present on the controllers surface (the same number as the Xbox Controller, Dualshock 3, and Wii U Pro Controller), the controller also comes with the ability to bind controls to the track pads and middle touchscreen. The track pads themselves come with haptic feedback built in, making the track pads far more pleasant to use than a laptop track pad. While many are wary of the use of track pads and the design of the controller in general, game developers who have tried the controller have given it a lot of positive feedback (similar to the Wii Remote and the Wii U GamePad when they were first announced).

As far as video games go, this is what I am looking forward to most next year (next to Smash Bros Wii U/3DS). I am excited to see how an open platform and a controller breaking from the joystick/4-button layout changes the face of gaming.

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