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Steam Box

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  • User profile image
    Bass

    I'm not going to validate the idea that you can change the true character of something simply by putting artificial restrictions on its use. So I don't really agree with your thinking on this. The way I see it, something is a video game console is it primarily exists to play video games. The level or quantity of anti-features present in the device is irrelevant. So either Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, SteamBox etc. are all "gaming PCs", or they are all "video game consoles", or they are both.

  • User profile image
    Lizard​Rumsfeld

    , Bass wrote

    I'm not going to validate the idea that you can change the true character of something simply by putting artificial restrictions on its use.

    First off, it's not just artificial restrictions as I outlined earlier - there are indeed technical limitations inherent in the platform.  These may be largely eliminated with the next gen, but we're not there yet.

    Secondly, it's not an "idea", it's reality.  There's a reason there's no word processors for consoles currently - they can't run them.  Arguing that it may be technically possible is irrelevant to their actual utility, that utility defines the device.

    Basically by your logic, the term "PC" can mean anything with a CPU that could potentially run code.  Therefore:

    Your microwave is now a PC.

    Your Tom Tom navigator is now a PC.

    Your digital thermometer is a PC.

    Your arbitrary definition of the term leads to it becoming meaningless.  You're arguing that there was never a need for the word console; there was - hence it was created and used for the past several decades to describe a certain class of device.

     

  • User profile image
    Bass

    @NitzWalsh:

    This is just becoming a silly definition war. I'm not going to even bother to define "PC", I think it's a meaningless marketing term these days for things that vaguely resemble the linage of the original IBM PC. But, I do think it is possible for all the things you listed to be "general purpose computers". Anything that computes is a computer and is in any way programmable in order run a wide variety different algorithms is general purpose. Hence, there is a lot of general purpose computers out there, even if it may not seem like it.

    Now going back to the SteamBox, it is in fact both a video game console and a general purpose computer. If it even vaguely resembles a vague concept of a PC, it probably does not by default, ie. requires some active actions by the end user in order to "hack" it, ie. by installing software and perhaps even replacing parts of the bootloader. Ditto for any console really, except other consoles contain various anti-features that the SteamBox lacks related to this functionality.

  • User profile image
    Ray7

    , BitFlipper wrote

    *snip*

    And what I'm saying is that if the kernel is Linux (really who cares about pedantic details like whether it is a kernel or an OS... I mean, really?), that it can't run all the existing Steam Windows games natively and hence you are limited. Unless all those games magically get ported to Linux.

    *snip*

    Or care about. Which was one of my previous points. The only places Linux gets some success in the consumer market is when the OS is nicely hidden away and end users don't need to interact with it directly. No-one goes to Frys and buys a router because it runs Linux. No-one cares.

    Yup, and that's the point that Bass was making: there is no reason why the user will need to be exposed to the internals of Linux (that was the second part of his comment which you skipped over), in much the same way that users don't have to interact with Linux when they're using their set-top boxes

    I even develop and debug on both Linux and Windows at work (although by far I prefer to develop on/for Windows).

    And this proves what exactly?

    But there are cases where it just doesn't make sense and trying to create essentially what is a gaming PC using Linux just isn't going to be a success.

    The success or failure of the box has nothing to do with the operating system it is running; it will live or die based on the marketing ability of the companies behind it. Linux is just the free core they've used as a operating system for the box. I suspect what we really need to look out for is the gaming engine and the UI that they've built on top of that. That's the important part.

    And no-one has answered my question as to what makes a Linux based "SteamBox" better than say any one of the available pre-built, living-room friendly gaming PCs running Windows and Steam? Hmmm?

    Yeah, the problem is that you're focussed on the Linux part; try to see a little further. The detail we don't yet know much about is how the games are going to be built? How will they talk to each other'? That's this multi-room, multi-screen thing all about. Linux is unimportant in this regard.

    A lot of folk have also pointed out, quite rightly, that they have no chance of taking on the XBox360. I think they know that. What they're looking for is to build a profitable infrastructure around a networked game engine (not a Linux PC – we already have enough of those, thanks). They don't actually need to outsell the PS3 and the XBox to do that. The first thing they should do is avoid a strategy that results in their losses mounting as their sales increase.

     

     

     

     

  • User profile image
    Blue Ink

    , DeathBy​VisualStudio wrote

    Seems like the SteamBox has the same issues as SurfaceRT:

    1. It's an unknown quantity.
    2. Has little app support compared to competitors.
    3. Existing apps must be ported to it and some rewritten altogether.
    4. There are already many other options in the marketplace that provide a similar function.

    That's largely true, but the comparison is a bit of a stretch.

    A tablet (or a smartphone, or a laptop) can be made indefinitely useful with just a handful of applications. By contrast, a game console needs a constant stream of titles being ported to it or it will soon become as useful as a doorstop.

    Also, if you want to - say - browse the web, it doesn't matter much which browser your tablet provides, as long as it does a decent job. But if you want to play some specific game, no substitute will ever do.

    Bottom line: the Surface doesn't have it easy, but that's a walk in the park as compared to a new game console.

     

  • User profile image
    BitFlipper

    , Ray7 wrote

    *snip*

    The success or failure of the box has nothing to do with the operating system it is running

    The OS is extremely relevant when the idea is to take what we know of today as the Steam client and make a "dedicated" consumer device that runs those games. And the reason is because you have N number of games that can run on a Steam + Windows and N/100 games that can run on a Steam + Linux.

    So how exactly is the OS then not relevant? It is only irrelevant if the plan is to make a system for which you plan to write all new games, and/or only have the limited number of Linux games available that we have today.

    I even develop and debug on both Linux and Windows at work (although by far I prefer to develop on/for Windows).

    ...

    And this proves what exactly?

    That I'm not completely ignorant about Linux. But that thinking it is going to be this wonderful new gaming platform is bound for failure due to the main reason that such a system has no advantages, just disadvantages.

  • User profile image
    Lizard​Rumsfeld

    , Bass wrote

    @NitzWalsh:

    This is just becoming a silly definition war. I'm not going to even bother to define "PC", I think it's a meaningless marketing term these days for things that vaguely resemble the linage of the original IBM PC.

    Obviously you don't, or you wouldn't be so up in arms about calling a console a PC.  You seem wed to the term, I'm not - I'm using the proper term to describe the device as everyone has since the Atari VCR hit the streets.

    But, I do think it is possible for all the things you listed to be "general purpose computers".

    It's possible for a car to be a motorobike if you mod it enough.  Saying you should call it that because it has potential to be one is a sign that you're gravely confused what words mean and their purpose in allowing coherent communication.

    Now going back to the SteamBox, it is in fact both a video game console and a general purpose computer.

    Which is exactly what I said.  It's trying to be something in the middle, that's it's entire reason for existing.

  • User profile image
    DeathBy​VisualStudio

    , Blue Ink wrote

    *snip*

    That's largely true, but the comparison is a bit of a stretch.

    A tablet (or a smartphone, or a laptop) can be made indefinitely useful with just a handful of applications. By contrast, a game console needs a constant stream of titles being ported to it or it will soon become as useful as a doorstop.

    Also, if you want to - say - browse the web, it doesn't matter much which browser your tablet provides, as long as it does a decent job. But if you want to play some specific game, no substitute will ever do.

    Bottom line: the Surface doesn't have it easy, but that's a walk in the park as compared to a new game console.

     

    There are also advantages that game consoles have over tablets; take the Wii for example. It had very few good titles for the first year or two but yet sold like hotcakes. It resonated with users beyond what the market had defined as a "game console". SteamBox has the same opportunity. It doesn't mean they'll be successful. Just looks at Microsoft; the Zune, the Kin, and the Windows Phone. Just because your "PC" can run more diverse software doesn't mean it will resonate with users. 

    If we all believed in unicorns and fairies the world would be a better place.
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  • User profile image
    TLapworth93
  • User profile image
    Ray7

    , BitFlipper wrote

    *snip*

    The OS is extremely relevant when the idea is to take what we know of today as the Steam client and make a "dedicated" consumer device that runs those games. And the reason is because you have N number of games that can run on a Steam + Windows and N/100 games that can run on a Steam + Linux.

    So how exactly is the OS then not relevant? It is only irrelevant if the plan is to make a system for which you plan to write all new games, and/or only have the limited number of Linux games available that we have today.

    And if any of that was even half-right, then no one would be using Android. As I said, the operating system is irrelevant.

    And are you saying that Steam will not provide any tools to port games to Linux? Sounds a tad unlikely.

    That I'm not completely ignorant about Linux.

    And yet you didn't seem to know that it powers vast majority of smart consumer devices, already Mmmm.

     

    But that thinking it is going to be this wonderful new gaming platform is bound for failure due to the main reason that such a system has no advantages, just disadvantages.

    Well, that depends on how you define success. Will they outsell Microsoft? No. Will it make money? Quite possibly. They've started smart by not thinking they can sell thing at a loss and still make a profit. That's a lot smarter than two companies I can think of.

     

     

  • User profile image
    evildictait​or

    , Ray7 wrote

    And if any of that was even half-right, then no one would be using Android. As I said, the operating system is irrelevant.

    Oh, I hadn't appreciated you could play Call of Duty and other headline games on Android.

  • User profile image
    evildictait​or

    , Ray7 wrote

    Well, that depends on how you define success. Will they outsell Microsoft? No. Will it make money? Quite possibly. They've started smart by not thinking they can sell thing at a loss and still make a profit. That's a lot smarter than two companies I can think of. 

    Sony and Microsoft makes big piles of dough from PS3 and Xbox despite selling at a loss. That makes them smarter than most.

  • User profile image
    BitFlipper

    , Ray7 wrote

    *snip*

    And if any of that was even half-right, then no one would be using Android. As I said, the operating system is irrelevant.

    Yes, for routers maybe. But absolutely very relevant for a wannabe gaming console that is trying to break into a market where Windows has by far the most and best games. Not sure how you can't see this. Do you really think enough AAA games are going to be written for Linux overnight that it would become more popular than Windows? Really?

    And are you saying that Steam will not provide any tools to port games to Linux? Sounds a tad unlikely.

    Actually it sounds a tad unlikely that all these wonderful games will just magically pop up and cause this currently non-existent "console" to be more attractive than what you can get with a Windows PC.

    And yet you didn't seem to know that it powers vast majority of smart consumer devices, already Mmmm.

    Wow, not sure how on earth you got to that conclusion! Can you provide a quote from me to show how I "didn't seem to know" that Linux is in many devices? Thanks in advance for clearing that up.

    What I did say was that for those kinds of devices, no-one gives a crap what OS is on them because end-users don't need to interact with the actual OS. Which part of that confused you?

  • User profile image
    Ray7

    , evildictait​or wrote

    *snip*

    Sony and Microsoft makes big piles of dough from PS3 and Xbox despite selling at a loss. That makes them smarter than most.

    Do they?

    http://www.vg247.com/2013/01/07/xbox-360-and-ps3-losses-total-8-billion-ex-sony-employee-paints-grim-future/

     

     

  • User profile image
    Ray7

    , evildictait​or wrote

    *snip*

    Oh, I hadn't appreciated you could play Call of Duty and other headline games on Android.

    Which is about a relevant as the price of bottled air because 

    a/. Android is doing fine witch out being able to Run Call of Duty

    b/. If the Steam Box is a PC then there is still the option of running Call Of Duty if you want to. I don't imagine that Steam are going to stop you running Windows on it. 

  • User profile image
    evildictait​or

    I'm not sure where your man is getting his numbers from, but Xbox took 4.24 billion in Q2 last year. Xbox might lose money on the upfront console, but Xbox live, the Kinect, commission and merchandising from games makes it one of Microsoft's more successful products.

    a/. Android is doing fine witch out being able to Run Call of Duty

    Well, according to Wikipedia that means that 1.6bn hours of online gaming, 100m gamers and 40m players a month are having to turn to devices other than Android to waste their time in the evenings. That's $650m of which Android will get no slice straight out of the gate. That's a hell of a market to be ignoring - and that's just CoD.

    Does Android run Fable or Halo or GTA or WoW or Final Fantasy or Uncharted or Mass Effect or The Sims or Just Dance or Resident Evil or Guitar Hero or EvE Online or Wii Sports or BioShock or Deus Ex or Metal Gear Solid or Borderlands or Medal of Honor or or any other major game of 2012?

    No? Didn't think so.

    Let's put it like this: The world-wide computer games market in 2012 was worth roughly $70bn (PC+console, not mobile). The mobile phone games market is $8bn - the lion's share of which is for iPhone.

    Or to put it another way, the worldwide mobile phone games market is only twice as big as Blizzard on its own, and only 12 times bigger than the annual takings of CoD.

    You can argue all you want that a console based on Android would be a great thing. But, you see, the fact is that Android doesn't have any good games for it. And that's kind of the whole point of a console.

  • User profile image
    Ray7

    , BitFlipper wrote

    *snip*

    Yes, for routers maybe. But absolutely very relevant for a wannabe gaming console that is trying to break into a market where Windows has by far the most and best games. Not sure how you can't see this. Do you really think enough AAA games are going to be written for Linux overnight that it would become more popular than Windows? Really?

    *snip*

    Routers, phone, set top boxes, top boxes...and guess what? None of them use the command line. Like any operating system kernel, Linux can be skinned to do anything. 

    What I did say was that for those kinds of devices, no-one gives a crap what OS is on them because end-users don't need to interact with the actual OS. Which part of that confused you?

    Riiighhht. So s you're saying that it won't be successful because it runs Linux, and you're also saying at no one cares that it runs Linux. Glad we cleared that up. 

    No one knows if the Steam box will be a success  because the folk behind it haven't explained the marketing plan. 

    I don't imagine for a minute that they believe it will take over the world, but I imagine they believe they can make a profit from Steam.  I imagine that the first thing they did was look at the losses on the xBox and PS3 and say, 'Er...let's not do that.'

    And I also imagine that for folk who want to play their Windows games, then there will be a way to install Windows. It is a PC after all. 

    And I imagine that the folk at Valve looked at the state of the PC market and realised that it might be wise to separate their fortunes from those of Microsoft. If Dell had thought this far ahead then they probably wouldn't be considering giving the money back to the shareholders (oh the irony). 

    But on the subject of porting games, it seems that work has already started:

    Steam on Linux would be nothing more than a curiosity without a library of games to back it up, but Valve has been hard at work here too, porting some of its own games and helping other developers make their games run on the free OS. At the time of writing there are around fifty games available to play via the beta of Steam for Linux with more being added.

    Note how they said Steam, not the Steam box. 

    Importantly, this isn't another company using Linux as an embedded system - various flavours of the open source operating system can be found all over the consumer electronics space in everything from PVRs to sniper rifles and is the OS that underpins Android - what Valve is proposing is running Linux on a line of PCs that differ from the one on your desk or your lap only in size and the number of video out ports. Steam for Linux can already be installed on a commodity PC with a suitable graphics processor and Valve aren't going to care if you buy games on your laptop or on a purpose-built set top box. Your money is still good.

    Nice touch. 

    http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/will-the-steam-box-be-the-final-push-linux-needs

    Waitasecond! Did someone say sniper rifle??

    Why yes, they did!

    http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/01/17000-linux-powered-rifle-brings-auto-aim-to-the-real-world/

    And look a that. No Command line or gnome interface In sight. Could that mean it is possible for Valve to build a Linux box that doesn't look like Linux? 

    Who'd a thunk it.

  • User profile image
    BitFlipper

    , Ray7 wrote

    *snip*

    Routers, phone, set top boxes, top boxes...and guess what? None of them use the command line. Like any operating system kernel, Linux can be skinned to do anything. 

    It can't be skinned to suddenly have a huge library of AAA games like you can find on a Windows-based gaming PC. How do you skin Linux to do that?

    The problem with your above post is that there is a lot of "imagining" required to get to the outcome you desire. Since we are talking in circles here, why don't we revisit this thread in a year or two and see how the SteamBox rocketed to success? My prediction is that just like other similar attempts (at Linux gaming), it would once again be a big fat fail.

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