Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Sep 2013 17:29 UTC

As we've been working on bringing Steam to the living room, we've come to the conclusion that the environment best suited to delivering value to customers is an operating system built around Steam itself. SteamOS combines the rock-solid architecture of Linux with a gaming experience built for the big screen. It will be available soon as a free stand-alone operating system for living room machines.

Valve goes beyond just building a Linux distribution and grafting Steam on top of it. They are actually working very closely with hardware manufacturers and game developers, which has already resulted in graphics performance improvements. They are also working on reducing input latency as well as audio performance. In other words, they are very serious about upending Windows as the default PC gaming operating system.

In SteamOS, we have achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we're now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level. Game developers are already taking advantage of these gains as they target SteamOS for their new releases.

Valve also unveiled that it's working with the major game developers so that triple-A titles will be natively available on SteamOS. As for your existing Windows games - SteamOS will support game streaming from your existing PC so you can play them on your SteamOS machine in the living room (or anywhere else, of course). 'Hundreds of great games' are already available natively on Linux through Steam, too.

This is just the first in a series of three announcements, and it stands to reason that the second one will be a dedicated SteamOS machine from Valve. The third announcement? Well. It's got a three in it, so Half-Life 3 is pretty much confirmed.

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RE[4]: Next card, Microsoft?
by krinchan on Mon 23rd Sep 2013 18:57 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Next card, Microsoft?"
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I agree with you both here and in the other thread. Gaming is not the behemoth hardware wise it once was. Also, Steam faces the same thing as any other platform: developers, developers, developers, developers. :-P

More in depth, we've hit a really fascinating inflection point in the gaming industry. Mobile phones are eating Nintendo's lunch. PC Gaming is making a resurgence due to budget builds actually, you know, running games that just came out.

Meanwhile in console gaming, there's a bit of a crisis building. While next-gen consoles are improving, they've sort of outpaced the living room theatres they're built for. HD is standard and QHD or 4K haven't really made a showing yet. As such, current gen hardware is almost sufficient, with the next gen really digging into the trenches around the current HD and Dolby Digital standards.

Most of the improvements will be situated around increasing mult-tasking so the OS can better handle networking, notifications, and other items in the background while not detracting resources from games. At the perspective of a game developer, you have more polygon room, but the end result is still on a 1080p screen, so it's a bit of a wash. Yes, some people could tell the difference between 720p and 1080p on their monster, multi-thousand dollar screens. So you've now solved that problem and anyone putting out a game running at 720p will probably be laughed at.

However, the real improvement is coming out of having more compute time to make decisions and do more back-end loading to remove load screens.

A lot of these improvements are already there on off-the-shelf computing hardware. So if you take an x86 kernel and start optimizing it for a gaming workload and trimming the user space back, you start to see a convergence. This really makes a Linux based SteamBox seem doable.

Furthermore, Steam has a rabid consumer base. One only has to look at the Steam Summer Sale. It's a fracking meme of it's own.

That sort of selling power and a built-for-SteamOS box may make a massive run on the console market that we haven't seen since the original PS stepped up to take on Nintendo.

Personally, I doubt it though. XBox has Live. Sony has PSN. People on Live can't play with people on PSN can't play with people on SteamOS. XBox won't let you run multiplayer over anything but Live, so Live players will always be siloed. Trying to run console players and PC gamers introduces unusual limits that chafe PC gamers. Also, there's the developers problem.

OTOH, I'm sure SteamOS players could play well with other PC Gamers. So, there's certainly that going for them. The SteamOS Online service may just be the developer's PC multiplayer infrastructure, so there's minimal additional work and the living room players won't be isolated to their own console.

It's a big bet, and and the chances of success and failure aren't favored one way or another. Steam is shooting high for this one, and I really hope they succeed.

Finally, if SteamOS can do something like Ubuntu and reside on the same partition as Windows, you may see some uptake on regular windows machines. Getting the OS installed in as many places as possible may give you the leverage you need to eventually sell a steam box to that customer. It's like if Microsoft let you install an XBox on your desktop. I'd like to see where that goes too.

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