On Monday, Valve announced SteamOS, which is the first half of its free-based operating system that is meant to take the “Big Picture” a step further into the living room. This Linux-based service is designed to bring games, as well as movies and music, to new gaming-specific computers. “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,” the company posted on its website. While Steam has yet to officially unveil its other half of the equation, it is expected to be a Steam Box computer. Since last October, Valve has been testing a social gaming platform that has been running on Linux. Such a device isn’t to be unexpected. Valve’s co-founder and
managing director Gabe Newell has gone on record saying, “if we have to sell hardware we will.” Newell has expressed discontent with the state of the PC gaming market, even as it is the company’s bread and butter. Research firm IHS currently estimates that Valve’s Steam platform is responsible for around 75 percent of the PC games paid download market; generating spending of over $1.1billion from full game downloads alone in 2012. Valve’s move to Linux is not entirely surprising either. “Valve’s ambition to engage a wider audience across different connected devices, first in the living room and then later on smart devices,” said Piers Harding-Rolls, director and head of games at IHS Electronics, who added that this is also about positioning. “Valve wants to break down the barriers of publishing and distribution in the traditional games space. Valve has already started that with its Greenlight initiative on PC. Building a Steam OS that can be adopted by hardware partners is the next stage
and is a threat to incumbent console players and also future moves from Apple and Google which we believe will be looking to make more significant plays in the TV gaming space in the future.” While the SteamOS will only run Linux games, it could in theory be used to stream from a Windows or Mac to the Steam Box in the living room. It could also include In-Home Streaming, where a machine running SteamOS would be able to stream games to a computer or TV; offer Family Sharing where multiple people will be able to take turns playing games via a single Steam account; utilize Media Services such as streaming movies and music; and manage Family Options, where who in the household has access to particular content. Valve noted that there are already hundreds of games available for SteamOS and promises more AAA titles in coming weeks. The question is whether Valve is big enough to take on the likes of Microsoft and Sony, but perhaps the service could appeal to another giant looking to gain traction and take on the
bigger players. “If Google ever wants to jump into gaming with both feet they should just buy Valve – the cultures are a perfect fit,” Lewis Ward, IDC’s research manager for gaming, told redOrbit.