By Jeff Bond on September 24, 2013 at 9:46am
Yesterday, Valve Corporation revealed the first part of it's three-part week-long announcement. Steam is heading to the living room, but how? The first part of this puzzle: SteamOS
SteamOS is a new flavor of Linux that seems to be purpose-built for gaming and media. There are four new features at the core of Steam OS (and soon the Steam client) that are the driving forces behind what it can do.
The biggest push towards getting games to your living room is the delivery method, and it seems that streaming is the way to go. There was speculation about having to re-install the games to a new device in order to play them, and streaming has the ability to alleviate that. Stream data is sent from your desktop computer, with all of your Steam content, to a SteamOS Machine over your home network.
Music, TV, and Movies
No living room setup would be complete without your media, and you'll get that here, too. Plans seem to be to incorporate "many of the media services you know and love," which alludes to Netflix and other content providers.
Family Sharing and Options
These two may have the largest impact, aside from streaming, to the whole gaming experience. Steam Libraries of games are tied to one user, and you have been unable to share or give items in your library to other users, even family members. This new system aims to tackle this issue. Because the living room is "family territory," it appears Valve is attempting to bridge the disconnect between personal computers and consoles, which are generally shared in an effort for gamers to "get the most out of their Steam libraries."
Now you can share the games you love with the people you love. Family Sharing allows you to take turns playing one another’s games, while earning your own Steam achievements and saving your individual game progress to the Steam cloud.
With one reveal taken care of, that leaves two more on Valve's countdown webpage. SteamOS was represented with a "O" glyph. Fans on various forums have all come to a general consensus that the glyph "[O ]" represents a box for SteamOS, the much rumored Steam Box. The Steam Box is suspected to be a small form factor PC, which would allow you to play games from your Steam Library on your living room television and would serve as a rival to the major consoles that currently dominate this prime real estate.
There has even been speculation that the Xi3 Piston, revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, could be the hardware destined to act as the Steam Box. President of Valve, Gabe Newell, even acknowledged that they were working on a Steam Box and had invested in Xi3, so it's not too far of a stretch. One interesting bit about the Xi3 Piston is that it is built to be modular. With this modular design, it could be upgraded, just like a traditional gaming computer and could be more affordable than purchasing new consoles each new generation.
UPDATE: Valve has just announced Steam Machines, confirming the "Steam Box" speculation.
All of this leaves one final glyph, "O+O" remaining. There are currently two leading theories, and both of them sound promising. The first is that it resembles a pair of goggles, more specifically, the Oculus Rift. Up until now, support for the Oculus Rift has been relatively mild. Fans of the technology want it in every single game, whereas others see it as more of a gimmick. Newell showed significant support and interest in Oculus Rift on its Kickstarter and in subsequent interviews.
The other theory for the final glyph seems a little more realistic, at least to Player Theory. The "O+O" glyph could represent a controller for the Steam Box. It has been widely known that Valve has been building a controller to go with the Steam Box, and it would seem strange to announce the device without a controller to go with it. Valve has even patented a controller which is supposed to have "user swappable control components." Looking at the images with this patent filing, you can see that there are two circular areas on the right and left of the controller which would correspond with the "O+O" glyph.
The next reveal, according to Valve's countdown website, is set for 1:00PM EST Wednesday, so we should find out more sooner rather than later.
SteamOS Steam Living Room Countdown