How Valve Can Kill The Console

For years, one battle has ravaged forums, been the basis of gamer debates, and caused a tear in the gaming community and that is console vs PC gaming. For years, the console line up has been winning this war. But this is console reign could potentially be coming to an end within the next two generations of consoles.

At CES the Xi3 modular computer dubbed “Piston” was revealed and demonstrated at the booth of game developer and retailer Valve. Valve is leading this gaming “revolution” with the “Steam Box,” Valve’s own product to sell and play games on Steam. This idea of an affordable, high quality, gaming PC is what will be the downfall. But before ay change can be enacted Valve needs to hit a few key areas.

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                                      The “Piston”                                                 Prototype of the Steam Box from Engadget’s photo shoot

Price

To start down the PC gaming path, someone needs a decent computer rig ($500 -$600) to be able to play most current PC games with moderate settings. But the fluid, high quality setting, intense experience will require a rig above $1000.

This is why console gaming is so popular. It is affordable and people get the most bang for their buck.For the Steam Box to kill any of three consoles, it needs to match them in price. The sweet spot seems to be between $300 and $450. This can cause gamers to think twice about that Wii U or Xbox 720 that will be the same if not more expensive. It cannot be the price of a high quality rig. That will not sell well and the average gamer will not spend $1000 for it.

 

Graphics

The Steam Box will need to deliver PC quality graphics. If someone loads up Skyrim, they need to see it on high quality settings. Valve can’t offer the same graphic quality as a console. That makes them a competitor. They need to be a dominator and offer above completion graphics.http://cache.kotaku.com/assets/images/9/2011/11/0fe8761f786e01507a7ab32a3533cf78.jpg

Skyrim on highest quality settings

 

Controller

Valve cannot make this console/PC a keyboard only machine. That will push gamers away. It needs to offer a controller and a keyboard/mouse set up. That way both audiences will be drawn to the device. Valve has already thought of this and Valve co-founder, Gabe Newell, has stated in an interview with the Verge that “… a controller that has higher precision and lower latency is another interesting thing to have.”

 

Interface

This device needs to offer both a smooth user-friendliness interface and one that PC gamers are familiar with. It should act as a dashboard for users new to the device (i.e. Big Picture Mode) and the interface a PC gamer is familiar with (i.e. Windows). Valve also seems to understand this. In the same interview Newell said “That’ll be a Linux box, if you want to install Windows you can. We’re not going to make it hard. This is not some locked box by any stretch of the imagination.”

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Steam’s Big Picture mode

Media Distribution

The Steam Box needs to offer day digital downloading like the Steam service. Which is something we can expect from this device. But it must also capture the audience who either don’t have a credit card, don’t trust online purchasing, or like having a physical copy. It is a small audience, but one that currently is owned by the console market and should be addressed.

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Online gaming distributor Steam

These areas are where the Steam Box needs to shine. To pave the way for a new era in gaming, Valve must meet this criteria. If Valve can accomplish this, PC gaming might just win the war and frankly, I would like to see a change in the market.

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