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back to article Valve puts Steam on the TV

Valve will today update its Steam software to add a new, secondary UI for TV-connected Macs and PCs. Dubbed "Big Picture", the UI provides a console-style front-end for the otherwise standard Steam client. Big Picture can be operated with a mouse and keyboard, or a generic games controller. Big Picture also includes a TV- …

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Silver badge
Meh

Now that's a clever move is it not. Death to the console and a new lease of life for the PC.

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Anonymous Coward

Hardware isn't the main selling point for consoles, games are.

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Anonymous Coward

re: Hardware isn't the main selling point for consoles, games are.

For Valve, it is pretty much the same thing if they want to appear on telly. A PC under the telly is very rare compared to a console and Valve will never get into existing consoles, so they need to design & sell hardware in order to sell software.

The bonus for them is that if they can push steam accounts into non-pc-gamer households, with a bit of hardware, they have an itunes-like billing system which could be very flexible.

With an STB which doesn't have the DRM issues consoles have and a PC background, pretty much anything is possible. With a billing system could come Amazon. Thanks for your CD purchase, would you like an mp3 with that? 50 Shades of Grey, Madam? Would you like that whispered to your kindle or sent to your calibre server as well as the hard copy? Game of Thrones Season 2? Certainly Sir, the DVDs are on their way, we can use ultraviolet to stream an episode to you now, if you like. Half-Life 3? Well Sir, I'm good, but I'm not *that* good...

Design a home system like an enterprise system with blades over a PCIeV3 backbone and you can add facilities and upgrades later. Add FXS/FXO and asterisk for VOIP, bluetooth for iphone headset emulation for use with PSTN or VOIP, adsl & cable modems, http caching, tight amazon integration for purchasing non-Valve content, improved sound card systems, You can bump your graphics card, put in a RAID array or android host.

Ok, now I'm dreaming, but you get the idea.

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Bronze badge

Saturn and Dreamcast owners will disagree

I purchased these based on hardware as I believed the advertising :(.

Also lots of people purchase the PS3 because at the time it was cheaper than a stand alone bluray player.

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Re: Saturn and Dreamcast owners will disagree

Same with the PS2, people bought it to play DVDs.

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Anonymous Coward

With all the lawsuits we see flying about these days my first thought was "I wonder who will be the first to sue valve for a vague TV browsing or console gaming related patent".

Not saying there is any grounds to ofc. It's just that the constant patent wars have made me even more cynical and pessimistic than I used to be.

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Perhaps it's more likely that Valve could be given access to the walled gardens of Apple, Sony and Microsoft etc so the apps appear on that hardware and the companies who provide the consoles / devices get a cut...

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That's absurd

Steam is an app store. Google and Sony and Microsoft and Apple wouldn't let anyone run an app store inside their app store a) because it means less revenue and b) because everyone else would say they want it.

No, I think a Valvebox running Ubuntu is the next step.

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Re: That's absurd

You forgot one... Nintendo.

I could see a steam channel on Wii as a real possibility. It'd open that console to a lot of games it doesn't currently carry.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That's absurd

I think they would have to either add quite a number of additional features or get a lot more high profile developers on board with Linux ports to make a Linux powered "Valvebox" tempting for enough for people to splash out. That probably wont be an easy task. Steam has had Mac support for a while and that hasn't exactly made AAA(A) devs go "AT LAST!" and port all of their games.

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Re: That's absurd

True, but valve may not be going for AAA. A simple, cheap console could be very appealing and if its linux based, it could offer very cool facilities. Amazon integration as good as a kindle, for content acquisition? hooks into the home stereo (likely to be near the tv), how about a calibre ebook server, general NAS or the obvious mythtv? If Valve can make a linux box really useful and there are lots of them around, then we might see more games coming onboard. There are plenty of basic linux games which Valve could give away or integrate into its cloud.

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Re: That's absurd

couldnt it run wine or something to emulate windows? i guess thats not 100% guaranteed for compatibility though

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Re: That's absurd

The Wii is drastically underpowered and ancient, but I understand what you're trying to say.

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Re: That's absurd

the new Wii is the most powerful console of the bunch

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Re: That's absurd

im not sure you would want your game system to be a NAS too... could cause issues.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That's absurd

"couldnt it run wine or something to emulate windows? i guess thats not 100% guaranteed for compatibility though"

One of the plus points of consoles is that you can just flop down on the sofa, shove a game in and play. WINE is good for people who need/want to use BSDs, Linux distros etc... (I have had good results with it myself) and would like to play a few games but it's not suitable for what you suggest.

I remember once when trying to run a game in wine, Theme Hospital I think it was, I popped in my (legit) CD, started wine and got an error message which contained the phrase "You thieving pirate". Though that was quite a number of years ago.

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Re: That's absurd

Sorry, Wii was said, not Wii U.

Plus, the new Xbox and whatever an ailing Sony can cough up will almost certainly be more powerful than Nintendo's box of fun.

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all they would need is for you to stream from hdmi out over wi-fi. stick a dongle on your pc and one on your TV/AVR and you can play games from another room. for example my pc is in the office but i have it connected to my AVR via ethernet and hdmi baluns. then all i need is a blue-tooth controller or mouse and keys and i can play it. total cost about £80 to turn the family PC into a games console hooked up to your home cinema in the lounge.

of course you can now get the hdmi over wi-fi dongles but im not sure of quality or expense. either way if you have a decent PC and want to play games in another room its going to be cheaper than a console and much better gfx too (depending on gfx card)

a linux steam box is great in principle but how much effort do nvidia and ati put in to optimise their drivers for linux, how many games arent suitable for linux or are 'games for windows'.

linux is still gettting there but in terms of usability and messing around they still havent really made it easy enough for none-techies.

you see techies all the time with their 'oh its easy its just <long list of console commands to do something basic> ' they need to make it easier to use than windows to get everyone on board.

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@Citizen Kaned

"a linux steam box is great in principle but how much effort do nvidia and ati put in to optimise their drivers for linux, how many games arent suitable for linux or are 'games for windows'."

The work that Valve have done so far for Linux has been for their own games using the Source game engine and running under OpenGL. And AMD, Nvidia & Intel have actually been putting in quite a bit of effort in optimising their linux drivers, apparently:

"Finally, the Valve Linux team explained that they have been working closely with Nvidia, AMD and Intel to boost graphics performance for their respective hardware under Linux. 'They have all been great to work with,' the team claimed - Torvalds' experiences to the contrary - 'and have been very committed to having engineers on-site working with our engineers, carefully analysing the data we see. We have had very rapid turnaround on any bugs we find and it has been invaluable to have people who understand the game, the renderer, the driver, and the hardware working alongside us when attacking these performance issues.'"

See full article: http://www.bit-tech.net/news/gaming/2012/08/02/valve-linux-performance/1

I've been saying it ever since they announced their intentions to "get into" hardware - they're up to something... FWIW, the "Big Picture" UI for Steam was actually announced a while back when the UI was last overhauled. It wasn't called the same thing then - if it had a name at all - but the principle was the same: a 10-foot UI designed to be used with a joypad or game controller.

Despite what this article says, I still think they're heading towards a Linux-based Valvebox of some kind. Perhaps it'll just be an optimised and Steam-specific Linux distro to start with, but they're definitely up to something on the hardware front.

Back in the real world however, I'll be giving this new UI a shot when I get my HTPC finished properly.

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Man, if Valve make a Linux+Steam appliance I will buy it in an instant, just as a show of support. Even if it is a bit expensive (but not stupidly expensive, I do have some pride).

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@Citizen Kaned

I get where you are coming from with the linux comment.

but you don't have to make it all esoteric commands though do you.

You make a small linux box, pack some hardware in that is up to speed with consoles, then put some sort of gui over it that makes it look and act like a console, maybe with a few extras like websurfing, email etc.

For most people thats all they are going to want it to be after all a console that does a few other tricks and allows them to buy games cheap through steam.

for the geeks you make it hackable as well.

Everyones happy.

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Re: @Citizen Kaned

yup. i agree.

i just wonder why in this day and age you need all this sudo BS ;) or whatever its called. the number of times i have had linux on one of my pcs for a feew days and end up going 'oh fuck it' is ridiculous. every time i manage to find something i cannot (easily) do via windows.

i guess for a system like the steambox it could do all the updates for you and not put people off. most people are tech novices after all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Citizen Kaned

Having sudo style security on Linux is more important than the administrator dialogues on Windows. The reason being that Windows goes out of its way to stop you doing anything stupid, there are many safety nets. And even with sudo you have to be careful, Linux gives you the power to break things in spectacular ways. Remember that old saying of Uncle Ben's "With the ability to boil rice in the bag you can still get burnt fingers".

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Thumb Up

Good Stuff

I've just tried this on my shiny laptop, and it works a treat. Can't wait to get it on my TV at home :D

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