Last week Valve promised no less than three announcements to outline the steps it’s taking “to make Steam more accessible on televisions and in the living room,” and the first of these reveals has resulted in the announcement of SteamOS, a free and stand-alone operating system built on “the rock-solid architecture of Linux” while providing “a gaming experience built for the big screen” on any living room machine.
SteamOS won’t only allow you to access your library of Steam games, but there will also be a focus on streaming online entertainment like music, TV and movies from “the media services you know and love.”
Almost as a mission statement, and most definitely as a message to Microsoft, Apple and console manufacturers, the official SteamOS contains a passage of text that should be rather worrying to its targets, which reads:
“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.”
Clearly frustrated with any perceivable constraints presented while working on Windows and Mac-based software, and the lack of freedom on platforms like PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Valve will be taking matters into its own hands with an entertainment-focussed operating system of its own that could very well bypass the need for PC gamers to purchase any OS at all, making the viability of Linux-based PC games a reality.
If PC gamers are worried about performance, Valve has thought of your concerns and after having already achieved “significant performance increases in graphics processing,” the team is now “argeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level.” According to Valve, developers are already “already taking advantage of these gains as they target SteamOS for their new releases.”
If the previous message above didn’t read like a mission statement, then the following definitely does:
“Steam is not a one-way content broadcast channel, it’s a collaborative many-to-many entertainment platform, in which each participant is a multiplier of the experience for everyone else. With SteamOS, “openness” means that the hardware industry can iterate in the living room at a much faster pace than they’ve been able to.
“Content creators can connect directly to their customers. Users can alter or replace any part of the software or hardware they want. Gamers are empowered to join in the creation of the games they love. SteamOS will continue to evolve, but will remain an environment designed to foster these kinds of innovation.”
Valve also mentioned four new Steam features “focused on the living room,” namely in-home streaming (being able to stream games from your primary gaming PC over a network to your SteamOS living room machine), family sharing (allowing you to share your game library with friends, taking turns to play), family options and controls, and the aforementioned music, TV and movie streaming.