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Opinion: Steam Consoles



Steam Consoles. The latest in line to go for the all powerful console crown. But, what exactly is a "Steam Box"?

Well, to put it in layman's terms; it's a PC you sit under your TV, along with your other AV equipment, but it's not a conventional PC, as it's (almost) strictly limited to gaming/media and runs the new shiny Steam OS.

If you've heard our Podcast, you'll know I'm a little torn on my feelings for the Steam Console. On one hand, I love the idea of having a powerhouse PC wrapped up in a slimline case, that sits almost unnoticed among my other equipment under my TV.

But, on the other hand, I have a gaming laptop that has HDMI out (as well as Intel's WiDi for wireless HD streaming) that I can plug into my TV, hook up a 360 or Duelshock 4 controller and use Steams Big Picture Mode to play all the games on Steam, on my TV, using the near identical OS to that of the Steam Box, plus, being a laptop, I still have all the non-gaming functionality it offers, that the Steam Console cannot.

"I love the idea of having a powerhouse PC wrapped up in a slimline case, that sits almost unnoticed among my other equipment under my TV."

Then there's my view on who the actual demographic for the Steam Console is. Is it console gamers? PC gamers? Both?

It's a tough one to call, purely console gamers aren't going to embrace a console that isn't slapped with a Sony, Microsoft or even Nintendo logo on it, plus add in the fact the cheapest Steam Box is around the £500 mark, and, that will only buy you a low range version, whilst the top line ones are going to cost you over a staggering £2000.

That's a lot of money when you can pick up a Playstation 4 for £349 and an Xbox One for £449 respectively.


PC gamers will already have a gaming rig that is already on par, or, even better than a Steam Consoles specs, and if they've built it themselves, it probably cost them a hell of a lot less too. Plus, the majority of PC gamers hate consoles, so they're more than likely to shy away anyway.

As mentioned earlier, we had a little discussion on our Podcast about all this, and Dan came up with an interesting and very true argument for the Steam Console. Using myself as an example, I have a rather nice setup in my lounge; a 47" LED 3D TV, Playstation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, 5.1 surround sound and a nice gaming laptop. I also have a girlfriend who is into the odd gaming now and then, but, if I want to play some Killzone: Shadow Fall, she'll just go upstairs and watch TV there, where we have a reasonable 32" TV and Sky (unless I'm feeling generous, then I'll use my Vita for remote play). But, the point is, she has no objections to me plugging my laptop into the TV to play some games so all is well.

"PC gamers will already have a gaming rig that is already on par, or, even better than a Steam Consoles"

Unless my son decides it's time to watch Adventure Time or The Amazing World of Gumball, then it's his TV -- no matter what room we're in.

This is where the obvious difference between households will rise. Whilst my girlfriend has no qualms in being demoted to the bedroom TV, or having a bazzilion HDMI leads leading to the TV (not that I do, I'm a very clean cable kind of guy!), other households will differ.

And that's fine, to have a nice clean setup, ruined by a huge desktop tower hooked up to the TV might be off putting, whilst also doing nothing for the decor. But, and this is where Dan's argument falls; PC gamers have already found a way to game. They've not been sitting there, waiting for someone to come up with a PC they can put under their TV because it's "prettier" than their desktop tower. They have massive resolution monitors, TV's especially for their PC's, or, they have found a way to hook them up to the main TV in the lounge, without ruining the decor for the rest of the family.

And if it costs a lot less money, then why the hell not.

"They've not been sitting there, waiting for someone to come up with a PC they can put under their TV because it's "prettier" than their desktop tower."

As it stands, the only people I can see buying a Steam Console, are the ones with money to burn, where it doesn't matter that they already have a kick ass PC, they just have to have the latest shiny gizmo.

I believe the real winner, surprisingly,  will be the Steam Consoles controller. It's a rather special little thing, that offers the comfortable couch playing ethics of a console, whilst offering the precision and functionality of a mouse/keyboard -- all in a weird looking controller.

Early reviews have been mixed to say the least, but, if the retail release addresses all the issues, then I can see PC gamers picking up a controller for their PC, rather than a Steam Box package.


For now, it's all up in the air, but who knows, the future could be in the cloud -- Steams Cloud.


Callum R Povey is 26 and lives in England with his Fiancee Zoe, dog Jasper, and his son Logan. As well as being an author, Callum is a writer for the critically acclaimed BlogCritics and also has his own web comic called "1-Up Max

He spends too much time playing video games, collecting too many comics and spending far too much money on Batman Chess pieces. 

He has a beard and wishes to become a member of the X-Men.



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