The latest news to break around the internet and send a shiver down every gamers spine is the announcement that Valve will be releasing their very own console next year, in direct competition with the next Xbox and Playstation 4.
But what does it mean for gamers and gaming in general?
A lot, and I mean a lot.
First of all, this is a company who have been putting out top class games for the PC and games consoles for a long time, and if my memory serves me, not a single game from the company has received negative reviews. They know what it takes to create enjoyable interactive experiences, they’re the best in the business. At this moment in time, Valve is a much more respected company than Sony, Microsoft or even family friendly Nintendo. Simple reason, they treat gamers right, because at their core, Valve is just one big group of gamers.
Now, the console in question.
We’ve all heard the rumours, they’ve been going around for months and months. Each and every time it’s been put to Valve, we’ve heard in no uncertain terms that the company is not developing a console.
Well now that we know it’s true, it all sort of makes sense.
The best way to get attention? Come out from nowhere and freak everybody out with a surprise announcement. That’s exactly what they’ve done here, and every gamer is eager for more information, and no doubt the competition are pulling their hair out at the news of another competitor in an already crowded market.
Will Playstation, Xbox and Wii U players suddenly jump ship to a new and exciting console? Will this new console offer more than what Sony and Microsoft have in store? These are all the questions that are being asked right now, myself included.
The addition of a new console to the established group of platform holders could either be messy, or it could be great.
I think it’s going to be a bit of both. With another console to develop for, budgets are going to be stretched to the max, which may bring sub-par quality games. On the other hand, according to Valve boss – Gabe Newell – the Valve console will be more accessible for developers and gamers, being a PC/console hybrid that will offer a more “turnkey solution” to the traditional PC.
Now, I take this to mean that the device that we will see next year will be upgradeable. Valve aren’t stupid, they know the industry, they’ve had years of watching the three competitors fight it out. They know what gamers want and what has worked and what’s failed in the past. An upgradeable console is something that has been crying out to be made, it saves the companies money on bringing out a brand new console every few years, it saves the consumer on shelling out a fortune for the new console every few years, and it would allow for a more dynamic development eco-system.
The main aspect of this is the fact that consoles just aren’t future proof, what Valve could do is turn that right on its head and create something that can last twice as many years as a traditional console.
Also, let is not be forgotten, Steam. Yes, the online service where you download your games for a fair and reasonable price, sometimes on great offers, you can bet it’s coming to the console. Why wouldn’t it? That’s thousands of games straight off the bat on launch day, no other console is going to come close to it, never mind topping it.
But with Steam integration, it could also be the push forward into digital distribution that the games industry has been trying to get going over the last few years. It could happen to. Steam is without a doubt the best place to go for your digital games, so having that readily accessible whilst you sit comfortably on your sofa is going to be a huge bonus, and an incentive for you to buy digitally instead of going out and getting a retail copy.
In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that the Valve console will be mainly focussed towards digital distribution, with physical media available if you want it. Or just no physical media at all. Though the latter would be silly, as not everybody has super fast broadband, so it would be a less than wise move to effectively close off your console to a massive group.
The Valve console, whether you like it or not, is going to change gaming. I think it’s too late in the game for Sony or Microsoft to do anything to counter this announcement, whatever they have planned for their next consoles will more than likely be set in stone with production set to begin in the coming months.
Personally, I can see the Valve console struggling to find a market at first, they’re a new player to the console game, but once they find their audience, the consoles will be left in the cold.
What do you think? Will the Valve console be the next era of gaming? Or will it fall flat on its face? Let us know in the comment below.