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Steam Box: The Revolution Will Be Televised

Dealspwn: "Well it finally happened. Those of us who've been sitting on the edge of our seats since Valve unveiled Big Picture Mode, waiting anxiously for some shred of affirmation that the company behind Steam might be making their own TV-oriented console of sorts, have finally got a reason to jump and shout and hug and cry and yammer excitedly before realising that this thing is still well over a year away.

The Steam Box is coming, and its arrival shall shake the games industry to its very core, toppling incumbents who thought themselves safe, leading the charge of indie developers to all-consuming victory, and sticking the finger up at conservative suits previously desperate to milk the consumer hordes dry and stand in the way of progress in the name of profits.

Maybe."

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Jdoki1743d ago

Lets be serious here. The Steambox is not going to 'shake the games industry to its very core, toppling incumbents who thought themselves safe'.

Lets look at the past to get an idea of how 'easy' it is to shake the industry.

The last manufacturer to shake the industry was a small company you might not have heard of... Microsoft!!

The original XBox cost them a 5 billion dollar loss over its life cycle. A chunk of that was R&D and setting up manufacturing and putting in place the infrastructure (something Valve won't have to worry about). More was lost because of the bad deal with Nvidia, and on each console. But what MS did well, and what they spent a significant amount of money on was marketing. This 5 billion didn't even bring them success with the original XBox - it bought them a foot on the ladder, and a launchpad for the 360. They've had to continue to market the hell out of the XBox brand to maintain success.

Even scaling down the cost due to the factors above, it would still take a phenomenal amount of money to topple just one of the big players. And the market is definitely more crowded now - (Nintendo were down and out with the GameCube, and there was no Apple on the fringes pushing gaming when the XBox launched, and they had a fairly clear window to launch the 360).

So the questions are...

Is the hardware going to be good enough to compete with the next gen consoles? The $300 price point suggests not.

How many games will really be available on the service, as it is going to primarily be sold as Linux based (selling as Windows based would immediately add to the cost)

What developers are going to jump on. Steam has a great (Windows) library, but has a turbulent relationship with EA, and the fact is that a lot of sales come from EA games such as Madden and FIFA.

How are Valve going to sell this? Online only? A lot of console sales are still through bricks and mortar stores. If they want to sell the hardware through stores who would take a device that is geared towards digital only downloads (both as a consumer, and as a retailer).

Does Valve have the brand power, and cash reserves to market the hell out of the thing and get it on the radars of the average gamer - who now make up the biggest market segment? I would say, no way.

Will there be the flagship titles to sell the box, the killer apps? There's loads of great PC games - but are there any that will capture the gaming crowd the way Halo or Uncharted does? If they make Half Life 3 exclusive they'll be throwing away profit (using CoD sales as a benchmark, PC versions approx 10% of what the 360 does). Even a timed exclusive for HL3 wouldn't make much of an impact.

The SteamBox is going to be an appealing and probably successful niche product. I wish them every success, and if the price / specs are right I'll probably buy one - but there is no way that they are going to trouble any of the big players. If they sell a quarter of the numbers of Sony / Microsoft / Nintendo next gen then they will have done tremendously well.