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SteamBox – The Ultimate Console Experience

Full disclosure before we begin: I am a PC/PS3 gamer. I have tons of game on steam as well as over 30 games on PS3, and am a PS+ subscriber. I like PC games, some PS3 exclusives, and even XBOX exclusive games like Halo. Also I love Mario, Zelda, and other Nintendo IPs.

2013 is right around the corner and everyone is getting excited about the new consoles coming out. I myself was one of those people up until a few weeks ago. Which one will be better graphics? Which one will release first? Can the Wii U keep up? However I have completely lost interest in the new generation of consoles due to STEAM Big Picture Mode which was recently announced, and many of you might too if you keep reading. For those of you who don’t know, the STEAM Big Picture Mode (which from now on will be called (STEAM BPM) essentially turns your PC into a console experience. Here is a review from IGN:

How many times have you said “I wish ‘insert console manufacturer’s name’ added this feature, or added that feature”. Perfect example would be PS3’s cross game chat or XBOX LIVE gold subscription which should be free. Some of us have waited years for these things to happen, only to be let down by Microsoft and SONY. If you were in charge of your own system, you could have added this and other features simply by installing additional software. We don’t have to be at the mercy of the Big 3.

So why is STEAM BPM a big deal? Because almost every single reason used to justify consoles over PC has been eradicated (more on the almost later). Here are the top reasons why you should at least consider ditching the next gen consoles in favor of the STEAM Box console.

#1. STEAM BPM now allows gamers to sit on their couch and use a controller with a beautiful, fast and efficient interface to play video games. You can set up a 360 or PS3 controller to play from your couch. Furthermore, the STEAM BPM mode is much faster than other console interfaces (Just look at the new Wii U interface and how people are waiting 20s just to go into system settings. Is this really happening in 2012?).

#2. Games. Steambox console (PC) has the widest variety of both Steambox as well as CONSOLE games. This makes it the ULTIMATE console. You heard that right. With PC you can play every single PC game released to date, as well as the following console games:

-All console games released by Nintendo before the Wii U. There is an emulator for every single console. In the case of GameCube and Wii U emulation, a single emulator called “Dolphin” exists which not only emulates all of the games 100% accurately, but also allows you to play Nintendo games in 1080p with extra graphical enhancements such as AA turned on! Don’t believe me? . You can check out some of the games they play on YouTube which look much clearer on the PC than on the actual Wii. Also… It’s free.

-All PSX games.
-75% of PS2 games have been emulated. (PS3 emulation is incoming. EmulatorX team is already working on it). Even PS3 doesn’t have this capability anymore.
-All XBOX 1 games.
-All older system games including Sega dreamcast,etc…

#3. PC gaming has become simple. In the past console gamers have said PC gaming is complicated…. Because it was. But it’s not anymore.

All you have to do for drivers is go to Nvidia’s website, they auto detect your hardware, you click “Download” and install it. It’s that easy.

-Optimal Game Settings
NVIDIA just invented something called OPS or “Optimum Playable Settings”. All you do is go to their website, click on which GPU you have, and which game you want to play, and they will show you which settings to put to have the best experience. Take a look:

#4. Best Graphics.

Always. PC will always have better graphics. All you need to do is when you build your PC, make sure to get a graphics card which outperforms that of the consoles. That way you are set for that entire console generation and will be playing with better graphics than all your friends. No need to upgrade. Also, its not as expensive as you might think (more on that later).

5. Exclusive Games

Consoles have their exclusive games, but PC has its own. HON, DOTA2, STARCRAFT 2, Planetside 2 (2000 people multiplayer FPS anyone?). There are many exclusive games to play as a PC Gamer. And all of the multiplats of course.

6. Easy to build.

No really, it’s actually just as easy as playing Lego. All you need to do is go on tech forums like tomshwardare and say “Hey guys I have X amount of money and I want a PC. Tell me what parts to buy”. They will tell you the best configuration you can get for your money. Then you put those parts together (which is so easy my tech incompetent girlfriend built half of my PC). Here is an example (You can click on every part to see how it’s installed):

Are some of you going to argue that this process is difficult or that you couldn’t do it? Not only is it easy, it’s worth it for the ultimate gaming experience.

7. Cost of gaming

PC Gaming cost is on par with that of consoles. Because console games are more expensive and you pay $10 per new game, some of you pay XBL fees of $60 per year, etc…. the costs even out. In fact, depending on how many games you buy you may actually make out better as a PC gamer (Even after building a PC for $800-$900 or so).
Steam sales give away games for $5 or even $2.50. That’s even a better deal than PS+ because you actually own the games you buy. They are even holding a sale for controller-supported games right now to promote their Big Picture Mode (click on top left green circle):


Also Humble Indie Bundles let you pay what you want to get great games (And the recently announced THQ bundle): You get all of the games listed here if you pay $6 (I Paid 15$ b/c I wanted to support THQ).

8. Mods

Free graphical and content upgrades. Essentially Free DLC. Awesome no?

These are the reasons why I am ditching the Big 3 for gaming next gen, and will be doing my console gaming on the Ultimate Console: The SteamBox. A Unified experience to play console and PC games.
Share your ideas and comments below.

EDIT: Also, I believe Valve is going to succeed. Its unlike most companies out there. You guys should read their new employee handbook its really interesting:


NES & N64 Emulators on Steam BPM. GC, Wii, and PSX Emulators not shown (although I do have them as well).

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INehalemEXI1958d ago

Steam Box is going to kick arse for the free community mods. I hope they free.

NewMonday1958d ago (Edited 1958d ago )

more things need to be cleared up first about Steam Box...

"With PC you can play every single PC game released to date"

#1 but if the Steam Box is locked for the Steam store only you cant play Battelfield ( a big PC game) or Star Wars MMO.

#2 dose Steam Box run on Windowes, because almost all PC games need it, if not you cant play classic games outside of steam like grim fandango, full throttle and planescape torment, also non of those emulators will run on it

another thing that needs to be clear is that the SteamBox could be digital only

INehalemEXI1958d ago

ok ty, nice resource of information this is.

iamnsuperman1958d ago (Edited 1958d ago )

If it is digital only I really do not see it doing all that well because it cuts of a large install base. Digital only stuff just isn't ready yet. Too many people just do not have the service strong enough for a digital only box. This device is really positioned at the non PC gamer crowd as they all ready have their own gaming rigs.

One big question is how are they going to ship these units. If they do it through the retail shops they may not get the support as no games are bought through these shops and so there is no return business if it is digital only. It would be impossible to think valve would take in orders and ship them themselves and again that does distract the (lets say average consumer) who would be a little sceptical that Amazon or GAME do not sell this thing or you can't buy it on the high street.

MattyG1957d ago

I'm wondering if maybe they wouldn't try to work something out with EA so they could have those big games on the SteamBox.

NewMonday1958d ago (Edited 1958d ago )

double post

dedicatedtogamers1957d ago

A lot of these features are already available to PC gamers (and I'm not saying that as if to knock Steambox). I already can use a controller on my PC games. I already can use my PC on my TV. I already can use mods and the best gaming graphics available. Steambox won't change anything for current PC gamers.

But hopefully Valve's new "console" will bring a lot of the features of PC gaming to people who traditionally only buy consoles. People who love games like Fallout, Crysis, or Battlefield would be blown away to see how much better these games are on PC (and I'm not just talking graphics). And then you have the option to play genres that are more diverse and more compatible with PC-style gaming (like RTS games and point-and-click adventure games).

legend9111958d ago

Interesting points. TF2 on console would be fun.

ExCest1956d ago

I heard it lacked support (MS rules on updates and the price tag with it), and thus, was vastly inferior and "un-fun." (compared to the PC version)

Christopher1955d ago

It's not "un-fun" it's just not as updated as the PC version.

DomceM1957d ago

To clear something up... I actually wrote this before SteamBox was announced. What i was advocating in this article was for people to build their own "SteamBoxes" and run W7, so all of the emulators would work.

But Official steambox from Valve makes things more simple for people who dont want to build their own. At the same time it may have limitations as some of you have described.

darthv721957d ago

it is very similar to MS and how they got their foot in the console gaming door. Valve to make a system would be no different other than its valve and not MS. but the idea is the same (or similar).

Here, lets take PC parts and arrange them in such a way to make a system that can be plugged into a TV for people to play games on....sound familiar?

The games selection would be something of a questionable one as you cant play everything through Steam. You can only play what Steam is allowed to distribute. To think the new steam box could play emulators and such is a nice idea but if valve is wanting to move these units then they will likely tailor the entire system to its own content.

There was a platform that tried to do just the same thing with bringing PC games to the big screen. it was the VIA Apex: http://ultimateconsoledatab...

rainslacker1957d ago

While you wrote this before Steambox was announced, I feel some of your points should be addressed in regards to Steambox.

1. So basically instead of getting all the good stuff about PC gaming, your making it more like console gaming. Not necessarily a bad thing, as the markets have been converging for a while now.

2. Variety of games is true when it comes to the PC. However if valve were to go ahead with a console don't expect Sony or Nintendo to sit on their laurels and allow something like ePSXe or Dolphin to run on it. While there is nothing illegal about the emulators, the bios software is OWNED by those respective companies. If valve turned a blind eye to it then they could be held legally accountable.

3. PC Gaming has become simple, but talk to many console owners and they still barely know more than the internet on the computer. While things have become more streamlined, it still has a long way to go to be truly all-inclusive. Tablets have this going for them right now, and it's one reason Windows 8 is obviously trying to mimic that kind of UI.

4. OK. Graphics on any build PC will likely always be better than any console more than a year old. However, there is a problem when it comes to the Steambox. The Steambox is going to be a console, thus at some point they're going to have to finalize the specs and it will have graphics pretty much on par with whatever it comes out against. The Steambox is actually counter-intuitive to one of PC gaming's greatest strengths, and that is upgradability. I saw a lot of nonsense yesterday with a lot of people believing they were going to get some sort of powerhouse PC to run their steam games on, all while thinking it would be competitively priced. That's just not the case, and many people are in need of that reality check.

5. All systems have their exclusives, it's not singular to PC, but PC does have by far the most and widest variety.

6. Not really applicable to the Steambox, but yeah they have become easier to build or buy sufficient ones for whatever your needs.

7. Can't argue with that. Would actually be good for more competitive pricing in the Digital market.

8. Again always nice to get more with Mods. Still remains to be seen if Steambox would allow it.

For now there is really too much speculation on Steambox and not enough information. A lot of PC gamers are hyping it up to be the next coming of Christ, when all it could be is a simple method for those that prefer consoles to get onto Steam. For the serious PC gamer, I think it's going to leave a lot to be desired, and it's still likely they could build a cheaper computer than this box and get better results.

On top of that while I know every PC gamer will disagree, the market for DD still isn't up to par with physical distribution. That's not going to change by next year, so there is more to what's going on than Valve just deciding to enter the console race. You can read my comment history to see why I say that if your interested, but it's OT for this post.

DomceM1957d ago

A very well written response. Thanks for taking the time to think about all of my points and talk about them. I agree with you that the Steambox wouldn't be as good a PC because of the reasons you listed (which is why i advocated to build a steambox instead). However I think there are some points that may not be obvious that will play out in Valve's favor... even with the steambox.

regarding point number #

2. I am completely aware that valve wouldnt go and preload the emulators for you on the steambox. BUT... depending on how much freedom we get, we may be able to install them ourselves. Obviously there are less emulators on linux than there are on windows so now you would have limitations (but some certainly exist).

3. I think PC gaming will continue to get simpler. Especially with the steambox, because now the PC's will have a reference point.

4. I completely agree with you and i saw those posts as well. People dont know what to expect. This will depend on how powerful the hardware is courtesy of Valve. It could be the most powerful console. It could be just a midrange console. We will see. However Id like to point out that because Valve is digital, they arent going to need a blu-ray player on board the steambox which means reduced cost. This also means reduced console failure rates due to less parts and a simpler design. That money can go into better hardware. This gives Valve more room in terms of hardware design. Also, who says steambox wouldnt be upgradable? I personally dont think it will be, but we cant rule it out before Valve reveals their new pc/console.

I agree with your general sentiments, especially when you say " For the serious PC gamer, I think it's going to leave a lot to be desired". However I think that the whole point of this is that this is not aimed at me or you. This is aimed at the console gamer who isnt willing to build a PC and just wants to press the "on" button to play.

But I do believe that Valve will take over the console space if the following is true: 1) They release more powerful hardware than competitors at a comparable price (due to reasons i described above). 2) Digital gaming is far more convenient that trying to swap discs. 3) It would allow console gamers to pre-load games upon release date. No more waiting in lines or going to the store.

Also, I believe that because we have a game DEVELOPER making a console here, they will probably make it really easy to work with. Also, liscencing costs are so much smaller i can imagine them attracting A LOT of devs which means it should have really good game support.

I expect good things. Valve hasn't had a single project where it failed so far. We will see.

vickers5001957d ago (Edited 1957d ago )

I didn't read through your whole post, I just skimmed through it and read a few points I'm going to reply to.

First of all, your argument for "pcs are simple" and the "use a controller" arguments.

Now, I myself bought a gaming pc about 3 years ago, good enough to run most of the games I've purchased for it. However, about 50% or more of the games I have do NOT support my 360 gamepad, and most of these are not obscure games, they're popular ones.

I know the usual response to this is to download some crappy gamepad button mapper like pinnacle game profiler or the like, but this is not an acceptable solution, as it is HORRIBLE when compared to a game that has built in gamepad support. The differences are night and day, and if you don't believe me, try pinnacle game profiler with CoD4 on PC, then go to the 360 version and use the gamepad, you will notice a massive difference, and if you don't, you're in denial.

So the gamepad argument is not valid at this point in time. Second point I was going to bring up, on the subject of cod4, is game errors, and their method of being fixed.

I bought CoD4 and World at War a while ago, yet I've played very little of it because it has been plagued with crashes and endless loading screens when I try to enter a match. All together I've probably spent about an hour or two scouring the internet for answers on how to fix those problems, yet none of the solutions worked for me, has something to do with punkbuster I think, which I've installed, uninstalled, I've done port forwarding, uninstalled the game and reinstalled it, updated it, whatever, you name it. In fact, the only way for it to work properly without crashing, is to plug a headset into the pc (this was even the suggested solution online). The point is, I've had tons of problems with these two games, problems that should have been patched by now by steams auto update service, yet they haven't.

Now I know these are just two games, but these are two high profile games, and the methods for fixing this, whatever they may be aside from the mic fix, are UNACCEPTABLE. If you were to tell me "oh that's Activisions fault for making crappy versions", that's unacceptable as well (in terms of this whole get rid of consoles, get a pc argument).

Nobody should EVER have to spend time on the internet looking for how to get their game to simply WORK, let alone as much time and effort as I have spent, for ANY game. With consoles, while they do have similar problems sometimes, you only have to wait a week or two for a patch to fix it. This problem for me is STILL not fixed. And these two games are not and will not be the only games with problems like these.

I'm fairly experienced with computers, I've used them quite frequently for about 10 years, and have taken about 2 and a half years of computer courses at a vocational school, I've built my own pc, and had a job for a 6 month period where all I did was build and troubleshoot computers, so I'm not just some moron who only knows how to use a web browser and nothing else.

Gaming should never be such a pain in the ass as it has been for me on PC, and if you want your "you can use a controller" argument to be 100% fullproof, then the only possibility for that would probably have to be each developer patching in optimized gamepad support (not basic barebones mapped functions), for games that aren't too complex for gamepads that is, like most fps and tps games.

ExCest1956d ago

Here's the problem: Gamepad emulators DO work. (Look at DS3 Tool.) It's just that games on PC usually don't support auto-aim (a norm for consoles) which is why console controllers work *better* on consoles.

As for the COD argument, I remember that problem. I in fact had it. It was a simple Google search (set stereo mix to default communications or default in general and COD will work.) The programming was never fixed for the game and will probably never be fixed, so it truly is the COD engine's fault. Not PC. Also, Activision has a problem with abandoning their COD games. (Look at all the COD before BO, just broken down and hacked to hell.)

Generally, PC games tend to be well made, save for the ports and low-grade company games.

Now I do agree with what other people say. You DO need to be a bit "tech-savvy" because problems do occur. For me, every PC I've built (for myself and for friends) have had some sort of problem, whether it was BIOS related, hardware related, or whatnot. I'm not sure if that's restricted to lower grade products (since I build budget PCs) but yes, gaming PCs are a hassle, BUT a great relief once finished.

I'm not trying to destroy your opinion and anecdote, just trying to rebuff or defend to other side, I suppose.

vickers5001956d ago (Edited 1956d ago )

"Gamepad emulators DO work. (Look at DS3 Tool.)"

Never said they don't, I just said that they work horribly in comparison to their console counterparts.

" It's just that games on PC usually don't support auto-aim (a norm for consoles) which is why console controllers work *better* on consoles."

Don't know if that's true or not, or if it is, to what extent it's true (wish I had a game developer who worked on consoles to clarify some of this stuff), but I have a feeling that's not the whole reason behind it being so bad.

I'm not talking about the actual shooting here, I'm talking about movement. The movement feels completely different, even when you aren't shooting or aiming at anything at all, so how can it be "auto-aim"? A gamepad emulator can only do up, down, left, right, diagonal left, diagonal right, diagonal lower left, diagonal lower right. I'm terrible at describing this I know, sorry, but you get what I mean. That's what a gamepad emulator can do. Within that range of movement, there are only 8 directions/movements that can be made, think of of it like points on a compass piece (

The gamepad emulators can only account for each point. Where as on consoles, the amount of directions you can go is far greater, I just think of it as a full circular radius as to which directions are used. Now this may sound insignificant to you and you might think "how many directions/movement points do you need", but it makes all difference in the world when you actually play it. As to "WHY" that is, well I believe it's because the developers take their time on each game (on consoles) to specifically optimize the game for the controller, something which developers rarely do on pc versions. I don't factually know whether that difference is controller optimization, or like you said, auto-aim, but in either case, that difference is NOT present on PC versions of video games, and that's a big part of the "you can use a controller" argument. You can use a controller, but it doesn't work NEARLY as well as it does on consoles, so basic barebones controls is not an acceptable substitute/reason for destroying the controller argument.

Also, PC games don't seem to support analog triggers I've seemed to notice (if you don't know what that means, analog is basically how sensitively you hold down the trigger or button, instead of PCs digital triggers that just do "on and off"). At least none of the games I have played do. I don't even know if PC supports analog trigger/button functions at all.

But whatever the reason may be for the differences in controls, for me and many others, the pc versions need to be the same as the console versions in terms of gamepad controls, there must be no difference. It's kind of like trying to argue that the phone version of doom is just as good as the pc version of doom. Both can run the same game and technically do the same functions, but there is a massive difference in how it actually plays.

Btw, thanks for replying to me in a mature manner. Many times, pc elitists tend to insult me whenever I try to argue this point and never actually write out a reply.

ExCest1956d ago

Ahh. I see what you're talking about now. I thought you meant aiming. Movement...

I remember seeing an article. Some guy had modded his keyboard to implement analog controls into WASD. I'm not sure if that's as simple as a DIY but it's been done.

I think PC games (ports, of course) do support the analog and precision movement. The problem is the KB+M. We don't have that functionality. But for the most part, games that do require that kind of precision are usually *better* with a peripheral, say, a wheel or a joystick. So your argument is valid, to an extent of how "dedicated" or perhaps "casual" a person is about such precision. I guess it all boils down to the person how they want the game.

As for my own personal evidence/opinion, I hate how I can't do precise movements with WASD. Does it hinder gameplay? Perhaps, but I try to figure something out.

vickers5001956d ago

"I think PC games (ports, of course) do support the analog and precision movement."

To a degree, yeah, and while those games with built in gamepad support feel FAR superior to just using gamepad emulation, they're still not the same. It's definitely acceptable though, just kind of hard to put out of my mind when playing.

"Ahh. I see what you're talking about now. I thought you meant aiming. Movement..."

Hmm, now that I think of it, I may be talking about both, if you consider "aiming" to be "anything done with the right stick". But I also think it's because of the whole analog/digital thing as well. What auto-aim is can sometimes be mistakable. There's auto-aim in terms of the crosshairs following your target, then there's the hitbox auto-aim, where everything in the invisible hitbox will be shot, then I think there's also the snap-to auto-aim, but I don't think either of those things have to do with the problem that I'm talking about though. I consider aiming (not shooting at enemies though) to be a movement, for instance, if I were to use a controller on a console, I could make a very smooth and almost perfect "S" shape, but if I did it on pc, it would be a series of lines with no round edges. So I guess I do mean both movement and aiming, because it isn't the same on pc for all games (though obviously there are exceptions to the rule, such as those with built in gamepad support, though not enough games have that unfortunately, it's mostly just the newer games).

I guess what I'm trying to say is that for console gamers such as myself to be able to comfortably switch over to pc gaming, then all the games (within reason, such as fps/tps games that don't have a hundred functions like WoW) need to have gamepad support built in, with analog joystick support as well and not digital.

Oh, and by the way, I looked at my sound settings on Windows 7 for Call of Duty, the stereo mix was already set to default in the recording options. The games still don't work :(

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