Valve has been the talk of the gaming town recently, sending out demos of the new steam box to 300 lucky people. Like Bernie Botts every flavored steam boxes, they contain different design elements and internal hardware. The future collectors editions are for the purpose of beta testing the new creation and determining which steam box is the true highlander.
Although the promise of receiving a brand new console for free sounds enticing, it appears your chances of receiving one from the literal millions of applicants is quite akin to winning the lottery. Not only must you be randomly selected, but you must also be randomly selected from an exclusive pool of applicants that have met some serious Valve community standards. But hey, it’s a free console. We can’t be too picky about the kings of men they decide to distribute the boxes to.
Besides, the solution for us lowly commoners already dropped, quietly in the background while we were all giggling about console wars. The new Steam operating system, cleverly dubbed SteamOS, launched its beta version this month based on the Linux Kernel and Debian operating systems. Even at its earliest stages, it’s whipping the nerdiest parts of the gaming community into frenzy.
True, at this point, building a steam box is quite a bit less practical than simply linking your TV up to your computer via HDMI and using Steam “Big Picture” mode. But ask yourself, where is the challenge? Valve has opened up the Beta version of SteamOS understanding that only the most loyal of tech geeks will accept the challenge. Several high barrier entry points do make it quite the challenge.
First, your system needs to be dedicated to the OS, and I’m not talking about dual booting here. Once installed to a hard drive, the system WILL SEEK OUT your other hard drives and snatch the space up like an old woman in a reduced produce aisle. Your machine needs to be for SteamOS alone, because like true love, Valve refuses to share itself with the world.
The only graphics card manufacturer supported at this time is NVidia, a higher end barrier for entry-level builders. Above all else, Valve wishes to express the true beta nature of this release. It’s unproven software people, meaning it’s just as likely to play perfectly as make you a cup of organic, fair-trade coffee. Truth is, going through all that work and encountering a catastrophic error could make for a truly miserable weekend.
The choice to build or not to build belongs to you. Currently the entry barrier is high, and the risks are substantial, but it’s the price you pay to have the latest in gaming technology. We can only speculate what the Steam Box means for the future of console gaming, but 300 lucky gamers are a little bit closer to the truth. The rest of us are forced to choose a path: to infinity and beyond or to sit on our hands and wait until the official release in 2014.