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Valve's Big Picture Could Be a Linux Game Console

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the speculative-fiction dept.

Software 272

Penurious Penguin writes that "a hopeful article at The Verge persuasively suggests that through Valve, Linux could soon become a formidable contender in the gaming arena, capable of holding its own against such giants as Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and the Wii. With 50 million users, a growing Linux team, a caboodle of interesting experiments ('Steam Box' hardware baselines, etc.) and a strong conviction that more-open platforms are the way, Valve may actually see it through."

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272 comments

Hmmm (5, Insightful)

systemidx (2708649) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016097)

"The Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii are nearing their end. As powerful as they have been in the living room, gamers want more."

Quoted from TFA. Am I the only one who wants LESS? I don't really want my game system to do 9 million things. I just want it to play games.

Then again, when was the last time we were actually listened to? Draconian DRM, the removal of OtherOS, etc...

Re:Hmmm (3, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016109)

Well, then, the Ouya [wikipedia.org] is probably the kind of thing you are looking for. Straight-up gaming platform with standard controller. I'm sure it'll have video streaming apps and everything else as well (given it is OSS Android based), but it is really just a basic gaming system.

Re:Hmmm (2)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016379)

8gb of flash can't hold TF2.

Re:Hmmm (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016481)

0.5GB: game code, character models and textures
8.5GB: hats

Easy Robin. I kid because I love.

Re:Hmmm (5, Insightful)

Mal-2 (675116) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016501)

There's no technical reason it can't handle 32 GB of flash -- it just couldn't do that at the $99 price point. Swapping flash is pretty trivial as user upgrades go, so I don't really see that holding it back. The capacity limit of SDHC being reached might pose an issue, if it's not made to accept SDXC. The hardware is the same, and the firmware can probably be hacked -- just like Rockbox did for the Sansa (mine is quite happy with a 16 GB micro-SDHC card when it was built to handle just a 2 GB micro-SD card), so I doubt THAT will be a significant issue either.

Naturally the Ouya will look to replace some settop-box functions, since even new TVs have a finite number of inputs. That doesn't mean it will be particularly optimized for them, or that it needs to be.

Re:Hmmm (5, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016521)

Android being the magic word missing in the article and what it likely is really all about. Building custom Linux distributions like Android and achieving an open market, where more downstream producers and manufacturers can gain greater control. People might complain about those phones and various other Android devices, that manufacturers release with their own branding layer and marketing identity on top but that really is a major advantage of Linux. Even software distribution companies can get in on the act and create an environment where they are not having to pay extortion to another party in order to do business.

It is all about shaking out those billions from M$ and releasing it to a whole bunch of companies, manufacturers, software producers and net entities in order to improve their bottom line and give them greater control. So for Valve, it's not so much a game console but being able to distribute games across a 'ALL' available platforms, phone, tablet, smartbook, PC and Big Screen Display. For the end user buy one game and use it across all your platforms via Steam or the other game distributors will become very desirable and avoiding a pointless 30% M$ extortion fee for nothing, even after having to pay for their bloody software, will mean more money for actual hardware and software creators.

Re:Hmmm (1, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016149)

I want it to do more, but I don't want it to be running Linux, or Android, or any other mainstream OS. Sure it means that I may get more apps, as developers are more familiar with it, but these general purpose operating systems just seem to slow things down in the end. My console just needs to play games, allow me to watch videos, and surge the web. That's it. It doesn't need multitasking. Whatever program is running should have full reign over the console so that it can take full advantage of the hardware. My Android phone is good, but it does these annoying things. If a text message comes in while playing a game, the game will come to a screeching halt for 10 seconds just so my phone can make a ding sound. Sometimes games will play slow, for no apparent reason whatsoever, even if I've recently restarted the phone. Sometimes it will just fail to connect to the network. It will say it's connected, but no data will get through. I want my console to just work, and to be able to do exactly one thing at a time, and do that one thing well.

Re:Hmmm (5, Interesting)

DewDude (537374) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016303)

Don't forget; the Sega Dreamcast ran WindowsCE; and performed very well IMO. So, maybe the problem isn't the general purpose OS itself; but the fact it hasn't had any optimizations made to it. If you're that devoted to making an excellent Linux based platform; surely you'd be thinking about how to make the OS as unobtrusive as possible to performance. Linux powers most of the touchscreen bartop Megatouch branded video games. If you've ever seen a Fast and the Furious arcade game; it's some version of Windows (2000 or XP, I can't remember). I say if anyone had the ability to make a successful "home game console"; Valve would be the ones to do it, and do it well.

Re:Hmmm (5, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016485)

That's not entirely true. Windows CE code was available, but developers basically didn't use it much. cnet covered this [cnet.com] at the time of launch, and in the end only around 50 games used it (out of over 700 created).

One of the Japanese launch titles, Sega Rally 2, used Windows CE, and it had a very inconsistent framerate. I believe the game was later re-released as a "native" game, which may have been the version released to the US. You can still fine some sites [segagagadomain.com] that mention some [dreamcast-scene.com] of the problems [ex.org] .

Re:Hmmm (4, Insightful)

davydagger (2566757) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016403)

"I want it to do more, but I don't want it to be running Linux, or Android, or any other mainstream OS"

you won't notice the linux, any more than you notice the windows in the xbox, except it recycles already compiled game code meant for linux.

linux is just a kernel. boot straight to whatever minimal controller based GUI you have, with a few auto-run runs for disk insertion, to run whatever game you insert.

That would be pretty trivial to write/configure with a mainstream linux setup. XBMC does this pretty nicely as a media player. Its just a UI that can run instead of a desktop.

just have init call it from boot, with a nice splash screen and you'd never knew it ran linux.

that said, you need a powerful multicore capable OS to run most major games today. It'd make the game desigeners lives easy if they were common libraries and a common OS underneath.

Re:Hmmm (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016189)

Am I the only one who wants LESS? I don't really want my game system to do 9 million things. I just want it to play games.

No, but you're in the smallest minority. The majority doesn't really care ("Netflix? That's cool, I guess."), and a slightly larger majority actually thinks not-quite-omniboxes are a good idea.

I don't get it myself. If I wanted a full-blown 'entertainment center', I'd use a PC. Much better at handling that job - games from the 80s to just-released-yesterday, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, CrunchyRoll and pretty much any streaming service, ability to easily play any video format from local sources, sane web browsing, far better support for playing music with cool functionality (Milkdrop!), and easily upgradable.

Plus I can run Office. Nothing clears out a party that's gone on too long quite like opening up Excel and doing some accounting.

AMen (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016343)

I want good games. If good story writers and gameplay experts ran the show, we'd have more original, interesting groundbreaking games, instead of 'everything's a HUD' The guys that make money off the mini platform games are the people who should be given jobs at coming up with titles in gaming. These are the guys that will get the jobs in the Valve scheme of things. Leave NBA 20XX for the next generation of minions. Cool, original titles will always have a market and I foresee Android and possible even Valve having the most to offer.

Re:Hmmm (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016461)

"The Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii are nearing their end. As powerful as they have been in the living room, gamers want more."

Quoted from TFA. Am I the only one who wants LESS? I don't really want my game system to do 9 million things. I just want it to play games.

Then again, when was the last time we were actually listened to? Draconian DRM, the removal of OtherOS, etc...

That could just mean 'more' in the sense of 'more power'(especially coming right after "as powerful as they have been"). All present-gen consoles are starting to get rather long in the tooth at this point. They are fixed targets with a hell of a lot of units in the field, so developers make do; but even the 360 and the PS3 have only half a gig of RAM to speak of, and increasingly antique GPUs.

Now, of course, if you have a device with enough power to run a contemporary game well, and a network connection, you have to explicitly break it to prevent it from being able to do other things as well.

Re:Hmmm (1)

2fuf (993808) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016575)

I read that as 'more powerful' (as in memory, cpu speed, gpu capacity etc.)...

Re:Hmmm (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016703)

I think this has been the quiet revolution over the past 10 years or so. The peaking of the graphics card wars, users shelling out $600 for a top of the line card, then still having trouble running newer games... people just got burnt out on it. Consoles running so hot, heating issues were a real problem... and then along comes the WII, social games, browser games... There's still a lot of us, myself included that like an immerse environment... But is it really worth the investment of a used car every couple of years? I think we've collectively decided that it's not.

Re:Hmmm (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016865)

TFA was mostly talking about faster hardware. And there's nothing as good at squeezing the last bit of performance out of the hardware than a recent, presumably customized Linux kernel. Bar running on the bare metal, which no game designer is going to pump developer hours into. Hardware has simply become too complex; I don't know much about console design, but I'm sure all current consoles do run an operating system of some kind. Is the prospect of it being a Linux kernel really that repulsive? If yes, I'd start getting paranoid about all the appliances in my household...

Should be called "Sauna" (1, Funny)

readandburn (825014) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016101)

Waiting to be modded "lame joke" in 3, 2, 1....

Be careful what you wish for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016105)

...next up, EAs Origin game console.

Valve Fanboi (2)

pellik (193063) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016111)

I became a bit of a valve fanboi when I read about their no-manager system. See Here [businessweek.com] .
To my credit though, they do seem to be doing cool stuff lately.

Piracy (3, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016113)

Okay, perfectly serious question, and one the game developers and studios are going to ask you: How are you going to protect against piracy if the platform is open? Explain how if it's made trivially-easy for people to download and pirate the games, how their revenue stream benefits from this... because open platforms encourage piracy. Or at least, that's the argument that's going to be made.

Please guys, serious answers only, not a giant flag of a penguin and patriotic music playing while you explain in great detail why open is better, etc. Pretend I'm a game developer and sell me on the concept. You can start by telling me how it'll be at least as profitable, if not more so, than the competitors. I don't care about linux, or the GPL, or open source: I want a business case made.

Re:Piracy (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016155)

You are completely missing who is doing this.

Valve's major money maker is Steam, already the largest digital games publisher/marketplace. They already have DRM in place that many people on the PC platform find to be a fair compromise of ability and annoyance. The game developers you want Valve to sell to have already bought into Steam!

Re:Piracy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016161)

Since an "open platform" is no difference from windows WRT piracy, where Valve has been happily selling games for years, I guess I don't see the point. They will use the same DRM they use on windows... duh?

Re:Piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016163)

Piracy has no problems with closed platforms so far.

Re:Piracy (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016169)

Valve was asked about DRM at the recent Ubuntu Developer Summit earlier this month. Their answer was essentially "games can include their own DRM" just like on the Windows/Mac versions of Steam.

I could see the let-the-publisher-deal-with-it solution applying to the console as well.

Re:Piracy (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016221)

Yeah, like that's worked out so well for us in the past. Publishers create the worst kinds of DRM. At least when I get and Xbox/Wii/PS game I know it isn't going to install some boot loader or root kit or rogue driver on my system and screw it up. If the security is baked into the console, at least I don't have publishers coming up with their own messed up schemes that end up messing with my system. I know that I can buy a game, take it home, and play it.

Re:Piracy (1)

RR (64484) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016749)

Yeah, like that's worked out so well for us in the past. Publishers create the worst kinds of DRM. At least when I get and Xbox/Wii/PS game... I know that I can buy a game, take it home, and play it.

You mean, you can buy a game, bring it home, and then leave the console alone for half an hour as it installs updates. Or is that just the PS3?

Re:Piracy (3, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016175)

Steam is already on Windows and that can be considered 'open' too, since you are referencing console lockdown. It is not perfect but it seems to be working well enough.

Re:Piracy (3, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016349)

Steam is already on Windows and that can be considered 'open' too, since you are referencing console lockdown. It is not perfect but it seems to be working well enough.

The market is a lot bigger; The piracy rate is higher, but so is the purchase rate, so it evens out. But consoles are a small market -- almost everyone owns a computer. Not nearly as many own consoles. If the piracy rate on a console was the same as the PC, the market would collapse; it would be very difficult for all but the most successful titles to get a return on investment.

Re:Piracy (1)

symbolset (646467) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016577)

If Valve manages to take a significant fraction of their 90% PC game sales market share to an own-brand console from the PC, the PC gamer market might become too small of an ecosystem to remain sustainable. And Valve will become a giant of the console gaming industry.

Re:Piracy (2)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016713)

they can't shoot the goose that laid the golden egg. A lot of the reason PC gaming is seeing a resurgence is actually tablets. Most people don't LIKE working on laptops and have desks for them anyways. For the same price as a laptop you can go buy a gaming PC generally and bam, you're now a PC gamer. Whats happening is tablets are eating the convenience of notebooks alive and more and more people are turning to desktop PCs for gaming and work.

Re:Piracy (5, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016815)

Look, Microsoft is pushing all software through their own store if they can beginning with Windows 8. Steam is a software store that would compete with that store, on Microsoft's Windows platform. Gabe Newell used to work at Microsoft. He knows this means they intend to eliminate the Steam software sales store in Windows, and they are as eminently able to do that as they have been to sabotage all other software that competes with their offerings on Windows. The Goose has fled and Valve needs a new goose. Hence the console plan. An own-brand console gives Valve a platform that cannot be made to sabotage their content.

A lot of casuals are just going tablet and phone, really.

It could be worse. Retail box software vendors are just out of luck. No more sales for you.

Re:Piracy (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016869)

I game on my PC as I like the power and flexibility I can achieve where I can upgrade at will and not be limited. If I wanted a console gaming experience I would buy a console and to be honest it would be a ps or an xbox not a steambox, I certainly won't be buying a steam console or any other console as my primary gaming platform and I cannot conceive of anything valve can do can make me desire a console instead of a gaming PC.

Re:Piracy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016203)

...How are you going to protect against piracy if the platform is open? ...Pretend I'm a game developer and sell me on the concept.

Well first, I would show you the console hypervisor which allows homebrew games and standard Linux applications. Then, you would drop the panties out from under your skirt and we would fuck ravenously, the air hot with the musty musk rising from beneath your legs and your stubbly underarms. You would dig your nails into my wedge-shaped African back, alternating between pushing me away and pulling me forward and telling me to stop because your partner won't forgive you. You lose yourself to your primal urges and slap your body against mine, your juices making noises which sound like Sklitz...sklitz...sklitz as we are drenched in each other's tasty sweat.

That is how I would sell you on the whole privacy and openness thing.

Re:Piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016207)

I really don-t see the connection from an open system and piracy, they could implement a drm system as invasive as the one you see in windows, and make a variation for secure boot a la android, basically the underlying platform has less to do to piracy than other factors like availability and distribution, something that valve is pretty good at.

Re:Piracy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016235)

Easy: same way they do now. Basically you tie everyone's purchases to accounts and only let them decrypt certain assets when they log on and get a new key. Limit the number of devices each user can enable for "offline play" without disabling the old ones. Offline play only works with offline games.

Now people can enable offline play for up to 5 devices, but they'll have to re-connect in order to get new games. Presumably this will limit sharing because who wants to waste their offline enables beyond their own devices? Especially if the person you share with needs to know the password on the account, and both of you logging in at the same time will boot someone!

Next you make yourself the premier online distribution mechanism for video games. And by that I mean be steam, which they obviously have down already. This means that your account is tied to a library of games, and if you "hack" your console to let you play pirated games, you risk your whole library. Since steam is the only way to get updates/patches/expansions for games purchased on steam, you're kind of locked into the "walled garden."

You can even take this one extremely simply step further: only one account enabled per "console." This means that people can't share accounts around or sell them, at least without something like wiping their console. Even more avenues destroyed!

If you're curious about the effectiveness of these measures, then ask yourself why steam is so popular now? They're basically just advertising putting steam on a custom linux box, and if it was secure before it'll likely be secure now. And just like now, Steam products will probably come with extra publisher-specific bullshit for the game devs who are too chickenshit to let their game sell on its own merits at an appropriate pricepoint. I don't think anyone is really worried about Steam's ability to combat piracy, except when they accidentially cancel people's accounts with no reason, but that's the subject of a different comment rant.

Re:Piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016861)

Basically you tie everyone's purchases to accounts and only let them decrypt certain assets when they log on and get a new key.

In other words, shitty DRM that won't stop anything. Great.

How about we just stop being so paranoid about piracy and adopt a working business model that doesn't involve restrictive bullshit?

Re:Piracy (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016289)

Okay, perfectly serious question, and one the game developers and studios are going to ask you: How are you going to protect against piracy if the platform is open? Explain how if it's made trivially-easy for people to download and pirate the games, how their revenue stream benefits from this... because open platforms encourage piracy. Or at least, that's the argument that's going to be made.

Well in case you missed the memo, Steam is pretty successful on open platforms like Windows and OS X. At least "open" as in "doesn't require code signing". Building a "Steambox" would be to lower cost (no MS license) and provide a standardized hardware platform compared to the PC. Compared to the other consoles it'd be an alternative to Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo who all have their terms and conditions to sell on their platform. And the Linux kernel is GPLv2 not GPLv3, so you actually can make a locked down box if you want, you just can't keep the source code a secret. Valve could do to consoles what Google has done to cell phones/tablets with Android, I don't see many Android app developers complaining that it runs Linux down below. Why should game developers be complaining if their console runs Linux down below?

Re:Piracy (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016359)

Why should game developers be complaining if their console runs Linux down below?

Because the console market is a lot smaller than the PC market; Almost everyone owns a computer. Not nearly as many own consoles. Bigger market means more piracy can be tolerated and still make an equivalent amount of profit. And cell phones and tablets compete in a very different market space. That's like saying smart phones compete with laptops and desktops. Yeah... right.

Re:Piracy (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016669)

Because the console market is a lot smaller than the PC market; Almost everyone owns a computer. Not nearly as many own consoles. Bigger market means more piracy can be tolerated and still make an equivalent amount of profit. And cell phones and tablets compete in a very different market space. That's like saying smart phones compete with laptops and desktops. Yeah... right.

Huh? I never said they competed in the same markets, I said developers seem more than happy to be writing applications for Android which runs on Linux without crying about piracy. You're just talking nonsense saying nothing compares to consoles. And of course the PC market is much larger than the console market since lots and lots of people aren't playing games but you're again completely failing to make a sane point of PC gamers vs console gamers. Who cares about consoles and console-only games? The people who develop for Windows and OS X will have near zero porting cost to a "PC-in-drag" Steambox and the piracy should in any case not be worse. Those developers will be totally indifferent to whether it's a Windows or OS X or Steambox sale and that's plenty, whatever xbox/PS3 developers do is at best a bonus.

Re:Piracy (3, Interesting)

OneAhead (1495535) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016787)

It's not like they'd have to rewrite their game from scratch - given a good initial choice of libraries/APIs and a modular software architecture, the investment of porting a Windows game to Linux is not that terrible. Especially relative to the amount of money that goes into into art and level design (none of which requires any porting) in big commercial games. So a tentative business model would be: release the game on Windows through Steam, then make a Linux port for extra revenue. Initially, this second revenue stream will be a lot smaller than the Windows version's, but again, so is the additional investment. And it has potential for growth; the steam box could potentially beat other consoles in hardware specs, making the same game look nicer, and allowing for more complex games to be run on it. It could be a stepping stone for console gamers to get into hardcore PC games. Valve doesn't even necessarily have to produce and sell the steamboxen themseves; they could just offer steam for Linux as an option to whichever intrepid company feels compelled to throw together some PC hardware and a minimalist Debian-based Linux distro and sell it as a console. The resulting competition could result in very attractive price/performance for the consumer - think the game console version of the Android ecosystem. In summary, there is a baseline potential for a modest second revenue stream with a fair return on investment, and lots of exciting possibilities for growth. How do you like my sales pitch?

One more thing: Valve expressed its extreme displeasure with Windows 8's "walled garden" model. They could offer PC gamers to run steam from a bootable Linux flash drive, or better, do something like Portable Ubuntu but with better graphics support. I personally think the chances are pretty slim Valve will go that far, but it's not 100% impossible, and it would make Linux ports even more attractive to game publishers.

"Troll"? EXCUSE ME? (3, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016327)

How is it trolling to ask a question that any developer who's going to give serious consideration to this platform is going to ask? The console market thrives mostly on store-bought purchases, many of which are recycled into the used-games market a year after their release, but 95% of the games aren't pirated. The PC gaming market, on the other hand, is almost the exact opposite: Most games, especially single-player games, sitting on PCs are pirated. So to get the same profit, you'd have to sell games for this console either at about 20 times the volume or 20 times the profit margin, to make up the difference.

This is math guys. It's business. I'm making no arguments as to technical feasibility of producing such a console, but one of the reasons for the success of the PS3 and one reason so many developed for it was because it had strong DRM: If you wanted to play a game on the PS3, you either had to buy it, or go through convoluted steps or modify the hardware in ways that often left you unable to use that console online for multiplayer games. Every console marketed in the last decade has tried to follow the same business model.

Now you have Valve coming along with a new, untested, business model. The burden of proving feasibility is on them; And I really, truly, and sincerely want to know what their argument is either for limiting piracy on their platform or describing how it won't affect sales or the profitability of games developed for the console. It is not trolling to point out a legitimate concern about an untested and unproven business model in an industry where game development costs many millions and the industry itself is prone to failure. Look at the (very) long list of failed games and gaming companies. Entertainment is a risky business.

So the question has to be answered, solidly, how those risks are mitigated. Not. A. Troll.

Re:"Troll"? EXCUSE ME? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016431)

This.

I modded you up earlier, (specifically because I thought modding you Troll was unfair and inappropriate), so I had to log out to post.

It seems more and more people here are forgetting that this is a forum for discussing ideas, challenging convention, asking potentially unpopular questions, and even playing Devil's Advocate once in a while. A post doesn't merit a downmod just because it expresses an opinion different from yours, and there's a clear difference between asking a controversial question and trolling.

Re:"Troll"? EXCUSE ME? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016475)

Or you could have just not posted, since your post didn't add anything to the conversation at all.

Re:"Troll"? EXCUSE ME? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016565)

Steam is what caused me and as far as I can tell all of my friends to start buying games instead of pirating them.
Steam offer something piracy does not, hassle free installing. It also offers something buying games in stores does not, the ability to get the game right now and great deals.

Spotify did the same regarding music.

Will there be piracy, probably. Will it be rampant on the steambox? Probably not, just use your normal computer.

Re:"Troll"? EXCUSE ME? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016851)

Steam is actually one of the reasons after years of not pirating I started doing it again. The fucking DRM, forced updates and half broken offline play for single player games drove me insane. The computing world would be far better off if Valve just let it die gracefully rather then sending themselves bankrupt trying to save a dieing business model.

Re:"Troll"? EXCUSE ME? (3, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016789)

How is it trolling to ask a question that any developer who's going to give serious consideration to this platform is going to ask?

Because /. has a very strong group think mentality these days as the number of technically minded people on the site has shifted away, leaving it a shell of it's former self. In turn, that leaves the fanboi's and trolls who disagree out for blood modding down anything they disagree with.

Re:"Troll"? EXCUSE ME? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016835)

If you wanted to play a game on the PS3, you either had to buy it, or go through convoluted steps or modify the hardware in ways that often left you unable to use that console online for multiplayer games. Every console marketed in the last decade has tried to follow the same business model.

Doesn't Valve/Steam essentially come with its form of account-based DRM and essentially focuses more on multiplayer games precisely because of this issue you've highlighted? Please someone correct me if I'm wrong. I don't actually have a Steam account.

Re:"Troll"? EXCUSE ME? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016945)

Doesn't Valve/Steam essentially come with its form of account-based DRM and essentially focuses more on multiplayer games precisely because of this issue you've highlighted? Please someone correct me if I'm wrong. I don't actually have a Steam account.

The account itself is DRM, albeit a light version of it. Games are tied to your steam account currently, in the EU they're being forced to allow you to trade games I believe. I've heard a few things that there's a case doing the same here in Canada, but I couldn't actually find anything.

But nothing stops you from using multiplayer games at all, and really nothing stops you from modding your PC at all in any such form. Though there are a variety of different services to stop people from cheating such as valve-anticheat, punkbuster and so on for multiplayer and they work not too badly. There are sometimes, some nasty false positives though. Worst case is someone just gets tempbanned from the server, repeat offenders get permabanned.

Re:Piracy (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016533)

You provide a useful service, thats how. The way you phrased the question itself exposes either your bias or your ignorance. You protect agaisnt piracy by providing a service so good, peopel WANT to give you money. You do it by mutual agreement, not enforcing your position with guns.

Re:Piracy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016697)

Go fuck yourself. Serious answer. This has been beaten to death and you will never get it. Ever.

Re:Piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016751)

I have on good authority that patching and compiling the kernel is too hard for the average Joe (It's practically the one of the staple points of the last 20 years of trolling against Linux). Build your DRM with kernel calls and you get the same thing that DRM does on Windows: makes it too hard for average Joe. Yes I know that downloading and running some crack for Windows software is relatively easy. Average Joe still finds it too hard or too risky.

I know that the industry likes to make out like piracy is actually a big problem but mostly it's just the torrent nerds using it for penis compensation.

Good for them! (2)

Nyder (754090) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016131)

I was thinking the other day that the original Xbox was based off of PC tech, so the programmers had familiar ground for making the games (really not much different then windows games), but then they veered away from that with the Xbox 360. So, as i was thinking, I figured if someone had came in with a PC (intel/amd 64bit x86 procs), nvidia/amd GPU, a more then decent amount of memory, that they might have had a decent console during these lean years of outdated consoles.
Of course, the company would have to make it so you can run homebrew on it, ie. PS3 Other OS, but not locked down as much. Let peeps have access to the hardware.

Yes, software would probably get pirated, but software always gets pirated. That isn't going to change, unless they start streaming games to us, like Onlive or something.

Anyways, I hope Steam is smart enough to put in plenty of memory in the console. Since that has always been the problems with other consoles, and I hope they keep the system open enough for homebrew.

Going to be cool to see what happens here.

Re:Good for them! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016609)

"Unless they start streaming games to us"

Shut the FUCK up, you're drawing attention to the next obvious step for them to take.

The reason they're dragging their feet putting out the next gen of consoles is that they want network infrastructure to develop so that it has the capacity to do exactly this. Hell, when was the last time you didn't have to create an account to play a multiplayer game? Or a single player game...

Re:Good for them! (1)

luther349 (645380) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016689)

onlive is going belly up so that will not be a step they take. lets face it unless your on some super unlimited uncapped fiber line the quality suffers to much for steaming games to work.

Re:Good for them! (1)

luther349 (645380) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016679)

the 360 is powerpc because the x86 exploite of the original xbox is and still is a weakness of x86 its self. so if they released a x86 360 it would have been cracked wide open on pretty much launch day. going powerpc it took a few years.

Re:Good for them! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016873)

the 360 is powerpc because the x86 exploite of the original xbox is and still is a weakness of x86 its self

lolwut? Where do you people come from? x86 exploit? Er uh, if thats the case, how's your PC doing these days? The running of signed/unsigned code has nothing to do with the CPU architecture.

An old dream (5, Interesting)

CmdrEdem (2229572) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016137)

For years I dreamed about a Linux distro with all the fat out but the bare minimum to run games, so we can get all the power from the hardware. I really hope this can become real but I`m well aware of the hurdles they will face to get to that.

It's a trap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016159)

I just hope that they continue with the Linux PC trend if they do go down the console route. As their management style is pretty open, I'd hope they'd extend the same courtesy with their hardware. I'm sure pressure from the big studios will curb the extent of how open they are, but hey, Microsoft was pretty gracious about the Kinect work being done, so anything's possible...

Rule 34 applies (-1, Troll)

inqinqinq (2776225) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016173)

[NSFW] http://bit.ly/ZPzWHN [bit.ly]

cablecard support (1)

nickmalthus (972450) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016211)

If it is its own distro maybe valve could get official cablecard support. There are no linux cablecard apps for secure content and microsoft is dumping windows media center. I would love to have a better alternative to renting a five year old dvr for 20 dollars a month.

Re:cablecard support (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016675)

There is a better option. Stop paying the cable company. Cut the cord and all that jazz. Vote with your wallet.

Re:cablecard support (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016863)

Why are Americans still cheering for the silly cable card. Drop your TV, use Hulu Plus, Netflix, etc. Consume less TV in general, you'll live better.

Couldn't beat the Wii But Participate (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016231)

I don't really see it playing in the same ball park as the Wii U. I hope Nintendo is successful in playing in the larger ball park and thus compete, but they haven't broken out of their very lucrative nitch so I wouldn't even compare it with that. However, if you can get Steam working seamlessly on Linux, and package a box the works like a console it could contend with the PS3 and 360 games. For example, if the Next Dragon Age or Bioware game comes out on Steam and works on the Linux version then I'd put this Linux Steam Box on my Buy list. I've longed for a Console that would allow me the ability to apply mods like the PC counterparts do. It could put a lid on Windows PC Gaming though. But those are all dreams. I know what I'm asking Santa for this year.

Re:Couldn't beat the Wii But Participate (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016307)

Why do you need a Windows box? Most Valve games seem to work fine with wine. At least the one I've tried and the once my friends play.

Re:Couldn't beat the Wii But Participate (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016871)

Because not everyone is a friendless blob of self-loathing that would rather fuck with configuration files than actually PLAY the fucking game. Also because fuck you and kill yourself.

Please don't Gabe (1)

Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016255)

Steam is one thing that makes PC gaming so much better than console gaming. If you move the console that may just be it for PC gaming.

Re:Please don't Gabe (2)

Alex Belits (437) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016299)

Didn't you get the memo? Microsoft is now hell bent on destroying PC as a platform, so consumer PC applications need another class of devices.

Re:Please don't Gabe (2)

casings (257363) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016323)

Agreed, it seems counter-intuitive to allow Microsoft to continue to dominate the PC Gaming OS when they already have vested interest in a completely different platform.

This won't be the year of desktop linux (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016297)

So we may never get a year of desktop linux.
But there's still a chance for a year of the living room linux.

LOL... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016317)

I'm sorry but this is the most ridiculous post on slashdot and such rumor-fodder it's unbelievable. There's no way Valve is making a linux-box... This is based on pure-conjecture... Dream on...

this could finally stop the debate (0)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016331)

I really hope they make one so that those clueless moron joystick monkeys can FINALLY be put in their place! I will load up some COD and walk up and down their ass with my mouse until they throw their controller across the room and rage quit. Mice are better than joysticks for shooters!!!! This could be the first mouse or joystick supporting console and it could end the decades long debate!

That said, it better support mice! lol.

Re:this could finally stop the debate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016451)

Uhm, many console shooters support M+KB input.

Re:this could finally stop the debate (1)

AdamHaun (43173) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016555)

Uhm, many console shooters support M+KB input.

Examples?

Re:this could finally stop the debate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016659)

Call Of Duty series.
I'm not a big console or fps fan, but my friend has a PS3 with a keyboard/mouse and playing MW3 multiplayer with that feels like you are a superhero. If you get a chance check it out, but be ready for constant accusations of cheating.

Re:this could finally stop the debate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016721)

Still butthurt about being beaten by a 5 year old at Halo 3?

Unlikely (4, Interesting)

frinsore (153020) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016355)

Now is probably the best time that Valve could release a console: get first mover status in North America against MS & Sony and probably Europe as well. But valve is a software company. Their experience with manufacturing, shipping, retailers, etc is limited at best. The boxed copies of Valve games are published by one of the traditional large publishers. I love valve as much as the next fan boy but the massive operational organization that is needed to support a console launch is slightly outside of their reach. Valve could partner with a distribution/manufacturing partner but the people that have experience in the entertainment space and who would be able to accomplish the undertaking is a pretty short list. EA could probably swing it and would scare both MS & Sony as their consoles would lose EA's games but with origin vs steam on the PC side of things I see this as slightly unlikely. I'd love Sega to make a Steam box, but that's simply nostalgia talking. Sony is the most likely partner as steam is already on PS3 (for some definition of steam) and ps3 runs a version of unix, but it would probably be another wedge between Sony & retail stores.

More then likely this is probably valve's experimentation into console space. They'll probably stream line it so that it's trivial to get your home linux machine to output to hdmi at the push of a controller button. Once the home experience is as simple as it can get then they'll make a business case for releasing their own console or not based upon revenue. Look at what valve has done with micro-transactions, free to play games, crowd sourcing, and non-game software: they dip a toe into the water and then once they're confident they move into that space.

Re:Unlikely (1)

mathew42 (2475458) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016633)

Valve could partner with a distribution/manufacturing partner but the people that have experience in the entertainment space and who would be able to accomplish the undertaking is a pretty short list.

The short list is still large enough. Any of the big PC companies would be capable of this, especially those who have experience in the server space where linux is used. Asus would probably be my pick as they have considerable linux experience with the EeePC, but Samsung is another potential candidate. Alternatively you could consider the multitude of companies that make media centres / PVRs based on linux. Those companies have ready experience in consumer electronics and would just need to upgrade the processor and video card. The Western Digital TV [wikipedia.org] is an example of this.

It may be even that all Valve are looking for is to create a reference platform, in much the same way that Nexus devices are the reference platform for Android.

The big benefit I see is the potential for significant improvement in linux graphics drivers.

Re:Unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016855)

ps3 runs a version of unix

This is incorrect. Neither the kernel nor userland is UNIX, Linux or anything POSIX. There is some GPL code used on the PS3 but it isn't running any UNIX.

Good news for Linux (2)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016361)

Funny how Valve's attitude has changed from "Linux, meh" to fully-committed boosters in less than 2 years.

Re:Good news for Linux (4, Insightful)

DeathFromSomewhere (940915) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016405)

You can thank Microsoft [windowsstore.com] for that. Why would someone buy from a third party when you can buy games from the store built into the operating system? Valve is running scared because they see their biggest revenue stream drying up.

Re:Good news for Linux (3, Insightful)

antant007 (1702214) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016701)

You can thank Microsoft [windowsstore.com] for that. Why would someone buy from a third party when you can buy games from the store built into the operating system? Valve is running scared because they see their biggest revenue stream drying up.

Why? Because the last thing like this (windows live games) was a complete pos.

Re:Good news for Linux (4, Interesting)

Microlith (54737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016799)

Microsoft doesn't have to deliver a great solution, just something good enough that Windows users don't look for alternatives. That's the advantage you have when your solution is included with every install of the OS and your OS is a monopoly in its market.

The question will be if Steam and other stores have enough of a following to do what Netscape could not and ride out the anti-competitive maneuvers MSFT will make.

Re:Good news for Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016407)

Windows 8

This again? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016365)

This was already shot down earlier this year:
http://kotaku.com/5891697/shooting-down-rumors-valve-says-theyre-not-making-a-game-console-any-time-soon

Until something is ACTUALLY announced can we stop this circle jerk?

This might work. (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016371)

systemd has cut down boot time. a stripped system could run a UI like XBMC.

I've got XBMC installed on my linux desktop and it interfaces with console kit/polkit and DMs like any other desktop, it doesn't work tell as a desktop, but it work awesome on a TV top device UI, and even supports lirc commands(linux IR remote interfaces).

Given the plethora of USB joysticks and gamepads on the market, and linux's excellent handling of removable media(front end multi-flash memory kit), development should be really really easy.

Also remember the xbox runs a stripped down version of windows 2000 on x86 hardware.

valve will be a contender if the other 3 drop dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016381)

give it a rest.
linux is good for cheap servers.
if you keep your transactions low enough.

Duh? (1)

watermark (913726) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016557)

Anyone familiar with Valve saw this coming a long while ago. There were rumors of a game console more than a year ago. A few months ago there was an an announcement of official Linux support and then there was big picture mode. Depending on how you look at it, this news is either a year old or months old.

MAME / Arcade ROMs - legally obtaining them (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016637)

If Valve could somehow gain a license to legally sell arcade ROMs for MAME, it would be wonderful!

I;m sick of reading article after article about emulators and reading the warning message about owning the arcade machine before you download the same game for an emulator! Why even publish articles at all if the ROMs are illegal to download?

If anybody at Valve is reading this, please consider this. Thank you.

Re:MAME / Arcade ROMs - legally obtaining them (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016741)

Why even publish articles at all if the ROMs are illegal to download?

Because although it's copyright infringement, no one cares and no one's trying to enforce it.

Re:MAME / Arcade ROMs - legally obtaining them (1)

KC1P (907742) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016793)

For about two seconds a few years ago, starroms.com had a bunch of classic ROM images for sale, all nice and legal-like, and reasonably priced too. But then Atari/etc. sat on it for some reason (they didn't like getting royalties from zero additional effort?). It was a real shame -- that's *exactly* what should happen to abandonware...

2013 will be the year of the Linux game console (1)

gtirloni (1531285) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016657)

We're almost there.

Re:2013 will be the year of the Linux game console (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42016711)

No, it will be the year of the Steam Powered Content Delivery System which apparently runs on Linxus or some shit. Whatever the fuck those are. probably a CPU or something.

Of course Steam wants this (3, Interesting)

sootman (158191) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016739)

Joel Spolsky coined the term "Commoditize your complements" ten years ago. [joelonsoftware.com] Steam, who sells software, wants consoles (or PCs acting as consoles) to be as cheap as possible, so as many people as possible can afford to have hardware that will run their games.

Every product in the marketplace has substitutes and complements. A substitute is another product you might buy if the first product is too expensive. Chicken is a substitute for beef. If you're a chicken farmer and the price of beef goes up, the people will want more chicken, and you will sell more.
 
A complement is a product that you usually buy together with another product. Gas and cars are complements. Computer hardware is a classic complement of computer operating systems...
 
All else being equal, demand for a product increases when the prices of its complements decrease... why don't the video chip vendors of the world try to commoditize the games, somehow? That' s a lot harder. If the game Halo is selling like crazy, it doesn't really have any substitutes. You're not going to go to the movie theatre to see Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and decide instead that you would be satisfied with a Woody Allen movie. They may both be great movies, but they're not perfect substitutes. Now: who would you rather be, a game publisher or a video chip vendor?

Now that the cheapest hardware out there is ridiculously capable, of course Steam wants you to throw a free OS on there and turn it into a Steam appliance. Which can also browse the web, play videos, send emails, make Skype calls, etc etc etc.

Anyone remember 3DO? Valve may be next. (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016743)

Careful Valve.. If its not really needed, you may not want to do it.

Re:Anyone remember 3DO? Valve may be next. (1)

Microlith (54737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016805)

Wasn't the fact that their console cost $600 in the early '90s what killed 3D0?

Re:Anyone remember 3DO? Valve may be next. (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016853)

Yes, and it was a terrible choice, and they forced the issue when no one really needed 3do.

As it was once said: (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016831)

I don't know what the Operating system of the future will look like, but it will be called Linux.

About Those Linux Consoles... (2)

vga_init (589198) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016847)

I'm sure this is common knowledge to many of us, but Linux platforms (including game platforms) are not really all that uncommon. Many posts I'm reading on here--the general tone of the discussion--seems to regard a Linux console as an unusual or extraordinary thing.

OK, we well all know that gaming existed in some form on Linux since the beginning. In fact, I'm a little bit impressed by the number of computer games that have been commercially released for Linux in the past two decades, not to mention games that have been cloned, ported, or otherwise created in open source fashion. We've had commercial video card support for ever, and decent APIs to work with... but what about platforms?

We've had platforms too. In fact, my first Linux console was the GP2X, which I purchased upon release in 2005 (7 years ago!). Granted, it wasn't that great of a platform, but it was something. I played Cave Story on it from start to finish, and it was the best gaming experience I had had since I was an adolescent.

However, if you really want to talk about Linux gaming platforms, look no further than Android. We have scores of Android devices in the wild (probably hundreds by now), and they come with all the hardware and software support you can ask for. In fact, I was a little bit surprised just how many games--most of them commercial--have been written natively for Android, and they're not even all casual. I would take issue with anyone who doesn't consider Android to be one of the main gaming platforms today.

So, a Linux gaming console is really not that crazy of an idea. As other people have pointed out, it really doesn't matter that much what OS your console runs... games are not particularly OS-oriented applications. I'm all for free software--I use the stuff all the time, but I still play games on my PS3. Sure, I can't tinker with my PS3 games much or the platform they run on, but if developing open source games were really my thing, Linux is right here on my PC ready and waiting.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. (2)

westlake (615356) | about a year and a half ago | (#42016913)

The expensive high-tech toy has to hit retail shelves no later then mid-October.

You must make your Black Friday targets because sales will tank after New Year's Day. That means the Steam console is at least a year off, if it materializes at all.

Steam has been a great success in PC gaming --- but console gaming is a very different world. More couch-casual and couch-social. You are most likely to be playing cooperatively or competitively with friends and family in your own living room then engaging with anonymous online partners or opponents.

Making your mark in hardware sales can burn through mountains of cash in no time flat with very little to show for it.

It takes guts to stay the course,

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