This is what we’ve all been waiting for, what we’ve been hearing about for well over a year now and in eager anticipation over; the ‘Steam Box.’ For those who aren’t hip to the world of PC gaming, Steam is a program that you can use for PC, Mac or Linux that then serves as almost like a gaming platform itself. Think of Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network being just something on your computer, allowing you to open it or close it, while being pretty much self-contained. You can buy games through the marketplace (never mind the sales…), launch games through it, keep a friends list and chat with people, install user-created mods with one click in the Workshop and even get achievements.
So the idea of being able to do all of this from your living room is just too good to be true. That is always the one area that PC gaming has fallen a bit short in comparison to game consoles; in the living room. Initially I wanted to keep my gaming rig in my living room, but the logistics were just overwhelming. The idea of games running at a high frame rate with better graphics than console counterparts on a 55” TV sounds amazing, until the tiny little menus and minimaps force you to mess up or have to constantly get up. Never mind playing with a mouse and keyboard from your couch. It might sound do able, but it really, really isn’t. You’ll end up with stuff on a coffee table and you hunched over like a goon, your back hurting after an hour.
This can all work out for the best, though, as Steam has their “Big Picture” mode right now, which utilizes controller support for most games and has a great look and feel. The only thing that is missing is an inexpensive method to allow you to play those games on your TV without having to take your PC from wherever it is and move it to your TV whenever you want to game on it. Enter the Steam Machine.
We don’t have any cool mockups of it, or even what to expect from a Steam Machine. While we’ve heard talk of SteamOS and it’s ability to ‘stream’ we aren’t sure if these Steam Machines are like a Roku that will just intercept a signal, or if they are full-blown consoles. What we do know is that it is set to launch in 2014, running SteamOS, and that there will be a close beta going on this year to test the whole thing out. You can check out the new official page for Steam Machines and even sign up to test them.