Every time a new tidbit of information leaks out about Valve's super-secret Steambox, I get a little tingly. I know that nothing official has been announced, but I'm really looking forward to a developer putting pressure on Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. And Valve is in the best position to be successful.
Obviously, I have no inside information on Gabe Newell's nefarious plans, but the fact that Valve's not even attempting to keep their hardware development a secret anymore is encouraging.
With Valve entering the console market, we should see publishers ramping up their development of PC games, which would be an extremely positive direction for the industry at large. Within the last few years, we've seen a major upswing in the number of people gaming on their PCs. It's still not enough to dethrone the console crowd, but the PC is back in vogue, and the Steambox will only encourage this growth.
Plus, if Valve makes it easy for developers to port their existing titles, the Steambox will have a massive library on launch day. Currently, there are over 1,860 titles available on Steam, while the Xbox 360 has fewer than 1,000 (at last count). Plus, players won't ever have to worry about backwards compatibility. Once you purchase a game on Steam, you own it forever. So, even if you want to play it on your PC, or download your entire library onto an upgraded Steambox in twenty years, you shouldn't run into any difficulties.
Well, theoretically there shouldn't be any difficulties, but twenty years is a long time.
So, Valve definitely has the chops to make a console fly. Plus, it'll force developers to concentrate on creating high-quality, first-party titles. Nintendo probably won't need to worry. They can just keep doing what they've always done, but Microsoft will need to make a few changes. One more version of Halo isn't going to be enough to trick gamers into buying an Xbox 720.
If I were a gambling man, I probably still wouldn't place any money on Valve's future in the console market. We still don't know enough to make any real predictions, but I'm going to keep crossing my fingers. I can't find a downside to Valve entering the console market, so I'm going to continue being excited until someone ruins it for me.
Date: January 8, 2013