Valve, the software developer of games
like Half-Life and creator of the gaming network called Steam, is poised to
take Apple head on. The company recently unveiled plans to release a set-top
box gaming PC, possibly akin to Apple’s Mac Mini, that will be geared toward
garners. It is being dubbed the “Steam Box.”
The software company wants to work
with other manufacturing partners that have experience in hardware in order to
get the project off the ground.
What makes this an interesting move is
it would help address the hardware fragmentation problem among PC garners. This
would also attract more developers to PC gaming and create a system that serves
as the go-to entertainment center past just gaming.
There are so many different PC specs
that developers have to cater to and allow for setting optimization that it
turns off many studios from PC development. The fact that some users constantly
upgrade video cards and other specs also creates this atmosphere of fragmentation.
The other thing to consider is that
Valve could take their Steam network and include more than just games on it.
Valve could literally challenge Apple and the App Store with this network
outside of the mobile space. Apple is expected to eventually include some sort
of App Store compatibility in future Apple TV hardware versions and in the
upcoming TV set called iTV.
Valve would be taking on not just the
Mac Mini, but the Apple TV and iW all with a single device. Howeve, this
top-set PC box may not be competitively priced if it is trying to attract
gamers by sporting the latest specs.
Reports indicate that Valve wants it
to remain free from upgrade for a few years, so it probably has some pretty
beefy specs, and may be a hard sell for people looking to only spend less than
a grand for a Mac Mini or a bit over a hundred $ for an Apple T’I.
The other speculation is that Valve
wants to attract console garners or casual garners to the platform that is
being dominated by PC enthusiasts who build their own machines. This means
Valve wouldn’t have to worry about having the latest specs, just development
support of the specs that will be included.
It should be pointed out that this is
still a rumor, but the idea of taking on the Mac Mini and the Apple 1V may be
quite tempting for companies like Valve.