Apparently Gabe Newell can count to three after all. This week has seen three big announcements from the creators of Steam and the Half-Life series. So far we have learned about a Linux-powered “SteamOS” that will allow users to stream their Steam libraries from their PC to their television sets and the tantalizing tease of a new modular “Steam Machine” that sounds suspiciously like the Steam Box that was rumored about six months ago. Technically these two announcements could have easily been folded into one but okay Valve, we get the point and we’re sorry about all the jokes we've made about your numerical competence.
Yesterday, Valve reveals the design for the controller that is supposed to operate this grand experiment. Sixteen buttons including a miniature touch screen, two trackpads with a touted sensitivity comparable to a computer mouse, and a wireless receiver, all wrapped into a fairly slick-looking package.
At present there is no known release date for the Steam Machine though Valve is accepting applications for beta testers, implying that the general public may not see the final product until the 2014 Holiday Season at the earliest. While more competition is always good for the consumer, questions still remain. Perhaps the biggest of them all is exactly what will we play? Or to put it more specifically, where are the launch titles? Where are the games that make consumers who know nothing of Steam want to buy the console? Exactly who is this product aimed at? PC gamers already have access to the Steam Machine’s biggest feature, Valve’s extensive online catalog of downloadable games, so is it directed at console gamers? We will likely have the answers to these questions in the coming months.