Over the last decade, electronic companies have really been pushing the boundaries of what defines a game console and who they are marketing. The old stereotype of a typical game console owner is evolving, mostly as the people who grew up with the consoles are getting older. There is the Nintendo Wii, which marketed families and older generations (allowing it to be the best seller of the three consoles), while Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's PlayStation products have attempted to become more of a home entertainment system rather than just something to use as a game console. The latest addition of the Nintendo Wii U is Nintendo's attempt to become somewhat of a cross between home entertainment, a tablet, and a video game console, while Sony and Microsoft have some general plans but nothing has been officially announced or seen as of yet. The two latter companies have claimed that their current game consoles have a ten-year life span, allowing them several more years before anything else is released.
However with the advancement of smart phones, tablets, laptops, and traditional desktops, other companies are trying to get into the action as well. There is Valve, known mostly for its gaming platform software Steam and a handful of blockbusters such as the Half-Life series and Left 4 Dead, which has released some cryptic information from the CES 2013, currently running this week. Valve is currently in the process of creating what is being referred to as the ‘Steambox’. Stated in an Engadget article yesterday by Valve hardware engineer Jeff Keyzer, "It's [Steambox] going to be different things for different people. We're interested in investigating an ecosystem of devices that don't necessarily have to share a common spec…we're exploring the space, and trying to understand what the tradeoffs are and how that impacts the user experience -- what it's like to actually use this hardware and play games”. Slanted as a device that is trying to incorporate all of the abilities of our current, singular devices into one, Valve is still deep in the defining concept and experimenting stage.
One of the biggest challenges they face is standardizing the experience of a computer-like device and allowing it to function in a wide variety of houses with varying products. It has to be user-friendly with Microsoft and Apple fans, not even mentioning smart phones and tablets. Who they plan to market the Steambox to is another mystery, considering that some consumers might just see it as just another box in their living room. One thing is certain though, the coming years will definitely be a time of transition and blurring of the lines of what is home entertainment, game consoles, and just another gadget.
Some of the information in this article is sourced from this Engadget article.
Image credits to The Verge.