Weekend Short-Takes: 12/14/12

Gabe Newell says Valve will release its own 'tightly controlled' console for the living room‏

Simon Wu:

After having a falling out with Microsoft and calling Windows 8 a “catastrophe” because it represents Microsoft laying bricks down around the previously common garden, Gabe decides the best idea isn’t to create another communal grazing area, but instead to find another plot of land and build his own walls. It makes sense, since everyone from Apple to Google to Amazon is busy constructing their own defensive ramparts. Valve has ramped up grassroots efforts at hardware, using Linux as the base and creating basic specs for DIY “Steamboxes,” and introducing Big Picture mode and sampling out its own controllers as a runup to this launch. My only hope is that they shift the paradigm in some substantial and meaningful way that forces the current console manufacturers on their feet.

Alex Miller:

Steam! You were the Chosen One! You were mea... ok, that might be a bit of an overreaction, but I do think it is funny/sad/ironic that after all this time the greatest banner of PC gaming has done, according to PC gamers, the one unspeakable thing: create something that uses a controller instead of mouse and keyboard! Dun dun duuuuuun! But really, this is not unexpected, I feel like Simon and I have been discussing the possibility and likelihood of a new steam console for the last couple months now, so often has that rumor been in the news. Nice to see some confirmation I suppose, though honestly unless, as Simon says, “they shift the paradigm in some substantial and meaningful way” I’m not expecting much more out of this than an Xbox or PS3 I can fiddle with the guts of.

Photo Credit: quickmeme.com

The Wii U uses less than half the power of the Xbox 360 and the PS3‏

Simon Wu:

I was interested in this article not so much for the “chalk this one up for the obvious team” factor, so much as what it means for the balance between power draw and good graphics. I would be flabbergasted if the Wii U didn’t have substantially less power needs, given that the graphical chops are only marginally better than its current-gen (or is it last-gen now?) competitors. That being said, I don’t think it’s very hard to beat the 360’s power consumption, what with that big honking power brick and gigantic power connector, which almost looks like it could plug into a washing machine or an electric car. What I expect, nay demand out of this next gen is a much more slimmed down power adapter, perhaps closer to the order of a laptop. I would expect that the Xbox Lite might not even have an adapter at all.

Alex Miller:

Someone once told me that an Xbox 360 has the same power draw as a refrigerator. While this is not true (though it was for the launch PS3), it does get the gist of the matter. The Xbox 360 and the PS3 are electroholics. They chugs morning, noon, and night. Hell before the new Xbox 360 slim the old one even drew power when it was turned off. These electric bill behemoth are something that you would hope any new device would not only beat but well and truly surpass seeing as they were designed almost ten years ago. The Wii U has out engineered the near decade older pair at a single component (out of the many that make up a console) . This is not something worthy of praise or admiration, this fact is the equivalent of that participation medal you got for playing soccer in the second grade. You can applaud yourself all you want for it but ultimately it is meaningless. The fact that Eurogamer pitted the Wii U against the Xbox 360 and PS3 as its “rivals” says it all. They are a generation behind by comparison, but so is the Wii U’s technology.

SkyDrive comes to Xbox Live as Microsoft teases over 40 new apps for 2013 (video)‏

Simon Wu:

40? I know that’s less than a droplet in the industrial vat of the iOS or Google Play stores, but this is a game console we’re talking about here! Don’t be fooled by the addition of Skydrive. Although the only thing it’s good for right now is viewing pictures, and all I use it for is document syncing, I see this as Microsoft prepping the way for its cloud music service, which, through Skydrive, will conveniently be able to pull down your music to just about... anything. iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows 8, OS X, they all have Skydrive apps. Also, I think that the 40 apps will similarly be the prep stage for the next Xbox (and definitely for the Xbox Lite), which will come out of the gate as another connected device that happens to play games well.

Alex Miller:

The tagline for the TV advert, “Loaded with Possibilities”, is probably one of the most accurate slogans ever. It might become that extra piece in this whole interconnected, interactive, seamless experience that Microsoft is trying (quite well) to create. Or it may become just another feature that Microsoft releases that ultimately doesn’t amount to much. While only time will tell, I have a good feeling about this iteration of skydrive, and with more devices coming soon (new Xboxs, Surface, etc) that will have been designed and programmed with this from the start, it can only become more useful. Whether or not people notice it is the biggest question.

PlayCast cloud gaming service is coming to the US in 2013, we go hands-on a bit early‏

Simon Wu:

Another one? We talked about the spontaneous implosion of OnLive a few months ago, and here’s another company chomping at the bit. But it begs the question, which the article sort of talks about, and which we brought up in the relevant podcast. Are these companies just trying to get enough traction to get bought or partnered up, a la Gaikai or Agawi? Right now, it looks like this company has the right ideas for a standalone attempt; they have other non-game entertainment services bolstering them, and a promised regular title churn to keep things fresh, something OnLive is still struggling with.

Alex Miller:

The interesting thing about this new service is that it seems to be the same as Onlive while also being totally different. Its the same streaming game idea, low initial cost, little to no hardware requirements, etc etc. However, where it differs is where OnLive stumbled, so this may be good news for them. The idea of a streaming subscription service for games (wait isn’t that already a thing...?) is an interesting one, as it seems to go the route of presenting it more like tv than actual video games, but I do wonder how it will do given the generally poor experience of subscription services in the gaming world. As I have said before, with a few exceptions like WoW and XBL Gold, the subscription model no longer seems viable. Playcast is certainly betting I’m wrong.

Photo Credit: engadget.com

Steam opens market for players to buy and sell in-game items with cash‏

Simon Wu:

After the killing some people made/are making with real cash outs in Diablo or for a long-time with gold farming in WoW, it makes sense for Valve to get in on the action, what with their whole effort to create their own world of gaming and content. I wonder if we will create an entire mini economy in this realm for study later, but on a more serious note, this is a way for serious games like Team Fortress II and co. to get in-game purchasing. I like this innovation: ways to bridge hardcore and casual games and blur the most defined lines between the two.

Alex Miller:

I like to think this is Valve’s way of opening a thrift store. For too long have too many hats been left unattended, unworn in player’s inventories. They have not received the love and compassion that any hat needs to grow big and strong. That's why for only 99¢ a day you can do your par... right, sorry, keep getting sidetracked by extended analogies today. Anyways, you get the idea, this is gonna turn into a swap meet for cool in game items and is a nice way to reward loyal fans who have been paying since the beginning and now want to offload some of their less used items to collectors/whatever. Though I do like the idea of very shrewd business gamers being able to fund all their gaming desires but essentially being good at games. Also a funny thought is that, to go along with their new walled community, Valve could soon have their own separate and self-sufficient economy. I can imagine Gabe N. just printing off those internet monies to drive growth. Ah, economics... anyways, have a great weekend guys.

Photo Credit: polygon.com

Solifluktion's picture

I hope the Steambox won't lead to a further over-casualization of PC Gaming. If Valve manage to 'keep it real' I'm really looking forward to the Steambox.

darthskeletor's picture

I want Skydrive to be revved faster and fused with Xbox Music so I can get that content ANYWHERE. Again, perhaps with the next Xbox??

Create New Account or Log in to comment