The Bulletin

Steam Controller

What Am I Looking At?

Valve makes another move into the living room, EA makes a deal with ex-college jocks, Grand Theft Auto V gets ready to make even more money, and Mega Man makes an unexpected return.

By Sam Barsanti • September 30, 2013

The Bulletin is a roundup of a few game-related news stories from the previous week.

Valve makes three big announcements and none of them are about Half-Life 3—wait, come back!
Steam Controller

Last week, Valve, the game publisher and overseer of the digital game superstore Steam, decided to wave its arms in the air and demand that it, too, has hardware plans worth talking about. The company took the first public steps of its long-rumored foray into creating a blasphemous amalgamation of computer and console gaming. It all started on Monday, when the first of three countdown timers on Valve’s official Steam website ended and revealed SteamOS, a new operating system intended to make it easier to bring Steam’s vast library of PC games to “living room machines.” It will be “available soon” as a free download. While not all of the thousands of games available for purchase on Steam will be up and running on SteamOS when it’s released, users will be able to stream games from their main machine to their SteamOS machine, which will theoretically be hooked up to a TV. It will also allow the sharing of games among family members, with separate achievements and saved games. This sounds a lot like the original vision behind the Xbox One, but since Steam is already beloved, this probably won’t be as hard of a sell.

And you can’t have an operating system without something to run it on. The second countdown timer led to the announcement of Steam Machines, which are less of a singular game console and more of a philosophy on how to design game consoles. Anyone can download the SteamOS for free and set up a new computer to run it, but Valve will also be partnering with unspecified computer companies to release pre-packaged SteamOS boxes that come in various shapes, sizes, and power levels. If you’re confident in your ability to jump through hoops, you can even sign up for the Steam Hardware Beta in hopes of receiving one of Valve’s prototype consoles for testing.

And you can’t have a console without a controller! That’s right, the third countdown timer ended with the reveal of the Steam Controller. In the interest of being an unbiased professional journalist, I will abstain from making any comments about how ridiculous the Steam Controller looks and just present you with the facts. It forgoes the usual control sticks in favor of a pair of trackpads that Valve says provide “higher fidelity input” than typical controller thumbsticks. It also sports a touchsreen in the middle that can be used to replace some of the functions of complicated keyboard-and-mouse computer games. Around that screen are four buttons—positioned so that you don’t have to move your fingers very far off of the trackpads. Also, it looks like a floppy-eared anime rabbit with big eyes that got turned into Darth Vader. Or maybe a bizarre gimmicky Sega Genesis controller that you’d see advertised in the back of an old issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly in the ’90s. We’ll know more about the Steam Controller, and if it feels as crazy as it looks, once people get their hands on them through the Hardware Beta.

EA quits college football team to focus on studies (and settles huge lawsuit with college football players)
NCAA Football 13

Back in July, we reported that the licensing deal between EA and NCAA had expired and wouldn’t be renewed. At the time, EA said that it would still release a college football game next year with all of the “teams, leagues, and authentic innovation” of its NCAA Football series, but without any of that NCAA branding. That seemed to be the end of it, and in 2014 we would get the same great-tasting football game in a brand-new package, but it turns out that EA also had a legion of disgruntled student-athletes knocking on its door. The former college athletes had filed a lawsuit against EA, NCAA, and the Collegiate Licensing Company claiming that the three organizations had directly profited from the use of their likenesses in EA’s long-running college football series. As you may be surprised to find out, this college football series often featured college football players who—for whatever reason—think they should be compensated in some way for helping these companies make the crapload of money they make every year on this video game. The nerve!

But now, according to Polygon, EA and the CLC have reached a settlement with the jocks and admitted that, yeah, they probably should’ve been paying them something. In celebration, one of the lawyers on the football players’ side released a press release saying this settlement is the “first step toward…making sure all student-athletes can claim their fair share of the billions of dollars generated each year by college sports.” EA responded to this by canceling its college football game series indefinitely, indicating that it would rather not make any money than give some of it to college kids. So this may not end up being the first step in lucrative career of appearing in video games for our nation’s collegiate athletes, but CBS Sports reports that every player who has appeared in one of EA’s college football or basketball games is eligible to make some money off of this settlement, so that’s a pretty sweet deal at least. Too bad nobody ever made a video game about what I did in college. But I guess a video game about playing Xbox would be redundant.

Grand Theft Auto Online will feature microtransactions
Grand Theft Auto Online

Financially, Grand Theft Auto V has failed to make any impression whatsoever. Aside from the billion dollars it made after being in stores for only three days and the untold trillions it has presumably made since then, that is. But while you might be satisfied with a 10-figure debut, the developers at Rockstar are not. They are looking to move even further into the black when the game’s online multiplayer component launches this week. In a post on its official site, Rockstar outlined a little bit of what people can expect from Grand Theft Auto Online, including its inclusion of “GTA$,” an in-game currency that you can purchase through Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. The post emphasizes that this is merely for the “instant gratification type” and that no real money is needed to buy anything in the game. Rockstar also says that players will accumulate cash faster online than they do in the single-player mode, so it has planned a series of free content updates to give you and your friends more mayhem-causing toys to buy.

Star Wars 1313: What might have been

The most notable casualty from the closing of LucasArts was Star Wars 1313. The game, seen only in a brief trailer at E3 2012, starred a generic-looking unnamed protagonist shooting enemies as he descended into the lowest levels of the planet-sized city Coruscant. Back in April, a source leaked to Kotaku that the boring nobody in the trailer was just a placeholder, and that he would have been replaced by the bounty hunter Boba Fett if 1313 hadn’t been cancelled. Presumably this would’ve been our chance to finally see Boba Fett being awesome instead of just assuming he’s awesome because he looks so awesome. Now, though, thanks to another mysterious leaker, IGN has more details on what Star Wars 1313 might have been like. The game would’ve indeed starred Boba Fett, and it would have followed his transition from fresh-faced space murderer to grizzled tough guy who’s constantly being reminded not to disintegrate people. The IGN post has a bunch of concept art and details on how the plot would’ve played out, so it’s worth a look, if only so you can longingly think about what might have been…or smirk at the bullet you dodged if you’re too hip to think Boba Fett is cool.

Mega Man is coming back with a brand new game
Mega Man Board Game

A board game! You know, the kind you play while sitting around a table and not in front of a TV or with a controller? More than three years since the release of the last game in the series, the prayers of Mega Man fans have been answered—and this time not in the form of his non-union Kickstarter equivalent. Mega Man: The Board Game translates the traditional Mega Man formula—defeat the evil Robot Masters and then Dr. Wily—into a deck of cards. As explained on Rockman Corner, the game involves you progressing through levels and earning new powers, just like in the real games, and it covers the story (so much as there is one) of the first Mega Man. The creators are planning future expansions that will introduce elements from later entries in the series as well, making this a sort of Mega Man’s Greatest Hits, only it’s a board game. Interestingly, Capcom doesn’t seem interested in footing the bill for any of this, and the game’s developers will be launching a Kickstarter soon, pending final review from Mega Man’s parent company.

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152 Responses to “What Am I Looking At?”

  1. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    “Maybe now it’s Dengar’s time to shine!” Thought Dengar as he adjusted his cranial diaper.

  2. Uncle Roundy says:

    “Interestingly, Capcom doesn’t seem interested in footing the bill for any of this”

    I think the adverb you meant to use there was “predictably”.

  3. The_Lame_Dane says:

    I installed linux mint on my pc and soon forgot my password. Thus I had to boot up and code within an if statement to change the password.

    I imagine steamOS will have a help hotline or something different. You see despite a learning curve I would love to have a kickass new pc running on linux if I didn’t need a windows machine to stream from/boot to play battlefield 3 or any other DX10/DX11 game.

    Also I wonder if someone will make a mighty number 9 game, just cause.

    • Bakken Hood says:

      Surely it will only be a matter of time until someone gets Wine up and running in SteamOS, right?  Right?

      • The_Lame_Dane says:

        You can’t play dx10/11 only games on Wine ATM,(games that work with dx9 like splinter cell:blacklist seem to work)

        And they’ve been trying for years. So maybe the stars will align when the steam machines come out.

        But you can use onlive through linux, if you really want to.

  4. SamPlays says:

    This is the perfect opportunity for EA to refocus its product line by scooping up exclusive rights to NAACP branding.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Oh, man. With Benjamin Jealous stepping down, that’s going to open some exciting options for the 2014 roster!
       I’m looking at signing up Rosyln Brock. She lags a bit in her fundraising stats, but I’m pretty excited at leveraging her health initiative bonus!

  5. duwease says:

    Just saw this today: Timothy Leary Games Unearthed In Archive

    Turns out people were recreating the experience of being on LSD in games long before Deadly Premonition!

  6. psib says:

    I’m 100% on board to buy a steam machine but I’m still not sure how that controller is gonna pan out. I mean it’ll probably be great because valve is great at not screwing things up. But I’m really interested in how its gonna work with the cool keyboard typing thing that steams big picture mode uses.

    Now about Half Life 3… 

    • SamPlays says:

      I sincerely hope this purported “steam machine” turns out to be an assemblage of boilers, furnaces, motors, vents and pumps. Otherwise, I have zero interest in buying another console.

      • Touchdown_Spenser says:

         We could use pressure differentials to spin turbines! Just like I hoped the PS4 would do!

    • Enkidum says:

      I’m totally open to the idea that this is the most awesome controller ever. It just… doesn’t look like it. Then again when I saw the first promo for the iPad I thought it was the stupidest thing ever, so what do I know?

      • Citric says:

        Can I say I still don’t get the iPad? After years on the market, nobody has ever made a compelling argument for it, outside of it being really great if you take long poops.

        • needlehacksaw says:

          Well, you have to admit that that is a very compelling argument. (Seriously, I do have one, and apart from that, showing holiday pictures to drunken people,Year Walk and the Waste Land-app, there is not much I can use it for. Those things, though, are good things. Good things, I say.)

        • Citric says:

          @needlehacksaw:disqus I take short poops, making an iPad useless to me.

        • SamPlays says:

          Apple created the iPad Mini exclusively for short poops.

        • Enkidum says:

          For me possibly the single best thing is using it as a pdf reader – I have thousands of papers on mine and it’s just so much more pleasant than reading them on the computer (and who wants to print out papers these days?).

          It’s also really nice as a small, light, computery thing. I realize that’s not much of a sell, but 95% of what most of us use computers for is watching videos, reading and writing short emails, looking at photos, and surfing the web. A tablet does all of those things almost as well (or in some cases even better) than a computer. Add to that all the decent games and so forth (it’s especially great for board games), and the fact that it’s small and enough to fit in a shoulder bag and can be passed around the dinner table. It allows easy, portable satisfaction of most of your electronic wishes.

          There’s nothing particularly astounding about it, it’s really the size and form factor. But like I said, I thought it was stupid as hell until I was given one for free, so…

        • Pgoodso says:

          Tablets are actually fairly excellent for work and school. Notes, email, social media, important texts and articles, and whatever app works for your particular career all in one place, and it weighs about a pound? I mean, I know carpenters and plumbers that use theirs for measurements and part numbers, lots of designers and technicians using it for quick drafting, illustration, or even collecting design elements (pics, videos, and sounds), not to mention the more obvious MSOffice-type and database apps for the more desk-bound.

          Sure, you can get all those in a laptop, but there’s the whole “can-do-this-while-standing-up-and-having-a-conversation” thing, and if tablets increasingly are having the same processing power and capabilities as a laptop or even PC, why wouldn’t you go for smaller and more portable other than habit?

        • Citric says:

          I can understand a convenient portable computing device, but the thing about tablets – and specifically the iPad – is that they’re sitting in this weird nebulous middle section. If you just want a quick and easy way to access information, a modern smartphone can usually do anything the tablet can do, and while it’s smaller that just means it’s more portable. If you want to buckle down and do serious work, tablets are generally so limited you kind of have to go back to a traditional laptop or desktop. It’s a device that has all the bad bits of a smartphone – generally the limits of their capabilities, as well as being butts for typing – and all the bad bits of a laptop – can’t fit in your pocket. 

        • stepped_pyramids says:

          @Pgoodso:disqus Typing anything at length on a tablet is much more tedious than using a keyboard, to the point that I’ve more or less given up on using mine for notetaking — I find myself frequently having to ask people to repeat themselves because I was so consumed with hunting and pecking.

          A keyboard and mouse are still a much, much more powerful input mechanism than any touch interface for most tasks.

        • 2StoryOuthouse says:

          Replace “poop” with “flight” and that’s really the only answer I’ve got for you.

    • CrabNaga says:

      Here’s a candid preview of the Steam Controller by Tommy Refenes (aka the guy that made Super Meat Boy control so well), where he goes into detail on the various boons and pitfalls – potential and actual – that he’s seen or can see impacting the controller. So far, it seems like Valve has a good handle on this controller for normal controller-stlye games (such as Super Meat Boy and Spelunky), but I’m more interested to see how it will work with more mouse-and-keyboard style games (such as Civilization V and Counter-Strike).

      • psib says:

        Im interested to see how it works with button heavy games like fighting games and RPG’s. I do see it being good for indie games especially if valve starts to open up greenlight.

      • PPPfive says:

        im guessing that’s where the touchpad comes in

      • Boonehams says:

        One of my favorite genres is 3D platformers and even after reading his thoughts, I have no idea how you could play one on a Steam Controller.

        • Enkidum says:

          Well… is there any reason why any game that can be played on a standard console controller couldn’t be done on a Steam one? I mean, it’s got all the same buttons and the only difference is that the joysticks have been replaced by circular trackpads, which might take a minute to get used to but hell, you’re doing practically the same movements even.

        • Boonehams says:

          For 3D platformers, you control two things simultaneously: the character and the camera, which would require the use of both track pads.  So then there’s the actions required for the character which would most likely, I guess, be mapped to the three triggers on the back since the traditional A,B,X,Y face buttons are split up and moved to the center away from your thumb.  At that point, doing simultaneous actions will force you to be constantly squeezing and releasing on the controller like it’s a giant stress ball, and your fingers will cramp.

          Call me a pessimist, but I’m trying to imagine how Sly Cooper or Ratchet and Clank or any other semi-recent platformer would play on it and I can’t see it happening.

        • stepped_pyramids says:

          @Boonehams:disqus The trackpads themselves are clickable, and that’s expected to be the primary replacement for face buttons.

        • Girard says:

          @stepped_pyramids:disqus But by turning one of the trackpads into buttons, you lose one of the ‘thumbsticks’ and cede camera control.

        • stepped_pyramids says:

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus Hmm, I’m not clear on whether the button mode is mutually exclusive with the trackpad mode. I’d have assumed you could do both on the same trackpad.

      • NakedSnake says:

         Awesome. Thanks. This is an interesting perspective. If the guy who made Super Meat Boy is not immediately disgusted with how the controller works, that’s extremely reassuring. That said, I still have a hard time picturing what playing games with this controller will feel like in practice. But I am sure as hell going to buy one and try it out. I look at it this way: mastering a new controller/input system, especially an inventive one like this, is one of the core pleasures of gaming. Basically, getting good at using the Steam Controller sounds like a fun activity in and of itself. This is just taking the experience of mastering the input scheme for, say, SMB to the next level.

    • Miko the Squiz says:

      The controller is the part I’m excited about. Thumbsticks have always been terrible, (with some companies managing to make theirs a little bit less terrible than others, but still terrible) and vague, demanding ridiculous amounts of violinist’s-pinky-level fine control from thumbs of all things for anything more precise than a vague “compass direction, ish”. I blame them almost entirely for how flaily and non-precision-requiring typical console gameplay’s been for the last fifteen years or so.
      Just imagine – non-shitty FPS games on consoles! Or a Dark Souls where you can actually jump in the direction you wanted to.

  7. SamPlays says:

    You know that saying “history repeats itself”? With any luck, Valve will enable other controllers to be used for their steam engine.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Interesting, I didn’t know that existed.  Still, 20 years of technological advance could make the new touchpads worth it.

      Could, but might not.

      • SamPlays says:

        One of the potential design issues might be related to where you rest your thumbs when not using the trackpads – it might lead to unintended controller input given the tendency to rest your thumb on the pad. At least this is what happens with the analog sticks on the PS3 controller, which are placed similarly to the Valve controller. Even when typing on my laptop, my hands will occasionally brush the trackpad and my cursor jumps somewhere else. 

    • Chalkdust says:

      I rented one of those controllers from the video store back in the SNES days and could never quite get the hang of it.  Even as a kid, I needed that tactile sense of “pressing”, because my impulse was to keep swiping my thumb from left to right instead of just holding right.

    • The_Misanthrope says:

      Then again, sometimes, it doesn’t:

    • Uncle Roundy says:

      This is the first thing I thought of looking at that controller. Needless to say it doesn’t make me too jazzed about it.

  8. Brainstrain says:

    I cannot ascertain the intended audience for these Steam Machines. Theories (with counter-argument):

    1) People with massive steam libraries. They likely have excellent, expensive computers.

    2) People who love gaming on their TV. They likely have multiple consoles already.

    3) The overlap of 1 and 2 who also have a philosophical objection to HDMI cables.

    Am I missing something here?

    • Bakken Hood says:

      4) People who want user mods, command line functionality, and all that other flexible stuff associated with PC gaming, but don’t have the pockets or patience to keep a gaming PC up to the current specs (and want to play from the couch, possibly with friends).  If they get it right (and the developers that drive the need for upgrades are willing to tolerate cheapskates with out-of-date rigs), Steam Machines could combine the best of both platforms.

      • William Miller says:

        I’m assuming you will also be able to use a regular keyboard? Trying to use the command line (especially with games that use long item id codes) looks like a nightmare. This could also end up being the only real useful application of wireless keyboards.

        • Bakken Hood says:

          They’ve already said as much.  You get your choice of input devices, and it’s fully hackable if you need more options than are built in.

      • Brainstrain says:

        A high-end Steam Machine isn’t going to be much cheaper than a high-end gaming rig. The only savings I can think of will be through the free OS and no need for productivity software. That’s maybe $200, sure, but when you’re looking at an $800 console versus a $1,000 computer, you need pocket depth regardless

        This is the source of my confusion. Why would you buy a single-purpose, non-upgradable gaming box when you can spend a little more and just get a good computer with a few cables?

        • Destroy Him My Robots says:

          Isn’t it more likely to be more expensive actually? Unless Valve subsizides the hardware, what we’re looking at is simpy a pre-built small form factor gaming PC. That stuff’s pretty expensive.

        • Bakken Hood says:

          If Valve is selling enough games to Steam Machines owners, they could be subsidized the same way that $400-500 consoles are now.  I don’t recall all the details, but Newell quoted some very low numbers in a public address (could be for a streaming-only model rather than an actual gaming machine, though) that suggested they’d be much cheaper than equivalent PC’s.

          Even if a high-end Steam Machine is $800, it might outlast a $1000 Windows PC.  A five year old laptop is borderline unusable, while my 360 is going strong in its sixth year; as long as PC developers are willing to play ball with sensible system requirements, a SteamOS box should last just as long.  I’d pay double the price of a PS4 for PC flexibility, as long as its useful life matches the PS4.

          Also, Valve has stated that their own hardware will be upgradeable.  Me, I’m hoping that option is optional.

        • Destroy Him My Robots says:

          @Bakken_Hood:disqus I should say that I think the streaming-only model is a pretty great idea. It’s a natural extension of traditional HTPCs.

          Dunno about laptops, but my 2×2.8GHz Athlon/GF9600/4GB desktop still holds up. Whatever PC developers have been doing, it’s been working quite well for me.

        • Juan_Carlo says:

          I’ve had my computer for 5 years and can still run everything I throw at it.  Granted, I bought the most expensive video card available at the time, but that’s still a much longer time compared to what you used to get out of a PC.   I remember upgrading every 2 or 3 years in the early to mid 2000s.

          It’s mostly just because there are no longer any big “Far Cry” and “Crysis” style PC exclusives that push hardware to the limit.  Most AAA titles are cross platform, which means that while they usually have more bells and whistles and look way better on PC, they are still bottle necked by the fact that they have to be designed to run and look reasonably well on 8 year old XBOX 360 hardware.

          So, yeah, as long as the Steam box’s specs are comparable to next generation console’s specs they will most likely last as long as the next gen consoles do.

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      I like the idea of being able to play most of my Steam library on my TV from my couch, but not enough to buy several hundred dollars worth of new hardware.

      I will be trying to enter the hardware beta, though, because I like the idea of getting things for free.

      • Raging Bear says:

        I’m eligible for the beta now; one of 188,000+, it told me, and that was maybe 3 days after it opened up. Eligibility doesn’t lock until the 25th, so not great, chances-wise.

        • The_Helmaroc_King says:

          Never tell me the odds!

        • ProfFarnsworth says:

          Assuming roughly 5000 more people become eligible every day (a vastly low underestimate) you will have somewhere around 0.000295857988% receiving one for the beta.  Isn’t math/statistics fun?

    • PPPfive says:

      Yes: there’s a new generation right around the corner

      • Brainstrain says:

        I don’t see what difference that makes. Console gamers aren’t going to just give up on their consoles and buy a PC-for-your-TV (I realize that the current consoles aren’t much more than PCs-for-you-TV either). Not to mention that the PS4 and Xbone will continue to have exclusives.

        • PPPfive says:

          I’m not sure what you are saying… they wont be ‘giving up’ on their consoles anymore than they gave up on their PS2s when they bought a PS3, it’s a new thing. Sure there’s going to be some guys that stay unfalteringly loyal to brands to due to being children/simple, but I’m pretty sure Steam are aware of this and have factored the risk into their strategy. Plus you seem to be overlooking the (almost certainly a) fact that this will have it’s own exclusives, and any game series that has lots and lots of fans will be on every system anyway.

          Personally I think Steam are aiming to remove the difficulty/stigma from PC gaming. I don’t see how some people having previously owned a console effects this. Why do you think console gamers will not want one?

        • Destroy Him My Robots says:

          @PPPfive:disqus There will be several “Steam Machines” with different specs, from what I understand. So you’ll still get the “Will my machine be able to run it and how well?” issue and you get the same DRM that got soundly rejected in the whole Xbox One drama. And no, this won’t have exclusives. It’s just Steam on Linux. And no, you will be missing out on a whole bunch of multiplats. Remember EA? They don’t put their stuff on Steam anymore, do they? Heck, they don’t even put Madden on PC period.

        • PPPfive says:

           @DestroyHimMyRobots:disqus But PC has loads of exclusives. And if the Steam Machines sell well the multi-plats will come back. I’m just saying that there’s an audience for this, I didn’t say anything about the rest of the stuff in your post

        • Brainstrain says:

          @PPPfive:disqus Well, you didn’t say much, so I had make some assumptions about your argument.

          People can have brand loyalty without being simpletons. It’s basic association. This thing has been good in the past, so it is most likely to continue being good. So, -if- Valve are aiming primarily at the console audience with this, they don’t have that to lean on.

          Not to mention the vast majority of Steam games do not and will continue to not support a controller. If any platform can entice game makers, obviously it’s Steam, so I don’t know how big an issue this is, but it’s one of the bigger of the many hurdles these things are going to need to clear.

        • Destroy Him My Robots says:

          @PPPfive:disqus I’m just answering your “Why do you think console gamers will not want one?” question. Sure, things might change. But right now there’s a lot of reasons why Steam Machine isn’t a terribly attractive proposition. “PC” doesn’t have loads of exclusives, Windows does.

    • CrabNaga says:

      Whoever buys them, I hope they take off in popularity, even if I don’t personally plan on buying one right away. I simply want something that the console crowd can adopt and use as a viable option, such that game developers stop giving the PC market the shaft in terms of releases and ports.

    • Citric says:

      I have a massive Steam library and a crappy, old computer.

      So I guess it’s for me? I think there are other benefits to getting a proper new computer though.

    • NakedSnake says:

      I’m in the same boat as @Citric:disqus. Old computer, big library. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of playing games on the computer. Couch and controller is king. But there are far, far more interesting PC games out there than there are interesting console games. And I have a low frustration level with fiddling around with shit all the time.

      That said, I am the archtypical late adopter, having bought my first smartphone this year. So good luck prying money out of my hands, Steam. There’s probably a reason I have an old computer even though I have a big steam library.

    • Phillip Collector says:

      I don’t understand what their audience is either. PC gamers who want to play on their TV’s seems like an incredibly small audience.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:


        On a side note, how is your collection of Phillips coming along?  Do you collect only people named Phillip, or also objects with said name, such as screwdrivers?

      • Pgoodso says:

        I dunno about that. Considering that most computers and televisions come with HDMI now, it seems like the better question becomes “If I can plug my PC into my TV, why the hell would I buy a console?”.

        Which again, undermines their potential audience, but just from a different direction.

        • Fluka says:

          Yeah, this is why I’m (to my great surprise) actually more interested in the controller than the console.

        • Brainstrain says:

          This is my basic conundrum. Not so much “does it appeal to anyone”, obviously yes, but “does it appeal to enough” with all of the factors working against it. If anyone can make it work, it’s Valve, but it shall be an uphill battle.

      • McDLT says:

        I think Valve is targeting console gamers that want a PC gaming experience but don’t want to be bothered with researching what video card to buy or spending $900 on a new PC.

        Spend $300, plug a box into your TV and just play games. Only now the games only cost $10 or are F2P and you don’t have to pay extra to get online.

        Imagine 3 years from now when the Xbone and PS4 are showing their age and you can buy the latest Steam Machine that is twice as powerful for the same price.

        • Bakken Hood says:

          Key difference: you can keep playing Xbone games without upgrading if, like me, you don’t give a shit how dated it looks.  I’m crossing my fingers that developers will see the value in making new games run on old rigs; that’s the factor that could make this console moron switch teams.

        • stepped_pyramids says:

          @Bakken_Hood:disqus PC games have been running on fairly old machines for a while now, mostly due to influence from consoles (i.e. because they need to be able to port the game to lower-tier hardware).

          I’ve been able to adequately play modern PC games on a machine nearly as old as the XBox 360, and it wasn’t some kind of ultra-pricey future-proof hobbyist rig, just an off-the-shelf gaming-capable laptop.

      • Fluka says:

        As a PC gamer who is also super-lazy, I very much like the idea of playing Civ 5 while otherwise being completely prone and motionless on the couch.

      • Miko the Squiz says:

        Yeah, who has a TV? Watching movies and shows is something you do on a PC now.

    • exant says:

      There is a significant market sector of people who build their own home theater PCs and the Steam Machine/OS seems targeted at them. And to a lesser extent maybe, people who use Roku’s and the like.

      If the OS is as easy to use (for my wife) as our Roku, I will probably buy one. I already play a number of Steam games with a controller, so adding a couch and a TV seems a good step.

      Edit: also playing retro/party titles with your friends, like D&D: Shadow over Mystara. That seems like the best use.

    • zebbart says:

      I love Steam because of cheap access to tons of great games, especially indie games. Consoles don’t give me that. I hate Steam because it takes a lot trickery and self teaching to use a good controller with it, because my computer is kind of old and makes things go slow, and because I can’t easily play on my TV and let my kids play. So if they can come in for significantly less than a new laptop it’s for me.

      • stepped_pyramids says:

        Yeah, that’s me in a nutshell. Plus I love the idea of being able to play Spelunky on either my laptop or my TV if I feel like it.

    • Merve says:

      If console-like gaming PCs gain in popularity, then we might see a resurgence of local multiplayer. I hope.

  9. boardgameguy says:

    Steam Machine is a pretty good name (and hopefully a reference to an underrated, IMHO, Daft Punk song). But I was really hoping they’d call the new Steam Box a “Sauna.”

  10. boardgameguy says:

    Re: the Mega Man board game – making it into a deck-builder (think Dominion) at least makes thematic sense.

  11. NakedSnake says:

    Sure, EA’s action might seem petulant and childish at first light, but if you take some time to look deeper, you’ll find that they are even more petulant and childish than you thought. The NCAA already announced that they wouldn’t be going ahead with EA in the future. After floundering around trying to find a new partner, this is just EA’s version of “you’re not dumping me, I’m dumping you!”

  12. Cloks says:

    I’ve seen some idle chatter that compares the SteamBox (what’s our derogatory name for that – the Sbone?) to the OUYA and I think it’s interesting because while they use some of the same marketing buzzwords, Steam is head and shoulders above of whatever Uhrman generates.

    The one thing that they need to improve is the openness of the Steam Store – something that they’ve tried to do and admitted that they haven’t done as well as they like, especially with the poorly received Greenlight service.

  13. CrabNaga says:

    So here’s something I never really “got” with our current analog-stick-heavy controllers: are we supposed to actually use the analog stick for fidelity movement? I find it incredibly hard to gauge one stick angle from another in terms of how severe a movement will be, either by your character movement in a third-person game, or (especially) crosshair aim in a first-person game. Even if I’m playing something like GTAV, my driving is filled with tons of “clack clack clack” noises while I’m making intricate turns, instead of a more fluid motion while steering harder and lighter from one second to the next.

    Do others have this problem, or am I kind of alone in this? I generally don’t have a HUGE issue just staggering my analog stick “clacks” to simulate a more precise movement, but I’ve never got down using them for actual precision. I’m sure getting strapped into a Clockwork Orange-style seat with Call of Duty for a week straight would fix it, but I never felt like that fidelity is required in most games. 

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      For driving I generally do like the analog sticks, and actually move lightly or forcefully depending on how hard I’m turning.

      For FPSes though, I hate analog sticks.  Much prefer keyboard and mouse for those.  I can’t precision aim for crap with an analog stick.

    • Bakken Hood says:

      It seems to depend on the control scheme.  If I’m steering with the left stick (e.g. Far Cry 3, L.A. Noire), I “clack” the stick the way you describe.  Works fine.  If I’m rotating the camera with RS and the car steers itself away from the screen (e.g. Halo, Borderlands), I finesse the right stick, possibly because the “steer away from the camera” control scheme is inherently a bit laggy and gives me an extra moment to adjust if I overcorrect.  Hardcore racing sims might demand more moment-to-moment finesse; have to ask a Forza fan.

      There’s no argument that they’re less precise than mice, no matter how practiced you are.  I’ve had over a decade of practice with console shooters, and my precision depends almost entirely on how well the aim assist works.  Halo gives you precision without taking over for you; I can crack off gunslinger headshots all day and feel like a badass.  Put me in a game with no aim assist like L4D, and the broad side of that barn is suddenly a lot smaller.

      • The_Helmaroc_King says:

        I find analog sticks are pretty good for fine adjustments, but a lot games don’t give a good reason to be moving at anything less than 100% at all times. They do give you better control over direction, though, which is great for platformers and such, but analog sticks aren’t always the “best” solution.

        Personally, I’ve always been a tad miffed that the console shooters I’ve played (mostly Halo and Call of Duty, in some iteration or another) don’t have the option of playing with aim-assist off. Granted, I could prove to be terrible at those games without the extra boost, and I’d probably turn it back on if that was the case, but it can be aggravating when someone runs across the screen and my reticule suddenly starts following them instead of whomever I was actually tracking.

    • GaryX says:

      I think it’s weird that most games have totally ditched the fidelity of sticks. When Mario 64 came out, a big deal was made about how the degree of pressure on the stick could alter your movement speed, and it was partially heralded as an innovation for this reason. No longer would we be bound to the directional pad and press A to run!

      Fast forward to 2013 and the biggest game of the year makes you tap X to sprint or hold it to run. So many other games are like this. I just find it really odd.

      • a_scintillating_comment says:

        Yeah, I thought we had that whole running business figured out years ago

      • Toparaman says:

        Even Mario is abandoning analog movement.  The upcoming Super Mario 3D World has only 8-directional movement, and a run button.

    • Miko the Squiz says:

      We’re supposed to use them for high fidelity movement, it’s just that it doesn’t work and analog thumbsticks were never a good idea. As it is, they could be better if it required an amount of force greater than zero to push them all the way to the edge, but it doesn’t so they’re not. I’ve been waiting for someone to come up with a solution for the issue that’s actually better than an old fashioned digital directional pad, and it looks like this could be it.

  14. Hunsweasel says:

    Microtransactions are only for the “instant gratification types”.  The instant gratification, in this case, being that of spending $100 of your mom’s money to buy maxed-out vehicle and weapon mods within 5 minutes of launch and then ganking those of us who have better things to do with our own money.  Should be fun!

  15. Effigy_Power says:

    I for one am super-excited about the Steam Controller, if mostly because I delight in seeing a shit-load of people crying bloody murder over it without ever having held the thing in their hand. That kind of instant judgement is a delight to see from afar.
    That said, it looks like a great leap forward in a section of gaming, peripherals, that hasn’t exactly been blessed with massive awesomeness in some years. Yes, some people could argue the Kinect is one such thing, but well, that hasn’t really taken off. As fun as the Kinect can potentially be, it’s not a replacement for a hand-held controller. People in wheelchairs for example probably don’t appreciate their TV prompting them to jump if they want Marcus Fenix to slide over a wall.
    To my mind the last few innovations controller-wise were vibration (real old), reliable wireless capabilities (also pretty old hat) and internal axis, which doesn’t really seem to be something people use much.
    I am looking forward to try that sucker out once my hands stop being stupid.

    PS: The Steambox, no matter what it costs (compared to consoles) and how many consoles one already has, has one titanic benefit, and that’s Steam’s library, that’s not only full of excellent free games, but also, I strongly assume, carries over from your PC Steam library.
    Next generation consoles might end up being a bit better at what they do, who can say? But for a ton of money they come with exactly zilch games. So Sony/MS can boast about selling their machines for $399/$499 all they want and how that’s much cheaper than a PC with comparable specs, in the end I will likely have to top that off with another 200 bucks to get some entertainment going on it. I am looking forward to the Steam Box and I think everyone should. Now that it’s just Sony and MS competing for the top tier of sofa-gaming, with Nintendo having taken to the more comfortable second tier monopoly, any competition can only be good for us. I imagine that the two big ones will feel the sting of a console selling games for the prices Steam can pretty strongly.
    Not to mention that Valve seems like the perfect company to try their hand at this. Color me genuinely intrigued.

    PPS: I saw a lot of people online going “Remember when Valve used to make games?”. That seems like a silly attitude. Sony used to build tape recorders and sell life insurance and MS made operating systems. Even Nintendo started out making playing cards and Sega sold juke-boxes. Companies go with the times or they die.

    Now excuse me while I put my knuckles on ice. Also, how dare you have Mike Nelson as a guest AND feature a D&D article when I was out of commission? How dare you?

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      How are your mitts, Gameological’s favorite sociopath?

      • Effigy_Power says:

        Better, still bad. Not swollen anymore, now just stiff and painful.

      • a_scintillating_comment says:

        Yeah, @Effigy_Power:disqus , is it still ‘Eff 0, Emergency Hatch 1’, or have you settled the score? Show it who’s boss!

    • ProfFarnsworth says:

      I completely agree with @Effigy_Power:disqus .  The SteamBox will probably be an innovative addition to the console world.  I think this is a good idea due to the fact that most consoles are just fancy computers anyway, and with the addition of SteamOS the SteamBox might just be able to make a substantial competitive dent in the console universe.

    • McDLT says:

      To the people saying “Remember when Valve used to make games?”. Valve just released DOTA2 and you can bet that when this Steam Machine hits the market it will be announced along with HL3 and maybe another game like L4D3.

    • Bureaupath says:

      Well, to the existing PC game playing user base, it’s about a $200 outlay, but most consumers don’t have a PC capable of playing current or last gen games. So for them, it’s $400/$500 for a new XBox/PS (or even $300 for a WiiU) vs. $200 AND another $500+ investment into a Windows PC capable of playing games made in the last 3 years or so. Not to mention all they have now is a way for two devices/screens in their house to be occupied by one person.

      The other thing I thought of, is it going to be $200 for the base unit or does it include the controller? That controller is full of bells and whistles and it’s not to far to presume that the price of the controller alone may be upwards of $75.

      • stepped_pyramids says:

        Wait, why would you need to buy a Windows PC as well? The Steam Box plays games natively as well as streaming, and they seem to be focused on expanding the native install base.

        • Bureaupath says:

          Yes, they’re focusing on the native install base, but we haven’t heard anything definite. Right now, we can go on the fact that there are about 300 or so Linux-compatible games that are probably going to be available right off the bat for SteamOS. Beyond that, we haven’t seen a next gen line up, or any publishers or developers making announcements related to SteamOS.
          It’s probably coming out later in the year, but I think it’s not baseless to say that there will be more Windows titles released on Steam in 2014 than for SteamOS.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          Paradox for example has gone on record to say their games will be SteamOS compatible, a day after the reveal. If Valve handles the interaction with the developers well and gives them an easy way to convert their games from Windows to SteamOS, I don’t see why one would have to be so pessimistic about it.
          All I see is a new toy with unknown capabilities and to me that’s exciting.

    • The_Lame_Dane says:

      Currently Steam has about 200-300 linux games and about 5 times more on windows.

      I expect valve to push more linux games but as of now windows users have the bigger advantage which is why they’re making a streaming service from your windows machine.

      If they can get new releases on linux by the time this thing releases, I’m aboard. Though I may just make a linux pc depending on the prices.

    • Girard says:

      You need to stop running fight clubs in the parking garage outside of work, Eff. It’s doing a number on those knuckies of yours!

      I am deeply cynical, incredulous, and pessimistic about the Steam Box, but no more so than I am about any of the other next generation hardware coming out.

    • Sarapen says:

      “Remember when Valve used to make games?”

      Remember when Nintendo sold pornographic playing cards and ran sleazy fuck hotels?

  16. JohnnyLongtorso says:

    I don’t get where the “board” part comes into play with that Mega Man game. It sounds more like a CCG to me. Maybe if they had a picture of the actual game mockups it would be clearer.

    Incidentally, Decipher did a CCG based off of Mega Man NT Warrior about ten years ago. It looks like it had some interesting mechanics, but it was during their “must make games out of anime” period, so it looks like it was marketed towards kids.

    • Matt Gerardi says:

      Over in that Rock Man Corner article they have a shot of some unfinished game piece prototypes. That’s about as close as you’ll get to boardiness though.  

    • boardgameguy says:

      People still consider Dominion a board game even if it doesn’t have a board to speak of. If anything, it’ll probably be closer to a Living Card Game, like the popular Lord of the Rings co-operative game.

  17. Brainstrain says:

    The exposition-cum-banter in that 1313 trailer is so damn solid. Makes me sad.

  18. Pgoodso says:

    I do like that Valve and Steam seem to care about backwards compatibility and modding in a way
    that seems anathema to most other console or even OS makers.

    mean, I can play frigging LOOM on Steam, a game that came out over 20
    years ago for MS DOS and Commordore (!!), and 13 years before Steam even existed as patching software
    for Half-Life 2. AND the community has provided a legal way to use the FM-Towns version of the game instead of the voiced version in the Steam download.

    It seems like the only way you’ll play older games on any of the other systems is to rebuy them because emulation (Wii), streaming (Xbox and PS4) and/or microtransactions (Wii Sports 2.0). Yaaaaaaaaay.

    • ItsTheShadsy says:

      I don’t think that’s really a Steam thing. The system for getting old LucasArts games to run on current computers was devised by fans, and you can use it for free outside of Steam if you still have an older copy. There’s been a surprising level of that type of interaction on every platform recently: if you’re curious, seek out the story of how Sonic CD got re-released on modern systems.

      My main hope is that the Steam controller is compatible with Windows as well. I still don’t know if it’s a great solution for every type of game, but I do think it’d be best for backwards compatibility (like with Loom or games available through GoG).

      • Pgoodso says:

        True, but since Steam is basically just a distribution and software packaging program, with little to no care about company loyalty or how “old” a game is, that almost further proves my point. I doubt Microsoft, Sony, OR Nintendo was interested in helping republish LOOM, especially considering their stance on any sort of “4th party” emulation software on their systems. With Steam, LucasArts and the original developers get to show off (and sell, which IS kind of a big deal compared to SCUMMVM) their game to a whole new generation and Steam just says “Sure, just give us a little bit off the top, we really don’t care as long as it doesn’t break people’s computers.”

        I mean, I’ve lot of the other games from my back catalog running on SCUMM VM as well. But for things that DON’T work as well unless you do some mildly heavy lifting in DOSBox (say, the original Dark Forces, ALSO on Steam), it sure is a hell of a lot more convenient to pay $5 for a golden oldie than it is for the average consumer to relearn DOS.

        Granted, this is a strategy that the other main console developers have integrated into their consoles, but only for their OWN back catalogs. That Valve is a somewhat neutral party is only to Valve’s benefit and the other companies’ detriment. I guarantee that, if Nintendo needs the bucks, they’ll re-release Mario games on Steam a HELL of a lot earlier than they’ll release them on Xbox Live or PSN. Not they will any time soon, but I think that day IS coming.

        I’ll be interested to see how the Steam-troller works on Windows as well. If it sees both trackpads as separate mouse-type objects or the whole thing as a gamepad or not. My guess is that Steam will come with some proprietary software and drivers for this kind of integration, kind of like how SteelSeries does for its “almost-but-not-quite-normal” peripherals.

        • Girard says:

          It’s even more convenient to buy that golden oldie on GOG, where it hasn’t had needless DRM appended to the experience.

        • Sarapen says:

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus Preach it, homey.

        • Destroy Him My Robots says:

          Nah, I’m pretty sure Nintendo had Sega and C64 emulation on Wii Virtual Console and Sony has arcade ports, Sega, Neo Geo and PC Engine. Hell, now that I think about it, I have a PSX collection of MSX games on my PS3. It’s not the best version of Gradius.


    so 1313 is officially dead? what a fucking bummer, it looked awesome, fuck you Disney

  20. Xyvir says:

    “Too bad nobody ever made a video game about what I did in college. But I guess a video game about playing Xbox would be redundant.”

    This quote reminds me of THIS little gem of a video:,14240/

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