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Now, things are getting interesting: After two years of speculation, which included showings at CES, Valve has been teasing the unveiling of its PC/console hybrid “Steam Box” for the last week, and a mysterious website appeared with a timer attached to it. Today, the company doubled down on that tease.
Via that mysterious website, the company has unveiled a new console UI, SteamOS.
Steam OS is a living room UI that is clearly the spiritual (and more sophisticated successor) to the company’s Big Picture product. Released last year, Big Picture allows any Steam user to play their games on a television with an enhanced UI and controller compatibility.
A big feature of Steam OS is its in-home streaming, which utilizes a home network to run games located on any computer to the TV. Valve has also confirmed the presence of Family Sharing. Announced earlier this month, Family Sharing allows users to share their owned games with friends and family digitally, through the cloud. There will likely be media partnerships for both music and video in the coming months.
It’s been a long time coming, but Steam OS is the first taste of Valve’s efforts to bring the PC experience to the living room. While it’s not yet clear what the next two pieces of puzzle will be until later this week (the next announcement is slated for Wednesday), it’s a good start.
The dividing line between PC and console gamers has only gotten thicker over time, especially as independent developers have found much greater success selling their products on Steam than a proprietary console platform like Xbox Live Arcade or PlayStation Marketplace. Steam OS will give those developers the opportunity to create a console experience for their games without the difficulty of working with multiple platforms.
It’s a great first step for Valve, but the additional hardware announcements will likely fill in the details of how the company envisions its place in the console world alongside Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo.