Friday, January 11, 2013

The other guys.

I was really hoping for a new release on XBLA today as I really need something to talk about. Two random YourTube video in two days is pretty lazy posting, even for me. Nope, nothing new, not even Kinect exclusives to make fun of.


It's time to talk about two of the new consoles that we may or may not see in the near future.

I honestly don't understand what the Ouya exactly is and who is is for. It's not just a computer in a small box as it based on the Android OS and will only run things purchased from its own marketplace. Only it is a computer because you can open the box up and poke around, replacing bits and it can be easily rooted to run whatever the hell you want on it. Finally, it is supposed to cost less than $100, right at the 'why the hell not' level of financial commitment.

The curiosity is there but promises of demos for every game do nothing for me when there are no games to see. Running all existing Android applications and games is a plus, I suppose, but if that means playing phone quality games in 1080p then it is no reason to be excited. There are no Ouya titles on their official site, nothing to show what the console can actually do beyond promises of untapped power and future support.

Color me dubious, to say the least. Until I see direct feed videos of what its games look like I am not interested. Which leads me to...

Gabe Newell is an evil genius. Big Picture, a significant user interface overhaul to Steam that makes running it on a television a real option, came out not too long ago. I have yet try it because my monitor is big enough, thank you, and I haven't been playing much on the PC lately anyway. And what it will run it runs poorly. No problem, says Gabe, what if I give you a small form factor Steam console?

But how is it any different from the Ouya, I ask. Gabe chuckles at my folly, pulls back a curtain, and points to the literal fuck ton of games that are available on Steam.

Look, he says while counting his money, it will play all of these*. And someday, it will play Half Life 3.

This is how to make an entrance to the console market. This is how to you go up against the big two and a half: with an existing library of games that you know will work and a platform reasonably open enough to ensure almost indefinite support. The Piston, if that is the name it keeps (I hope it doesn't) will not be under $100. My guess is it will be in line if not slightly more than the new Xbox and Playstation. That price point is meaningless because the Steam name and library have value to them. Ouya does not.

People are taking this seriously. Phil Harrison has gone on record that making a console isn't easy. Well, duh. Steam isn't trying to make a console, they are trying to get a gaming quality machine into the hands of people who do not have the ability, time or desire (raises hand) to build one on their own. 

*My only reservation is that, at least for now, this thing is going to run on Linux. Yes, this will keep the cost down, but it will also lock out a huge portion of the Steam library. It will not 'play all of these,' it will play 'some of these.' Being a man of some IT means I would just install Windows on it and call it a day, but if Steam is to succeed in marketing this to the brain dead consumer packing it in with Linux is a mistake. Time will tell, I doubt we will see the Steam box this year. I am certainly interested. This is one more reason on a long list to let my current desktop die and not replace it.


I would love to talk about the new Sony and Microsoft consoles but there is very little to saw. No one knows anything 'officially.' From a personal standpoint, they will both be day one purchases assuming that they do not come out on the same day. The 360 is my go to console and the next one will retain that honor. Sony has just enough exclusives that to be without their console is not acceptable. All I need is for their dates and prices to be announced so I can pull in some old favors and get them reserved.

Because fuck standing in line. I am way to old for that shit.

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