Thursday, 13 December 2012

More Valve Goings-On

Boxes and markets and Gabens, oh my!

This week has been yet another busy one for Valve on multiple fronts. There are two things that stuck out to me, and which one drew my interest more is something that you might end up finding surprising.

First and foremost in many minds is the admission by Gabe Newell that the Steam Box is a thing that's actually coming down the pipe. If you're experiencing a slight sense of deja vu it's because the Steam Box, or rumours thereof at least, were something that people were buzzing about earlier in the year. After all, if Valve decided to step foot into the home console market then things could get a little more complex in the future to say the least. However, it had seemed for a while at least that people had misjudged, and that the recently debuted Big Picture was actually what all of this was about.

However, in a recent interview with Kotaku Newell seemed to indicate that next year Valve would in fact be entering the living room frontier. He admitted that the Steam Box would likely not be for all, saying, "'Well certainly our hardware will be a very controlled environment,' he said. 'If you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general purpose PC. For people who want a more turnkey solution, that's what some people are really gonna want for their living room." Still though, the idea that Valve will be bringing their own console-esque offering is intriguing.

I'm probably not the target audience for this, I'll admit. I have a computer that I run Steam on, I have no intention to run it on something else, especially considering the finances that I sunk into my current rig. However, people looking for an affordable solution that can still compete may be drawn to this hardware. At this point though the only guarantee seems to be that it's doubtful that it will be a Windows based OS, since Newell is a very public critic of Windows 8. From some of the comments in the interview it seems that he may be looking towards a Linux based system, which means that they'll have to step up their new support of the OS.

The Steam Box isn't something to be easily ignored, that's for sure. But strangely it's not what piqued my interest Valve wise this week. No, that would be something much lower key. Right now a beta has started for a Steam Community Market.

Right now the market only allows certain Team Fortress 2 items to be placed in it, but the concept is one that I think might be long overdue: it's a way for people to buy in game items using their Steam Wallet and through Valve approved channels. Way back last year when I started this blog I mentioned that the TF2 economy had literally exploded with some unusuals and items being worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Scamming was rampant, and Valve couldn't really guarantee any safety since it was outside their control. Now it seems they might be ready to take a cut, depending on how this goes. It will also mean a much safer environment for people using real money transactions.

That, however, isn't what got me interested.

Sure, it might only be in game items for now, but what if this is the first step towards allowing people to resell their games on Steam? Approved channels that would make sure that your product key was rendered null and void and also made sure that you couldn't set the price above what you paid for it. It might be a pipedream, but this is something that would make it leagues more feasible than ever before. I'll be keeping a close eye on just what this currently innocuous little addition might have in store for the future, because the ramifications could just be enormous.

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