Wednesday, March 5, 2014

SteamOS: Linux Game - Media Appliance OS

Valve, the gaming company behind the hit series Half-Life, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead, and Portal, is disrupting the gaming industry. With more than 75 million users, the company's Steam digital distribution platform is serious business. Valve is a privately owned company and not required to reveal their finances or revenue, but it has been estimated that Valve’s online video game distribution platform Steam made nearly $1 billion in revenues in 2010. Analysts estimate that Steam made around $300 million to $400 million for Valve in 2010, added to the company's sales of its own titles Half Life and Portal. That would place Valve's market cap at around $2 billion to $4 billion. And that was over three years ago. They are not an idle player in the video game industry with a market share estimated at around 75 percent.

Steam is a big gaming network. In December 2012, Steam had approximately 54 million active users, and its users are very active. The user base is fanatic gamers who invest a great deal of money in their gaming hardware. At LinuxCon 2013, Valve co-founder and executive director Gabe Newell said he believed "Linux and open source are the future of gainstream gaming". On September 23, 2013, Valve says they had "come to the conclusion that the environment best suited to delivering value to customers is an operating system built around Steam itself."

SteamOS is a Debian Linux kernel-based operating system developed by Valve Corporation designed to be the OS for the Steam Machine game consoles. It also provides a desktop mode (GNOME) which can run regular Linux applications.  With SteamOS, Valve has been promoting Linux game development recently. The new operating system is primarily geared toward games, television, movies, music, and future media content. SteamOS is not just another video game platform. It has the potential to be a perfectly-timed disruptive technology, much like Android on the iPhone ecosystem. Valve has the users and the delivery platform to make things happen.

The system requirements for SteamOS: 

  • Intel or AMD 64-bit capable processor
  • 4 GiB or more main memory
  • NVIDIA, AMD, or Intel graphics card
  • 500 GB hard drive space

The specs puts this solidly in the mainstream PC market. That's the average laptop I can get at Frys Electronics for 500 bucks. Hard core gamers will spend that on a video card alone.