A few weeks back Steam announced that they are releasing their own living room PCs, called Steam Machines, which essentially is a Steam endorsed PC running their own Linux-based OS, called SteamOS.
After reading more about the OS and Steam Machines in general, I’m thinking of looking into turning my nice old HTPC, a Shuttle XS35GT currently working as an XBMC powered Media Center, through OpenELEC, into a Steam Machine. The Shuttle is not really a beast in the regards of hardware and in general seemed to have problems running 1080p videos through Windows 8, but is running perfectly fine with OpenELEC. However I have quite a few games on Steam that would work perfectly on the big screen and don’t require too much power from the computer.
Also I already have an Xbox, but I don’t really use it, so my controllers could work perfectly with the HTPC in this regard and I could actually just take down the Xbox (as soon as GTA V is released on PC that is) and get a bit more room in the living room.
Currently I own the following games with full controller support (which I could consider playing on the television instead of at the computer):
I have a lot more with full controller support, but I doubt those can be run on my HTPC and a lot more with partial controller support which I don’t want to list at the moment, because it’s rather tedious. The above list does show however, that I have plenty of games that could be fun on the television. I do know that there is also a streaming feature, where my desktop would do all the hard work, but as I don’t know how well that’ll work, I’ll leave that out until I get my hands on SteamOS.
There is however one caveat that I need fulfilled before I can do the swap and that is the Media Center capabilities of SteamOS. As none of us has seen the OS yet, it’s hard to say anything about, but looking at the following two parts from the SteamOS page, there is hope that it might be able to do what I want:
Steam is not a one-way content broadcast channel, it’s a collaborative many-to-many entertainment platform, in which each participant is a multiplier of the experience for everyone else. With SteamOS, “openness” means that the hardware industry can iterate in the living room at a much faster pace than they’ve been able to. Content creators can connect directly to their customers. Users can alter or replace any part of the software or hardware they want. Gamers are empowered to join in the creation of the games they love. SteamOS will continue to evolve, but will remain an environment designed to foster these kinds of innovation.
This I take as there is a possibility to run XBMC on SteamOS, either alongside it as a dual-boot option, or possibly straight inside SteamOS. The reason that I think the latter might be possible, is that SteamOS is built on the Ubuntu/Debian kernel and as such XBMC should be able to run there without problems.
We’re working with many of the media services you know and love. Soon we will begin bringing them online, allowing you to access your favorite music and video with Steam and SteamOS.
The second quote I see as they’re working with content providers like YouTube!, NetFlix, Hulu+, Spotify etc. to have integrated apps running in SteamOS. Currently one of the big problems with a clean XBMC install through OpenELEC, is that it’s simply not possible to run NetFlix due to DRM issues. I do however think, that the future for Linux based gaming and media center solutions, is starting to look up after Steam has announced that their rolling into peoples living rooms.
I don’t plan on getting rid of my desktop computer, as so many games are better played there, but as a supplement to it I think that SteamOS is the future for my old HTPC.