As you know this year Valve skipped the CES in January, so there were not recent offical news about the Steam Machines to be had… but we have learnt that Valve is planning a big presence at the GDC 2015 in San Francisco and that their involvment will be focused toward the public. This year Valve is not hosting any conference or keynotes (apart from a talk on Game Physics involving several companies and not just Valve). So, what can we expect in March ?
Not really “front and center”, but close enough to the entrance, and with a space about as large as Unity‘s and Oculus Rift‘s. The way the Valve booth is laid out makes it seem more like an exhibition and demo zone, which is again consistent wtih the Steam Machines presentation to the public. We also know that the Steam Controller is finalized now, so we should expect the attendees to be able to try to final iteration of that controller, together with a close-to-final version of SteamOS. That much is more or less confirmed during the CES by Kevin Wasielewski from Origin :
They came out with the controller, then they got some user feedback, and they had to revamp it; they got some more user feedback and had to revamp it again. So they went through that like three or four times. And now their controller is finalized. So now they’re going to production and at GDC is when they’re going to announce more stuff.
Dota 2 is known to get a major engine update in 2015 so it could be that this engine will be actively demoed during the GDC. There are also a number of rumors saying that it’s possible we get an official disclosure of the Source 2 engine at the same time. If it’s disclosed it would be probably with a game going with it, and the most likely candidate would be Left4Dead 3 at this stage (see one of the supposedly leaked screenshots from mid-2014 below).
While Valve has been repeatedly saying that they will not support their Steam Machines platform with exclusive games (since they support multiple platforms and wants gamers to play everywhere possible), it’s not unconceivable that Source 2 would be extremely optimized to run better on the Steam Machines running Linux than on Windows. After all, they had already demonstrated with L4D2 that they could reach a better framerate on Linux than on Windows when optimizing the OpenGL calls. Having a better framerate for a very popular game engine could be an interesting proposition to sell the system, along with major 3rd party support.
Personally I hope Valve gives more details about the value proposition of the Steam Machines and why they should be better than their Windows+Steam boxes currently sold by several of their partners. There’s also a bunch of issues with hardware, drivers, and marketing to address – as well as an official release date.
There’s a lot of hopes from the Linux community about this event, let’s hope there will be few reasons to be disappointed. We are counting on Valve!
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