By Sweep 22 Comments
I'm pretty stoked about Big Picture, Valve's new plan to move PC's into the living room.
It's not something in which I will partake, having a pretty sweet PC setup in my room already, but I like the implications it has on the direction of videogames in general.
Microsoft, Sony and even to some extent Nintendo have made it pretty clear at the numerous industry events like E3 that they are attempting to combat the stigma of owning a "console" by replacing it with a "Multimedia hub". The ridiculous dashboard on the 360 is clear proof that Microsoft is attempting to cram as much junk into their console as possible, and for years these two publishers have been battling for social-network and media domination in their hardware.
I don't know about you guys, but I don't use any of it. I own a PS3 and a 360, and use them both frequently enough to justify owning them, but for solely videogames. I have a pretty sweet PC, and it's the PC which I use the most - because it already does everything that these consoles have for a long time been attempting to do, and it does so effortlessly and with a much greater degree of freedom and versatility.
This isn't a PC fanboy rant. I'm not suggesting that consoles are inferior in any way as videogame-playing machines. My favourite franchise in the world is Gears Of War, and I would much rather play that on my 360 than my PC. I bought my PS3 to play Uncharted and Journey and I have no regrets there, either. There are games that define consoles, that fit so perfectly you can't help but wonder if the hardware was structured around them. They are perfect examples of everything consoles do well.
The PC has the luxury of being able to sidestep the petty competitiveness of E3 dick-swinging by being completely open. And this is obviously what has made the platform so appealing to Valve, a studio with a reputation for not patronising their users with over-simplified menu screens or a lack of consumer involvement in the design process. Now Valve are actually putting their money where their collective mouths are, which is admirable and, honestly, pretty exciting.
In 5 years I expect everyone will be running a PC in their living room.
In 10 I expect Valve will be selling their own brand of high-end PC's that run on a linux-based OS of their own creation. People have made it pretty clear that they are willing to spend a lot of money on videogames, and that they care enough about the performance of their consoles to spend hours arguing about it on the internet. All they need is a way of selling the versatility of the PC without intimidating their customers with the underlying software tinkering. And I have the utmost faith that they will do so. Because Gaben.
The next 5 years are going to be interesting. Get hype.