A Special Guest
I was standing out in the cold last year when I called it, that Valve would be the next big competitor in the gaming space. Not just for its games, such as the upcoming, but unannounced Half-Life 3, but the Steam Box.
We knew that Valve was working on an OS, or something to that affect, thanks to the development powerhouse teasing that it was working on porting over Steam to Linux, and seeing games work on it, too. When it showed Linux-based gaming off, the performance wasn't anywhere near what we receive on Windows, but we have to come to expect that.
Why? Because developers have had much longer than a decade working with Windows, and its API: DirectX. So much so, that the next-gen consoles are now x86-based consoles, making them PCs in a box - a full circle, of the Xbox, if you'll pardon the invisible pun.
But, I'm going to go out on another limb here: we're going to see a big shift away from DirectX. Not a full shift, because the next-gen consoles are based around it, but we're going to see PC gaming and mobile gaming shift away from Microsoft's uber tight grip.
We're seeing this shift now with SteamOS being based on Linux, and we're going to see yet another return to the world of OpenGL, which has me very excited.
I still remember the days of OpenGL, but most people don't seem to remember those days. Back then, it was a dog fight between OpenGL, DirectX and Glide. Now, we have Glide from 3DFX, which was acquired by NVIDIA a few years ago, and we're seeing NVIDIA partner up with Valve for the Steam Box prototypes - something I find quite interesting.
While I write this article, I'm sitting on an Air Canada plane flying over the Pacific Ocean from Australia, to an NVIDIA event I know nothing about. I don't know what we're going to see there, but I hope we see something OpenGL, or SteamOS/Steam Box related. If not, I think we're going to see a ramp up of this in the coming six months or so.
Moving back to OpenGL, where in the Quake days the open-sourced API was a much better suiter to the first-person shooter from ID Software. It was kind of like the showcase of OpenGL, but OpenGL was eventually crushed by DirectX and Microsoft's massive push of its API.
Quake being a dream of coding, thanks to the yesteryear mind of John Carmack. We've seen Carmack take a back seat in the industry of late, but there is one product that has brought him speeding back into the limelight: Oculus Rift. Do you see the pattern here? OpenGL, Oculus Rift, open-source OS - Linux and SteamOS, Valve and its Steam Box. Where are we going from here?
Well, Steam has over 50 million gamers using Valve's digital distribution service, which is just as many customers as the current generation consoles have, which makes it a gigantic source of money. Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Google and Apple are all publicly listed companies who have to bend over backwards to keep their stockholders happy.
Valve are private. This means Valve can go at its own pace, releasing games and devices when they please, without any pressure from investors, who know virtually nothing about how the inside of a game or technology developer works.
I think this is going to be Valve's secret weapon, is that no one outside of Valve and its partners knows what's going on. I think Valve is going to explode onto the scene next year with its various technologies and services, and this is all without considering the biggest of them all: Half-Life 3.