Well you guys heard me make the prediction. It wasn’t a hard one to make, but in my what-if article, I laid out that if what I expected happened, we would be looking at a PC/console hybrid from Valve… Linux PC in function, but console in form. They have now officially announced it. Now it’s time to see if they can succeed. I believe personally that this will be based entirely on the sales they can pull off (and depending on if you believe the rumors about Sony allowing publishers to block used sales or Microsoft going digital only, the path to do so may only be getting easier), but it would seem the 800 lb. gorilla of the PC world is not the only one looking to expand their empire.
NVIDIA, who usually makes hardware and drivers only, has decided that the current generation of consoles choosing AMD graphics cards across the board was not going to take them out of the market, and declared their own portable console, currently named Project Shield.
And for anyone scoffing at this as a “portable,” they may want to think again. Their newest processor for tablets are the Tegra 3, which allow for a tablet or phone to have a quad-core processor running at 1.6 ghz…. on each core. To put that into perspective, this is almost as fast as Sony’s PSVita, which needs it’s speed to make games run at fidelities to rival their full-sized console. And NVIDIA is building the Tegra 4 GPU/CPU combination around this new handheld. It will easily be the best looking device on the market. And it’s built in display (if you don’t hook it to your TV via HDMI it will support natively) is HD to boot, running about the same resolution as most modern console games.
On top of that, it is planned to be an open-ended device, running on Google’s Android OS, so you are not limited to any one company’s choice of what games you can run. Basically anything written for your phone, your tablet, the Ouya or anything else with Google’s OS, will run on this. (Already, I'm sure the promise of Minecraft on the go with a console-style controller is tempting people.)
But the oddest thing, is actually something for computer guys who love their newest toys. If you have the specs in your PC, you can network Steam through your PC into this machine and play your PC gamers literally anywhere in the house. If you can do this plugging this device into the TV, this could well be the best direct competition to Valve’s Steambox anyone could hope for. I have to admit, I want to see how this turns out!
But suffice it to say, early this year, the TV has become the battleground of digital entertainment… and not just for console makers. Everyone not there yet is looking at it as a place to expand their empires into. This is going to be one interesting year!