January 17, 2014, 6:00 AM —
Valve's Steam Dev Days is a true developer conference. That means press is not invited and (as I understand it) the event is invite-only, making it tough for wily journalists to sneak in. Because of this, unlike events like the Game Developers Conference or Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, Valve doesn't issue a bunch of press releases during the conference.
But some info trickled out, mostly via Twitter, and I thought I'd gather it up into one re-cap post.
Probably the biggest news I heard was that Valve has decided to change the Steam Controller. Instead of putting a touch screen in the middle of it, they're going to put a couple sets of buttons to better emulate existing game controllers when the need presents itself. Twitter user @TheIneQuation shared an image of one possible design which I've included at the top of this post.
The middle of that design looks pretty bare to me but I do think the option of having buttons is a good choice.
Alienware took the opportunity to announce a shipping time frame for their version of the Steam Machine: September. It's a tiny little thing, just 3" tall and 8" wide, according to The Verge who also shared this juicy quote from a prior event:
"This machine is the one that we think is actually going to serve the most customers and make the most Steam users happy," Valve designer Greg Coomer told us late last year.
The other dozen or so manufacturers who are working on Steam Machines must be happy to hear that Valve is singling out Alienware like that, eh?
Gigabyte is doing OK though. Valve handed out 1,200 Gigabyte Steam Machines to Steam Dev Days attendees. They received a prototype Steam Controller as well. That's got to result in positive word-of-mouth for Gigabyte (assuming their machines are well-built).
Valve reiterated it's intention to offer music and video services through SteamOS. It said this back when it announced the new operating system too. It didn't mention any names then, and it apparently didn't mention any this week either.
The beta for Steam In-Home Streaming has started. I didn't get my invite, did you? This is something I'm quite excited about. I have a gaming PC in my office and another connected to my TV. The TV PC is starting to get old. With in-home streaming instead of upgrading it, I can just stream games from the upstairs machine. Heck, I might finally be able to do some decent gaming on the $400 laptop I bought a couple years ago.
In-Home Streaming is also a potential killer app for Steam Machines. I still think one of these companies needs to make a $200-$250 (or less?) Steam Machine that is intended to be an In-Home Streaming Client and not much else.
A lot of us expected Valve to show off a prototype of its own VR visor during Steam Dev Days, but guess what? It seems like we've already seen it, after a fashion. According to Engadget Valve collaborated with Oculus to produce the Crystal Cove Oculus Rift prototype that was shown off at CES. Engadget gave that prototype its Best of CES award. The take-away seems to be that Valve is content to leave visors to Oculus at least for now.
I'll end with one last post, and this one had me picking my jaw up off the ground, I'll admit. The Verge reports that Gabe Newell told Steam Dev Days attendees that the folks who create virtual items for Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2 make, on average, $15,000/year. The catch is that there are only 661 people making this stuff. Expect that number to jump now that the profit cat is out of the bag!!
Were you following the #SteamDevDays hashtag on Twitter over the past few days? If so, did I miss anything significant? If I did, please share in the comments!
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.