Monday, June 16, 2014

SteamBoy: Steam Gaming on the Go.

Now why did I not hear anything about this until the Sunday after E3 was over?  Granted I was not huddled over my computer during the three days of the Electronics & Entertainment Expo but I am a little surprised that this one slipped by me until yesterday.  Although after doing a cursory search, it now looks like everyone, ourselves included is bringing up and talking about the SteamBoy.

The SteamBoy Machine, a split off of the whenever to be released Steam Machines looks to be mix of the Steam Controller and Sony's PS Vita.  While the "Steamboy Project" is not affiliated with Valve or Steam, this product makes me more excited than any of the other Steam Machine/Box projects that I have been hearing about in recent months.  

My biggest critique and maybe that is just because I do not understand the "concept" behind Steam Machines/Boxes, is that I already have a PC that I game on that I frequently connect to my TV via HDMI cable.  I also have a controller that works perfectly well with the games that I want to play that require a controller.

Which then brings us to the SteamBoy.  There are a lot of games that I not only play with a controller on Steam, but games that would translate perfectly well to a handheld device (Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac, BIT.TRIP Runner, Braid, Limbo).  I can understand some people, primarily people who mainly game on a PC not liking the idea of the SteamBoy because of the size of the screen compared to the size of their current monitor/TV, but coming from a background of handheld gaming, I have come to accept that on a hand held device, gaming is going to be small.

The smallness of the screen would then lead to the obvious question about how powerful the SteamBoy will be in comparison to other Steam Machines and whether it will be able to play every game in your Steam library.  In an interview with the Escapist, the SBP stated that "SteamBoy won't be as powerful as other announced Steam Machines in the same way [the] Nintendo 3DS or PS Vita performance is not comparable to Wii U or PlayStation 4.  However, it will be possible to play the majority of current games in Steam."

To note, the current specs released for the SteamBoy "could be" as follows:
  • Quad-Core CPU
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 32GB built in memory
  • 5" 16:9 touchscreen (no word as to screen resolution; 720 or 1080p).
  • Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity
  • 2 directional touch pads
  • 4 Directional pad/buttons
  • ABXY buttons with L/R shoulder-type bumpers, two trigger buttons and two additional buttons on the back.
Right now the biggest questions I am seeing are about the distance of the connectivity of the device, as in will you have to be connected to an internet signal in order to play if your game is not directly downloaded to the devices 32GB of internal storage?  Will you simply be streaming from a separate Steam account; although that does not sound too likely.  I would also like to know if there would be a separate memory card slot.  But, now that I am thinking about it, I do not think that I would want my entire Steam library on a portable device and not only because there are games that I only play with the keyboard and mouse.  I do not think that all games would transfer well to a portable device, but that is to be expected with any game that moves to a smaller screen and/or a differing control scheme.

Actually, the idea of downloading a couple of games to the SteamBoy then syncing them up to my main Steam account in order to maintain game progress, time and achievements is a very inviting notion.  If this is a possibility, then the SteamBoy would immediately become a much more attractive hand held gaming system than the PS Vita and, dare I say it, the 3DS.  I know that it will not replace my 3DS, but as far as buying a new hand held system, the SteamBoy may jump to the top of the list (are we tired of clichés yet)?

There has also been no mention of the estimated battery life, which would be one of my biggest concerns.  Right now, my 3DS can last about 5 hours if I do not have the 3D slider turned on and I feel that anything less than five hours would be very detrimental to the life of the system, both in terms of battery life and how well it sells.

At the moment, the word is that SteamBoy will be released sometime in 2015, which the beginning of is less than six months away, so if the stars are properly aligned, this will be a product that will see the light of day before the end of next year.  We will just have to wait and see in the coming months as new information is released regarding system specifications and almost as importantly, a price tag although the company's word is that "the device will balance performance and cost. . ."

It is now only a waiting game.

You Might Get What You're After

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