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If anyone knows anything about Valve, Gabe Newell and Steam, it's that everyone involved has a real hard-on for Linux. Yes, Linux, the operating system that's free and yet most people have no clue what it is or how to make it work. Anyway, the people-appointed leader of the Glorious PC Master Race, Gabe Newell, gave a speech at LinuxCon and hinted at something big that Valve is working on regarding the Linux platform.
NowGamer posted up the quotes from Newell, where the president (or acting president?) of Valve stated that...
"Linux really is the future of gaming," ... "PC gaming is where innovation is occurring and you'll see that in lots of ways. It's not on the consoles, it's not on any of the closed systems where innovations are happening, it's happening to the extent to which openness is embraced by the underlying platform."
The “closed systems” oftentimes referred to as “walled gardens”, are a bit of the bread and butter for many publishers right now. Controlling how you play, what you play and when you're able to play it ensures that they keep a steady stream of followers in tow, and whenever they have a new game they can shutdown the old one and force everyone to iterate to something newer (e.g., see EA's two year server shutdown program).
In addition to this, consoles limit players in things like mods and configurations, which means that anytime a developer wants to change something or add something – given the service fees for hosting content on consoles – usually the new changes or updates arrive in the form of DLC. Sometimes the new content is justified (i.e., just about all the DLC for Skyrim) and sometimes it's just a cash-in (i.e., the harder difficulty mode for Metro: Last Light).
Over on Steam those sort of issues don't persist. If gamers want to mod their game, they can. If gamers want to avoid paying for DLC and instead come up with new clothes, vehicles or other things on their own terms, they can. If you want better graphics, just download an ENB shader patch. If you want online multiplayer that didn't originally exist... just get a multiplayer mod.
Valve wants to take the sort of open, Wild West ecosystem of the PC gaming arena and broaden it up for console gamers, but they can't do it with an OS like Windows standing in the way... hence, the bid for pushing Linux.
Newell goes on to say that...
"Next week we're going to be rolling out more information about how we get there, what are the hardware opportunities that we see for bringing Linux into the living room and potentially pointing further down the road to how we get it even more unified with mobile,"
Now this doesn't mean that actual Steam Box news is inbound, however it does bring to question if that's what it is? Previously Valve had been prototype testing various Steam Box iterations and using biometric controllers for interactive feedback and digital player engagement responses. It wouldn't be surprising that we would finally get news on the Steam Box following Newell's Linux speech.
However, we won't know for sure until next week. But given how tight-lipped Valve has been on all things Steam Box, any small bit of news is still good news.