2013 really is and will continue to be a turning point in the history of home consoles. With the Wii U taking hold as the first next gen system, and the expectant PS4 and Xbox Durango project being guaranteed for a Christmas release, is there room for another entry, or even 2?
The two most interesting options of the year seem to be the kick starter project, the Ouya, and the official Steam Box by Valve. Another notable entry is the Game Stick, but it is not your conventional console, so I’ll only briefly mention it. The Game Stick is meant to be portable and easily transferable, it features a full size controller, and an additional base station that also allows extra storage via SD card, much like the Wii.
The key point of the Ouya is its significantly lower cost in comparison to all the other systems. It will only cost $99USD for the console and one controller, with additional controllers costing $49USD. The OS of the console will be Android Jellybean and will give you access to all the great Android games on a free to try basis. More details on this free to try system will be released later on. Hopefully the use of the Android OS will lead to some interesting smartphone compatibility. But still, at $99USD its still worth buying at launch, even if its just to fiddle around with.
Now as for the Steam Box, the story is a lot more complicated. I will address the Xi3 Piston as well as the future suspected but not fully confirmed official Valve Steam Box. First comes the Xi3 Piston, which just does not look appealing for many reasons. First is the cost, $899!! Yes it is a mini PC with windows 8, but to even be able to use windows 8 as intended you’ll have to purchase a touchscreen monitor. I won’t get technical with the specs, but I will say that for the cost you just don’t get the best bang for your buck. Also, while it was never endorsed by Valve as an official Steam Box, there seems to have been a falling out between the two companies and this could lead to some future issues. But its just all speculation, much like the official Steam Box.
As Valve has its Big Picture established, and a large library of video game titles it seems like they are primed and ready for a console. It seems like it will be a great offering, but there still is no guaranteed list of specs for this device. It is a mystery, but definitely still very intriguing.
Just as games are delayed and pushed back, like the long anticipated GTA 5, without any set release dates or preliminary designs the Steam Box, Xbox Durango,and PS4 could possibly be delayed for another few months or even a few years. At least we do know that preorders for the Ouya, Game Stick, and Xi3 Piston will be available in the following few months.