For months, the industry has been debating whether Sony or Microsoft is going to win the war for your living room and the next generation of consoles. Even more casual gamers were starting to pay attention to the massive marketing push by both companies as the countdown to the launch of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One is now less than two months away.
But just when you thought you had made up your mind and pre-ordered your console of choice… along comes Valve with what might be the biggest development in the gaming industry this year.
This week saw the company make two announcements with a third one on the way later today.
First, Valve announced SteamOS, a new operating system that will bring everything you love about Steam on your PC to your living room. SteamOS isn’t just a port of the Steam software, it has a rock-solid architecture based on Linux that is designed specifically for your large screen television. It can be run on “living room machines” which brings us to Valve’s somewhat predictable second announcement of the week.
Valve will launch its own lineup of living room hardware called “Steam Machines” in 2014. 300 lucky fans will receive entry to the closed beta later this year.
Rumors of a console that brings Steam to your living room have been around for a while, so this news isn’t entirely unexpected. It is interesting though that Valve chose to make this week’s announcements so close to the launch of the next generation consoles. Details on the “machines” are still a bit scarce but it will be interesting to see how this shakes out over the next several months. Will the announcement of a PC/Console hybrid coming next year slow down early sales of PS4 or Xbox One?
GTA Online to Support Microtransactions
Gamers are eagerly anticipating the release of Grand Theft Auto V’s online world October 1. Many early purchasers have completed the main story mode and are now just driving around Los Santos causing mayhem, while they wait for the opportunity to join up with their friends in a quasi-MMO environment.
Eyebrows were raised a bit this week when Rockstar officially confirmed that the online component of the title will support microtransactions. Gamers will be able to increase in-game wealth with real world money. It should be noted though that players still have to level up their characters and unlock certain items. It’s not a pay-to-win world by any means.
Still, the only expected cost of entry to enjoy the online component prior to this announcement was simply buying a copy of the main game. In the era of free-to-play games however, this surely can’t come as a huge surprise to anyone. The move also sets up the possibility that Rockstar will continue to develop new content for GTA Online long after people have stopped playing the single player title. Right now, the only way to get the online game is to buy a full copy with single player but I wouldn’t be surprised if GTA Online was released as an online download at some point in the future if it becomes popular and makes Rockstar money.
League of Legends World Championship Heats Up
Speaking of free-to-play games, the most popular free-to-play title in the world is moving quickly towards crowning a Season 3 Champion. League of Legends World Championship is in its semifinal round and the action the rest of the way should be exciting. Korean teams SK Telecom T1 and Najin Black Sword face off in one semifinal late tonight and European squad Fnatic will go up against Royal Club from China Saturday afternoon. The Grand Finals are scheduled for next Friday, October 4 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
American fans may be a bit disappointed as the lone North American representative in the bracket stage, Cloud 9 HyperX, was knocked out by Fnatic in the quarterfinals, 2-1. The North Americans made a match of it, winning the second game and going into the deciding game three with the noisy support of the American crowd behind them. But the final game showed just how far a North American team may still have left to go to compete with the best of the other regions. Cloud 9 HyperX was absolutely slaughtered in the final game, with Fnatic running up nearly 20 unanswered kills at the start. Watching on Twitch, you could hear a pin drop in the audience.
Still, the remaining teams should provide plenty of action and excitement over these last three matches. Personally, my money’s on SK Telecom T1, but it is very much still anyone’s title to take. First place wins a cool million dollars.
South Park Finally Gets a Release Date
I don’t know about the rest of you, but now that Grand Theft Auto V is out, one of my most anticipated games is now South Park: The Stick of Truth. The RPG based on the popular Comedy Central television show will be out in December. There was a lot of debate in the community as to when we would see this title but it looks like Ubisoft decided to give us all an early Christmas present after all. Gamers who pre-order will receive exclusive costumes with special abilities in-game. A special “Grand Wizard Edition” will feature a Kingdom of South Park map, the same costume bonus from the pre-order and a 6” Cartman Grand Wizard Figure by Kidrobot. It will retail for $79.99.
The best part of the announcement was definitely the new trailer. If you haven’t watched it yet, stop everything and take a look below. Jimmy for the win.
World of Warcraft Casting Rumors
Work on the Duncan Jones’ adaption of World of Warcraft to the big screen seems to be chugging along. It was reported early this week that Legendary Pictures may be in talks with Colin Farrell and Paula Patton for lead roles in the movie.
Farrell has starred in big films like Total Recall but is also known as a solid character actor who has starred in more offbeat roles. Patton is best known for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.
Granted, rumors have surrounded this project for years as it changed directors and apparently underwent a complete rewrite. Who knows who the final talent or what the movie’s release date will ultimately end up being. With World of Warcraft declining in popularity year over year however, Blizzard would do well to get this movie into theaters as soon as possible.
And that’s the week that was in gaming. Check back here every Friday morning for a quick roundup of all the news you need to know.