GDC 2015 Preview – Steam Link

So, while everyone was busy with gadgets at MWC, those who like to spend their time with entertainment were paying attention to GDC. Unfortunately for me, that meant I was checking out both. As per usual, I will be picking and choosing what I post here, based on the things I think you’d enjoy.

As this is a gaming conference, Valve always has a notable presence at GDC. However, their presence was a bit bigger than normal. They announced a bunch of new Steam Boxes, talked a lot about SteamOS, showed off the newest, “final (for now)” form of their custom made controller.

Annnd….Now we’re done with that

But more importantly, they announced something really cool. The Steam Link. This little box, to be gracing our presence in November, is the answer to the question we all wanted to ask Phil Spencer during Microsoft’s Xbox-themed Windows 10 event. “That’s great that we can stream Xbox One games to our computer, but can we stream PC games to our TV?” Phil’s answer at time was “We’ll look into it.”

Well, Phil, keep looking into it, just in case Valve screws this up, but this box is the answer. For a measly $50, this box will plug into your TV via HDMI and will stream anything you’re playing in Steam from your PC, over your home network, and to your TV.

It will support 1080p streaming at 60Hz and is apparently optimized for low latency. It will also support any platform that Steam connects to, including Windows, OSX, Linux, and Steam OS.

They also mentioned that this device will support their new Steam Controller, but there was no word as to what other peripherals would be supported if any. Engadget has a few more images on their site, which show a total of three USB ports on the device along with Ethernet and HDMI. If this device only supports the Steam controller, which will cost an additional $50, that would be a significant downside. I’d love to be able to stick a keyboard and mouse, even a wireless one, into the device so I can play some Divinity, Wolfenstein, or Dying Light.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this guy, since it has the potential to finally breach a pain point with gamers who play both on consoles and PCs. Many have broached this problem by hooking their PC up to their TV, or hooking up a secondary media PC, but the Steam Link gives gamers the capability to have a centralized gaming computer and be able to play it in any room in the house.

Alas, it’s not slated for release until November, but I have a feeling we’ll learn more during E3 this summer.

Mike Lohnash