We're allergic to press releases, but Valve kept pestering us all week and we finally checked out their latest announcement, which dropped just a few hours ago. We're glad we did, even if this stupid rash won't go away and we're all out of Benadryl. It turns out they're making a big push to move Steam, their terrific game delivery system, into our living rooms—and presumably asking us to think twice before investing in a next-generation Xbox or PlayStation. The whole site is written with unusual charm, smarts, and humor, and we're smitten.
Everything they're releasing is open-source and hackable, even the sweet-looking controller that was just announced this morning. They expect a proliferation of hardware using SteamOS to connect games with television displays in ways that should appeal as much to hardcore tinkerers as to the "I just want to plug it in and play a game" crowd. We've learned to be skeptical of big promises from indie game hardware devs (Ouya you didn't), but Steam might have the brains and balls to pull this off.
The controller is meant to emulate both a traditional game controller and a keyboard/mouse combo, and their description is persuasive. If you want to try out the new hardware before it's released, they're offering a "hardware beta eligibility quest" that's fairly simple to complete—but they've only got 300 slots, so it may take more luck than skill to get in.
Come out to Gamma Ray Games tonight from 6-ish to close and tell us what you think!
The Stranger Testing Department is Rob Lightner, Paul Hughes, and Mary Traverse.