With all the excited chatter among gamers about a rumored new PC-based game console from PC game publisher Valve, it may be worth taking a look back at one of the previous attempts to do something similar.
Building a successful living room console that's nearly identical to a desktop gaming PC has long been one of the interactive entertainment industry's unfulfilled goals. After all, the catalog of games for a PC-based console could easily dwarf any proprietary living room console. In a best-case scenario, indie developers could hypothetically release whatever they wanted, without having to get games approved by Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo (and without cutting those big companies in on the profits). And, of course, there's also the better graphics and more precise controls offered by high-end PC hardware.
Recent reports, first on The Verge, then followed up by Kotaku and others, claimed that Valve, the PC gaming company best known for the Half-Life and Portal games, was working on just such a PC-based console, anchored by an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GPU, and controlled with a new hybrid game pad. And, of course, as Valve also controls Steam, a leading online PC game store, there could be a sizable catalog of content potentially in play.
But before anyone gets too excited about being able to play high-end PC games on a big-screen living room TV (I've tried lugging over a gaming laptop and hooking it up via HDMI, but it's just not the same), it would be wise to remember the last time people thought a PC-based console was imminent. The device was called The Phantom, a name that would end up being unintentionally apt. My encounter with the Phantom, from a company then called Infinium Labs, dates back to CES 2005. … Read more