A new way of gaming: PAX Aus report
Posted on November 5, 2014
I’m not usually overly excited about new hardware releases, and after the most recent generation of consoles (the Xbox One and Playstation 4) released and I duly picked them up on the day, I wouldn’t have thought anything would attract my interest for a few years. However, at PAX I saw a new product by gaming PC leaders Alienware that I thought I should check out.
The reason that the Alienware Alpha is so interesting is that it represents a new kind of device for gaming. The status quo at the moment is that we have consoles (out out by Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo) for easy, plug-and-play gaming in your lounge room; and PCs, which are heavier, more intensive desktop machines with some laptops. Now, however, we are seeing a breed of gaming devices that straddles the two.
The Alienware Alpha is designed as a PC for your lounge room. It is small enough to make any console look clunky, but it runs as a PC and lives attached to your TV. It can be booted up in either PC mode or console mode, and allows you to play any games that you already own on your Steam (PC gaming client) account. It ships with a single wireless Xbox 360 controller and a few free games to get you going. It plays the 500+ games on Steam that support controllers, not to mention the 3000+ that you can still play with mouse and keyboard.
You may be asking, why do we need yet another gaming console? Well, my PC gaming is pretty limited, and although I have a pretty capable laptop for gaming (also Alienware), it feels like a bit of a drag to get it out, boot it up and get it going. It’s not intuitive to connect to the TV, and it allows less of a social gaming experience. Indie titles are much more available on PC, and all games are cheaper, especially during the much-lauded Steam sale season.
The Alienware Alpha solves all these problems and allows me to play that growing number of indie titles I feel I’m missing out on because I prefer my gaming to be informal, and on the couch rather than at a desk. There are particularly a number of cooperative games (and especially face-to-face or ‘couch’ coop) that would work really well in the Game Truck, and I simply cannot afford the money or space to buy four dedicated PCs in addition to the Xbox 360s. So I’ve ordered a single unit for myself to try it out, and I’ll treat you to an unboxing and full review in a separate blog post after it ships on December 21st.[Full disclosure: Game Truck Australia is not in any way supported by Alienware or Dell, although we are not ruling out future negotiations for supplying the truck. We will always fully disclose any relevant relationships of this sort.]