I don't get the complaining about 'pay for online' stuff with PS4 as the context certainly,
unlike XBone you DON'T need to pay for that for anything remotely connected to online
like Netflix or internet browsing, and in fact many F2P online games will not require it either,
the point of some games requiring it is that they are taking advantage of the server infrastructure
paid for by the online payment, which would need to be paid for somehow if Sony didn't run that.
Unless there is a reason why game devs/pubs seek out higher profit margin with paid online ala XboxGold/PS+
but for some reason are happy to accept lower margins when offering online games outside that format...?
You still pay for the online though with consoles, it's an added cost no matter which way you slice the bread.
For example if you bought StarCraft 15 years ago, you can still fire it up and play a game on Blizzards servers even today, that's fantastic value for money considering there are no fee's for online access, I don't envisage doing the same thing with the Xbox 360 in 15 years time which by that point I fully expect Microsoft to shut Xbox live down for that console, like they did with the origional Xbox.
Steam however will never require a fee for online access because Valve doesn't control/pay for all the servers and bandwidth, Internet service providers pay a massive chunk of that bill by having servers near their content delivery networks in order to reduce costs, the benefit to the consumer is more redundancy and performance with no singular multi-billion dollar for-profit company in control of the entire thing.
For instance, Microsoft's closest server to me for Xbox Live is half a continent away, Steam? Less than 250km's thanks to my ISP.
If the SteamBox does take off, it will only mean more competition and pressure applied to Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, which should bring with it lower prices, more features and other subtleties, competition is always good.
And since its a PC you will be able to play games with the 360 controller :) and (with some software) PS3 Wii X1 PS4 and WiiU controller. (also retro stuff like SNES etc)
And no stupid "i am greedy so please pay for online" fee.
And infinitely backwards compatible.
Well, Backwards compatability is going to be limited due to the Linux based Operating System.
However you should be able to use DOSBox and Wine and play a large portion of games over the last several decades.
There are also emulators for things like the NES, Snes, N64, Playstation etc' for Linux too.
Great thing about the Steam Box *is* going to be the OS and it should support Mantle, that means console-like API overhead with a lighter Operating System than either of the NextGen Twins.
It might flop, it might not, but it's always interesting to watch a company take a stab at the hold that the big 3 occupy.
I don't expect the SteamBox to be sold in places like Kmart or Target though, probably online-only initially, if it is a run-away success then Valve may push for a larger retailer preseance. - One things for sure, don't underestimate the PC crowds desire to throw money at something they beleive in, look what happened to StarCitizen which is sure to have 40 million bucks in funding eventually.