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Sony and Microsoft Face the Third Platform

Stocks in this article: MSFT SNE EA

What they have noticed is Newell's moves against Microsoft, specifically creation of the SteamOS, a Linux-based system supporting streaming games via a home network to your TV or tablet, and development of the SteamBox, a game machine based on the new software.

An experienced gamer I know puts it this way: "A lot of people love Valve for good reasons. Prices are very low, significantly lower than games on consoles. There are often sales. On the other hand, it's starting to feel like a monopoly," a monopoly that seeks to push users to its own platform.

"There is a huge push on Valve to switch to Linux," this gamer adds. "Some games have cosmetic dealies for playing on Linux instead of Windows. This may be their attempt to get people to switch to Linux so when they unveil their Linux OS people will use it. And it's semi-controlled by Valve and comes bundled with their digital distribution platform."

Steam is not exactly a monopoly in the same way that Windows wasn't exactly a monopoly in the view of Microsoft lawyers. It just controls most of the market. UbiSoft and EA recently announced they would make their systems compatible, but that was seen by most gamers as a sign of their weakness.. Microsoft wants to dominate Windows 8 gaming, but first it has to gain share for Windows 8.

Gamers are of two minds about Valve. "Everyone likes an underdog," says my gamer friend. "On the other hand, a lot of people don't like PC gaming being tied to Windows, so by putting it on Linux they say Valve is saving PC gaming."

Right now, the Steambox and Steam OS are going through a beta test, preparing for a launch early next year. As anxiously as your kids may be waiting for a PS/4 or Xbox One under their tree, so PC gamers are waiting on Steam Dev Days, Jan. 15-16 in Seattle, where Valve will discuss its plans with the wider gaming industry and, according to Valve, without the press.

There, Valve is expected to announce a Virtual Reality headset, delivering 3-D gaming alongside a headset announced earlier this year called Oculus Rift.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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