The one big disadvantage with gaming consoles is new consoles generally do not have backward-compatibility with old consoles. This is an annoyance at best. On Steam, if you buy a game, you’ll likely be able to play it forever, across multiple platforms. Now I’m not going to go into the Direct3D vs OpenGL holy war here, but if I had to put my money on one, I’d be betting on whichever Valve bets on.
Speaking of which, Valve has decided to make all past, current, and future games in its store free for all Debian developers! This may be hugely impact the advancement of Linux gaming support by attracting more developers to SteamOS development.
On the topic of Steam Machines, if you haven’t already seen it, CES had a slew of them on display this year. I have to say, I’m not overly impressed due to the huge range in specs and prices. This, however, is expected. If you’re someone who builds his own gaming PC anyway, Steam Machines aren’t going to be a huge deal for you. But for everyone else, Steam Machines will have to normalize into console-like devices in order to target the right audience.
Personally I’m very excited about SteamOS (not so much for Steam Machines) as it means in (hopefully) a few year’s time, I will no longer have to run Windows just for gaming. Until then, excuse me while I go reformat my Windows gaming machine.