Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Valve’s second announcement is Steam Machines

Valve’s second announcement is Steam Machines

Series of SteamOS powered living-room machines.

Those of you who thought the second announcement would be a Steam hardware one, me included, were right. Valve has announced the Steam Machines, a variety of SteamOS-powered gaming machines that will join the market in 2014.

Completely open and customizable, they stay true to Valve’s PC philosophy; in other words, a console that can be modified to keep up with the times, running a Linux-based OS, the game-based SteamOS. As Valve puts it:

Can I hack this box? Run another OS? Change the hardware? Install my own software? Use it to build a robot?
Sure.

300 consoles will be shipped to Steam users for testing, and you can participate — the details are here. The prototypes are shipping this year.

Different manufacturers will bring different machines; I suppose, manufacturers translates to AMD, Nvidia etc. Machines will be optimized for power, noise, size, price, and “more factors”, as “entertainment is not a one-size-fits-all” affair. It’s been made clear that it works with a mouse and keyboard, but a gamepad is also equally good and convenient to use, and will probably be (or resemble) the Big Picture Mode that Valve introduced earlier this year.

Our take: It was speculated by lots of people that a Steam Box would be the second announcement, carrying the SteamOS from the first announcement, and the openness Valve appreciates. So, what will the third one be? A killer app, SteamOS-exclusive game, maybe? Hint: THIRD announcement?

About Christos Chatzisavvas

Senior Editor. Your go-to man for everything you need, from games to Games Thirst; I'm always here to help. Gaming lover, web developer going for HND and Bachelor, founder and developer at Underground Journey. When I'm not under the faint light of a PC monitor or TV playing games, I try to lead a life as exciting as I can. Follow me on Twitter @CrashOkami, or Facebook.
  • rpatricky

    Guess I don’t see the real difference between this and a PC then?

  • Vincent Stimpson

    Form factor. These boxes will probably be pretty dang small compared to a PC tower; not to say these wont be powerful. Cost will probably be low as well, comparable to consoles. But it will be up to the producers of these boxes to make them appealing. I imagine some people who are ditching their PCs for tablets might consider buying one of these boxes. For one reason or another. Hopefully Steam OS will gain support from game publishers. Otherwise, Steam OS will fail. The way of the Ouya.

  • Crash Ōkami

    This. They will be specifically made for gaming, and supercharged for it, as SteamOS is a gaming OS that squeezes all the juice out of your machine for games. Plus, it’s customizable — it’s pretty much a fancy PC. The fact that it uses Valve’s own OS will drop the cost very much, I expect boxes starting from $100 and going all the way to $500-$600. If this is the case, I might even get another one for the living room, since my powerful gaming PC is big, bulky and docked in my room.

  • rpatricky

    Still not convinced that building my own pc an adding steam OS wouldn’t be better. Just don’t see a point.

  • Crash Ōkami

    Indeed, but personally, I think it’s a niche line of “PConsole” (I will copyright this term!) boxes which I guess is pitched more to console-only players rather than PC+Console players. For example, I know lots of people that have one or (maximum) two consoles to play on, and no gaming PC, and they know nothing of PC architecture. Should they want a cheap, good gaming PC, with Valve’s seal of approval, they will turn to this. I just can’t quite say if it will find success yet.

  • Wolf1888

    I wonder what this THIRD announcement will be. Probably has to do with halves or something.

  • Vincent Stimpson

    I agree. It seems like a very small target audience. These steam boxes will never hold a candle to a custom PC rig running Steam OS. I imagine a large portion of Steam’s current users have a decent PC rig, but Valve knows their customers better. I’m sure they have crunched the numbers – know what their average users’ computer costs, and how well those machines run games. I’m no analyst, but I bet that Valve has convincing evidence that a large number of gamers would buy a moderately powered and priced PC which is capable of playing next gen games. An inexpensive upgrade for the average users’ rig to play games on and still functions more like a PC.

    Steam has this deal pretty good. They don’t have to worry about the overall successes of these machines because it will be third party companies which invest the money, in the hardware. Steam will always succeed thanks to the devotion of PC gamers. Their platform for digital distribution is sound. This whole Steam OS, Steam Machine thing seems like a low risk experiment. If they succeed, they have the potential to gain a lot of market share. If they fail then, eh, no biggie. Keep selling games to PC gamers.

  • ernicegilbert

    Nice, healthy discussion, guys. I’m late to the party, but I’m interested in seeing what these steam boxes offer, how the controller works, the games for it and features to compliment, like PS4′s sharing, PSN, etc.

    Not convinced, but definitely interested.