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Steam Machines: overhyped, overpriced, over-complicated – Opinion

Wednesday, 8th January 2014 11:54 GMT By Matt Martin

Valve revealed 13 Steam Machines this week, the latest move in its quest for accessible PC gaming. But the pitch is worryingly complex, argues Matt Martin, and Gabe Newell should be putting his money where his mouth is.

Steam Machines are segregated by price point, by tech spec, by model and manufacturer. They don’t seem to be solving anything. Worse, they could be creating more problems.

Since it was officially announced last year, Valve’s Steam Machine initiative has been one of the most intriguing prospects of accessible PC gaming since streaming service OnLive. The intention is attractive: a hassle-free way of playing high-end desktop games through a combination of standardised hardware, a dedicated and simple operating system and an intuitive controller. Unlike OnLive, it’s coming from a company with incredibly strong heritage in the PC gaming business, a company that has defined and refined digital games sales and made some of the greatest PC games in existence. This is Valve’s most ambitious project, something we applaud. Valve is a leader, not a follower. You will not get Half-Life 3 until this is entrenched in the living room or abandoned in defeat.

I buy into Gabe Newell’s philosophy of openness, competition in the marketplace and accessibility. I really do. But an esoteric controller isn’t any more accessible than a console pad with multiple buttons, sticks, pads, microphone and speaker. It’s just as intimidating. (You can read Phil Owen’s hands-on impressions of the prototype here). And if the controller looks baffling or formidable, each Steam Machine manufacturer is free to create their own version of it, alongside Valve’s ‘official’ take. That could mean at least 14 variations on one controller design.

Sounds fiddly. But the controller isn’t the main problem that Steam Machines will face. There are multiple price points ranging from $499 for those on a ‘budget’ to $6000 at the high end. I say ‘budget’ because $499 may be cheap for a PC but it’s not cheap for a high quality games system. And those are just the prices so far. More manufacturers and different prices are going to confuse the issue as they’re announced.

It’s the same problem with tech specs: is my budget-priced Steam Machine going to be under-powered? Yet again, it’s the classic PC gaming worry – the fear that you’ll pay a stack of cash for something that will be out of date within a year.

Will prices come down in the longer term? To a point, but Steam Machines won’t be made in bulk by one manufacturer. They will become cheap when they’re discontinued, not because massive sales can help bring prices down. They’re never going to be built in bulk like consoles, smartphones or set-top boxes.

And here’s something else that bothers me. Why isn’t Valve making its own Steam Machine? When you introduce something new, you should lead by example. Newell should be the one shouting “charge!” as he rides out on an overclocked beast, swinging his sword at Microsoft and Sony. But instead he stands at CES and pulls drapes off 12 different boxes, speaks for all of seven minutes and lets his manufacturing partners fight it out among themselves. Maybe Valve’s much-praised flat management structure is at fault here. As well-liked as Gabe Newell is in the gaming and PC community, he’s no spokesperson or evangelist. That can be a good thing (he’s not a gobshite, after all), but here Valve’s notorious ‘throw this at the press and let them do as they will’ attitude isn’t enough to sell the vision.

Perhaps understandably, there’s no official release date or window for the Steam Machines. They’ll trickle out with some fanfare, but you’re either first or best in the hardware market. First will get all the big media attention and best won’t be known until much later. The rest may as well be doorstops.

All-time high

I understand PC gaming is at an all-time high. It’s leading the way in digital distribution, in independent success and creativity, in online multiplayer, modding and visual fidelity. PC gaming is in rude health. But Steam Machines in their current guise won’t increase accessibility. Steam Machines are segregated by price point, by tech spec, by model and manufacturer. They don’t seem to be solving anything. Worse, they could be creating more problems.

Surely, if Valve’s aiming at the TV games space, Steam Machine should have been on sale before PS4 and Xbox rebooted the generation with an eye-watering 7 million sales since November?

But whatever the worries with hardware, any platform is about the games. Of course it is. Newell claims there’s about 250 titles running so far on SteamOS and Valve is busy working on developer tools so developers and publishers can create across Windows, Linux and Mac. This is great, but, again, where’s the problem that needs fixing? Steam already has 65 million users. Who’s going to be buying into this?

If SteamOS is the real Steam Machine draw, I’d question the audience. Is SteamOS aimed at the hardcore gamer who wants a pure PC gaming machine? He probably already has one. This is an audience that has been building its own dedicated gaming rigs much cheaper than an off-the-shelf solution for years. The PC gamer is one of the smartest, most switched on consumers in the games playing community. He knows when it’s being asked to pay through the nose. Is he going to drop extra thousands on taking his PC experience to the TV when everything he does involving games is based about his desktop?

It’s also worth remembering that PC gaming may be going through a golden age, but PC hardware sales are tanking. Are Steam Machines aimed at the lazy games consumer, the PC gamer wannabee not interested in making his own PC from scratch but with money to spare? If so, this is Valve’s big gamble. Steam Machines, many of which resemble the ugly PCs of old, are releasing in a declining market. Tablets and laptops have taken the place of the traditional home computer. Valve is the biggest player in PC gaming but going up against hardware manufacturers like Sony, Microsoft, Google and Apple in the living room it becomes much smaller with only one (albeit very desirable) unique selling point – Steam. I’m not underestimating Steam (the whole initiative’s built on it), but surely, if Valve’s aiming at the TV games space, Steam Machine should have been on sale before PS4 and Xbox rebooted the generation with an eye-watering 7 million sales since November?

And if the window for a Valve box under the TV has been missed, so, apparently, has the opportunity to simplify PC gaming in general. What’s missing is a unified, compact piece of kit, a small set-top box that simply plugs into your TV and comes bundled with the funky controller. Imagine one of those micro-consoles, but instead of playing a ropey Android clone of a good iOS game it’s streaming Half-Life straight to your TV screen. Keep imagining.

The situation has the potential to be cripplingly disappointing. I want TV access to those PC experiences consoles just can’t do; the bug-laden alpha builds; those cool indie games only ported to Vita 18 months after everyone else has played it; the triple-A game modded to within an inch of its life and spun out in so many amazing directions; the experimental, inventive, highly ambitious and downright incredible experiences I can’t find on any other device or service.

I’m not sure Steam Machines can deliver that to me yet. I’ll keep the faith, but Valve’s performance at CES has been worryingly loose.

Latest

55 Comments

  1. _LarZen_

    I think that there should be some guidelines from Valve. There should be no more then 3 official setups.

    1: Basic model
    2: Mid range model
    3: High-end model

    And games on Steam-OS should detect if you have 1,2 or 3 and automatically adjust graphics and performance settings.

    #1 7 months ago
  2. dizzygear

    “It’s the same problem with tech specs: is my budget-priced Steam Machine going to be under-powered? Yet again, it’s the classic PC gaming worry – the fear that you’ll pay a stack of cash for something that will be out of date within a year.”

    Uh no. Graphics tech does not move that fast anymore.
    From what i understood the steam OS is supposed to take care of quality settings based on your specs to ensure smooth gameplay even if you never heard of terms like Anisotropic Filtering, FXAA, etc.

    Some games already do this and the new Nvidia driver can do this as well.

    I think its great Valve already has this many manufactures on board of this project. More choice is good IMO.

    #2 7 months ago
  3. SplatteredHouse

    @1 in the end though, doesn’t your solution still equate to a console? That’s not going to increase the market, it would just further segregate it. You’re still going to encounter a problem, a limiting factor for games makers and consumers, of absolutes. With Matt’s example, that doesn’t happen. You stream the content – it doesn’t matter then, how powerful the conduit is. A consumer knows if she has plugged that box in: She can play. Ideally, no other consideration. That’s mass-market.

    #3 7 months ago
  4. Fin

    @1

    Damn, I like the auto-adjust thing.

    #4 7 months ago
  5. monkeygourmet

    Full marks for the ‘click baiting’ headline with is at odds with the well thought out article…

    #5 7 months ago
  6. SplatteredHouse

    @5 It’s an accurate assessment of the article’s content. That’s the author’s view, and the article itself justifies it soundly.

    #6 7 months ago
  7. Belmont

    @5

    good point !
    but very thoughtful article indeed.

    Another thing is. I agree that it looks quite confusing now. I doubt it can compete with the console business just like that. A steam box that truly beats consoles with graphics and stuff will cost quite a bit. and then you have so many manufacturers and probably different controllers too. It is not like creating a “standard” for living-room pc gaming and at the very end of it, as valve plans no exclusives for it. it becomes worse.

    #7 7 months ago
  8. monkeygourmet

    @6

    But that ‘view’ can be placed on almost any un-released or un-proven product.

    Over hyped? By who?

    Over priced? That is personal opinion based on nothing until products are on sale.

    Over complicated is the only thing that mildly holds water in the headline, but again, it’s early days.

    #8 7 months ago
  9. FabioPal

    @4 the auto adjust thing is something an nVidia tool does currently, and it does work quite well.

    #9 7 months ago
  10. Dragon

    @6,
    Exactly.
    Many people (including MS and Sony hating ones + PC fans etc.) over-hyped this thing like its second coming of Jesus. Now they know its just overpriced pre-configured PCs.

    #10 7 months ago
  11. Erthazus

    “It’s the same problem with tech specs: is my budget-priced Steam Machine going to be under-powered? Yet again, it’s the classic PC gaming worry – the fear that you’ll pay a stack of cash for something that will be out of date within a year.”

    We are not living in the 80s’ or 90s’ where you required a constant upgrade. When Geforce 2 was outdated within few months.
    Now it’s opposite. Graphics are not progressing as fast as it was back in the day.

    All of the systems were all very powerfull and it is enough to play any game in 1080p right now on Steam.

    and I won’t call prototypes overpriced. Because all of them are prototypes to show how Steam machines are customizable and they are.

    On the PS4 you can change only HDD. In Steam machines you can change everything or just leave it at that.

    with PS4 or Xbox One. You will play your games for 10 years in 720p and 20-30 frames per second at best with few exclusives that will be in 1080p. On Steam machines you can play everything in 1080p and 30 fps right now and some really overpriced machines for 1000$+ and beyond. 60 frames for everything.

    #11 7 months ago
  12. Logion

    I think the steam machines are interesting if you compare them to a PC, but if you compare them to a console I think many people are going to think that they are too expensive.

    #12 7 months ago
  13. monkeygourmet

    “Many people (including MS and Sony hating ones + PC fans etc.) over-hyped this thing…”

    So now journalists are specifically targetting ‘fan boys’… Yeah, I don’t think thats a wise move…

    This site has never over hyped these devices and I very much doubt Matt is ‘calling out’ any of the VG247 forum users in this article.

    #13 7 months ago
  14. Bomba Luigi

    As someone who does Play on the PC I don’t really have use for it. Its no Problem using a PC in your Livingroom connected to a TV, so I don’t need somethng new for that.

    And compared to a Console it still has pretty much the same Problems a normal PC has. In the End its just a diffrent Case for a PC.
    Dunno what I should think of it. Is it a good Idea or not? Is there a big Market for it or not? I have no Idea, all I can say is that I have no need for it.

    #14 7 months ago
  15. manamana

    Good article, Matt and I agree wholeheartedly. I have still not bought into nextgen consoles and hoped for (Valve to release some kind of miracle with) the Steam Machines.

    Bottom line:
    Miracle didnt happen. Ordered a new Mac Pro. And will buy a PS4, once the games hit. End of story for me.

    #15 7 months ago
  16. broketm

    Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could play a fully modded Skyrim from the comfort of my sofa? Until your significant other wants to watch some terrible show on that same TV? You save your game, sync with the Steam cloud and go to your desktop to continue that game.

    There are plenty games in my Steam library I’d love to play from my sofa. Not strictly impossible at the moment. But I’m not that good with hardware to set this up myself, to be able to stream my games to my TV. Without latency, etc… But to date, there’s no easy way of doing that.

    I’ve wondered about exactly that for a while before SteamOS etc got revealed. Valve looks to remove the need to weigh if you’ll buy a game for console or PC, or buy it for both a console and PC.

    SteamOS would give me two options here.
    1) I get a “budget” Steam Machine or build it myself, and stream games like Skyrim
    2) Or get or build a Steam Machine powerful enough to run it (if Skyrim ever runs on SteamOS natively).

    I agree this should’ve happened much earlier, plenty gamers own or will own both the Xbone and PS4, and many have a very decent if not amazing desktop-rig as well. For the combined cost of both consoles, I can get me a more powerful Steam Machine. Or a streaming box for slightly over the price of one of those. Plus! I can play every game I own on Steam.

    What Valve needs to do, and sooner rather than later is demonstrate how good that streaming feature works. And what hardware is the minimum to do just that? Those high-end Steam Machines don’t look to have any use until at least a sizeable collection of AAA games run natively on SteamOS.

    So, Steam Machines could fulfil two needs I do have. One, being able to play a game I’ve bought once in the living room and at my desk. And two, likely only in a later state, never ever have to install troublesome and costly Microsoft Windows on a gaming PC ever again.

    #16 7 months ago
  17. Christopher Jack

    @11, Graphics are improving faster than ever, it’s just software is no longer as demanding. Most games you can get away with a Core 2 Duo & geforce 9800 gt although RAM is becoming an increasingly larger requirement with the standard slowly moving to 4GB.

    Still, with SteamOS being free you’re still far better off building your own. Frankly these Steam machines are little more than pre-assembled desktops yet I was under the impression they were pointless outside offices. I guess these maybe useful for those unwanting or unable to assemble their own, who just want a prepackaged gaming experience but in that case I maintain the PS4 & Xbox One are superior (beside actual game pricing)

    #17 7 months ago
  18. zme-ul

    I completely agree with the article
    ValvE has missed the point of Steam Machine’s existence by a solar system

    they did a few things outright wrong
    as I recall, previously Gabe mentioned standardization or some sort of upgrade with standard market components
    and yet, a lot of these buils have custom made parts, on-board video cards and custom made video cards (IBuyPower comes in mind) that cannot be replaced

    as some previously said,ValvE should’ve told 3rd parties to manufacture 2 or 3 configs, tops, with one rule: all components can be changed with standardized existing ones

    I’m looking at the GigaByte build and wondering what games can this box run in 2-3 years from now ….

    #18 7 months ago
  19. SplatteredHouse

    @8 Steam machines don’t exist in a vacuum. To succeed, they’ll need to find an audience. Based on that, Matt thinks the scheme is too complicated, overpriced, and has been inflated, I’d suggest probably because of Valve’s involvement.

    #19 7 months ago
  20. naffgeek

    I was hoping these would compete with the PS4 and Xbox (at least somewhere near price wise) but it seems like it is pretty much going to be same as any other pimped up PC.

    Also my problem is I have over 100 games on windows steam so what happens them? Will streaming be like playing them normally?

    I will get the controller and the OS I think but stick with my decently powered setup.

    Pity as my wife wont let me have it downstairs as it looks like something from NASA!

    #20 7 months ago
  21. Erthazus

    @17, it’s not. We have a generation of consoles with direct X9 to 11 at best.

    Need I to remind how graphics progressed in the past from Direct X Vanilla to Direct X9?

    #21 7 months ago
  22. OneLifeCycle

    And yet the PC gaming market stays the same. These aren’t making anything more accessible. The lack of standardized hardware is exactly what makes PC gaming PC gaming. And to many that’s not a problem. They like making their gaming rig their own. I think Gabe’s intentions started out good, but it looks like reality is smacking him in the face.

    He just needs to make his own console in one flavor, with its own OS and be done with it. All this hardware diversity when trying to create a standard is self-defeating. I just don’t get it and agree with the sentiments that this isn’t fixing anything and may just be creating problems. Man, how much money have they thrown at this already? I think the entire project needs to go back to the brainstorming phase.

    #22 7 months ago
  23. dizzygear

    @22 “And yet the PC gaming market stays the same. These aren’t making anything more accessible. The lack of standardized hardware is exactly what makes PC gaming PC gaming.”

    The openness of the platform is what makes PC gaming. No region locks, no retarded Singstar icons on your desktop that you cannot remove because SCEE, mods, free online, infinite backwards compatibility, mediaplayers that support ALL file formats and the list goes on.

    Now that i think of it steam boxes kinda remind me of those modded xboxes that were so popular back than. And those were in terms of hardware pretty much Pentium 3 pc’s in a box.

    #23 7 months ago
  24. Christopher Jack

    @21, That’s not the fault of the actual graphics processors, there’s simply been less innovations regarding software. I personally have my eye on AMD’s Mantle, I of course remain as pessimistic as ever but admit that I am indeed curious.

    #24 7 months ago
  25. thesnowman

    I was genuinely interested in steambox when it was first announced, and I feel I might be there target audience. I used to build my own PC for gaming when I was younger, but a wife and two kids later all my gaming is done on phone, 3ds and consoles. I just got both next gen consoles and would be willing to get steambox if it offered something new or improved. However the boxes are too expensive (even for me with some decent disposable income), I dont like the look of the controller, and not having my entire steam library on steamos is disappointing.

    I like the idea @1 had, 3 different boxes would work. Price them well and then make half life 3 exclusive and you have yourself a winner.

    #25 7 months ago
  26. UuBuU

    Overpriced?

    Good luck building a PC equal to the Webhallen model for less than its $1,499 price tag!

    #26 7 months ago
  27. Harrow

    Standardised PC’s are nothing new valve/gabe already know this that’s reason enough to pass it to companies who know what there doing, not to build one themselves.
    Like it states the OS/controller is there only concern.

    The Three tier option is the only way to go in terms of entry for newbies to the PC space as well as not alienating the custom crowd who maybe willing to switch to one of the high-end boxes without sacrificing the customization. (Not likely but you never know)

    How true that point on customization of the controller is I’m not so sure. I would like to see some evidence because I’m sure valve stated that would be the only standard across any and all of the boxes with the touch-screen being the only thing with a degree of tweaking to it.

    But personally the only thing I would take note of is the OS/controller because I certainly won’t be changing out my monster rig for anything.

    Pricing at the low-end is very nice indeed for what your getting with it rising to complete farcial proportions at the high-end agreed monster rigs can be built at a fraction of what some are asking for the big boxes.

    Complicated!! I’m not even sure what that means. Its no more complicated than what PC gaming has always been and if you take the plunge blindly without taking into account the myriad of options from controls, graphics and customization your going to come unstuck very quick indeed.

    Overhyped – probably
    Overpriced – partly
    Overcomplicated – doubtful

    Is it going to bring PC gaming screaming into the livingroom to brush shoulders with simple console cousin a resounding no and that just the way I like it.

    #27 7 months ago
  28. Harrow

    @17superior in what way?

    @25 the boxes are two expensive for you??? You just spent £800+ on both new consoles

    #28 7 months ago
  29. princeofpwnage

    I’m probably not the only person thinking this.. what’s wrong with moving my gaming PC into the living room? It already plays my complete Steam library. Why do I need a Linux powered box to stream my Windows-only library from my PC to my TV? Unless there’s a slew of Linux titles I’m not aware of I don’t see any point to this.

    Having multiple tiers and OEMs is a nightmare. It also means that those who can’t afford the $6000 rig is not going to get the full experience. Is that fair?

    At least with a PS4, XBOX ONE, or WiiU, you’re getting the best price/performance balance – until the next generation comes along.

    Consoles delay the inevitable upgrade by 6-8 years. Can that trend be the same with the Steambox? Will the low end box be able to play games with at least 30-60 fps a few years down the road?

    #29 7 months ago
  30. TheBlackHole

    I’m going to repeat something I said in another thread. It seems pertinent here also.

    They’re releasing an operating system. What can tank about releasing a free OS that can be run on any existing windows or Linux machine, as well as custom hardware?

    The only thing that can ‘tank’ is the sales of the hardware manufacturer’s offerings. Valve lose nothing here.

    Valve releasing a Steambox doesn’t make sense right now either. No-one would develop hardware for them if they were already releasing their own machine. This way, they get to test the water at other people’s expense, and if the concept takes off then they can launch their own product.

    As for the ‘complicated’ issue of too many SKUs… this issue seems to come from exactly the same people who are saying ‘why not just build your own PC rig’. It’s a non-argument. Steamboxes are not consoles, they are custom built PCs designed with living room gaming in mind. They are not trying to emulate consoles, but they are muscling in on some of those users who are a little more tech savvy, and would like a console-like experience with the benefit of (potentially) better/upgradable hardware and Steam’s superior price points.

    People saying Valve have dropped the ball here have missed the point. Completely.

    #30 7 months ago
  31. Harrow

    @30 here here

    #31 7 months ago
  32. princeofpwnage

    @30 good points. I guess at the time I read this article, I wasn’t aware that SteamOS was going to be available for free.

    That does change things and just “might” boost the custom PC market again.

    It all boils down to the games.. so if the native SteamOS titles are a must have, then this might not be a bad idea.

    #32 7 months ago
  33. DennoCoil

    The overly ambitious optimism I’ve seen throughout the internet and various news sites makes me wonder if people are just fantasizing about the Steam Machine, instead of thinking about the actual realities of it.

    Many of the issues stem from everything being on Linux, but it’s not the only one. I’m going to go through a list of issues I have with the SteamOS\SteamBox

    -Linux itself-
    01: There are nearly 2500 games available for Windows on Steam. For Linux, there’s only 300 on Steam.
    02: Of those 300 are tiny Indie games that not only have Windows ports, but in all likelihood, you’ve already played them too.
    03: Games that aren’t being made right now and aren’t “Indie” projects, are not or ever going to be ported to Linux. (You will have to pester the developer\publisher to get a response. Usually it’s no.)
    04: AAA Publishers staunchly refuse to port their expensive games to another system and rarely do they ever make ports to Linux.
    05: Ports that use proprietary libraries on Windows\Consoles (namely PhysX), will not be supported on Linux.
    06: Many libraries needed to play games are not available on Linux due to patent\licensing issues. (Team Fortress 2 uses S3TC Texture Compression, but it’s not available by default on Linux.)
    07: Many developers are lazy and refuse to give up D3D for OpenGL\SDL.
    08: OpenGL has many issues with it from “design by committee.” Notably legacy software being kept in the API.
    09: Driver support for dedicated graphics cards are horrible on Linux. Historically, NVidia has made some abysmal drivers for Linux.
    10: The current Linux install base for end users is hovering near 1%. The end user market is overwhelmingly Windows, with 7 and XP being the most popular. Mac comes up as a much smaller slice, while Linux is minuscule.
    11: Wine compatibility for games is very fickle from update to update. One version of Wine with a game that works, might not work in the next one.
    12: Emulators may be a good alternative, but does not come default with many Linux OS’s.
    12: Linux is touted as a very stable and solid OS, which is true. That is if you’re looking for server software and have a deep interest in Computer Science. The Desktop experience is similar to Windows 98 with a lot of bugs and extensive use of command line prompts.
    13: Steam and its games may not work properly on many other different versions of Linux. Issues come up from needing libraries that may not be present on your system.

    -SteamOS-
    01: While touted as an open source OS, the software to run the games is still closed source, like Steam itself.
    02: Valve claims it’s not a “locked” system and any other online PC game store can make their own Linux client. To date, only Desura has a client and it’s not pre-installed on any operating system.
    03: It’s essentially the same as any other Linux distribution, but comes pre-installed with a Steam client.
    04: Anybody can download the client on any PC, and it’ll still be technically a Steam Box for having a steam client on there. There’s almost zero difference between any of the other OS.
    05: Some of the differences will provide very little or no performance difference from Windows. (SteamOS uses a RTLinux OS, meaning it prioritizes some tasks higher than others.)
    06: However, benchmarks have shown that differences between Windows and Linux are miniscule at best. According to a set of Windows 8 VS Ubuntu bencmarks, some perform better or worse, but both are roughly equal.
    07: The streaming feature Valve has announced is most likely closed source and is meant to run from a powerful Windows machine in one section of a home, to an HTPC set top in the living room. (It’s an incredibly redundant system as you already have a proper gaming machine ready to be played with better controls in another room.)

    -The Controller-
    01: Odds are that people reading this already have a Xbox 360 controller lying around, making the addition of another controller redundant.
    02: While it is textured and has ridges, the track pads do not give precise tactile feedback like a joystick could.
    03: Many games do not support controllers whatsoever. Being a PC game, you already have the (superior) mouse and keyboard controls.
    04: Using the trackpads, you have to constantly swipe your fingers across the pads in order for it to work, requiring much more finger dexterity than any other method.
    05: The design of the face is.. weird at best, looking like an owl staring back at you constantly.

    -Steam Box-
    01: There is literally no difference between a normal off the shelf, personally put together, or purpose PC, and the Steam Box. All computers using Steam use an x86 processor with video graphics adapter. The configurations may be vast between them, but mechanically and with the software, it’s all relatively the same. The only difference is the OS itself, the Steam client, and selection of games.
    02: The Steam Boxes popularity are essentially the same thing as an Apple branded computer, where the cost\popularity mainly comes from the name alone.
    03: While there are many different manufacturers of the Steam Box right now, it might lead to a total monopoly against other gaming stores\services like GoG, Desura, and Origin.
    04: The Steam client is tied heavily with the SteamOS GUI and doesn’t look to be easily editable or configurable. Meaning, any competing storefront will have to make their own Desktop GUI that wrestles control from the SteamOS Big Picture client.

    #33 7 months ago
  34. Christopher Jack

    @26, It would cost around $1000USD for CPU, GPU, SSHD & RAM. I’m sure you can find a case, mobo & PSU for less than $500 although I admit it’s certainly one of the better deals, you’re not spending too much more than it’d cost to do yourself.

    iBuyPower’s CPU, GPU, HDD & RAM would go for around $250-300. I think overall you might save anywhere from $50-100 building a similar system yourself. I’ve excluding the controller for the price but I’ve no clue how much they cost- they even come with that touchscreen that was shown?

    #34 7 months ago
  35. sebastien rivas

    Woww ok, this is. I believe the first time I cone across one of Mat Martin’s article. There are many aspects where Matt Martin means well and he is cute but he is also so far remote from being a journalist and leads with biased emotional directions.
    Is he paid by 1 or more of the 3 giants?

    Where is Dave and Pat?
    Never check what is on VG?

    #35 7 months ago
  36. manamana

    ^ its an opinion piece. Should be obvious. Man, so much hate around here….

    #36 7 months ago
  37. DarkElfa

    I already have pc, why do I need this?

    #37 7 months ago
  38. DennoCoil

    ^ If you have a Windows PC that can run 3D games at a descent framerate, there is no reason to buy a Steam Box whatsoever.

    #38 7 months ago
  39. TheWulf

    I didn’t bother reading past ‘overpriced’ considering the CyberPower model has superior hardware to the XBox One and PS4, yet is no more expensive than an XBox One. Plus it has all the advantages of indie games and mods.

    This just seems like stirring up controversy for the sake of it. It reminds me of Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s bullshit shenanigans, honestly. I expected better of VG24/7. I’m a little disappointed, frankly, and that’s just my opinion. I prefer VG24/7 to keep to news and not bother with what’s obviously click-bait. You’ll convince people to de-whitelist your site with these sorts of shenanigans.

    #39 7 months ago
  40. TheWulf

    @35

    That was my opinion, too. I’ve nothing against VG24/7 (I love the site), but this felt like something Quinns would have written over at RPS. Designed to rile up people and annoy them, so that they’d rant to their friends and drive revenue to the site. It’s transparent.

    I’ve come to believe that VG24/7 was above those tactics. I’d always praised it to my friends for that.

    #40 7 months ago
  41. Telepathic.Geometry

    I think Matt may be right. I count myself among those who wants a simple PC gaming solution, but now I have to think about the specs I want, and which of 13 different companies I will get it from. As a few have said, I would have loved to see some leadership from Valve on this one, broadly speaking.

    Three different tiers of PC for example, Normal, High and Ultra High say. But whatever, I have a lot of faith in Valve to react to the situation fluidly and make it work in the end…

    #41 7 months ago
  42. Harrow

    ^Exceptionally better journalism on that site though.

    #42 7 months ago
  43. Telepathic.Geometry

    -_- Always with the negativity…

    #43 7 months ago
  44. Ireland Michael

    @40 tl;dr: I disagree with the author of this story therefore their opinion is without merit and must be lazy baiting tactics

    #44 7 months ago
  45. dtyk

    I do believe that Matt is the new editor hired by VG247 is he not?

    I think this is a good article cheapened by a sensationalist headline. Not bad for first try I guess?

    #45 7 months ago
  46. Harrow

    @43 That wasnt aimed at you bud.

    #46 7 months ago
  47. sebastien rivas

    I just dont understand most rallying around more options being a bad thing.

    One in all you save lits of bucks to make the machine yourself.
    Norhing huge about it, you don’t need to cone from havard for it.
    The second solurion is indeed going through a middle man and I agree with Mat on that opinipn where even middle man has to make profit, yet tjat middle nan knows s/he won’t sell by 3+ millions so price tag cannot he crunched, though on that note I rwally doubt fir ecample ms and its XB1 wentvto the price tag bottom line as ir was stated overcthe summer the nachine gas to bevone profitable a.s.a.p.
    Anyway, point is why the fuck going through a middle man unless you are dad or mom with no clue what a pc is and don’t give a dam because you are loaded in first place.
    For the rest, ask a family member or a friend. Again you dont need to go to Havard to build a Rig, so… why not venture into it anyway and with the assistance of a friend…

    There is so much choice. It is the beauty of it. You are not stuck in anything. How fucking lazy and lame do you have to be to complain about freedom, choice, option, and work the buck in your favor???

    #47 7 months ago
  48. Telepathic.Geometry

    @47: I agree with you in theory, but not in practice.

    If I go shopping for a Japanese book because I WANT (not NEED) to study, and there are three, I will take a few minutes to skim through them, and get the best one, assuming it’s up to snuff.

    If there are 12 books, I will probably end up buying nothing, because I’m not arsed enough to spend 10 or 15 minutes comparing them all, and I don’t want to rush it and end up wasting my money on a dud. And anyway, there’s always that cheap hand-book that everybody uses and by all accounts, seems to be pretty okay.

    There is a psychological cost to uncertainty and hassle, and that is why dyed in the wool gamers like me haven’t jumped ship to PC gaming. I have too many other things going on in my life to be arsed about researching PC specs sheets.

    Summary: Don’t shit on the guys who can’t be arsed to do the research. It’s not that they’re too lazy, it’s just that they can’t be arsed. They’d only be lazy if there were a necessity to buy a gaming PC, and there really isn’t.

    Also, don’t say that they’re lazy because they could save money if they made the effort. Everyone could save money if they cycled to work, or learned how to do their own carpentry/electrical, or if they got a second job. By that logic everyone is lazy, so it doesn’t fucking matter…

    #48 7 months ago
  49. Telepathic.Geometry

    @38: I love your username. That is one of my favorite animes.

    #49 7 months ago
  50. TheBlackHole

    @48

    So when you have to buy a new smart phone, do you choose nothing because you can’t be bothered to duo any research?

    The laziness argument just doesn’t make sense to me. Buying a mobile or pc is no les complicated. Most people can deal with that.

    #50 7 months ago
  51. Telepathic.Geometry

    @50: But I need a phone. If you need something, like a house or a car or something, you’ll do the leg-work. If you don’t, the larger the number of options, the less likely the average punter is to buy. That’s why having two or three skews of PS4 or xbone would be a bad thing, unless you can communicate the value difference to consumers well, and concisely.

    Probability of buying = Coefficient * Desire/(Cost * Number of Choices * How difficult they are to understand)

    Of course this equation is bullshit, but I think it’d probably serve you well enough…

    #51 7 months ago
  52. TheBlackHole

    @51

    “the larger the number of options, the less likely the average punter is to buy”

    So what about PCs… everyone has one of them. Tablets – you don’t NEED a tablet, but there’s sure as shit a whole bunch of different options, SKUs, price points, manufacturers, OSs. And yet Tablets are selling so fast they can hardly make enough.

    Pretty much every PC gamer has a different setup, and there are as many of those than there are console gamers going by Steam’s popularity alone. Does that cause a problem for those users? Too much choice? An inability to know whether certain games will run on them?

    I also fundamentally disagree that the ‘average punter’ doesn’t do their research. With smartphones and tablets so ubiquitous it’s easier than ever to look at a review site or Google the name of the item you’re looking for. Websites like Moneysavingexpert and Which have led the way in consumer awareness for online retail and product quality. They have millions of users in the UK alone. Aside from that, user reviews on retail sites are now massively important in that they can dictate how prominent a placement the product is given on a retail site. Consumers are explaining to other consumers the benefits and problems of products. You barely have to do your own research nowadays.

    Ten, even five years ago I would have maybe seen more validity in your argument, but we are now firmly in a generation of consumers that are largely tech-savvy enough to know what’s good or bad, even if they don’t necessarily understand the miriad of individual options.

    #52 7 months ago
  53. TheBlackHole

    @51

    Ah… and on this: “That’s why having two or three skews of PS4 or xbone would be a bad thing”

    The two are not really comparable. Sony and Microsoft are selling a standard. A unit which will play ALL products designed for that machine. Having multiple SKUs above and beyond hard drive sizes or chassis improvements would not make any sense.

    That is NOT what Valve are doing. Valve have created an operating system for custom hardware, and that hardware will determine what games can be played on it, much like ALL PCs do now. The idea is not to make a console standard, it’s to make a more user-friendly living room experience using the framework of PC gaming.

    #53 7 months ago
  54. fabiank

    Perfect article.

    Can´t agree more.

    #54 7 months ago
  55. etonbears

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Your rather negative opinion appears to be based on the view that Steam Machines are a major attempt to disrupt the games markets. They are not.

    Steam, and the PC games market it serves provide a very diverse offering. At one extreme are people that like intellectually or graphically complex games that require capable and ( usually ) expensive hardware. At the other extreme are those that just want to have access to a wide range of games as simple pastimes. Somewhere between these extremes lie 65 Million gamers.

    What has united these 65M people in the past has not been a common hardware specification. It has been that the games on Steam are all written for Windows, and although Microsoft could never be described as altruistic ( or even faintly interested in their customers ) it was in their best interests to broaden their market reach by being encouraging development on Windows. Valve and other Games companies have benefited from responding to this openness.

    Unfortunately, over that last 5 years in particular, there has been a general move towards closing platforms down, controlling what is written for them and adding a “tax” for the privilege of being allowed to offer software. This is the model that console games platforms have always adopted, but now it is starting to apply to general-purpose platforms. Apple are particularly bad, but Microsoft have shown every sign with their Windows 8 changes that they want to control and tax all Windows software in the future.

    For Valve and Steam, this would be mean the complete destruction of their community and business model.

    The Steam Machines initiative is multifaceted. In part it is an attempt to improve experiences by making the couch/controller lean-back experience available to Steam users. Some existing users are very enthusiastic, other less so – in keeping with the diversity of PC gaming. In part it is about introducing related features to the Steam platform such as software sharing and streaming.

    But more than anything, Steam Machines are part of an effort to ensure that there will remain an open games platform, even after Microsoft close Windows down. This is why SteamOS is a version of Debian Linux, which by definition can’t be closed, whereas MacOSX is also likely to be closed.

    The effort is by necessity long-term, as it may take a considerable time to convince the majority of games developers to ensure that SteamOS is supported by their titles – It’s not particularly difficult to write games that support all major PC-like platforms, but it IS a change from writing to the Microsoft proprietary APIs.

    Personally, I am happy with this direction, as I will not be using any version of Windows after Windows 7. There may only be 250 gmaes so far that support SteamOS, but this is more than the 4th generation consoles combined, and will only increase.

    All of this is essentially exactly what Valve have said over the last year or so, as you could have found out for yourself; it has very little to do with the scenarios you seem to have invented for yourself.

    #55 7 months ago

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