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Steam Machines will be "front and center" at GDC

Valve may be poised to unveil its consumer-facing gaming PC

The Steam Machines line of gaming PCs will be "front and center" at GDC in March, according to a statement issued by Valve.

Earlier this week, Valve revealed that it had no plans to host another Steam Dev Days event this year, choosing instead to have a larger presence at the San Francisco Game Developers Conference.

And Steam Machines will be at the core of whatever Valve is planning to do, despite recent comments from Origin PC CEO Kevin Wasielewski - via Gamespot - indicating that the tentative brand is, "pretty much dead."

"We're planning a very large presence at GDC with Steam Machines being front and center," Valve said, in a statement issued to Game Informer.

Wasielewski's assertion that the Steam Machines idea is dead may not be accurate, but it's worth noting that it was, at the very least, believable.

The concept of a line of Steam-branded, consumer friendly PCs piqued the interest of the entire industry when Valve unveiled it back in September 2013, igniting debate on the potential of the PC to steal the coveted 'living room' away from the console companies.

However, Valve delayed its own Steam Machines hardware in May 2014, and much of the momentum behind the concept has dissipated in the time since.

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Latest comments (17)

Adriano De Lima C/C++ Developer 4 years ago
I prefer a delayed launch than a buggy product!
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 years ago
The issue isn't a buggy product. It's that there's no money in them.

PC makers are expected to sell at console prices without the back end for the manufacturer. They're really expensive to make, low margin, and Valve has also realized no one wants that silly controller and has been backtracking on it ever since (but no one is whining about it)

PC gamers build computers if they wanted a console they'd buy one
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Carlos Bordeu Game Designer / Studio Co-Founder, ACE Team4 years ago
While I do understand your points Jeff, I have been thinking of renewing my PC entirely now, and I'm still going to wait and see what Valve has to offer. I cannot see them not having anything of interest to show. It might not be what I end up wanting, but I'm certainly curious to see what Steam Machines are in more detail.
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Show all comments (17)
Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 years ago
That's thethin, they don't have anything to offer. They're relying on everyone else to build them. There have been other consoles that tried the consumer electronics model, 3DO comes to mind. They've all been disasters. Manufacturers are already bailing. In the end, they'll just be PCs that match the specs Valve sets and get a sticker. You know who else did that? Microsoft,years ago. No one cared then either. PC gaming is about performance and customization, and the general public moved on a long time ago. Blizzard keeps their specs low specifically because they known eould are running the games on laptops and older desktops.

There are already two companies that run mature console ecosystems, and actually have a customer service department. None of the general public will put up with things like "no phone number", even for$2 games
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
But that's why I like the idea of Steam Machines - whether it's a winner or loser, it's going to force the issue on a few things. For instance...

If it takes off in the slightest, Valve will have to improve their customer service (possibly out-sourcing it). The damage to them and the PC gaming sector will be too much to not, considering it's a laughing stock as it is.

Gaming generally and PC gaming specifically has improved vastly since the days of 3DO and MS setting specs - if PC gaming is going to go mainstream (in the sense of, say, the Wii and last-gen consoles), it'll be now or never. And it may well be never, but the push is worthwhile, and outside of MS (who don't give a monkey's about PC gaming, and never have, really), Valve are the only company with a reason to push it.

Aside from higher-and-higher DPI mice (with more and more buttons), there's been little in the way of improvements in traditional PC gaming controllers. Sure sure, there's a shift to VR, but when the best-selling de-facto standard controller on PC comes from a console,it says something. Again, it might suck, or it might not get any sales, but it's interesting, and could lead to interesting things.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 10th January 2015 2:58pm

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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 years ago
There isn't any shift to VR. It's not something people will use beyond the fad stage at best, outside the hardcore

And I say this as a major 3D and VR enthusiast.

The closest you're going to get is augmented reality so mom on a business trip can have dinner with the kidAR is also going to be there for putting up HUDs, but as far as the mainstream, it's never going to Ben hat big.

There's nothing PC offers to people in th mainstream they're not getting on consoles as far as gaming goes. This is just Valve trying to enter a market they are ill-prepared for eithout dropping $1.5 billion of thrir en only. They're very scared of Microsoft deciding to Steamroller them like they did Netscape and others. They could buy Valve 4x over for what they've lost on Bing alone.
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Adam Campbell Game Manager, Azoomee4 years ago
The problem is there's nothing I can do with a Steam Machine I couldn't do better with a Windows PC in the same form factor.

There's also better software and a wider variety of it available on Windows, including games on Steam for the foreseeable future. Not to forget, there are many more functions outside gaming that are readily available for me to use too.

Much of my initial excitement has waned and I'm always tempted to go back to my point that Microsoft could have taken this same approach with their Xbox platform, and probably with much more success than Valve will see.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
There's nothing PC offers to people in the mainstream they're not getting on consoles as far as gaming goes.
This belies the wide-range of genres available on PC that are unavailable on console: RTS, strategy, war-gaming, VNs, a broader number of adventure and puzzle games. Definitely debatable is whether the console-crowd will care, though. Games like Hexcells or Civ are mainstream enough there'll be console gamers who want them, but whether there's enough of those people to make it worthwhile? Yeah, it's unlikely.
Much of my initial excitement has waned and I'm always tempted to go back to my point that Microsoft could have taken this same approach with their Xbox platform, and probably with much more success than Valve will see.
Yeah, I agree, in a way - MS could've bulled Valve out the market by making Games For Windows Live everything Steam is and more, and using their relationships with PC manufacturers to create something amazing. Except they chose to focus on the XBox as a console brand, and PC continues to be an afterthought. My worry, actually, is that Valve are half-assing Steam Machines/Controller/OS in the same way MS half-assed GFWL.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 11th January 2015 9:05am

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
Steam Machines Top10 cliff-notes:

(1) Kicked off by Windows Paranoia (as if MS could afford such a move, due to cooperate software landscape.)
(2) Forked a Linux project (because the world can never have too many Linux forks these days)
(3) Snowflake input scheme trying to reinvent wheel (only to be pawned by a simple magnet inside Razer Turret)
(4) Speaking of controllers, what is the relationship between the competitive nature of Steam's most played game and the controller's ability to competitively perform? Oh, none? Not even MS was crazy enough to force Kinect only controls on Halo.
(5) Allowing Thermal Design Power and dimensions to be all over the place. (making sure negative customer reviews about noise levels and performance hit each type of model, whether they apply or not)
(6) Ignoring the difference between mass production OEMs and BTO distributors. (causing ridiculous prices in the process)
(7) Neither Ubisoft nor EA likely to join the party. (since FiFa is only the best selling game in the UK and Germany, who needs them, right?)
(8) No rootPW setup during install but remote sessions with default logins. (a classic)
(9) With 30 million PS4 and XO sold, market demand for a fourth console questionable.
(10) Why stick with SteamOS when you can install Windows on that machine?
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
(7) Neither Ubisoft nor EA likely to join the party. (since FiFA is only the best selling game in the UK and Germany, who needs them, right?)
Slightly besides the point in relation to Steam Machines specifically. :p But, in any case, there's no doubt EA will return to Steam at some point. Origin isn't a waste of space anymore, but they won't keep on ignoring the largest digital distro store out there indefinitely. If Steam Machines do take off, it'll hasten their return.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
As long as Steam is but a point of sale, Valve can ignore companies choosing not sell software on Steam. But when Steam Machines make a push for providing the entire user experience via SteamOS without Windows to fall back on, then Valve cannot ignore major third parties doing their own thing. In a way that also applies to the Blizzard end of things.

In a sense Valve is making a play to pull the Windows rug from under the PC platform. They made great progress with graphic card manufacturers, but on the software side of video games, the commitment of third parties has been lackluster to say the least.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 years ago
@Klaus

I agree, but the Windows paranoia was not about spending, it's about location. What gave Internet Explorer it's market dominance not only was the fact that it was the first web browser given out for free (a demonstration of mys money), but because it was free installed, and prominently placed on the desktop. This is what killed Netscape even after they went free. The Xbox game store displays prominently on the desktop, and if it actually had something worthwhile to offer, and more importantly game is actually installed windows, it would be a fierce competitor to stream simply because people go there to buy games first, because it's right in front of them. The leverage the Microsoft has her game publishers, the Xbox, especially with cross by opportunities, A real achievement system, and a real customer service department,you can see why valve is extremely scared of Microsoft. If Microsoft size it is for a valve, he'll be able to do so out of petty cash, simply because of the terms are going to be able to offer game publishers on the far more spots platform. EA specifically because pcsales near counsel sales, and since they have a monopoly on origin, they don't have to pay 30% silly processing fees to valve To handle a key.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 4 years ago
Funny, reading the comments reminded me what the actual opinion was about the iPhone in 2007. it was like why would anyone buy it?
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 years ago
Tom, the iPhone was not replicating an existing product. There is no innovation or actual advantage to a Steam machine not present in other devices. Nor is there a revolutionary interface in the device that makes existing features easier to use or access. Nor is Valve or the manufacturers enjoying a 50% profit margin over the build cost. If you want to access iOS and the App Store ecosystem, you biughtiphineStramOs Is already useable on superior hardware today.

In other words, not comparable in the slightest
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Justin Biddle Software Developer 4 years ago
It just seems to me ridiculous that people would want to buy a device that can only play a small fraction of the games that steam itself sells.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
Well, for one thing, it's chicken-and-egg: If people aren't introduced to an alternative to Windows in gaming, then an alternative to Windows in gaming will never truly exist. Again, I'm not saying it'll work, but to not try is to instantly admit defeat, forever. And there's instances of much the same thing occurring and being successful. You could, for example, have used almost the same sentence about DVDs when they were first introduced:
It just seems to me ridiculous that people would want to buy a device that can't play their current library of films and TV programmes.
And let's not forget, MS might actually win in the end: every Steam Machine has the capability to run Windows, and some may even ship with Windows pre-installed. Anything that creates more PC sales actually helps MS in the long-run, especially if they're smart. There's even a possible (but unlikely) future scenario where MS and Valve tie-up - Steam Machines sold with Windows and Steam pre-installed.

Edit: Though that would be more down to the OEM manufacturers, I suppose, so is probably very likely. Most PCs sold include specific software (Acer Backup, Lenovo DVD Writer, etc), so I imagine if the larger manufacturers wanted to get-in, but hedge-bets, they would install Steam on their Windows PCs and Laptops. I do actually wonder why Valve haven't gone down this route before.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 13th January 2015 12:08pm

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
Windows has distinct advantages over SteamOs in every age demographic.

Windows can be sold as the computer you do all your homework on. Windows can be sold as the computer that runs all the software you need at university. Windows is compatible to more entertainment services. Windows is the OS that even computer illiterates know to use (hence the Win8 issues and Win10 backpedaling). Last but not least, Windows runs all the games, all the emulators and all the oddball software.

By comparison, SteamOS runs a bunch of games and even though you could provide many, but not all, of the other uses, there is a language barrier. When push comes to shove, Windows is a language of interaction between user and computer that many people know how to speak. SteamOS on the other hand is a different beast. It is not just about learning sudo apt-get install whatever. Merely putting Gnome and Unity in front of people will knock out most of them.

For that reason also, Valve has a long way to go with SteamOS, even if they get all the OS fundamentals and driver support dumped at their doorstep for $0. Competing with a gimped console OS such as PS4 or XO is less of a problem, but what is the point in that?

p.s.: evolution has a clear solution for the chicken egg problem.
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