Valve Announces “Steam Machines” but No Details
Monday’s surprise announcement of the SteamOS was followed by a logical second of three announcements. Yesterday’s big Steam announcement was Valve telling us what we already knew. Valve is working on Steam branded hardware to bring gaming to the living room.
The announcement of Steam hardware, dubbed Steam Machines in the official announcement, was accompanied by no details from Valve. Valve said that they are “working with multiple partners to bring a variety of Steam gaming machines to market during 2014.”
Basically, the hardware announcement announced a Steam Machines hardware beta test. Valve says that they have 300 prototype devices available for beta testing. They’re selecting beta testers from a pool who meet a certain set of criteria that include having at least ten Steam friends, a public Steam Community profile and playing a game using a gamepad in Steam’s Big Picture mode.
So right now, we have no idea what a Steam Machine will look like or how it will perform. All we know is that they will run SteamOS and be fully upgradable. The announcement’s FAQ says we’ll get more details, such as specs and what the machine looks like, soon but there will be a variety of specifications and prices for Steam Machines.
This announcement comes on the heals of NVIDIA announcing that they are working on a graphics driver for Linux and AMD promising good news for Linux users in a Wednesday announcement. It looks like that Valve is pushing hardware, in addition to software, toward Linux compatibility.
However, I think the success of a Steam Machine won’t come down to the performance but the price and the form-factor of the hardware. While I think people would be willing to pay $500 for a Steam Box if the performance is at least comparable to the PS4 and XB1, I don’t think they’d be willing to spend it if that $500 bought them a 16″ high by 18″ deep PC tower. Similarly, if Steam Boxes start at $700 for something that has specs equivalent to a Xbox One, I don’t see anyone going for that. Avoiding these details with the announcement isn’t going to help them sell hardware.
And I should note that this was the last part of the Steam Machines FAQ:
Am I going to be using a mouse and a keyboard in the living-room?
If you want. But Steam and SteamOS work well with gamepads, too. Stay tuned, though – we have some more to say very soon on the topic of input.
I think we know what this means for the next Steam announcement. Half-Life 3 confirmed! No, we’re getting a Steam controller. Not so easy to be excited for a Big Picture optimized gaming controller announcement, is it?