Alienware: Steam Machine Will Be Our ‘Least Profitable’ Ever

By Nathan Grayson on May 20th, 2014 at 9:00 am.

I find it interesting how Valve both is and isn’t investing a lot of time and precious, precious GabeNcoins into its Steam Machine initiative. On one hand, this is the PC juggernaut’s plan to bull-rush through the living room’s console-lined walls and play jump rope with the entrails of enemies within, but on the other Valve is hedging its bets as cautiously as possible. It’s letting countless hardware manufacturers take the risk on building and distributing these things, and it’s hoping audiences will give them some clue as to what they should do after that. It’s not a terrible strategy by any means. It’s just a very Valve-centric one. Hardware manufacturers like Alienware, then, are worried, even as they place utmost faith in Valve’s time-proven ability to prime penniless pumps until money cascades out like a Biblical flood.

The Wall Street Journal spoke with a number of said hardware manufacturers about their thoughts on Valve’s mad plan to take over the world one room of your house at a time, and many were skeptical. Alienware’s Frank Azor, especially, thinks his company will come out of this with a pretty sizable hole in its wallet.

“It’s going to be very challenging. This will absolutely be the least profitable system we ever sell.”

And yet, even with that in mind, Alienware’s leading the Steam Machine charge. This, said Azor, is because Valve has dwarfed all previous notions of PC gaming success in the past, and they could well do it again.

Falcon Northwest president Kelt Reeves and Telltale CEO Dan Connors were on the same page as Alienware. “If anyone can do this, Valve can do it,” Reeves said.

Other companies, however, weren’t so sure, with iBuyPower’s Tuan Nguyen noting that Steam Machines might lead to a fragmented living room crowd even as they stand to provide a set-in-stone-ish target spec for game developers to aim for. “It’s like the Android phone marketplace,” he explained. “You have phones all over the place with wild specs and pricing.”

In other words, Steam Machines might narrow down the PC market a little, but not enough to avoid confusing potential buyers – especially when there are so many options in so many different price and power ranges. Some will be upgradable, others won’t, etc, etc, etc.

Much like Steam Machines themselves, then, hardware manufacturers’ perspectives on Valve’s outside shot of a plan are many and varied. Has anything at all convinced you to maybe even mull over the idea of picking one up? Personally, I’m not sold. My current PC is already great, and I can use it in my living room. Steam Machines, meanwhile, don’t strike me as simple/accessible enough for console crowds or versatile enough for longtime PC gamers. I’m not sure if Alienware is right to be this worried, but I do think there’s cause for concern.

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73 Comments »

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  1. rustybroomhandle says:

    It’s not a doom and gloom scenario. It just means they have set their profit margin per unit fairly low. Valve really should cut a deal with these OEMs to give them a cut of software sales though.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Yep, that’s the only way I can see them truly competing on price with the established consoles.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        The only way to win is not to play. You cannot compete with consoles when it comes to hardware cost. Never. If you have the same scale of production, ability to subsidise and software sales to cover the costs, you are a console maker… but here we have a distinct split between the software service (and it’s money) and the hardware.

        So they will have to look for a slightly different market. Perhaps “more expensive hardware, cheaper software”?

    • Artist says:

      Not to mention that Alienware sells vastly overpriced stuff anyway…

    • cunningmunki says:

      I’m honestly surprised that RPS also took this quote out of context, like every other knee-jerk, click-bating gaming website.

      Low margins are exactly what we want from Alienware, don’t scare them away!

  2. Premium User Badge

    amateurviking says:

    Slightly concerned that Valve’s adherence to their doctrine of letting everybody else sort their stuff out will come back to bite them at some point. Admittedly it’s been wildly successful for them but Steam is a mess, getting messier and there doesn’t seem to be anyone in charge over there.

    Steamboxes too, by actively not ‘leading’ the process they lose a lot of potential oomph when these things start hitting the market.

  3. Dr_Barnowl says:

    “Least profitable” doesn’t necessarily mean losing money.

    After all, the main point of the Steambox is that it is, after all, just a PC. So what we are talking about is a mid to high range gaming PC in a fancy case. Which is of course, Alienware’s metier.

    The only things they might be doing different is case design, disk duplication (need a disk template for SteamOS), and maybe selling extra peripherals bundled with it, in the form of those wacky Steam controllers. Otherwise it would just seem like business as usual.

    I doubt they will do the console pricing thing and sell below cost to encourage sales, unless they can get a sweetheart deal from Valve where they get a cut of the cut from Steam sales to their Steamboxes – which would be all but impossible to get right because you can buy from other devices and just load the game into the library on your Steambox.

    • Optimaximal says:

      Not really – the cheapest desktop Alienware currently do is the X-51, at £599. You’re also talking pretty much ~£700+ before it’s spec becomes a decent, competitive games machine. Consider that they’re being forced to manufacture and sell essentially the same kit, in a smaller, custom chassis, for nearly £300 less.

      This is why it’s a problem – there’s little economy of scale in the process at this stage, which is what gets the big players interested. Once someone finds a specification and chassis that is both affordable and available in quantity, the concept starts to make sense. Then, a race to the bottom can occur without harming the customer.

      Which, ofc, staggers me that the smaller companies who have release Steam Machine concepts are offering bog standard OEM kit in badged OEM cases with prices starting at >$1k. Nobody in their right mind would/should consider that.

      • tetracycloide says:

        Somehow you’ve come to the mistaken conclusion that alienware’s prices are the baseline for what is reasonable and sustainable. They aren’t. They’re notorious for being overpriced. There is plenty of room in the market for a profitable business to be had at margins below insane.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      Yeah, I suspect the profit per machine is quite high normally for Alienware (similarly, Apple’s profit margins are insane compared to general PC manufacturers). And like you say, if they sell a lot they could recoup their costs as much as selling a few high-end machines.

      • Optimaximal says:

        That’s the problem – it’s such a big ‘IF’ at the moment, everyone is just teetering on the brink, waiting for someone else to jump.

        No one company wants to miss the market, but then they don’t want the failure of the Steam Machine to be on their heads because they a) released a duffer, b) weren’t adventurous enough to push it or c) end up with unsold stock on their hands because nobody cares.

        Valve have seemingly already moved their interest on to other fields, as is their want – start a concept, seed it so the community/someone else picks up the reigns, move on.

        • P.Funk says:

          I like how everyone is so worried that companies might actually have to take a risk or two to get in on the groundfloor.

          Isn’t this what all those capitalists say makes the whole thing work?

          • Optimaximal says:

            Yes, but capitalism only tends to thrive when money is abundant. The second the flow is cut off, companies go into massive lockdown mode, only spending what they have too.

        • Premium User Badge

          Continuity says:

          “Valve have seemingly already moved their interest on to other fields, as is their want”

          Its “wont”, not “want”.

          /grammar nazi

    • Dave says:

      “Least profitable” doesn’t necessarily mean losing money.

      O_o

      • Optimaximal says:

        Alienware are owned by Dell, who have just gone through a big privatisation and restructuring process – it’s going to be incredibly hard for any department to get any project going in the near future that isn’t a high margin big-seller with low R&D, given they don’t have public cash flowing in anymore. Heck, they just binned their SMB Vostro line because the margins were too low selling to SMBs (instead, they’re now pushing the Optiplex line, which often carries a 20% premium).

        At least they’re not at the whim of said shareholders anymore, which means in the long term, vanity & lower-volume products with USPs, like the Steam Machine, become more attractive.

      • Premium User Badge

        darkChozo says:

        “Least profitable” tends to imply that you’re still making a profile (not always, but close enough). So, depending on the context, “least profitable” could actually mean you must not be losing money.

        Of course, in this context, we’re talking about per-unit profit margins, so the question becomes whether the smaller profit can pay for overhead and operating expenses and such. I’d imagine that Alienware is hoping to hit a wider market than they usually would because of the Steam Machine stuff.

    • GameQB11 says:

      To be honest, most gamers i know have their systems in their room or office. The only gamers i know that have a system in their living room are casual gamers who have it only to entertain guess. Those kind of people couldnt care less about a Steambox.

      I dont see the big market for this. Its just anectdotal evidence on my part, but i feel like hard core gamers more prefer a personal space like a bedroom or office for their gaming needs over a living room.

      • P.Funk says:

        “Those kind of people couldnt care less about a Steambox.”

        Analyzing the current market based on the current market doesn’t exactly predict the future. The market today is based on whats available. Markets change and its usually because someone tried something new.

        Looking at how absurdly restrictive the console platform is as sold to the user its hard to believe that there aren’t a lot of people out there that wouldn’t jump at the chance to have a more flexible platform in their living room. Casual gamers watch TV shows and movies too.

        Its worth it alone to me to get something next to my TV that can actually read a Matroska file for instance.

  4. Laini says:

    “Personally, I’m not sold. My current PC is already great, and I can use it in my living room. Steam Machines, meanwhile, don’t strike me as simple/accessible enough for console crowds or versatile enough for longtime PC gamers”

    This is exactly how I feel. I just don’t see the point.

    Perhaps if there was one standard, but the specs on these things are going to vary wildly.
    People will need to research each type of Steam Machine and work out which one suits them more and at that point why not just buy a proper PC?

    Even if you just wanted something for your living room there are a ton of options out there already.
    Plus I imagine these things will probably sell for more than a PC with the same specs would just because it’s “new”, you know?

    • Dawngreeter says:

      I have drilled a hole in a wall so that I can have a USB and a HDMI cable from my computer in the “work room” (everyone knows that’s really a gaming room) reach the TV in the living room. So I have a keyboard and a mouse there as well. And a game pad as well, sure.

      Total number of hours spent actually using all of that? Probably around 10. In the past year or so.

      Once I got over the fact that I was playing a PC game in my living room I didn’t really have any desire to do so. I have no idea why that’s something a person would want to do. I’m comfortable at my PC desk.

      • Myros says:

        Yes, I can’t imagine anyone coming home from work and wanting a few hours gaming and using the most comfortable seat in my house (the couch) to play on a very large screen, with my feet up. No idea why anyone would want to do that. ;p

        • Dawngreeter says:

          I guess that’s one way to look at things. In my house, my work chair is the most comfortable seat in the house. I’m not big on heavily padded arm-chairs that dominate living rooms in some houses. And even if I was, and had one of those, putting my legs up and sitting back in something like that would mean that I can’t really use a mouse and a keyboard.

          Any way you slice it, it seems hugely less relaxing and less effective than just going straight to the PC.

      • frightlever says:

        The chair I use at my computer desk cost more than all the furniture in my lounge combined.

        I don’t even NEED to mention the brand.

    • Premium User Badge

      Skeletor68 says:

      ‘Perhaps if there was one standard, but the specs on these things are going to vary wildly.
      People will need to research each type of Steam Machine and work out which one suits them more and at that point why not just buy a proper PC?’

      Completely agree. I need to upgrade soon and if I could get a standardised one of these from Valve that would let me keep my Steam library and usual PC stuff but also fiddle around with one of those fancy controllers that would be sweet!

      • frightlever says:

        A “Steam machine” is a proper PC, but it is a subset of ALL PCs so probably a lot easier to research. If the smaller form factor (which accomodates beefy GPUs) takes off then I’m sure we’ll all be building our own “Steam machines”, just like we do now. If you slap SteamOS on a full tower and lean it against your 50″ plasma TV, it’s a “Steam Machine”.

        • Optimaximal says:

          Valve initially planned to tell OEMs to design to 3 ‘minimum specifications’.

          I can’t remember their names, but they were going to be essentially Low (budget streamers with most content flowing from another meatier PC), Medium (aimed at the mainstream, with some streaming if needed) and High (the moon on a stick with no ceiling etc)…

          Only Valve seem to have bottled enforcing this segmentation, instead allowing everyone to throw in at the high-end, where the most margin is. This has meant the entire message has been confused to hell.

          They [Valve] have also probably taken the focus off the ‘Low’ streaming boxes because In-Home Streaming is still very buggy, lag-ridden and with spotty support.

        • HadToLogin says:

          Remember, it’s SteamOS that makes Steam Machine.

          If you install SteamOS on your toilet, you’ll get Steam Machine…

    • Frank says:

      My PC’s in need of replacement, and I don’t see myself going in for upgrades… nonetheless, there’s no chance I’d spring for a steam box. That would mean paying a premium for a smaller form factor. As long as HP hasn’t shut down their PC division (as one of their string of idiot CEOs threatened), they’ll be getting the sale again. (Yes, I have upgraded my PC’s hardware before, and, yes, I’ve built my own. Get off me, nerd-cred police.)

      And it’s not like I’m going to buy a second PC for the imaginary second room in my apartment. I’d probably need to have like ten rooms and a family to fill them to justify a second PC.

  5. natendi says:

    It’s also funny that Steam launched home streaming, meaning that people who have a large gaming PC can connect to an old-ish laptop/PC which can be connected to a tv if a direct connection wasn’t possible/desirable.

    I like the idea of steam machines, but I couldn’t ever justify paying for an over priced gaming PC for my living room TV when there are so many options to have my current PC connected.

    • PsychoWedge says:

      Exactly. Even a 20 meters hdmi cable is only 30 bucks or so…

    • Optimaximal says:

      The problem with the In-Home Streaming system is that, whilst it’s better than the web-streaming services, it’s just as vulnerable to network traffic and bandwidth limitations, especially on Wireless B/G/N, because a real-time service cannot buffer.

      Trying to run even relatively tame games (RTS games, Gunpoint, Train Sim) to my MacBook Pro quickly turns into an exercise in frustration when my fiancée decides to refresh Facebook on her iPad and it just chokes the bandwidth for a few seconds, dropping 20-30% of the frames.

    • frightlever says:

      What I don’t understand is why we aren’t taking this to the logical conclusion and removing all the walls and floors in our houses and piling all our furniture, fixtures and fittings into a heap next to our TVs. DOTA 2 whilst in the bath? Not a problem. Call of Duty while scrambling your eggs? No worries, but should you really be standing so close to the microwave, miss?

      • Optimaximal says:

        If I took all of the walls out of my house, my house would collapse. This may be why we are not all taking the walls out of our houses.

        (disclaimer – I don’t live in a wooden/cardboard house, like some members from other countries may do)

        • P.Funk says:

          Walls don’t hold loads as much as beams and joists and columns do. You could have no walls with lots of beams and posts everywhere. It’ll be like living under a balcony, but indoors.

          Or we could all just go for dome roofs. No need for load bearing walls/struts/structures anywhere but near the margins.

    • Lemming says:

      The idea of the home-streaming is to use it with a low-end Steam Machine, not instead of one. That’s exactly what I’ll be doing.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Voice of Majority says:

    It seems to me that everybody would love to like Steam machines, but the concept makes it impossible.

    What would make most sense to me is for the PC OEMs to form an alliance to define the steambox spec. It would help them to achieve scale and fight fragmentation which would then lead to lower game development costs (and higher performance). The ecosystem is already there, so it is not like introducing a brand new console.

    • XhomeB says:

      “It seems to me that everybody would love to like Steam machines, but the concept makes it impossible.”

      Perfect summary of the whole situation. Valve have none else but themselves to blame.

      • Premium User Badge

        Voice of Majority says:

        When Valve initially announced the three tiers it all still made some sense and people were pretty excited. We were going to get console like efficiency on PCs. Then Valve decided quite correctly that they are not the ones to determine the HW specs. Some other companies who do that as their primary business should have stepped in at that point.

        Alliances is how more or less anything works these days and it would seem like a very natural approach here. Perhaps the business case is not there and all the OEMs are doing is ride the free publicity while it lasts.

  7. XhomeB says:

    These machines are destined to fail on the market, Valve might have had a good idea of what they wanted to achieve when they set out to create the SteamBox, but totally and utterly gutted the original concept along the way.
    The lack of standardisation is the biggest mistake, the sheer number of cases and hardware configurations will only result in customer confusion, diluted marketing power and lack of interest as a result.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      I think the problem is, Valve do not have the cash (or resources, such as factories etc), to make these things. They need to pass it on to someone else. There is a distinct lack of “some one else” with either the same vision/desire or the same understanding/confidence in such a platform.

      Thus it gets watered down and profitised by the other companies, and you get barebone net top boxes that retail at £250 given a SteamOS sticker, linux and £2k premium. :(

  8. Mittens89 says:

    I cant help but feel that this Steam Machine concept has been destined to fail ever since Valve let EVERYONE have a go at making one. The market is now over saturated, yet nothing has even been released yet.

    Surely, one company, say 3 different boxes in price/performance order. One that just streams, one that plays most games at 60 fps @ 1080p, and then a top end box for those who want moar everything. One standard design, leading to brand awareness/identity. That way everyone can identify it, alongside your Xbox and Playstation rivals.

    Having all these different companies with different interpretations is only going to confuse potential buyers. Valve have made a mistake.

  9. devland says:

    People are looking at this the wrong way. It’s not about the hardware, it’s about the software.
    The whole idea behind steamOS is to not be dependent on windows anymore.
    “Steam machines” are optional.

    • Premium User Badge

      Voice of Majority says:

      Perhaps so for GabeN. I bet the larger audience was much more excited about reducing the fragmentation of the PC HW for games. _That_ is all about HW and software could be anything – preferably windows.

      • P.Funk says:

        As long as any meaningful market share is on XBL and consoles are all slaved to last gen’s tech it won’t matter what Gabe does to harmonize PC specs.

  10. cunningmunki says:

    I still can’t see what’s so mystifying about Valve’s approach. I suppose it’s because we live in an age where every new piece of hardware has to be treated by the gaming and hardware media like the second-fucking-coming, in terms of hype, build-up and an Earth-shattering release date. Valve are simply taking the same approach they took with Steam. There’s no need for big fanfares or hubristic over-promising to deliver the ‘best’ experience compared to the competition; this is going to be a revolution that takes its sweet time.

    Just picture the gaming hardware landscape in as little as two or three years; you’ll have two severely outdated consoles (three if you even bother including the WiiU), each with VR peripherals straining to run on old hardware. You’ll still have Microsoft spouting on about how they want Windows machines to be gaming machines, whilst charging you at least £80 for their OS and doing absolutely nothing to encourage PC game development. And then, on the other side, you’ll have lots of PC manufacturers putting out a wide, Android-like, variety of gaming machines, catering to individuals rather than the lowest common denominator, all running a FREE OS. You’ll also have machines specifically designed to run the Oculus Rift, which will be used for so much more than just gaming, not to mention a whole army of previously disenfranchised developers falling over themselves to create innovative games for Linux-based machines, or to port their existing ones.

    In terms of why Valve haven’t released their own machine, and show no signs of doing so, I’d say it’s very likely got something to do with all the dubious patent deals and lawsuits involving Linux-based device manufacturers and Microsoft over the last few years (Samsung, Dell, Motorola, Acer, Casio, etc), and I think GabeN wants to steer clear of all that nonsense.

    • Marblecake says:

      *applauds*

    • Geebs says:

      “I am tired of all of these well-orchestrated PR campaigns and would rather have a long, drawn out, wet fart instead”

      OK, then. Valve have actually screwed up big time here with Steam OS and Steamboxes. If they had harnessed the (largely imaginary) Power of Linux to allow games to run significantly better on lower spec, cheaper PC hardware, and ensured a decent catalogue, they would have a chance. Instead they have bottled it and pulled the rug out from under their partners while dicking about with a half-finished OS and some pointless balls about home streaming.

      Microsoft, on the other hand, have contributed to gaming by ensuring that there was some competition pushing OpenGL and hardware manufacturers forward, and provided some of the best development environments, and the best backward compatibility in the business. But of course that doesn’t count because reasons.

  11. trooperwally says:

    So what is a console anyway? Why do they seem to have a much larger share of the gaming market?

    Is it because it’s in your living room and you play on a comfy couch?
    Is it because it’s a big screen and you play with you mates on the couch as well?
    Is it because it’s got a really simple (yet limiting) control interface?
    Is it because it’s easier to latch onto a brand and develop loyalty when there are only two brands?
    Is it because there’s no need (or option) to upgrade bits?

    Seriously what is it? I hope Valve know because they’re trying to get in on the console market and they’ve not explained to me as a PC gamer and a potential customer what their product offers and how it’s better than either a console or a PC.

    • misterT0AST says:

      I don’t think the Steam Machines could be considered not-PCs in any way. They are 100% PCs.

      Also, everyone seems to think that it’s a product that wants you to throw your current PC out of the window and go buy this one.

      I don’t think this was ever Valve’s idea. Steam Machines are meant to slowly eat the market for PC gamers over the course of many years.

      It will become more enticing as it becomes better optimized and as more games get developed with it in mind, and as Microsoft makes mistakes in marketing their more expensive and imperfect operating system. It’s not meant to destroy the competition here and now.

    • The Random One says:

      Mostly the third and the fifth, plus an important corollary to the fifth: if I put a working disk labeled XBOX360 on my working Xbox360, I am 100% guaranteed it will run flawlessly.

      This seems to be on the way to no longer being the case on the newest gen (so I’m glad I jumped out). This will be a good opportunity for purveyors of PC games, but it remains to be seen if they’ll take it.

  12. DThor says:

    I get this feeling that the entire console market has permanently changed with the corporate – mad lust for constant growth to something that, by definition, requires massive hardware investment (read:loss) up front in order to “get your foot in the door” on the lucrative software licensing end. I’m unsure this is something I would want to jump on board the good ship Investment for. Valve’s move had always seemed terribly shrewd and maybe a little bit devious, putting in relatively no financial investment and sitting back waiting to see if this will or won’t add to their bucket of money.

    • Baines says:

      That’s the bit absent from “utmost faith in Valve’s time-proven ability to prime penniless pumps until money cascades out like a Biblical flood” and “because Valve has dwarfed all previous notions of PC gaming success in the past, and they could well do it again“.

      Valve is risking very little here. They’ve put together a custom Linux build. The other stuff, they were already doing anyway. All the risk is on everyone else. The ones carrying the risk are the hardware manufacturers, software publishers and developers, and even consumers. Valve just sits back and either loses a little money, or sits back and gradually shoves Microsoft to the side in the PC gaming market while also eating into the console market, or sits back and ends up somewhere between the two extremes. (The way things have been revealed, progressed, and changed, it doesn’t even look like Valve spent the time or money to put together a real business plan. But that seems to be standard Valve operating procedure, looking like they are working from cocktail napkin scribbles.)

  13. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    I think upgradeability is the key. The various components–graphics card, hard drive, everything–should be as easy to pop in and out as an NES cartridge. Get a design like that and market the components effectively–i.e. low, medium, and high spec “brands”–and you’ll suddenly narrow down the possible hardware permutations enough to make the whole thing manageable. I’m not saying that’s entirely feasible, but that’s the ideal that they should be aiming for.

    • Optimaximal says:

      Computer parts already are ‘easy to pop in and out’ like a console cartridge – All a console cartridge is/was is a piece of PCB wrapped in a plastic case to stop people breaking it. Intel took it further at one point with the ‘Slot’ processor concept.

      The only way for the idea you propose to work is for a manufacturer to take the lead and design a specification for these modular components, something nobody wants to do with Steam Machines because a) they don’t want to shoulder any R&D cost and b) they want to just pick parts from the parts bin, like all their other products.

    • P.Funk says:

      The only reason changing bits in a computer is hard is because the Motherboard manufacturers and Intel are dicks and refuse to make things less clunky. Intel’s vanilla coolers are stupidly difficult for the uninitiated to come to grips with that that alone is worth the price of assembly for most. All those connectors required to get your case buttons to work are also a huge pain.

      Other than that the bits that slot in are a piece of piss to install. I upgraded my ram last week by taking the side of my case off, popping out the old sticks, popping in the new ones all without unplugging anything or even moving my case. I just had to shine a light in and it was child’s play.

      Seriously, if it weren’t for mobo connectors and CPU coolers I would advice even the dumbest person to try to assemble a new PC themselves. Its as easy as LEGO.

      • Premium User Badge

        Stellar Duck says:

        You’re correct about the stock coolers and connectors. However I’ve found that reading the manual for the main board and the cooler works a charm when it comes to getting things set up. They usually contain handy diagrams for what connector goes where.

  14. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    I have to admit that getting a steam machine intermittently sounds pretty attractive, but then I always remember how much I enjoy assembling my own computer after several days of intense research. (“Research” mostly being staring at bar graphs and becoming massively biased toward sites which present their data well.) My main computer is beginning to lose its sufficiency, so I’m loving RPS’s “week in tech” series. They have just the right amount and type of news to keep me up to date without making me sift through loads of numbers needlessly split across many pages. I figure I still have about a year to swim around my kiddie-pool of money before it all flies away and I have nothing left to soak up the blood from all the paper cuts.

    • DanMan says:

      Here, have this towel.

      • Premium User Badge

        particlese says:

        Ooo, much fluffier than the money. Cheers!
        Now to find a tent before it starts raining pennies again.

  15. trjp says:

    I’ve been saying this for eons now – I still don’t get why anyone would want one of these things

    Oh they benefit Valve and they benefit game developers a bit but there’s not much in it for hardware companies and the end-users are buying a VERY risky product indeed.

    The vast majority of Steam games still don’t run on SteamOS and there are SteamOS machines which won’t run some games which DO run on SteamOS and

    It’s not going to work, is it?

    Is it?

    • P.Funk says:

      I imagine you could easily install windows on one too if you liked. Its an open plantform to begin with so its not like you can’t just use it like a normal PC anyway. Dual booting anybody?

      I just feel like comments like this reveal how terribly uninformed most people are about the relationship between software, operating systems, and hardware. Companies like Apple and Microsuck (with the Xbox) really want you to believe that its all one package, but its not and really, despite it being a prepackaged product, a Steam machine is about the opposite of what consoles try to do with respect to the flexibility of the device.

      Consoles are engineered to restrict the inherent flexibility that hardware with software has. There’s no reason you can’t do as much with an Xbox as with a PC except that they design it to keep you from that flexibility, on purpose for obvious reasons.

  16. HisDivineOrder says:

    The Steam Machines that matter will be the Chromecast/appletv/roku-like devices that are cheap enough to be put on any HDTV you have with USB ports to hook up a controller and/or keyboard/mouse, but stream over gigabit your games from your gaming desktop.

    Then you can focus all your money on just one gaming computer while having a cheap way to add said gaming capability to any TV in your house.

    Eventually, I imagine Steam going Plex and creating apps for various devices like Roku or whatever Android on TV turns out to be (not GoogleTV), giving the option for streaming from your local computer to game and using built-on USB ports to hook up hubs to do keyboards and mice and controllers.

    I’m sure in time that’ll even include built into TV’s. May seem hard to imagine now, but how long ago was it that it was hard to imagine Netflix in most every HDTV sold? How long after that when Plex in most every TV sold seemed a stretch?

    If Steam is smart, they’ll pursue the cheapest streaming angle.

    Steam Machines as smaller PC’s built to beat consoles is old thinking and is already out of date. The real future of Steam Machines is their streaming tech and their insane focus on that streaming tech atm seems to suggest that people inside of Valve are thinking this in a big way.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t see Valve update their long, long overdue for an update Steam Android app to include stream reception and control to pave the way for an ARM client.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Continuity says:

    I have no idea what Valve are thinking, to me the only way a “steam machine” makes sense is if it is one fixed hardware specification… if its not that then its just a PC with with steam OS on it.

    However, strange moves from Valve have paid off for them many times in the past, so who am I to judge.

  18. Megakoresh says:

    This machine is targeted at people who have a laptop or a non-gaming PC, who have never played on PC in a major way and are overly fed up with the crap that consoles make them put up with, because it is only recently that this shit started being so apparent and the difference and advantages of PC started being so huge.

    This is Valve’s plan: to exploit this attitude and switch the gamers which want a better experience than what they have been getting in the last 8 years, but are hesitant to go and buy and assemble and tweak and set up a proper gaming PC. Yeah, we all know it is not too hard. For US. For a newcomer it might be more difficult. And it sure does SEEM 10 times more difficult than what it is, no matter how much we tell them otherwise. For that kind of person, Steam Box might really look like a good deal. At least in my opinion.

    But to me the biggest issue here seems not really the value of the product, but rather how much it relies on the gamers being fed up with console crap. Because new consoles are here, and while the start for them is always slow, it will accelerate and in a year or two, it will significantly diminish this attitude, as people give up and migrate and are no longer at an impasse as to what to choose: new consoles or a PC. They are there now, at this impasse. For the time being. And Valve have never been friends with time. So this to me looks like a problem.