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  1. #1

    Valve Hedged on Steam Machines and Pleased (Almost) No One

    I remember when the rumblings of Valve's new "console" during the period of time when next-gen consoles were still...well...referred to as next-gen consoles. In concept, I was sold, even going so far as to consider it my most likely next console. The reasons for this were primarily that Steam had shown itself to be a solid platform with solid game prices and generally consumer- and business-friendly DRM. In the end, Valve ended up trying to split the difference between a console and a PC, and ended up pleasing neither audience.

  2. #2
    With consoles, you get a single spec, which makes software development simpler and also extends the life of that hardware (by allowing devs to get better at writing to lower-levels of the hardware). The Steam Machine's hardware is nebulous...meaning, whether games will run on a Steam Machine is not a "yes" or "no" question. It's a, "Well, if you have this hardware configuration, you may be able to run it at lower settings, but if you have this configuration, you will be able to max out the settings, but if you have this configuration...." As a console-first gamer, the best thing about consoles is that you know the answer to "Will work on this hardware?" I used to be a PC-first gamer, but the fiddling with settings, minimum hardware requirements, etc turned me off when my gaming time and money became limited (kids, wife, job, etc.). I want to buy a game, put it in the drive, and play.

  3. #3
    Games are also a big issue. I bought an Xbox One last November and have bought 7 games since then (Minecraft, Assassin's Creed Unity, Assassin's Creed Black Flag, Far Cry 4, Shadow of Mordor, Halo MCC, Game of Thrones, and GTA 5). NONE of these are currently available on SteamOS.

  4. #4
    First off, as I mentioned before, many big games do not support SteamOS. Looking over the new releases, there are some big gaps (Ubisoft and Activision are notably absent). This seems to be getting better, but until the makers of the best selling games get on board, it'll continue to be a niche. Also, yes, you can install Windows on a separate partition (at a cost of around $100), but this is not out-of-the-box functionality. Not to mention, who wants to have to reboot your PC everytime you want to play Call of Duty or Far Cry 4?

  5. #5
    There was a way forward that could've allowed Valve to message this stuff more simply. Set a minimum spec for hardware, and say explicitly that the minimum spec will be supported for a period of (at least) five years. This hasn't been done, and given some of the lower-specced Steam Machines (Athlon X4 840 with a Radeon R7 250X and 4GB of RAM), I'm not sure they could even say this.

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