Tag Archives: steam machine

Worst of Consoles + Worst of PCs = Alienware’s Steam Machine

Alienware has released more info on their Steam Machine that will be released in September of this year.  It will not be upgradeable or customizeable and a new version will be released every year.  If this news caused you to swear off all Steam Machines, I would not be surprised.

Alienware’s decision is seemingly a hybrid of the worst aspects of console and pc gaming.  Having a closed system follows what Microsoft and Sony have done with their machines, and in doing so, ensures that all games during the current generation will run well on a single spec.  The problem is that a typical console cycle is at least 4-5 years, with the most recent jump a 7-8 year gap.  Instead, Alienware wants to sell gamers basically a new console annually and at a “competitive price point” to XBox One and PS4.  If that means $400-$500, it is a steep price to expect people to pay at that frequency.

On the other hand, PC gamers are used to regular updates to key components of their machines such as the GPU and CPU.  Part of the fun of the platform is the ability to gradually upgrade certain aspects of the machine at your own financial pace.  The downside to this is that some high end hardware can be quite expensive, especially video cards.  Alienware’s Steam Machine realizes this desire for upgrades but goes about it wrong with forcing you to upgrade the entire system instead of individual aspects.  It is hard to imagine anyone buying a complete new box every year just to keep up with the Joneses.

Even with the trepidation this news brings, I think Alienware can still regain the trust of gamers.  They need to price the system very competitively initially and allow people to trade in older models for the newest one at a modest upgrade fee.  This would make the business model more attractive to  the console and PC audience alike, giving the former up-to-the-minute tech every year, and the latter a cheaper and easier option to regular upgrades.


CES 2014: 13 Steam Machines is 12 Too Many

Valve unveiled new designs of their much anticipated ‘Steam Machine’ from 13  different partners tasked with creating this Linux-based console running SteamOS.  Each machine varies not only aesthetically but also in the configuration of the internal hardware, which results in a price range from $500 to $6,000.

Yes, you read that right.  For a mere six grand, you can own a gaming machine that runs Linux, limiting you from the majority of games in the Steam library.  The fact is that a predominant amount of the games require Windows to run and the process of adding Linux support has been slow up to this point.  Whether that speeds up with the release of these systems remains to be seen.

But why is Valve creating unnecessary chaos with so many different options as opposed to having one or two models?  To answer that, we need to understand who Valve is targeting.  Recently, Steam surpassed 65 million active accounts with a daily peak of concurrent users at 6 million.  To give you a context for these figures,  3 million XBox Ones and 4.2 million Playstation 4s have been sold.  Thus, there is a much larger customer base for Valve to appeal to, and having more options will better satisfy the needs of that population.

In addition, Valve sees the Steam Machine as a direct extension of Steam on Windows and Mac in that it is meant to be situated in the living room just like a traditional gaming console.  This philosophy goes hand in hand with ‘Big Picture Mode’ that Valve launched last year to allow users to play from the comfort of their couches.  But once again, the lack of a complete library of games on a Steam Machine will alienate people new to Steam and veterans of the service won’t want to switch from their current Windows gaming PC to a platform with less choices.  Until Valve clarifies what their end goal is for their system, I think having 13 variants will do nothing but cause consumer confusion.  Regardless, take a look at all 13 Steam Machines below!