I have always been a fan of Valve software ever since I bought the game “Half Life 2” somewhere around 2005. Since then I have bought and played all their games and even made the transition from console to PC in 2009. Their online store “Steam” is quite fantastic and brilliant on deals.
So at CES this past week Valve decided to show up and unveil more specs and their third party support for their upcoming Steam Machines. Steam Machines, are console versions of pre built PCs that run on STEAMOS, which is Linux based. They also unveiled their technical specs for their machine that looks rather impressive. Third party companies that showed off their machines are: Alienware, Alternate, CyberPowerPC, Digital Storm, Falcon NW, GigaByte, iBuyPower, Maingear, Materiel.net, Next Spa, Origin PC, Scan, Webhallen and Zotac
· CPU: Intel Core i7-4770, i5-4570, and i3
· Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan, GTX 780, GTX 760, and GTX 660
· Graphics card RAM: 3 GB GDDR5
· Main RAM: 16 GB DDR3-1600
· Hard drive: 1 TB storage/8 GB SSD cache Hybrid Drive
As for the third party support, while I wont give all the specs, I’ll give a high end and a low end.
• CPU: AMD/Intel Core i5
• Graphics Card: AMD Radeon R9 270/ NVIDIA GTX 760
• Main RAM: 8GB
• Hard Drive: 500GB
• CPU: Intel Core i7 4770K
• Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN
• RAM: 8-16GB
• Hard Drive: up to 6TB
The price for these machines will range between $499 and $6000.
Where to start on this one? I have always trusted Valve in pretty much anything they do, even though I’ve had to wait seven years now for Half Life 3. This marks the first time I am honestly nervous for their decision making in this market. The first question I have is, who is this gaming console for? Is it for current console gamers? No because a PS4 and Xbox One already cost $499-$599 and are going to be able to handle the entire games generation, since it just started. Is it possibly for current steam users? Possibly, because not everyone has a top of the line computer for this, but some of the prices are too much. Is it for people who aren’t in the gaming market already? Of course not, so the question still remains on who is this for?
Another issue I have regarding the steam machines is that STEAMOS runs on Linux. Meaning that if the game isn’t compatible with Linux, you can’t play it. To make matters worse there are only a couple hundred games that are compatible, with the majority of games being Windows compatible. Valve has addressed this issue saying you can hook up your PC to the steam machine and play windows games through your steam machine, but there in lies the problem: Why not just play the games on my computer?
If that wasn’t enough, why the hell would I pay $3000+ for a console, when I could build my own computer for half that price that would be as good as these machines. In the end the problem still comes down to, who are these for? I know the market is out there, but I just don’t think its enough to go in this direction for the company.
One thing I will say is a huge push in innovation in their new controller with its new type of “sticks” for those who haven’t seen it, instead of sticks you push to make the character move or turn, now there is two touch sensitive pads that are more sensitive and have the flexibility and precision of a mouse. While I haven’t personally used the controller to give it a feel of what its like, I do like that its completely compatible with any and every game in the steam library.
In conclusion, I do think Valve is making a very bold move by doing this and they seem very confident in their actions, but I as a customer feel a bit out in the cold. My budget for these type things is at their BASE value and I feel like if I bought it, it would be outdated as soon as I got it. I think their prices are just too high for what I would be getting. Add to that the lack of games in their libraries, and I just can’t justify the decision of purchasing one of these. In time these will be the future, but I guess that’s a future that I’ll just have to wait for a while to experience.