Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 7th Jan 2014 23:05 UTC


A Steam Machine is a PC that can do fewer things, and run fewer games, than the system you have in your home right now.

That's the marketing challenge that’s in front of Valve and its partners, and the fact that Valve had a rare CES press conference was interesting, but there were precious few details about what the platform adds to the world of gaming.

The cold and harsh reality is that six of the top ten games on Steam run on Linux/SteamOS - and with Steam having such a huge base of active subscribers, that's a lot of users covered with just those six games. On top of that, there's almost 300 more Linux games on Steam. In the meantime, the PS4 and Xbox One combined have like 10 games, most of which are available on the Xbox 360/PS3 as well, and the remainder are rushed titles nobody gives two rat's asses about.

The Xbox One and PS4 are sold not on what they offer now, but on what they will offer in the future. I see absolutely no reason why Steam Machines ought to be treated any differently.

Reality check: right now, spending $499 on a Steam Machine gets you access to a lot more games and a lot more functionality than the Xbox One and PS4 offer combined. Of course, a Windows PC will offer even more games (not functionality, Linux has that covered just fine) - but that applies just as well to any console.

I've been baffled these past few days about the attitude of the gaming press towards Steam Machines. The gaming press' reviews of the new consoles was full of "just you wait until the actually good games arrive!/new functionality is added, but here's a 9/10 anyway on that promise!", but for some reason, the same sloppy reviewing is not applied to Steam Machines.

There's a word for that.

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Member since:

"Why would games crash?

Because these machines are essentially PCs in a box. Meaning, unlike consoles, they're not all running the same hardware, and they even have video cards from different manufacturers. So I would expect all of the headaches and bullshit that normally go along with PC gaming. Some people are happy to put up with games crashing on day 1 because their video card drivers need to be updated, but I doubt a lot of console gamers are going to be willing to put up with that shit, me included.

I'm not exactly tearing them to pieces, but I AM taking a 'wait and see' approach. They may work flawlessly as you think they might, but I have to admit I'm a bit more skeptical than you are ;) I also don't like the fact that ownership of games isn't an option with Steam either. People threw MS under the bus for this nonsense with the Xbox One, and rightfully so. But they seem willing and eager to rent games at full retail cost on Steam.

First of all, Steam has plenty of sales with very good prices, so full retail cost is a bit unfair. But sure. I'm not gonna argue more about that part, because I do agree with you on that one. ;)

I'm also taking a wait and see approach, but instead of being sceptical, I am being hopeful.
This might be the first time we see a successful, continually evolving console.
That would be great, because it would mean instead of having a new generation every 10 years, we could have one every 2 years or so. Which would in turn allow for faster game engine evolution. Everybody wins.
I like new tech, both software and hardware. I don't like stagnation.
Current consoles have made the software (and to a degree the hardware) evolution stagnate. There is no need for faster evolution, as everyone uses the same dirt old tech.

I want a solution to that, and for the first time, it might happen, if Valve succeeds.
It's ofcourse only a pipe dream for now, but hey. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

WorknMan Member since:

That would be great, because it would mean instead of having a new generation every 10 years, we could have one every 2 years or so. Which would in turn allow for faster game engine evolution. Everybody wins.

IMO, 2 years would be way too soon. Right now, it's about every 5-6 years that these consoles come out, and that's really about how often I want to spend $300+ on one. Maybe you could upgrade your Steam machine every 2 years or so in parts, but then we're right back into the PC gaming space, and I REALLY don't think they can keep these things 'console-like' if folks are upgrading them piecemeal. Plus, I really don't want to have to worry about whether my Steam box has enough RAM to play the latest and greatest games, or if I've gotta get a beefier video card.

Besides, what do we get with new tech anyway? Usually it's just the same shitty military shooters you played last year, with a new coat of paint. There's some good indie stuff out there, but a lot of those games don't take advantage of the new tech anyway. Personally, I'd like to see us go BACK about 30 years with the tech, to force these developers to do a lot more with less. Perhaps that would spur some creativity in an industry that has mostly gone creatively bankrupt. How much creativity does it take to release the same game 20+ times, but add a few more polygons with each iteration ... Give these guys about 4k of RAM and let's see what they come up with ;)

Edited 2014-01-10 01:09 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

plague Member since:

True, that would be cool. I agree. ;)
However, I'd also like the polygon count to increase exponentially and get some badass realistic graphics and physics going.
Consoles slow that evolution down alot.
The rate the graphics engines evolved before consoles took over as the primary target for developers (before Xbox 1 and PS2), was alot quicker than afterwards. Graphically speaking.
There were more impressive changes between engine versions back then, than now.
It shouldn't neccesarily have to be that way. But since most game companies focus on consoles, they need to make sure their engines will work perfectly well on console hardware, thus making compromises that would not have been needed if they just followed the evolving PC hardware, as they did before consoles (before Xbox1/PS2).

I want a return of that.

Now, to be honest, I'm a little disappointed myself of the current turnout of the Steam Machines. I had hoped they would've been a little stricter with the rules, so that the targets for developers weren't that diverse.
However, none of this is finished, so I'm giving Valve the benefit of doubt and will wait until the machines are actually released before passing judgment on whether they are a win or fail.

Oh, and about the 2 year generation lifetime I mentioned before, I'd actually put my bet on 3 years being the sweet spot.
Enough time to warrant the cost of a hardware upgrade, but not enough time for the current hardware to feel ancient.

The 5-6 years you're talking about is not correct.
The Xbox 360 first came out November 2005, so that makes it 8 years younger than Xbox One.
The PS3 first came out November 2006, so that makes it 7 years younger than PS4.

That's an eternity in computer technology world.
A 7-8 years old gaming PC would be considered ancient.

So half that time would probably be the best compromise in my opinion.
Also, if new consoles uses the same architecture as the old ones, the old games should be playable on the new one, making the cost of upgrade that less painful.

Just my opinion.

Reply Parent Score: 1