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.