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back to article No sign of Half-Life 3 but how about FOURTEEN Steam Machine makers?

Valve has used the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas to reveal more than a dozen hardware partners that have signed on to build gaming consoles based on its SteamOS gaming platform. The companies that will market the first generation of Steam Machines include Alienware, Alternate, CyberPowerPC, Digital Storm, …

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65 million users, but all of them already have a PC with Steam installed

Don't get me wrong, I love PC gaming and I love Steam and I really want to see Valve succeed in this, but I'm beginning to think they're going after the wrong people. I can't honestly see anything more than a tiny percentage of those 65m existing users converting or adding a Steam Machine purely for gaming. IMHO Valve really needs to be going after new users; people who might otherwise not consider PC gaming.

OTOH if HL3 (when it arrives) is a Steam Machine exclusive then they might be in with a chance. They'll piss millions of people off, but they might be in with a chance.

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Re: 65 million users, but all of them already have a PC with Steam installed

Some of us have Macs. (ducks)

To be honest, while I enjoy gaming in the office, if I could play TF2 or Left for Dead 2 or whatever on the big screen downstairs, I'd be tempted. Particularly as (for Valve titles at least) I wouldn't need to rebuy the software

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Re: 65 million users, but all of them already have a PC with Steam installed

Macs are just a subset of all PCs (ducks... sorry - couldn't resist).

I know what you mean though. Big picture mode is pretty handy and I already use it on my HTPC, which also does a whole bunch of other stuff that a Steam Machine currently (and deliberately) can't. No doubt they'll expand SteamOS to add more bells and whistles in the fullness of time, but right now...? I'm not saying the market will be nonexistant, but they will have a fight on their hands and everyone knows how quick on their feet Valve are...

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Re: 65 million users, but all of them already have a PC with Steam installed

Valve is not going after PC gamers - they already have that market. Valve is going after console gamers.

And if they manage to deliver console-like experience with these steamboxes, they might as well succeed.

Running a Linux PC with a dumb controller instead of a keyboard is not an issue - XBMC already accomplished that with Xbmcbuntu - where a simple MCE remote can be used to do pretty much everything.

Valve would never make their game a Steam Machine exclusive. That would be a dickish move, and Gabe is better than that.

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Re: 65 million users, but all of them already have a PC with Steam installed

Just because people have a PC with Steam doesn't mean they are not hardware-limited. The only computer I have right now is a laptop... which means there are things on Steam I might want to play but can't run sufficiently. I have zero interest in building and maintaining a desktop PC but if the price is good enough on a Steam box I'd consider it.

One of the weird things about getting older and having jobs and careers and things is that when it comes to build vs buy for things like gaming PCs you start to (hopefully) realize that your time is now too valuable to justify the savings of building your own computers.

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Re: 65 million users, but all of them already have a PC with Steam installed

There is nothing difficult with unwrapping and slapping things into slots. No matter what you get now you will always have to wait for the said console or pc to install updates.

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Re: 65 million users, but all of them already have a PC with Steam installed

>Particularly as (for Valve titles at least) I wouldn't need to rebuy the software

This can't be said enough. Play it on Windows, Linux, Steambox. Buy a new PC or console version? It still plays. Lost it? Just download it. No need to buy it again. Valve has no reason to make their games not play on the new version. Beats hell out of having to toss your games library for the new generation Xbox.

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Re: 65 million users, but all of them already have a PC with Steam installed

I can see a lot of PC users also getting one of these. Lets face it, how many people do you know who own a PC and a console? Or even more then 1 type of console? Replacing a console with a Steam Box would certainly not be out of the question for a lot of people.

Also keep in mind that if only 1% of the Steam user base also bought a Steam Box, thats 650,000 people, which is already 20% of the claimed Xbox One sales....

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@PhilipJ Re: 65 million users, but all of them already have a PC with Steam installed

"Valve is not going after PC gamers - they already have that market."

Then why does Newell make such a big deal about the "65 million" existing Steam users? We're talking about hardware here. The market Steam has is currently 100% software.

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Re: 65 million users, but all of them already have a PC with Steam installed

A tiny percent of 65 million users - may very well be more then xbox one sales figures lol. Also, yes, we all have PCs and run Steam on them, but how many people have PC's hooked up to their TVs? I personally don't know any.

We have a study/gaming room for the family, while the TV sits proudly in the living room - if we can get a box with an OS that will not only serve as a media centre in the living room but also give us access to the growing Steam library, games we have already purchased and allow sofa-comfy access for some group entertainment that would otherwise require crowding in front of a24inch monitor, than bring it on.

On another hand, you have those that run around with tablets, and prefer console style gaming - between a tablet and a Steam pc, you've pretty much got everything covered - bye bye desktop/laptop, we don't need you no more ;) - got the best of both worlds for the price of one.

Last, you can benefit from Steam OS on a machine you've got now - as such, it might cost you - well, nothing, to rearrange your entertainment layout. Test the solution before you commit to spending on dedicated hardware.

Not something anyone else offers.

There are just a couple of examples - I really believe there is a big market for what Valve is doing, and secretly hoping, that merging console style with PC functionality will end the ridiculous "my way is better" war ;)

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Steam can do what they like. They brought Football Manager 2014 to Linux and that's all I'm bothered about!

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Very few decent games for linux on Steam

So i don't see why I should even remotely consider this platform.

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Re: Very few decent games for linux on Steam

Define your criteria for "decent games"...

If you mean that there are very few big ticket, big budget games that get TV adevrtising slots and ads on bus shelters - then you're right. "Call of Battlefield Volume 17638 - Easter Edition" isn't available.

Although I'm not sure that's a bad thing, as many of those are bad ports from consoles anyway. The Steam Box has a controller which maps the keyboard to a console controller. So you'd actually be playing a game that was badly ported for controls on a PC, but on a platform which then attempts to port those controls back to a controller... *shudders*

There are some surprising titles. Serious Sam 3 BFE, for example. Niche, perhaps - but if you like that classic Doom style first person "possibly more enemies than you have bullets" kind of rush then you're sorted there.

And there are loads of excellent indie games. I've been steadily losing time to FTL: Faster Than Light. And Solar 2. And Gratuitous Space Battles.

But let's be honest, what will really convince you about gaming on Linux is playing Valve's own Hat Fortress 2 - the world's premier hat wearing simulator. I hear the next update adds the ability to shoot stuff too... ;-)

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Re: Very few decent games for linux on Steam

It's a hat trading simulator, not just a hat wearing simulator!

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MJI
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Re: Hats

Got 4 accounts here, my sons have one each, I have one and my wife just set one up to play an old game she used to love.

My daughter is a holdout, but give it time.

My wife even had a go on Hat Fortress 2 but still does not get the hat joke.

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Re: Very few decent games for linux on Steam

I really like the idea of SteamOS, the fact that its free and Valve are letting you do what you want. I'm also very interested in a steam machine as it will take the headache out of building my own PC (Don't get me wrong I enjoy the challenge but hate it when something doesn't work).

But this will only work if Valve can get popular games to work on Linux, at the moment there are only a limited number of games available, only a small number I'm interested in. For example when the next COD game is launched I want to play COD, I don't want to play something that looks like COD.

They need to get the publishers on board so any new games work on SteamOS almost straight away, or not long after. Also they need to let us know what will happen to everyones back catalogue of games, I have 50-60 games on Steam will any of them ever work on SteamOS?

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Warning: PDF

I miss the old days... can El Reg bring back that little touch? It's nice that you still mention it, but I prefer the full effect of "Warning:" written just beforehand.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Warning: PDF

"old days"? What are you, six? I first saw that "warning" gag on El Reg c.2010. I remember because people commented saying ha ha very good.

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The purpose of Steam machines is to attract console players

How well does a Steam machine compare to say, an XBox One?

Cost: Steam machine is same cost or higher.

Performance: Steam machine is as powerful or more powerful, depending on cost.

Upgrade path: XBox One not upgradeable. Steam machine wins hands down.

Number of games available: XBox One has a few, Steam machine has hundreds already ported.

Ease of use: The Steam interface is as easy to use as the XBox interface.

Cost of games: Steam sales make the Steam machine a clear winner.

Publisher friendly: Valve takes a much smaller slice of profit than Microsoft, and makes bug fix distribution cheaper and easier.

Leading AAA games: XBox One is currently a clear winner. For Steam Boxes to attract AAA titles, game engines will need to be ported. Some already have, but it remains to be seen how many more will do this. Probably they will, because the risk is small compared to the possible reward.

Conclusion: I think Valve will eventually succeed, but not until Steam machines attract more AAA titles, and are a clearly a superior product for the same price - probably 3 to 4 years from now.

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MJI
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Re: Games

Well lets think, what games am I after this year?

Infamous Second Son

Destiny

Uncharted

Then I will have the next Fallout and Borderlands games.

I think my current console will play them and I do not need a XBone for them. Apart from the 2 PS exclusives all would be PC games as well.

Steam boxes will sell,not madly but enough to make a name for themselves. Our next PC will be either Mint or Steam OS.

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Re: The purpose of Steam machines is to attract console players

yeah xbox/ps3 is not upgradeable, but you don't NEED to upgrade it and that's the beauty of consoles

the thing about ps3 is that i bought it so many years ago and it's fine. with a steam box i'd have to buy a new one or upgrade an existing one to keep in line with the games i want which will always move the goalposts, which i'd be doing on my pc anyway

I use Steam in th eliving room with a controller but that works fine for me without another system to maintain

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JDX
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Re: The purpose of Steam machines is to attract console players

Saying Steam has hundreds of games while XB has only a few is a bit silly, because there are hundreds if not thousands of companies already working on XB games. And Steam games are generally not as big or fancy. Remember that indie games are sold on both XB and PS so there will be a glut of those on top of the big-name games.

Besides if number of games is the important issue, you'd go for a PS3 or 360 which have far more titles than Steam and are still getting new games.

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Re: The purpose of Steam machines is to attract console players @ Valeyard

Consoles dont need to be upgraded? So I take it your still using your old Playstation 1, and are quite happy with the selection of games you can play on it? I'm sure the new Call of Duty is available, right?

Of course Consoles need to be upgraded, they do every 5 years or so, and whilst you may not need to upgradeyour PS3 yet to a PS4, within 2 years you wont be able to get games for PS3 anymore, and PS4 games wont work on PS3's.

With the Steam boxes, you dont need to buy a new machine every 5 years, you might choose to upgrade certain parts (to get better graphics, more hard drive space, faster processing), but at least that can be done without requiring a whole new machine...

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Re: The purpose of Steam machines is to attract console players @ Valeyard

well no they're not upgraded. they're replaced by a completely different console. a ps3 is not an upgraded ps1... otherwise backwards compatibility wouldn't be an issue

I bought my ps3 about 6 or 7 years ago i'd say and games work just as well on it. it's not something i've had to worry about because i knew that they would.

sure 2 years time there'll be no ps3 games. but you're saying that about a product that has already seen the release of its successor; hardly fair

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Re: The purpose of Steam machines is to attract console players @ Valeyard

And thats the thing with the Steambox. There will not be a problem with backwards compatability. The games you buy today, will still play on your Steambox (upgraded or not) in 10 years. There's no need for you to pull an old machine out of the closet, in order to play your old games.

You also wont need to buy a whole new machine when the latest games come out. No more throwing away a perfectly good device, just because the console maker wants to sell you a new piece of equipment.

It's true you will probably have to upgrade parts of your steambox over time as games progress (just like on a PC), but adding some memory, and more hard drive space is a doddle in a PC. Additionally, the pace of PC upgrading to meet high spec games has slowed down massively since the 90's. My laptop is 4 years old, and I still havent seen a PC of software I cant run on it. The fact is that (provided I dont drop and break the thing), I expect my laptop to last me another 5-6 years and still run pretty much everything being released. A Steambox should have the same effect which is why they are being looked at so eagerly by many people...

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So Valve wants us to buy hardware that was already available, a proprietary version of an operating system that was already free and a new super duper controller that won't ship with the system. All for a service that works fine as it is? I can't get my wallet open fast enough!

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Meh

SteamOS

Copied and quoted directly from the Steam store...

"Downloadable soon. Free forever!

SteamOS will be available soon as a free download for users and as a freely licensable operating system for manufacturers. Stay tuned in the coming days for more information."

Are you capable of creating a dual boot PC?

There is no hardware cost unless you don't own a PC and use a proprietary locked down and locked in console.

As for the controller the choice is yours buy one or use a keyboard and mouse.

With the exception of the controller and some hard disk space there is no cost.

I took me 15 seconds to confirm what I suspected and become factually informed

I haven't downvoted you for your presumptuous position. However others might.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: SteamOS

Question: So if you already own a PC running Windows with the Steam Client installed, what on earth is the benefit of changing that to a dual booting system where you have to reboot into the SteamOS every time you want to play a game and the reboot again to get back into Windows?

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JDX
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@adniam

You totally evaded his question. He wasn't talking about the cost of the OS. The entire point of the article is that Valve are pushing special SteamOS "consoles". Sure you can install the OS on your own PC but that is not what they are promoting.

And the original point stands... why bother with SteamOS on your own PC when Steam already works on regular Linux?

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Re: SteamOS

The benefit is that you don't need Windows at all, forget dual booting, just switch to Linux.

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Re: @adniam

SteamOS works on 'regular Linux' provided that's only very recent Ubuntu. With anything else (Debian, for instance)l it's an arse to get running as it uses very recent versions of libc and other libraries.

SteamOS is not a regular OS. It's designed to be linked up to the TV and not tinkered with. Given the amount of fettling I do on my main system that does have its attractions.

Having said that, the Linux catalogue is still too limited; even Valve's software is largely incomplete. One of the reasons I sorted a system that runs KVM/Xen with hardware passthrough to a graphics adapter was partly for fun and development and also because I could run Windows' Steam..

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Headmaster

Re: "SteamOS is not a regular OS"

Steam OS is just Debian with Valve's fork of Xcompmgr. There's nothing very irregular about that. It will also ship with Gnome, and of course you'll be able to install any other window manager, just like you can on any other distro.

So clearly Steam itself doesn't need Ubuntu on GNU/Linux. I myself run it on an extremely minimalist Gentoo setup, comprising pure Openbox and not much else, and I don't remember having to do anything special to get it working either, Portage took care of all the dependencies for me.

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These are being aimed at people who either don't have a current PC suitable for playing games on, or people who want something to stick under the TV as a supplement to their existing PC install.

Existing PC owners are likely to just stick to running Steam on their OS of choice. (Win, Linux or OSX).

I'll probably try SteamOS out of curiosity, but can't see me bothering to install it on it's own machine any time soon, unless it starts to include XBMC type media functionality.

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Interesting concept. For many reasons.

1) The Steam machines will have better specs than Xbox1 and PS4 from scratch, and unlike Xbox1 and PS4 the hardware will continue to evolve during the next ten years. In five years even the low end Steam boxes will be many times more powerful than the Sony & Microsoft consoles.

2) They're fully fledged computers, they can do everything a computer can.

3) Unlike Xbox1 and PS4 they will support 3D headsets like the Oculus Rift.

4) Unlike Xbox1 and PS4 they will support 4K resolution.

At the same time both the XBox1 and the PS4 have failed to generate the excitement their predecessors did. So the Steam machines are not badly positioned, and they will be much more capable than the competition but, since they're not subsidized, also significantly pricier. Not sure how that'll play out, the console market is traditionally very price-sensitive.

But the really interesting thing is WHY this happens. Why are PC software suppliers plus a bunch of high-end PC gaming hardware manufacturers releasing Linux-based consoles?

It's no secret that Valve was very unhappy with Microsoft's plans to lock up Windows, and for good reason: forcing all software sales to Microsoft Store will kill third party suppliers like Valve and Origin. High-end hardware manufacturers, on the other hand, are dissatisfied because Microsoft wants to shift consumers to low-end portable hardware. Not much profit for Alienware in the slab market.

In a very real sense this is a rebellion against Microsoft, and, at the same time, the last stand of the stationary PC. I don't know if this will turn into the Battle of Blood River or Masada, but the battlefield will be the living room: are people prepared to pay more for a console/media center with higher specs? And what will Google make of this? The Steam machines run Linux, it's just a hop and a skip from Android/ChromeOS -- compatibility could be fairly easy, if Google wants it.

All will depend on if the Steam machines can get sufficient "critical mass" to start making home gamers switch to SteamOS. The only reason I run Windows on my home machine is because of the games, and I think that's pretty common. If gaming gets better on SteamOS I will switch in a heartbeat, not least as Microsoft has screwed whole kennels of pooches with Windows 8.

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Re: Interesting concept. For many reasons.

> the last stand of the stationary PC

No. No, no, no no NOOOOOO no no. This isn't ever going to happen. It's just a ridiculous idea.

Where do you think nVidia gets funding for R&D?

Alienware? Onboard low-power SoC solutions? No. From many different models of cards marketed to different markets, and a sizable portion of that is in PC's.

The alternative is relying 100% on sales to other device manufacturers, and do you really think they'd be that willing to relinquish control to that extent?

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Re: Interesting concept. For many reasons.

I think it is important to realise this isn't a rebellion against Microsoft, it's just pure survival. With PC & Windows sales declining if they stick to their current model then Valve and Steam will eventually see a correlating reduction in their sales too.

Fears of Microsoft locking them out may also play a part, but it's the declining PC sales which is their main worry.

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Re: Interesting concept. For many reasons.

While I agree with the sentiments behind your post, splatt, but I must make one point:

The alternative is relying 100% on sales to other device manufacturers, and do you really think they'd be that willing to relinquish control to that extent?

Nvidia already rely "100% on sales to other device manufacturers". They don't make their own graphics cards, they make the chipsets for them (plus reference designs) and sell them to "other device manufacturers", who make the cards and sell them.

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Also, that Alienware console is gorgeous.

As per title.

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Re: Also, that Alienware console is gorgeous.

Really?

To me it looks like the whole console industry's industrial design departments have been calling it in for this most recent generation.

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Coat

Re: Also, that Alienware console is gorgeous.

Gorgeous? If you're sixteen maybe. At my age I prefer faux mahogany or walnut veneer :)

I hope this thing has a UHF output for my TV, and is compatible with the controllers from my Colecovision.

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Re: Also, that Alienware console is gorgeous.

If you can find a video card with UHF output that works in Debian, that's entirely possible...;)

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HL3 is all fine and dandy

But will they ever finish the story line for HL2.2?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: HL3 is all fine and dandy

Yes you mean HL2 volume 3 not HL3 but then again i never understood why they called the follow on from the original HL2 release, "HL2 volume 1" when "volume 1" was already the original HL2 release!

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Re: HL3 is all fine and dandy

Hrrrrmmmm, they didn't call them "volume" anything.

The 3 titles were Half Life 2, Half Life 2: Episode 1 and Half Life 2: Episode 2.

But your point stands, they should probably have been called Half Life 2, Episode 2 and Episode 3!

/pedant.

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Re: HL3 is all fine and dandy

They called it "Episode 1" because it was the first of the episodic releases.

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Re: HL3 is all fine and dandy

Even Valve started referring to Episode 3 as HL3 some time back. Not that they've mentioned it much lately :-/

But would be nice to finish the story off, before I get to old to play games!

Wait, what am I saying, I'll never be too old to play games :-D

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MJI
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Interesting

I noted they went for the XBone sales rather than the higher PS4.

I may be interested in Steam OS as our main gaming PCs are both running XP, the older PC is also running Linux and some games work on that. I have more important things to buy than newer copiees of Windows (such as PS4s and food) and I don't think the older 2.8 P4 will run Win7.

But now you can get games for Windows, Linux and BSD.

Portal 2 was a PITA played with a controller, after using mouse on Portal, (Got Orange Box on Steam and Portal 2 on PS3), but the Move patch fixed that.

Now I see the Steam boxes as a supplementary console at the moment, big PC gamers can use them to play their Steam games on their TV with a controller. Other console gamers can use it to play ga,es not on their console.

For now I don't think Steam box will take main console sales off the X1 or PS4 but it will definately take secondary console sales. I would see me more likely to buy a Steam box than a XBone.

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Re: forcing it in

I think you've just proven why 'rumours' should be taken with a massive pinch of salt.

Mind you, this 'rumour' is really nothing more than 'personal subjective opinion and uninformed speculation', given that HL3 hasn't even been confirmed as existing, let alone being specifically locked to an as-yet unfinished operating system.

You *did* remember that SteamOS can be installed on ordinary home-built PCs right, so even if HL3 was released for SteamOS only ordinary users could simply install SteamOS on their existing PC? No, because that wouldn't fit with your conspiracy theory...

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JDX
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This attractive-looking model from Alienware...

It looks like somebody dropped it.

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