Many have dreamed of a video game device that comes with all the benefits of both PC and console gaming. With so many amazing games now available on Steam, not to mention the incredible discounts that come around to make our backlog all the more daunting, who wouldn't be interested in a machine that lets you play those games from comfort of your living room?
If the reaction from Valve's release reveal at GDC 2015 is any indication, not very many are convinced. The following are a few reasons why a lot of people, from industry experts to the average gamer, aren't as excited about the Steam Machine as Valve had anticipated.
The one question on everyone’s mind when considering the purchase of a new piece of technology: how much is it sold for? It turns out that these pre-built gaming computers are set to cost us pretty penny, with price tags ranging from $499 to $6,000. That’s right, the most expensive Steam Machine will set you back the same amount a decent used car would.
But isn’t $500 only a hundred bucks or so more than the Xbox One or PlayStation 4? Yes, but those consoles are also capable of not only playing a wide variety of games but they can also satisfy many entertainment needs, including video streaming, movies, etc. Even with 65 million users on Steam, it seems unlikely that most of them will ditch their PC and go for a Steam Machine.
It also doesn’t help that the varying prices and models will no doubt confuse consumers. Since the price depends on the hardware in each machine, people will find it a chore figuring out which version is right for them. This will only get worse when price cuts on older models come into play and make it even tougher to decide the true value of each unit. As for competing consoles, there’s no confusion because every Xbox One does the same thing.
It must compete with established consoles
When it comes to the video game console market, the war comes down to one thing: which console will be under the television of most homes? Although Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo no doubt have some of their people keeping an eye on the Steam Machine, we’re pretty confident that none of them are shaking in their boots with plans of withdrawing from the fight for the living room.
Rather, it’s Valve that has an uphill battle to win considering how established all the other consoles are in this market. Boasting huge user bases and large cash reserves, the gaming competitors will only become even more aggressive as the Steam Machine tries to join the much-heated fight. This will involve better bundles, bigger price cuts, and more exclusive games-- whatever it takes to keep their respective console as most gamer’s primary source for gaming entertainment.
Valve can’t utilize their greatest weapon: exclusives
From Left 4 Dead and Counter-Strike to Portal and Half-life, Valve has amassed an impressive number of exclusive game series that have audiences begging for sequels. Imagine if you could only play future Valve games, such as the insanely anticipated Half-Life 3, on a Steam Machine and nothing else? It would no doubt cause a frenzy across every gaming site and message board, but you can be sure there would be a decent number buying Valve's new machine just to play them.
Of course, Valve has made it clear that they will not take this route. When asked if it were a possibility, Steam Machine designer Kassidy Gerber replied: “Would that make all of our customers happy? I don’t think so. We still want you to play Half-Life 3 or whatever game we bring to our customers. We want everyone to enjoy it. So Valve would never make games exclusive to SteamOS because that would upset our customers. It would be very shortsighted on our part”.
Even if this early decision shows how much Valve cares about their customers, it will no doubt become a tempting option if the Steam Machine struggles greatly against other console games boasting their own exclusive titles. When PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U sales get a boost from exclusives like Uncharted, Halo, and Zelda, you can bet Valve will start considering a high-profile exclusive to do the same for their own living room console.