Valve is one of the most well-respected PC gaming companies in the world today. Unlike most other gaming companies, Valve has resisted being absorbed by EA and is also attempting to branch out into other areas of the industry.
PC hardware is one area that Valve wants to explore. Valve is making a line of Steam Machines that come with their own custom operating systems. They’re designed to blend the benefits of PC gaming with the convenience of consoles.
It’s too early to tell if Steam Machines will take off, but one thing is for certain: people are confused about the Steam Machine. Today, we’re going to attempt to answer any questions you might have about the Steam Machine and explain why it may (or may not) be your next gaming PC.
Valve is a gaming company famous for the Half Life series, Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, Portal, Counterstrike, and other popular games. It also created Steam, a software program for Windows that lets gamers buy games online, add friends, install mods, and interact with gaming communities.
Gabe Newell is the co-founder of Valve and its current CEO. The guy’s a billionaire and a genius and he spent over a decade working at Microsoft before starting his own gaming company.
SteamOS is a Linux-based operating system designed to run games as efficiently as possible. It’s built around the Steam platform and can also run any other
Valve CEO Gabe Newell has said some not-so-nice things about Windows 8. Basically, Newell believes that Microsoft is taking the operating system in the opposite direction from where PC gamers want it to go. Since Steam is a Windows software program, Valve realized they needed to branch away to secure their future. Maximum PC accurately called SteamOS an “escape hatch” that lets Valve survive if Microsoft decides to continue with its ridiculous closed operating system approach.
Steam Machines – which are sometimes mistakenly referred to as Steam Boxes – are PCs designed specifically to run SteamOS and PC games. You can easily connect your Steam Machine to any TV or monitor with an HDMI output slot.
This is where people might get confused. There are actually 13 different certified Steam Machine vendors. Instead of making its own proprietary Steam Machines, Valve has emulated Microsoft and relied on hardware manufacturers to spread their system to as many people as possible.
The 13 Steam Machine vendors are: Alienware, Alternate, CyberPowerPC, Digital Storm (Bolt II), Falcon Northwest (Tiki), Gigabyte (Brix Pro), iBuyPower, Material.Net, Next Spa, Origins PC (Chronos), Scan (NC10), Webhallen, Zotac, and Maingear.
Some of these manufacturers are making just a single Steam Machine, while others are making a lineup of multiple machines.
One of the most confusing parts about the Steam Machine is whether or not Valve is creating a Steam Machine of its own. Valve sent prototype Steam Machines to 300 Steam users a few months ago. These Steam Machines had different tech specs but looked really cool:
However, Valve has not yet confirmed whether or not they’re going to build Steam Machines of their own. So far, it seems Valve is going to leave it in the hands of its current hardware partners and see how things go. Valve seems to have learned a lesson from Microsoft in avoiding creating competitors out of your hardware partners.
Steam Machines will be available at a number of different technical specifications. Just like a PC, there will be all sorts of different configurations available.
Steam Machines start at around $500 and go up to several thousand dollars. Falcon Northwest, which has made a living out of manufacturing premium-quality PC gaming rigs, will sell its Tiki Steam Machine for $6,000 (!!).
The Valve Controller is this funky-looking handheld device:
Valve plans to sell these controllers with Steam Machines and at retail for a price between $30 and $90. The controllers feature a touch-feedback system that, according to early reviews, needs to be fine-tuned but could be revolutionary when finally released.
Surprisingly, this is one of the biggest mysteries about Steam Machines: nobody knows when they’re going to be released. Valve has to finish making SteamOS and the Valve Controller before they’re released. However, many hardware manufacturers are hoping for a release date of around September/October 2014.
-They will be able to support dual-booting into both SteamOS and Windows
-Valve’s library of Linux-supported games is currently small, which means that not all Steam games are currently working on SteamOS
-Valve is working on some sort of streaming system that will allow your regular gaming PC to stream data over your home’s Wi-Fi network to the Steam Box. This would let you play Windows games in your living room over your Steam Machine.
-Valve is an ambitious gaming company with plenty of money to make the Steam Machine work – expect great things!
If you want to learn more about Steam Machines, then I encourage you to watch the video below. Much of the information listed above is taken from this video. Plus, you get to see the handsome Gabe Newell in living color: