Remember Steam Machines? Valve seems to be trying to forget its bid to get everyone playing games on expensive little boxes from Alienware, Asus and the like, as it’s removed the Steam Machines section from Steam. It’s been a while since anyone really talked about the living room PCs, but this looks like the final nail in the coffin.
Steam Machines never really got their big moment. Valve envisioned a new ecosystem following on from Big Picture mode, where people would play PC games in their living room using a Steam Machine, Steam Controller and SteamOS, but the big launch at the end of 2015 only saw a handful of the boxes appear, and none of them exactly tempted people away from their desktops or consoles.
The issues were myriad. There were the delays, cancellations, high price points, and then there was the fact that people weren’t really interested in SteamOS. The linux-based operating system was originally a draw, but it was delayed and then finally released with bugs and a poor frame rate when compared to Windows 10. Steam Machines ended up having to offer Windows alternatives.
The Steam Machine launch wasn’t helped by Valve’s second bid for domination of the living room. While their Steam Machine partners were designing their first boxes, Valve was busy making their own device: the Steam Link. It essentially did the same thing: allowing people to play Steam games on their TV, but instead of being a desktop surrogate, the Steam Link was a streaming device. And it was much, much cheaper.
If you hover over the Hardware tab on Steam now, you’ll only see the Steam Controller, Steam Link and HTC Vive appear in the drop down, and the Hardware page itself is gone, replaced with a search list that only contains four Steam Machines with links to external websites. The old Steam Machine page can still be reached, but not through the front page.
It was an interesting concept, but by the time the first machines started to appear, their day was already done. Pour one out for these fallen boxes.
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Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.