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geo
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What do you predict to happen with the Steam Machine? There will be multiple versions with the lowest expected to be $500. Personally, I think the $500 price point will totally miss its mark. When a million or so users want $5 game sales, I can't imagine them spending $500 to play on their TV. Oh and anyone with $500 to spend on a home console, probably bought an X-Bone or a PS4 with it.

To top it off, they'll have to inform non PC gamers why their console is so great. Console sales have always been much higher than Steam sales, so I can understand why they want into the living room. But I just think they're a year too late.

Tell me what you all think.

Last edited by geo on 12-26-13 at 22:38

Old Post 12-26-13 21:54 #
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fraggle
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Seems it's now being called "Steam Machines" instead of "Steam Box". I really like the idea of it (consoles that run Steam competing with the traditional hardware vendors) but I'm not convinced it's going to work.

My main points:
  • The price point is high but it matches the Xbox One which is already being sold at $499. The PS4 undercuts both by $100. The Steam Machine price point might be workable if the hardware vendors can reduce the price over time.
  • The console is Linux based. Everyone knows I'm a big Linux/open source fan, and Valve have been doing a lot of work over the past year to expand the range of Steam games available on Linux. However, the simple fact is that there still aren't that many available for it. Other than their own games, I'm not seeing much here that would make me want to buy a Steam Machine.
  • Valve is developing a gamepad to go with the consoles. The pads are touch-based. While this is innovative and they still have some traditional buttons, I'm very skeptical of this decision. Think about how limiting tablet devices (which have touch screens) are. Buttonless tablets basically completely suck for gaming, yet this is the route they've gone down with the Steam Machine.

    The page also talks about "a legacy mode that allows the controller to present itself as a keyboard and mouse". It seems pretty ridiculously complicated; they're newcomers but they've already dumped a load of legacy burden on themselves before they've even come to market.


Maybe it'll work out okay and I'm being overly skeptical, I'm just not sure who's going to buy one of these things. Existing console gamers are inevitably going to stick with Xbox or Playstation; do Valve think that PC gamers are going to come out of their basements and move to the living room, to limited selection of games with a controller that is still never going to beat a keyboard and mouse?

Old Post 12-26-13 22:27 #
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Dragonsbrethren
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I agree with fraggle on every point.

Old Post 12-26-13 23:00 #
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Blzut3
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$500 does seem a bit high considering a fairly capable computer can be built for about $300. Of course that wouldn't be a long term gaming machine so that could be why.

Personally I don't care much about the platform since I don't do digital games and I'm already using Linux, so I'm just enjoying whatever they do that ends up upstream.

fraggle said:
The console is Linux based. Everyone knows I'm a big Linux/open source fan, and Valve have been doing a lot of work over the past year to expand the range of Steam games available on Linux. However, the simple fact is that there still aren't that many available for it. Other than their own games, I'm not seeing much here that would make me want to buy a Steam Machine.

Isn't this argument a little pessimistic? If we treat these devices as another console, its launch line up can't be worse than the Xbox One, Wii U, or PS4 is it? Even then, there's still the advantage of not having to re-buy the games simply because its a new platform. I do believe Valve could do much better if they forced games with already existing Linux binaries (all the ones using DOSBox especially) to work, but I know why they can't do that.

I do agree that comparing it to buying a new PC this could be a problem, but like you said, are PC gamers going to go to the living room?

fraggle said:
Valve is developing a gamepad to go with the consoles. The pads are touch-based. While this is innovative and they still have some traditional buttons, I'm very skeptical of this decision. Think about how limiting tablet devices (which have touch screens) are. Buttonless tablets basically completely suck for gaming, yet this is the route they've gone down with the Steam Machine.

On the other hand I'm fairly optimistic about the controller. It doesn't seem like they're trying to go an all touch route like you suggest. The touch pads are there to remove a level of imprecision made by physical joysticks but otherwise behave the same. It definitely looks like something that can work well and they're clearly designed to provide positioning feedback to the user. The touch screen on the controller is there to provide additional flexibility to infrequemently used commands similar to what can be found in many Nintendo DS games.

Touch screen controls and touch controls are very different.

Old Post 12-26-13 23:02 #
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Bucket
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My opinion is that Steambox/SteamOS only exists because Valve couldn't write proper software for regular Linux.

Old Post 12-26-13 23:30 #
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Dragonsbrethren
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Bucket said:
My opinion is that Steambox/SteamOS only exists because Valve couldn't write proper software for regular Linux.

And couldn't handle keeping the ports of their games to real consoles updated.

Old Post 12-27-13 00:07 #
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Blzut3
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Bucket said:
proper software for regular Linux.

What? The software will continue to run fine on other Linux based operating systems. Steam OS is merely Debian with packages tweaking for single task (console style) workloads and using Steam as the desktop environment. You simply can't just shove a desktop operating system on a console and call it a day. The user experience would be awful.

Old Post 12-27-13 01:24 #
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geo
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A lot of top mainstream games don't come in Lynux. They're only for Windows and or Macs. I can't imagine the cross platform games needing high end specs to play them.

Another reason I don't think Steam machine will work is Valve's lack of tech support. I can call Microsoft, I can call Sony. Can't call Valve. It usually takes 2 weeks to hear from them and 2 - 4 weeks for them to fix your issue. So wtf? Sony will give you unlimited REFUNDS on shit games you buy for yourself but haven't play. Valve warns you that they give a CREDIT only 1 time you buy a gift for someone and never give it.

Last edited by geo on 12-27-13 at 14:31

Old Post 12-27-13 12:50 #
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Sokoro
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so not only they force you to use steam when you want to play most of the games which are sold on steam... making it nasty DRM instead of just cool service... but they also suggest you to use DRM OS? and DRM hardware? Why would I do that?

"You and Ass. What is the difference?" -Duke Nukem

You see... I do not care about pirates... and I should not be limited by some DRM because of other people who download the games from unofficial sources. Why should good people be punished for something that bad people do? Well, maybe because humanity suck..

Old Post 12-27-13 16:32 #
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fraggle
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Blzut3 said:
Isn't this argument a little pessimistic? If we treat these devices as another console, its launch line up can't be worse than the Xbox One, Wii U, or PS4 is it? Even then, there's still the advantage of not having to re-buy the games simply because its a new platform. I do believe Valve could do much better if they forced games with already existing Linux binaries (all the ones using DOSBox especially) to work, but I know why they can't do that.

Here's the thing: the basic idea for the Steam Machine is incredibly clever, because Valve already have the entire library of Steam games available to them to sell. That theoretically gives them a massive head start over any other console manufacturer that might want to enter the market: the same day they start selling these things, there will already be a huge collection of games to play, and they don't need to win over developers to making games for their console, because plenty of companies (including Id!) are already selling games through Steam anyway.

Except that none of that applies because they're going with a Linux-based OS. There are good reasons for doing this, not least the fact that using Windows would mean basing their product on a competitor's technology. Personally, I really like the idea of a Linux-based console. However, it kills their main selling point - the Steam library.

I'm sure Valve are doing all they can to try to make porting games from Windows to Steam more easy. Probably they're working on extending Wine to make it better for gaming. Once the actual consoles go on sale they'll probably attract more developers to the cause, too. But for now... well, it's been a year, and there's still not much there.


On the other hand I'm fairly optimistic about the controller. It doesn't seem like they're trying to go an all touch route like you suggest. The touch pads are there to remove a level of imprecision made by physical joysticks but otherwise behave the same. It definitely looks like something that can work well and they're clearly designed to provide positioning feedback to the user. The touch screen on the controller is there to provide additional flexibility to infrequemently used commands similar to what can be found in many Nintendo DS games.

Touch screen controls and touch controls are very different.


Don't misunderstand me here - I appreciate that there's no way at all that their touch controller is going to be as bad as a tablet is. But I just want to emphasize how truly, utterly awful touch screens are for gaming. The biggest growth in games in the past few years has been smart phones/tablets, and IMO the only reason these devices haven't already completely killed traditional portable consoles (PS Vita, 3DS, etc.) is that the touch controls place severe restrictions on the types of game that can be played. These consoles survive because they have physical buttons that let people play "real" games instead of shit like "Angry Birds".

Physical keyboards are better for typing than virtual ones. Physical buttons, d-pads and joysticks are better for gaming than virtual ones too. Valve still have buttons on their controller but they've gone down what looks like the wrong road for making a games console. I'm not saying that it's a guaranteed disaster, it just makes me hesitant that the idea is going to work.


geo said:
Another reason I don't think Steam machine will work is Valve's lack of tech support. I can call Microsoft, I can call Sony. Can't call Valve. It usually takes 2 weeks to hear from them and 2 - 4 weeks for them to fix your issue. So wtf? Sony will give you unlimited REFUNDS on shit games you buy for yourself but haven't play. Valve warns you that they give a CREDIT only 1 time you buy a gift for someone and never give it.
This shouldn't be a problem. With the approach they're taking, it looks like Valve aren't actually going to manufacture the consoles, just do the software. The consoles will be made by existing hardware manufacturers. It seems analogous to Google's role in the Android ecosystem - they make the OS, but if your phone breaks, you call Samsung.

Old Post 12-27-13 16:46 #
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Nomad
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My main qualm is that it should have been called a Gabecube. Other than that, I'm pretty stoked to see how well it does.

Old Post 12-27-13 17:06 #
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Kirby
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From the Steam Machine website (under questions)


Can I hack this box? Run another OS? Change the hardware? Install my own software? Use it to build a robot?

Sure.


Which would seem to quash the Linux problem. I may be being a bit optimistic, as the language is fairly ambiguous (i.e. "You can run another OS. They don't specify which OSs, however, and may limit buyers to a strict range. I'm not sure what to think of this



What games will be available during the beta?

The nearly 3,000 games on Steam. Hundreds already running natively on the SteamOS, with more to come. The rest will work seamlessly via in-home streaming.


This also attacks the Linux problem - they mention only hundreds natively running on it, but then mention the rest being available as streaming.....ah fuck, that just makes it an elite form of DRM (no internet, no access to the 2,190 games left in our library).

Shit, I still don't know enough about how this thing will operate to give a proper opinion on it.

But I predict many a controversy after its release

Old Post 12-28-13 05:36 #
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Dragonsbrethren
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Steam's streaming isn't something like On-Live or whatever, it's streaming from one PC to another over short distances. So basically, if you already have a gaming rig, you can stream from it to your GabeCube hooked up to the TV. I think you can get into a beta for it now, actually:

http://steamcommunity.com/groups/homestream

It's hardly a solution to the lack of games on Linux issue, since you still need a PC running Windows powerful enough to stream to get access to all those games you're missing.

I think Valve would be much better off improving Wine, as fraggle suggests, than trying to market in home streaming as a solution.

Also, you shouldn't have any problem installing Windows on one of these. They're just pre-built PCs, after all. But if you can't buy one off a shelf, plug it in, and play COD on it, you're not going to win over the console crowd. It's not a console and it's probably not something a PC gamer with a system good enough for streaming would be that interested in.

Last edited by Dragonsbrethren on 12-28-13 at 06:19

Old Post 12-28-13 05:58 #
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Blzut3
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There's one problem with the "just improve Wine" argument. The other publishers won't want to support their games on Steam OS regardless. The same reason I hinted at for why DOSBox Steam games aren't automatically available on Linux. There are even a number of indie games that are already available on Linux that aren't available on Steam. At least some of the humble indie bundle games still aren't.

In my opinion, the first step would be to simply get the games that are already Linux compatible on the platform, and only then worry about improving Wine for the lazy developers.

Old Post 12-28-13 06:10 #
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Dragonsbrethren
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Yeah, that's true. I'd just like to see some sort of "you're on your own" type support for running Windows games in Wine from the Linux/SteamOS client, without having to run the Windows Steam client.

Old Post 12-28-13 06:26 #
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geo
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Yeah I totally forgot about the streaming capabilities. But if your PC is too weak to play Windows games, then streaming them will be imperfect. And well why not just hook a normal PC to a TV? Oh well.

Old Post 12-28-13 13:33 #
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Dragonsbrethren
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Nomad, here's your GabeCube:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BdVu_kFCUAEZK8A.jpg

Old Post 01-07-14 02:42 #
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doomgargoyle
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I think the steam machine/gabecube will fail hard. It will be a catastrophy.

Old Post 01-08-14 13:52 #
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Jodwin
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doomgargoyle said:
I think the steam machine/gabecube will fail hard. It will be a catastrophy.

Pretty much this. It won't matter what OS it's running and what kind of a library Steam has, because unless the Steambox also gives you blowjobs very few people are going to buy it. PC gamers already have their PCs, so for them (us?) the Steambox gives zero additional benefit. If you want to try couch gaming, then there are different ways to make that happen, all of which cost less than the price of a Steambox. For console gamers the Steambox potentially offers more since it has access to a different library of games. However, a large part of this library is made up of older titles that your average console gamer has never heard of, and which also more often that not weren't designed for controllers as they are PC titles. So even though the library of games has some potential for a console gamer, it's more likely than not going to look unappealing.

From price-performance standpoint I'm also a bit skeptical since Steamboxes are made by separate companies, which means that the manufacturers are looking to make profits with each sale. This sounds obvious, but what console manufacturers tend to do is actually sell their hardware at a loss and then recoup on software licenses. Won't be happening with Steambox because it's Valve who'll get the cuts from game sales.

Old Post 01-08-14 14:37 #
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Valve just needs to give each manufacturer one exclusive set of Steam trading cards. Then millions will buy the box, all the boxes, regardless of what's inside.

Old Post 01-08-14 16:59 #
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Doom Marine
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Remember how bad Steam was back in the early 2000's? Look how far it's progressed.

The Steam Machine and its ecosystem is still in prototype phase. It'll take years for Valve and partners to develop and refine their products to be truly competitive in the living room.

The Steam Machine has potential to become a disruptive technology and a real threat to the next generation of consoles.

Old Post 01-08-14 18:35 #
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Blzut3
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Since the details are out now, I must say someone really needs to introduce Valve to the 3DO. It seems they're basically making that system, but instead of solving the problems it had, they added more on (confusing hardware, confusing pricing).

As my previous posts here indicate, I do believe the Steam Machine can be successful, but in my opinion they're making huge mistakes giving manufactures this much freedom. Anyone smart enough to understand what makes each Steam Machine unique would likely just build their own. Anyone looking for the console experience won't get it.

Old Post 01-08-14 21:55 #
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Dragonsbrethren
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Haha, yeah, the 3DO is exactly what popped in my head when they showed off so many different models too. Also Jodwin's note about not selling at a loss like a real console would. These are priced competitively with the consoles (actually the elephant in the room is the controller - do any of these come bundled with it or is it a separate purchase?), but somehow I doubt the performance will be anywhere near the same.

I have to say though, I do like the idea of a small but powerful gaming PC. I'm curious to see the exact specs and some benchmarks on a few of the $500 models.

Old Post 01-08-14 22:06 #
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In case anyone missed it, Ars Technica had an excellent gallery and round-up of all the various Steam Machines, complete with a table comparing all their price and specs.

Most of them appear to be little more than repackaged hardcore gaming PCs, with the looks and eye-watering prices to match. If the whole point of this effort is to compete with consoles, then these aren't going to cut it. One of them actually appears to be using a repurposed wireless router chassis. There are a couple that stand out: The CyberpowerPC and iBuyPower, despite their awful names, at least look the part and are priced competitively with consoles. The Alienware device also looks OK, but its price and specs haven't been announced, and Alienware isn't exactly known for their great value for money.

Frankly, I can't see how any Steam Machine manufacturer can make a reasonable profit and still hope to be competitive with Microsoft and Sony on specs and price. Even if they're no longer selling their consoles at a loss, both the console giants can accept low margins and rely on software and media sales and economies of scale to make things work in the long run. Unless Valve is planning to give the manufacturers a cut of sales made on their devices, but I haven't heard anything like that?

Old Post 01-08-14 23:46 #
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Doominator2
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Yah I do think $500 is expensive when you can already buy an hdmi cable for far less and use your pc on your tv (If you really want to play your pc on a tv). $500 is alot imo even if you dont have a good enough pc or laptop.

Old Post 01-09-14 00:20 #
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Dragonsbrethren
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It's really not if you need to upgrade anyway. But $500 + ~$50 for the controller (if it's not included) + $100 for the OEM copy of Windows is. At that point, you might as well just buy any other prebuilt without "Steam Machine" branding or build one yourself for even cheaper.

The PS4 looks incredibly good compared to this. We'll see how things are in a couple years. But right now, Valve certainly isn't competing with consoles and there's nothing here to appeal to someone who already has a good PC. The worst ones are the $1000+ rigs. I don't even know what they're thinking.

I was expecting a lot more standardization from these, and a much cheaper low tier, even if that low tier was mostly intended to be streamed to.

Edit: Firsthand impressions of the controller make it sound pretty horrible, too. Leave it to Valve to design a controller for FPS games and not much else. Even their text-input interface (which is brilliant on a 360 controller) is supposedly clunky on the trackpads.

Last edited by Dragonsbrethren on 01-09-14 at 02:05

Old Post 01-09-14 00:32 #
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doomgargoyle
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Yes, exactly, Valve is trying to reinvent the 3DO. Great product that turned out to be.

Old Post 01-11-14 15:40 #
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scalliano
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Doom Marine said:
The Steam Machine and its ecosystem is still in prototype phase. It'll take years for Valve and partners to develop and refine their products to be truly competitive in the living room.

The Steam Machine has potential to become a disruptive technology and a real threat to the next generation of consoles.



By which time it will have already gone flat on its hole. The price point is the killer here, regardless of how all-singing-all-dancing the system is. At the current RRP, I'd be more inclined to spend the money on a new SLI setup for my existing rig, not squander it on something that merely thinks it's a PC.

I can see Valve and its partners making huge losses on this. 3DO, indeed.

Old Post 01-13-14 21:48 #
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doomgargoyle
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Whats interesting is that nobody openly is calling valve on their blunder in the making, maybe because everybody loves Valve, and they cant do no wrong. Forget windows 8, the steam machine is the real catastrophy. Gabe is just pissed at windows getting its own store.

Old Post 01-14-14 00:08 #
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Dragonsbrethren
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Uhh, almost everyone in this thread is and I've seen plenty of similar comments on other sites. You've made it clear you don't think highly of Valve/Steam, don't let that blind you to the criticism that obviously exists. It's as bad as being a blind fanboy.

Old Post 01-14-14 00:30 #
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