There is a loud industry buzz surrounding Valve Steam Machine; a PC-based gaming console that combines all the advantages of dedicated consoles with the open philosophy for which the PC market is known. So, will Steam Machine be a success?
Many Have Tried and Failed
PC manufacturers have been trying for years to get their machines into our living rooms. To do this, they’ve produced smaller sexier devices which ape the design sensibilities of dedicated games consoles. They’ve also tried making them discreet like set-top boxes or DVD players. However, despite many valiant attempts, it is clear that previous attempts to move the PC from the desktop to the living room have been less than successful.
The Target Market is Unclear
The Steam gaming platform currently has 125 million users, so it may be easy to assume that there is a market out there. However, if members of this huge customer base are already using PCs that are cheaper than Steam Machine, why would they need a dedicated box to do what their existing equipment already does?
In response to this question, Valve’s business development specialist Erik Johnson, simply quotes members of their existing market, who apparently say ‘yeah that sounds cool’ when told about the possibility of using a controller to play Steam games in their living rooms .
However, there are many reasons to suggest Steam Machine will be successful…
Open Philosophy of PC Gaming
As befitting anything PC-based, Steam Machine games will be planned and developed by a community of gamers. As opposed to the type of top-down control that the likes of Apple and Microsoft impose on their users, Steam Machine also encourages third-party manufacturing of machines, many of which are due to hit the shops in November.
This means that dozens of games titles are being made available for Steam users every week. The lack of proprietary control also means that the system will offer you online favourites like Butlers Bingo, which are closed off to likes of the PS4 and XBOX.
Valve Knows Gamers
Valve knows what gamers want. Ever since the company first released the Steam platform in September 2003, it has been a roaring success. This is illustrated by its growing customer base which currently stands at 125 million users. Steam was conceived as a new kind of platform, and soon became the main distribution channel for online gamers.
The guys running Valve understand computers. Valve CEO, Gabe Newell, spent more than a decade as a key player in the development of Windows; so it is clear he knows the technology. Plus, in this interview, he waxes lyrical about the things which annoyed him as a fan of first-person shoot ‘em ups before starting Valve. Newell sounds like a gamer, because he is one.
While Steam Machine will have its detractors, the previous success of Steam software suggests that Valve know what their customers want and aim to give it to them. With that, it is safe to assume that Steam Machine will succeed where other PC-based consoles have failed.
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