A few years ago, when the idea of the so-called Steam Box came up, I remember being quite enthusiastic about the idea. A lot of console gamers had always been looking to make the jump towards PC gaming, but the intricacies of having to learn a complete system before even making a purchase was too daunting. Realizing this, Valve proposed a gaming system of their own in response to the growing demand of a streamlined PC gaming experience. The disappointment in the direction Windows 8 was heading helping them push for an operating system of their own, the Steam OS. The stars were aligning for Valve, nothing could possibly go wrong, right?
Somewhere along the way, people both grew impatient and worried about both the concept of the Steam OS and system. A new OS meant a smaller available library to start off with. There was still the problem of the controller, and no amount of screenshots of that thing are going to help fix that. Just look at the response the Wii U’s gamepad got mostly from people who never touched one in their life? And what could you possibly charge for a niche system in a market quite literally overflowing with systems already to a point of even the major players doing abysmally compared to the years past?
Despite all of this I remained a supporter of the newly rebranded Steam Machine. Sure, it wasn’t for everyone. It wasn’t even really for me. But not everything needs to be for everyone and too many people get a kneejerk reaction to things not being directly aimed at them.
Disregarding my own lack of interest in the product itself, there’s still a constant demand for accessible and easy to understand gaming rigs. Videos and lists with build suggestions keep popping up everywhere because people need help stepping in. An actual product aimed at bridging the gap for new users is always welcome.
Today Valve put up a store page for the Steam Machine, alongside a sale for some of the games available on Steam OS.
If you told me last week I’d be able to bring back this title format and would use it against Valve themselves I’d call you crazy. Yet here we are, and we’re just going to have to deal with it. Steam fucked up.
I mean, christ. How do you fuck up so badly that Alienware of all brands has one of the cheapest systems available? Alienware, the neutered overpriced Dell brand offering a dualcore PC for 480 dollars. That’s a system only marginally better than a PC I got for free as a throwaway thing that wasn’t worth selling anymore. It’s about as good as the shitty laptop I own that’s got me lucked into cheap indie games. Systems of this tier would generally set you back about 100 dollars, 50 if you buy it second-hand. But they’re selling it for nearly 500 dollars because… Alienware and Valve are brand names.
Systems like these aren’t removing the barrier of entry for newcomers to PC systems. They’re a new barrier in and of itself. Looking at them, I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone, certainly not at the price point that they’re being offered at. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, a regular pre-built system would be a better option. And I still wouldn’t even recommend those.
In case you’re one of those people absolutely confused about what any of the specs mean, how this comes into play, what things generally are worth in straight monetary terms, I’d considering looking up a Steam Machine, go to their specifications, and comparing them to similar components using, say, Logical Increments. LI generally has a good grip on what components within their recommended builds are worth, complete with links to some of the competitive vendors offering them, even in your region.
Look at the world of different in pricing between the Steam Machines with similar parts and the price range of the system on Logical Increments.
It should be about half the price.
Even if you don’t know what you’re doing in terms of PCs and you’re looking into PC gaming, I’d still recommend you build your own system after doing some research. Take some responsibility for your purchase. Once you’ve got a good system running, you’ll feel all the better for it. And it’ll likely still cost you less than half the money of a Steam Machine, even if you pay people to assemble the parts for you.