Login | Signup

I’m a console gamer and Valve are killing my Steam Machine dream

Author:
Brendan Griffiths
Category:
Features
Tags:
PC games, PC gaming, Steam Machines, Valve

I’m a console gamer and Valve are killing my Steam Machine dream

Earlier today we were given some extra details on over a dozen new Steam machines, including prices for the base models from multiple manufacturers.  Many things remain unclear, but the consensus amongst the PC-savvy crowd seems to still be that they could build their own equivalent gaming rig for considerably less. This is hardly earth-shattering news though.

Steam Machines are all about the convenience for the non-savvy consumer looking for a way into PC gaming, namely people who own a PC or laptop solely for work or console gamers. People like me. I know this, you know this. So why doesn’t Valve?

Why do I have to do all the research through gaming/tech sites to find out even the most basic of facts? The info available on Valve’s site is just terrible. One of the most problematic issues for me is the lack of confirmed Operating Systems for these different models. One minute I’m hearing Linux is the default, then it’s the newer Steam OS. None of these options are particularly attractive because it means there are a huge number of incompatible games on the Steam store as most of the games are built for Windows. I’m presuming extra licensing costs are the reason behind the Steam Machines not wanting to run with Microsoft’s OS, but when it has such an impact on a player’s potential library, it seems like Valve are cutting their nose off to spite their face.

I’m a console gamer and Valve are killing my Steam Machine dream

My earlier point about the lack of pricing for any of the Steam Machine models beyond the entry level ones is worth coming back to. Even with no PC gaming experience (apart from Day of the Tentacle and Doom back in the day), I know that the cheapest machines sporting 4GB of RAM (the same as my wheezing ten year old laptop) isn’t up to much and hardly future-proof. When quizzing my PC-gaming colleagues they told me that I wouldn’t be running anything past average settings, which doesn’t sound like the ‘on a par with the PS4/Xbox One’ comparison Valve are claiming.

There’s just no information on how the machines will run either. Can you update drivers easily by installing some auto-update software? Will it do it automatically? Would I be able to get individual hardware pieces upgraded at a later date – extra RAM, HDD space or better graphics cards? Or is this a locked environment like a console? I’d like some solid intel on whether we’ll be able to use third-party controllers too, as the Steam owl face looks like a gamble to me. My colleagues Carl and Jon have perfectly illustrated a point though as I’ve been quizzing them about the ins and outs of the Steam Machines, if I have to ask experts (which I consider those two gents to be), Steam aren’t doing this whole thing correctly.

So, what are your options if you’re a console gamer wanting to get into PC gaming? Well, you could (probably should) wait for the Steam Machines to release and see how the reviews are. I’ll be particularly interested in comparisons of the same titles running across different machines, which will hopefully tell us more about which machines offers the best performance for various budgets. It’s only once the machines are out we’ll be able to get a solid idea of how much of the Steam library will be compatible too.

I’m a console gamer and Valve are killing my Steam Machine dream

What other options are available? Bite the bullet and get into actual PC gaming. If like, me you’re a pure console gamer, this couldn’t be more daunting. A quick Google search tells me that I could buy what PC World claims to be a half-decent desktop rig for about £500, like this Cyberpower Empire Elite. Speak to anyone that really knows their stuff though, and they’ll say you might need to spend closer to £800 on something like the ASUS ROG GR8-R015R. Maybe rack that up to £1000 if you need a monitor, speakers, controller, keyboard and a mouse too. It’s here I start to reconsider the joys of constant 60 frames-per-second gaming or delicious Steam sales.

How about a gaming laptop? This was an especially attractive option for me as I’m in the market for a new work laptop anyway. So why not spend a little more and kill two birds with one stone? So if I’d be willing to spend around £400 on a laptop for work, how much would I need to spend on one with some gaming grunt? Prepare for a sad face time, as gaming laptops are more expensive than a similar spec rig thanks to the condensed tech and the bonus of portability. There’s always the risk of a gaming laptop overheating more often than a rig too.

Build your own rig and save even more money are the most regular replies you’ll get on any forum page or comments section, which is fine if you’ve been PC gaming for years. But personally, I don’t have the time, the know-how or the patience and I imagine many people eyeing up the Steam Machines’ potential have similar issues.

I’m a console gamer and Valve are killing my Steam Machine dream

My expectations from a cheaper Steam Machine were not particularly high. I was not expecting to be able to run games at ultra settings. But not having a clear picture of well, anything, is starting to wear thin now. Valve and their partners need to get their act together and realise that console gamers are their key audience for Steam Machines. PC gamers are going to stick with their existing tech and invest in Steam Link for second room streaming at best.

If people like me are considering sacking off Steam Machines seven months before release and looking at gaming rigs, something is very wrong. On the plus side, if nobody is buying them, maybe the prices of the higher spec ones will come down by January. But at this stage, the Steam Machine dream of getting involved with PC gaming properly for the same cost as a console seems like a joke. Prove me wrong Valve and you’ll make insane amounts of money. Right now, you’re blowing this incredible opportunity.

Add a comment6 comments
Late  Mar. 6, 2015 at 15:44

My exact thoughts. I'd have written the exact same article if I had the wordsmanship-ness.

The elitism in PC gaming really doesn't help the issue, mind. My computer was second hand when I bought it for £200 seven years ago, is on a now defunct operating system (XP), and crashes/freezes constantly. It's probably worth less than £1. But it runs most of the games I ask of it. Naturally that doesn't mean I've tasked it with Titanfall, Battlefield 4, or the latest core-intensive software, but it's happy running most of the stuff I played on my 360 (I replayed BioShock and Portal lately on it) with comparable performance.

Ask anyone who knows anything about PCs about what I should be buying if I want to play average games on average settings and they'll scoff at the notion of spending less than £600.

Really? I can't get a basic computer that's miles better than my current (effectively decade old?) one for less than £600? I'm pretty sure I can. It might not have as many Anti Aliases and Direct Exes as your CyberAlienBlast Thrustmaster-3000 but I Don't Need Top End Spec!
You paid more for a stick of ram than I did for my computer!

Please shoot me if I ever become an elitist pc s(k)nob.

SSPanther  Mar. 6, 2015 at 15:53

I kinda expected that Steam Machines would just be a glorified small form factor pc... And that you get what you pay for. If you want something that performs with everything to the max, expect to pay more for the privilege.

I agree that if they want to compete with the likes of the PS4 / XBone, then they'd have to come up with a machine with similar, if not slightly better specs.

Think the real kicker is what OS it'll use... If not using Windows means a much reduced library, then it really is dead in the water. Pc gamers will opt for the steam link now, and consolers will stick to their console for price and better game library.

Think the best thing to come out of all this will be that Steam Link... If they can make it perform well with most games... Will wait and see...

RiKx  Mar. 6, 2015 at 16:30

Just stick to your Playstation Brendan you'll be happier. I don't think console gamers are an audience valve are looking for, they have consoles. It's an enthusiasts platform to a degree and sometimes they want to play in the lounge on the big screen with a controller, and this is the target I believe, otherwise they wouldn't be going down a linux/SteamOS route at all aside from the cost saving. Also could be wrong but even if it is a windows only platform game, pretty sure the st(r)eaming option means that if you have another windows pc on your network you'll be able to play on your steambox regardless... I do it now with my laptop and gaming rig. I think its about choice tbh.

RjK311jR  Mar. 6, 2015 at 16:54

A lot of the questions you raise have been answered just very sporadically.. I'm guessing that they may be still testing but many of the companies know where their base models will start... some run dual os's.. all take research and if your investing any sort of money into a product you should make sure u get the one that does what u want... ask the questions... But id advise making another article and sum it up...these seem to me to be the basic questions and non-gamers or non tech lovers want to know. Everyone like ourselves knows these answers and its very easy to look up with google. and i think thats valve wants to give the pc gamer an option for console like play and not the other way.. hence them being more expensive like a pc for better options and graphics... ps check out nvidia's new shield.. $199 ultimate streaming device basically plus the power of GFX AAA 1080p/60FPS, faster than both current next gens... if that makes sense... oh its an anroid too... and streams 4k 60hz video like netflix, amazone, etc

lon3wolf2002  Mar. 6, 2015 at 16:59

I kinda expected that Steam Machines would just be a glorified small form factor pc... And that you get what you pay for. If you want something that performs with everything to the max, expect to pay more for the privilege.

I agree that if they want to compete with the likes of the PS4 / XBone, then they'd have to come up with a machine with similar, if not slightly better specs.

Think the real kicker is what OS it'll use... If not using Windows means a much reduced library, then it really is dead in the water. Pc gamers will opt for the steam link now, and consolers will stick to their console for price and better game library.

Think the best thing to come out of all this will be that Steam Link... If they can make it perform well with most games... Will wait and see...


Wont they use the Steam OS?

LarZen  Mar. 6, 2015 at 18:58

As a mainly console gamer I find Steam OS and the idea of a Steam Machine interesting. The reason I play mostly on consoles is because I am just tired of having to deal with Windows and everything around that.

I want to start up a device and only get gaming content related on my screen.

The PS4 is my main console and I think it's a great system. It have everything I want from a console experience. But it's lacking somewhat in power to get to that sweet spot with 1080p @60fps.

So if I could get that experience on a Steam Machine I would have to consider it. It just depends on price and how how many brand new AAA games finds it's way to Steam OS.

A pre-built system would be the best but it seams as the prices are not that good. So building a own Steam Machine would be an option. It's super easy to build a PC today. Even a child can do it. I did it as a 14 year old child. And that way before the Internet and all the tutorials and help you can find on Youtube.

It's an exciting time ahead. I can see many that are not brand worshipers making a shift over to a Steam Machine. I am also interested in Windows 10 as it has much focus on gaming.

As I see it the XBO and PS4 is more alike a PC today then ever before. I consider it just a matter of time before the transition is complete and we are once and for all done with this console vs PC debate.

Email Address:

You don't need an account to comment. Just enter your email address. We'll keep it private.