There has been considerable discussion surrounding Valve’s recent efforts with SteamOS and Steam Machines, especially following the conclusion of CES 2014. Consequently, I decided to revisit this topic, expanding on a response I made in a public forum. The initial intention was to keep it concise, but it evolved into a more comprehensive piece that I believe our readers will find valuable.
While I am optimistic about Valve’s SteamOS initiative, I can’t help but think that the driving force behind it stems from Gabe Newell’s disdain for Microsoft, Windows, and related entities. While personal preferences are acceptable, it’s essential to acknowledge Microsoft’s pivotal role in advancing PC gaming. Without their influence, the landscape of PC gaming might not have reached its current state. Despite Microsoft’s deceptive promises regarding PC support, they have, at the very least, provided a platform for companies and developers to create games. Given the latter’s dominance and practicality, few developers would risk prioritizing MacOS or Linux over Windows.
The SteamOS concept is promising, and I’ve experimented with it on two gaming PCs, introducing it to my children for evaluation. It shows potential, but being in beta, it needs refinement. However, Valve’s marketing strategy requires attention. Are they targeting existing PC gamers or seeking to attract new adopters? The paradox lies in the fact that most individuals genuinely interested in SteamOS and Steam Machines are already PC gamers with mid to high-end gaming rigs. On the flip side, potential newcomers question the appeal. Although the list of SteamOS/Linux-based games is expanding, the system’s full potential is realized with an existing library, creating a conundrum for those without one.
When you do see this product come to market, it’s going to be offered to the Steam user first and foremost
During CES 2014, Alienware, an authorized vendor for Steam Machines, revealed its focus on existing Steam users rather than new ones. This strategy, likely shared by other vendors and Valve, makes sense – tap into the user base with established game libraries. While this approach is logical, it raises questions about the significance of targeting existing users when they likely already play Steam games on various platforms. Why not explore the option of dual-booting Windows and SteamOS on an existing PC or repurposing it as a Steam Machine?
Valve has declared that they are not competing with consoles in the living room space, a sensible decision considering the dominance of PlayStation and Xbox. However, this leaves uncertainty about the SteamOS/Steam Machine push. Are they courting new gamers or targeting existing PC gamers? Is the objective to conquer the living room or any PC gaming space? The current state of SteamOS and Steam Machines appears fragmented, making it challenging to discern their precise goals and where gamers fit into this equation.