There’s been a lot of talk regarding Valve’s SteamOS and Steam Machine push as of lately and even more so since CES 2014 has ended, so I figured I’d re-visit the topic again. Well not exactly as this started as a reply to a conversation I was having on a public form but it got so long and I ended up putting more thought into it that I figured it should be buried under a wall of text and I’d figured our readers would appreciate it more.
As much as I HOPE that Valve and their SteamOS push does well, I feel that Valve is simply doing this cause Gabe dislikes Microsoft, Windows and basically anything involving the later. Well that’s fine and dandy but regardless of what he thinks it was MS that was the main benifactor for the PC gaming world. Without MS the PC gaming would not be where it is today or it may not even exist for that matter. No PC gamer in their right mind would even think to argue against that point as it’s true. As much as Microsoft has lied to us about supporting the PC and pushing games on the platform, they have at least giving other companies and developers to create games for. You don’t see many (or have seen) developers saying “I’m going to make this game for MacOS or Linux first and then maybe port it to Windows”. Hell no and for good reason. It would be suicide plain and simple.
The SteamOS concept is nice, I’ve installed it on 2 of my gaming PC’s to check it out and to have my kids try it and it was alright. I can’t say to much since it’s still a beta. That said Valve needs to fix their marketing strategy. Are you targeting existing PC gamers or trying to gain new adaptors? Why I ask this? Simply put, the majority of people that are seriously interested in the Steam OS / Steam Machine push are already PC gamers who have either a mid to high end PC gaming rig already. On the other end of the spectrum you have people who are looking to take the plunge and are wondering why. The list of SteamOS / Linux based games are still slim (but growing) however to fully take advantage of the SteamOS, you have to an existing library to stream to the system. So what gives? If I already have a healthy library then that means I’m contempt and I probably don’t care or don’t have a very high interest in the push.
“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 who is a authorized vendor to build their Steam Machine variant came out and stating that their target audience was not the new users but existing Steam Users. You can more than likely assume that the other vendors and perhaps even Valve is along the same lines, which makes sense in that though process. Why waste the time trying to get new games on-board when you can get gamers who already have their library set. Fine, I get it. But at the same time as I mentioned before, if I have a library of Steam games then I’m already playing them regardless of where. That includes mid towers, full towers, small form factor HTPC’s all of which can exist in an office, living room or basically anywhere for that matter. Who’s to say or stop anyone from doing a dual boot of Windows and SteamOS on an existing PC or devoting an existing PC as a Steam Machine? To me at least it doesn’t make any sense to target existing users and I would rather look at expanding the PC gaming market instead of recruiting within.
On the other hand it was Valve that came out and stated that they aren’t trying to compete with the consoles in the living room space, which I can understand as it’s smart. If I was new to the scene I wouldn’t want to start a fight with PlayStation 3 / 4 , Xbox 360 / One or even the Wii / Wii U. They offer a huge library of games, a proven online community and a healthy user base, well the PlayStation and Xbox does at least. So where deos that leave the Steam OS / Steam Machine push?
Do they want new gamers, existing PC gamers? Are they fighting for the living room space or just any PC gaming space? What exactly is the goal here and were do we, the gamers fit in? As it stands at least to me there’s simply way to much fragmentation with the entire SteamOS Steam Machine picture for anyone to be worried about, at least right now.
I really do hope the SteamOS / Steam Machine does well as it’s win / win for all PC gamers, if it’s done right!