November 4, 2013
Valve Introduces Their Own Game Console, The Steam Machine
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Game developer Valve has long planned to change the world of PC gaming. It launched Steam, its digital distribution and digital rights management platform a decade ago, and since that time has seen this model copied by Electronic Arts and other game publishers.
With Steam, Valve was able to address the issue of piracy of PC software while also enhancing the multiplayer gaming experience. Now, the Bellevue, Washington-based video game company, is taking on the hardware console market with its new Steam Machine, which was officially unveiled on Monday.
This builds on the SteamOS, which was announced in September, and hopes to bring their version of PC gaming to the living room. The Linux-based operating system was built from the ground up, and is designed to deliver games as well as movies and music to the new gaming-specific devices.
This would, of course, include the Steam Machine, which the company is now reportedly in the process of sending to beta testers. These machines are about the size of a full-size gaming rig, and feature the profile that should fit into most entertainment centers, reported the Verge. The steel and aluminum case measures about 12 inches wide by 2.9 inches tall, and is thus a bit larger than an Xbox 360 yet still smaller than most PCs. It features an Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan graphics card and a full desktop CPU, and gamers can get in on the action with the proprietary Steam Controller.
According to the Seattle Times, Valve isn’t just looking to reinvent the PC gaming market with the Steam Machine; it's also looking to reinvent how gaming PCs are built. While it had originally worked with third-party design and prototyping vendors on the Steam Machine’s design, the company opted to build the prototypes in-house.
“Its offices in a downtown Bellevue high-rise now have 3-D printers whirring away printing PC components, right next to a room full of programmers intently peering into their big monitors,” the Seattle Times reported. “There are also laser-cutting machines and other tools for designing, building and testing prototypes. The landlord said no to a full-blown factory, so the game controllers that Valve is providing to 300 testers this fall are being produced by employees at a shop in Overlake.”
If those 300 test machines are a hit, the company will contract for the large-scale manufacturing of their controllers. Valve is also not trying to become the next HP, Apple or even Dell. Instead, it wants to encourage PC makers to build their own Steam Machines that will run the Steam OS.
“It is not the type of thing that is going to change the PC market overnight, but it is steps towards what will change the market. It is a bit ahead of the market, and that is a good thing,” independent video game analyst Billy Pidgeon of BP Research told redOrbit. “Others have tried similar things, and Steam has a better chance, as they have the software. They also have the customers on their side, so delivering Steam content to the TV is very compelling and can become a bigger business for them over the years.”
“To me to the thing that would kill them is that hardware is tough, hence the tendency to subsidize the hardware with software,” Pidgeon added. “Who would take on something like this? Maybe not a hardware manufacturer but perhaps a carrier, like that smartphones are subsidized by carriers looking to sell data. So this could be something that cable providers might get interested in subsidizing in the future. Without that it is just so hard to make a profit on this type of hardware.”
The company is planning to unveil the machines at the upcoming CES in January in Las Vegas, and has plans to bring these to market by mid-2014.