In what seemed like a foregone conclusion, Valve removed Steam Machines from the hardware dropdown on Steam’s homepage GamingOnLinux reports. No official statement has been made about the update, but as of now, it appears to be a quiet acknowledgment that the expensive hardware experiment failed.
Revealed in 2013, Steam Machines were originally intended to bridge the divide between PC and console gaming. The machines were manufactured to look like home consoles, supported SteamOS, and the Steam Controller. Boxes from major PC players like Alienware began to release in late 2015. Unlike home consoles, the handful of Steam Machines that reached market had a wide range of specifications, which inevitably contributed to vastly different price points. The base Alienware Steam Machine launched for $450, but others have eclipsed $1,000.
For various reasons, Steam Machines never exactly found an audience. Even the least expensive machines cost more than home consoles and ditching a gaming PC for a Steam Machine never made much sense for most. Better gaming PCs could be built for less and a more intuitive home console experience could be had by, well, purchasing an Xbox One or PlayStation 4. Not to mention the Linux-based operating system saw delays and then launched with an assortment of annoying bugs that forced developers to add Windows support to the boxes.
The biggest hurdle for the Steam Machine was probably Valve itself. As third-party manufacturers developed Steam Machines, Valve was at work on the Steam Link. Steam Link launched on the same day and pretty much rendered the Steam Machine useless for those with a competent gaming PC. Steam Link released for $50 with the sole purpose of streaming PC games from a computer to a TV. It featured Steam Controller support, and with Big Picture mode, it offered a significantly cheaper way to bring PC gaming to the living room.
The hardware dropdown on Steam now only lists the Steam Controller, Steam Link, and HTC Vive. You can still find four Steam Machines listings through an internal search, and the Steam Machine page can be accessed from a Google search, but this feels like the end of the road.
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