What’s the point of Steam Machines? They’re part of Valve’s corporate strategy to not be reliant on Microsoft Windows. With the source to whatever Linux distribution they’re using Valve has complete control over the entire Steam experience. No worries about being locked out of another company’s App Store.
Polygon is very down on these devices and frankly I’m not sure how to argue with that point. Assuming you have a powerful Windows gaming PC, what’s the point of building or buying a Steam PC? I can see Valve’s angle that it pushes gaming PCs more to the mainstream, but to consumers it’s a head scratcher. I have an Xbox 360. Why would I buy an Xbox One? Because Forza 5 and Dead Rising 3 are only available on the Xbox One.
Exclusives. It’s all about exclusives.
Apple knows this. Why else was Siri exclusive to the iPhone 4S? You have to sell people on something they can’t get anywhere else. That’s the problem with Valve’s declaration of openness in this venture. In order to sell Steam Machines and sell people on Steam OS in general, they must withhold something.
Try to imagine a universe where Half-Life 3 (or Left 4 Dead 3, or Portal 3) is exclusive to the Steam OS. Remember how much people hated signing up for an Origin account to play games like Mass Effect 3 and SimCity? How much will they complain when you have to dual boot your computer or buy an entirely new PC? Valve has a lot of karma built up with the community, but even Blizzard can’t escape the ire of the Internet.
I can see some value to this for someone’s first gaming PC. It’ll be guaranteed to run some large percentage of Steam’s Linux games. There will be no spyware or bloatware and no worries about getting a virus.
That’s the most cheerleading I can do. You’re still looking at a ton of money for one of these things that could easily go towards a Windows gaming PC with infinity more games available. They’re cute and fit easily in media centers, but Alienware will happily sell you a Windows one that does the same thing. You could also build your own cobbled together out of parts from Newegg. I’m usually nuts for building new PCs and trying out gaming software, but Steam OS and its Machines do nothing for me.
So… how’s Half-Life 3 coming along?