Ashley Crocker ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Valve’s Steam Machine has garnered plenty of hype since its announcement. For those of you who do not know, Steam is a digital video game store that gamers use to access the majority of PC game sales. The Steam Machine, or Steam Box, is the actualization of Valve’s goal to bring PC gaming to the living room alongside Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. It is currently in Beta testing and its planned availability is 2014.
Here are the basic specifications of the Steam Machine:
Despite the popularity of Steam, the Steam Machine still remains quite a mystery. Perhaps this is because Valve is taking a rather hands-off approach by outsourcing manufacturing to several different PC gaming companies like Alienware, Origin, and iBuyPower. The consoles have been kept to Valve design specs and will run the newly developed SteamOS; other than that they are pretty much on their own. What we do know is that the Steam Machine will run SteamOS and support the widely popular Steam Store. It will run PC games but will feature a console like interface including a controller instead of a mouse.
Although the Graphics may differ from the various manufactures, Valve has officially stated that the Steam Machine will be outfitted with an impressive 16GB of Ram, a top level NVIDIA Titan GPU, the Intel i7-4770 and, to top it off, a 1 Terabyte of Storage Space via a Solid State Hybrid Drive. These specs would absolutely blow the PS4 and Xbox One out of the water but so may the price.
The Official Steam Store has predicted that prices will vary among the manufactures. However, at the Consumer Electronics Show a handful of Steam Machines including manufactures such as Origin PC and Digital Storm project the steam machine as over $1,000. Yet, the prices do span greatly from a console-like $500 to a lower end gaming PC at $2,500. The Steam Machine will have to prove itself, though, before consumers are willing to drop $1,000 dollars on something that sits somewhere in the grey area between a gaming computer and a console.
The biggest challenge facing the Steam Machine and Valve is the systems ambiguity. Although having other companies develop the box frees up Valve and allows some healthy competition, it is unclear to consumers what box provides the best gaming experience. Moreover, by not standing behind a singular product, Valve risks having gamers stick to traditional consoles due to familiarity of devices (such as the Xbox) that meet common expectations. Even from official information from Valve, everything we know about the Steam Machine is vague. Consumers will be hesitant to drop $1000 on a machine they know very little about. Also, sitting between the Consoles and Gaming PCs will be either a hit or miss.
While Valve may be hoping to sweep up consumers who are looking for a cheaper option than PC gaming, but with a higher quality than gaming consoles, they might be surprised at the lack of audience. With PCs and Consoles being so established in the gaming world, and the release of the next generation consoles, there may not be many consumers willing to drop more money on something they already have. However, with Beta testing underway the gaming world hopes to get more information about this up and coming system.