Steam Machines are game consoles designed to operate Valve Corporation's SteamOS through the Steam client. Several computer vendors have engaged with Valve to develop their own versions of Steam Machines for retail, offering additional options atop Valve's requirements such as dual-booting options with Microsoft Windows, and the ability to upgrade the computer in the future.
Steam Machines and the related hardware were released for customers on November 10, 2015, following a two-year testing period. They were designed to allow gamers to play PC games on a TV like if it was a regular console.
Why They Could Not Kill Consoles
- The whole point of Steam Machines was to make PC gaming easier and more accessible in order to convince console gamers to move over to PC, but there were too many models released which only made it even more confusing and complicated than regular PC already is.
- They were also supposed to appeal to PC gamers because of the problems that existed on Windows 8 and because of how both Microsoft and Apple are approaching towards their OSes, but by the time Steam Machines was released, Microsoft already made Windows 10, which was a huge improvement (specially that they were given away for free to people), making the purpose of Steam Machines almost pointless. They became entirely pointless nowadays when Proton, Valve's WINE-based compatibillity layer, is improved continuously, now able to run a lot of Windows games.
- SteamOS can be easily described as the unholiest abomination for an OS. It's based on Debian GNU/Linux (which is considered one of the best OS for servers and web hosting) and yet some of the games weren't supported or optimized for this operating system, such as Killing Floor 2 and Batman: Arkham Knight.
- Extremely overpriced despite its major flaws, ranging from $400 to $6000.
- Terrible marketing, as the marketing focused more on PC gamers who already had Steam, rather than focusing on console gamers.
- Unlike other consoles, it doesn't have a specific configuration of hardware, you know, the whole point of consoles.
- Literally no exclusives for the console, Even Valve didn't make any and recommended that dev, shouldn't make exclusives for it (though they weren't planning to stop people from making exclusives to it).
- Games on the Steam Machines performed worse than on PC because they weren't optimized for SteamOS.
- The included controller was very unreliable as it replaces the D-Pad and one of the analog sticks with track pads.
- Unlike Steam Machines and other controllers, the controller was sold exclusively on the Steam page.
- Barely any updates.
- The console can stream games, while this is good, but Valve was also releasing a stand-alone streaming device called Steam Link, it was much cheaper, costing $50.
- Even though they act more like PCs than consoles, they have much fewer features.
- Once people bought Steam Machines, they often uninstall SteamOS and install Windows 7/8.1/10 instead which defeats the purpose of buying Steam Machines.
The Only Redeeming Quality
- While unreliable, the controller was well designed to play games that were designed specifically for keyboard and mouse.
By June 2016, seven months after the official release, less than half a million units had been sold. In response to the sales figures, Ars Technica described the unit as dead on arrival. Valve has yet to release an actual sales figure. While some vendors still offer Steam Machine options, or configurations that can be installed with SteamOS, other vendors have discontinued their products by the end of 2016.
On March 30, 2018, Valve removed the Steam Machine section at the Steam Store for good while the controller was discontinued in November 2019, with any remaining units being sold at a reduced price.
In July 2021, a sort of superior and successor to the Steam Machines, the Steam Deck was announced. It was originally scheduled for release in December 2021, before it was delayed for two months due to the global supply chain issues that has been brought up by the global pandemic. It was finally released on February 25, 2022.