Will Valve's Steam Machines fail?

Today in Open Source: Why Valve's Steam Machines might fail. Plus: Steam Machine controller problems, and new Steam Machines announced

Why Valve's Steam Machines Might Fail

ZDNet has a very skeptical take on Valve's Steam Machines.

Surely Valve, with its 65 million Steam subscribers, along with 13 big hardware makers can't be wrong? Steam Machines are a guaranteed success, right?

Maybe not.

Let's take a look at five reasons why Steam Machines might trip over their own shoelaces while walking along the precarious tightrope towards potential success.

- Price

- Lack of uniformity

- Ferocious competition from established consoles

- Why not a PC?

- All the problems of PC gaming and Linux in one device

More at ZDNet

Despite the negativity, I find ZDNet's skepticism to be a positive thing. It's good to question products that have been given so much media attention and buzz. But I think ZDNet is quite wrong and here's why.

Price shouldn't be a problem for the simple reason that there will be plenty of choices. Valve isn't making customers buy one particular Steam Machine over another. Gamers can pick and choose which ones they feel are worth their money. The market will decide which Steam Machines survive over the long run.

The Lack of uniformity is actually a good thing. This also fits in with the idea of choice, which is something that Linux has always stood for over the years. Why should there be just one model for consumers to buy? Some gamers might want a higher end experience, and others will be more casual. Fine, let each person make up his or her own mind.

Competition from Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft was a given. Valve knew that right from the start, and they haven't been intimidated at all by any of it. Valve also knows that today's market leader in technology can easily be tomorrow's also-ran. We've seen this many times over the last thirty years. So let the big console companies rage about Steam Machines all they want. In the end it will be gamers that decide if Steam Machines are successful in the marketplace.

PCs and Steam Machines are complementary. Some folks will prefer a PC, and they can use that if they want. But others prefer to buy a machine focused on gaming only, and they too can spend their dollars as they will. Steam Machines and PCs are two sides of the same coin, and each will be a valid choice for gamers.

Unlike ZDNet, I think the combination of PC gaming and Linux is actually a very positive thing. Valve is not a stupid company, they know that drivers have to be available and that performance must be at acceptable levels for gamers. They've been in the gaming business for a long time, and so they will make sure that they have all of the important technology bases covered.

What's your take on the possibility of Valve's Steam Machines failing? Do you think it's a real possibility? Tell me in the comments.

Steam Machine controller problems

GameSpot takes a critical look at the Steam Machine controller.

This early in the game, it wouldn't be fair to write off the Steam controller, but Valve clearly has a lot of kinks to work out before its ready for the mass market. Outside of enthusiast PC gaming circles, most consumers shun peripherals that aren't immediately viable, or those that require exhaustive tinkering. Luckily for Valve, it's in a position where it can afford to merely court early adopters, but if it hopes that its controller will become the de facto PC gaming peripheral in the long run, the burden is going to fall on Valve's engineers and software partners to make it a reality.

Image credit: Steam Store
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