We were all Nolan Bushnell's "Neon Lovechild" in the 70s. It was different back then.
If you didn’t know, Valve loves to experiment. Even as they sit atop the PC gaming world with Steam, Valve still likes to hide away in their offices and occasionally release some ambitious project or piece of technology. Among those attempts to branch out was the Steam Machine. Released in late 2015, the Steam Machine was Valve’s attempt to entice console players and bridge the console/PC gaming gap. Less than three years since their release, the Steam Machine was hidden on the Steam store and while you can still buy one if you want, they are all but dead.
The languishing death of the Steam Machine has been a long time coming. Even after launch, the Steam Machine was struggling. The concept of pre-built gaming PCs that would hook up to your TV and allow you to play the same PC games non-bitcoin miners play sounds perfect. However, the Steam Machine struggled even before its release, thanks mainly to delays, and Valve’s post launch support was lackluster at best. The Steam controller, which would allow mouse-like controls on your couch, saw delay after delay and Valve wasn’t updating their SteamOS as regularly as developers would have liked. But the fatal bullet may have been another piece of hardware out of Valve, the Steam Link. Letting you just stream your already beefy PC to your TV over your wireless internet was a pretty cheap workaround than purchasing a $450+ Steam Machine. What was supposed to be a part of a Valve family of devices was the killer piece of tech that ruined everything else.
You can still buy Steam Machines if you so choose on the Steam store. They range in price from $450 to over one thousand dollars from a variety of manufacturers. It’s not clear if these PCs are on an endangered list and will be fully delisted soon, or if Valve will let them sit and rot until they finally move the last of their stock. Either way it’s a strange chapter in Valve’s long history of experimentation and attempted innovation. Steam Machines weren’t a bad idea, but like a lot of Valve’s recent outings, they were poorly planned for. Too often it feels like one part of Valve doesn’t know the either is doing.