The Steam Boxes Are Coming! The Steam Boxes Are Coming!
Steam has finally hit the stage with a cadre of Steam Boxes to strike fear in to the hearts of console freaks around the globe. Valve first revealed the Steam Machine ideal in 2013, though they’ve been slow to release anything more concrete since, and now have 15 boxes already released or in the pipe. Details including performance specs, as well as the critical ‘pricing’ of the machines, has now become public knowledge and the debate on the logic of this exercise can now be fully engaged.
Each unit comes stock with SteamOS, a Linux based system designed by Valve with direct access to the Steam storefront and library. All of the machines are meant to take the place of the average home console in the living room, but offer unheard of potential including scalability, modifications, and design aesthetics not typically offered in such units.
PCs have always taken the place of the gaming ‘console’ for millions of hardcore gamers around the world, but there’s definitely a market for the ‘in-betweeners’ who lack the experience to attempt a PC build, but want more from their gaming console than what Sony and Microsoft can offer. Now with Steam Machines they can simply pick a package that meets their needs and plug and play.
The couple of packages currently on offer run their own stripped down version of Windows, but this new batch of a dozen boxes actually use the real SteamOS as originally designed. The options now range from entry level with a couple gigs of RAM, video, and 500GB HDD for about a thousand dollars US, up to range topping i7 quad-core packing boxes with a 4GB Geforce graphics card, 8GB of RAM, and solid-state drives for a couple grand.
Of course, these are not full-fledged PCs, nor fully traditional gaming consoles, but a futuristic mixed breed device meant to fill a void that some question even existed. For me personally, I do see it as a preview of the future, where two or three console brands do not dominate the space, instead, any hardware manufacturer can attempt to land in the center of the home and offer its own take on what a console is and can be. To me it’s no different than a dvd player or any appliance really. You don’t have to buy a Sony DVD to be able to watch Desperate Housewives on your Sony DVD player, right? So why should you have to buy a PS4 game to play on your gaming console of choice? Gaming is the only industry so strict on how it delivers content. Until now!
Steam has a great breakdown of all the options available here.