Steam Machines are gaming computers focused solely on playing video games. This was introduced by Valve, an American video game developer and although it sounded at first like a great idea to have a device that’s only purpose is to run video games, it did not live up to expectations– the idea was great but the execution was not.
From first looking at the Steam Machine, one reason why it may have failed is due to the design. There was some confusion about how to actually use the Steam Machine – while it is practically a PC, the design of the console looks much like a normal gaming controller due to this being preferred by gamers. While the intention of this design was to suit the majority of gamers playing style, due to many of the games on Steam being designed initially for a PC, it was often practically impossible for gamers to complete these games without access to a mouse or a keyboard. Constantly switching between the controller and a mouse or keyboard makes the gaming experience overly complicated. This was a major fault in the development of the Steam Machine.
Not only was it not easy for gamers to use the device with ease, but the quality and power of the machine also was not up to scratch. This meant that the graphics within the games often lagged, frustrating players when they were in the middle of playing a game. For a device that’s only purpose is to run video games, it needs to be powerful enough for high-speed games with lots of graphics. If this was to happen with other devices, you would be encouraged to do a software update, however, in this case, it only made things worse. Steam Machine users reported that their device ran into even more problems when they attempted a software update, as the machine was not powerful enough to allow this to happen.
Avid gamers rarely just play the game and that’s it; many gamers today stream their games via YouTube or Twitch and use different software and features of their devices for editing etc. Therefore, having a device that is only capable of running the game, is not entirely useful to these gamers who need to use multiple sites and apps. League of Legends streams was the original site which started the craze for gamers to stream when playing, knowing how to check your MMR in league of legends is important so you are aware of how good your opponent is. For gamers, having a device that can do everything all at once is useful and saves them a lot of time and stress.
Microsoft saw the idea of merging a PC and a gaming console together and ran with it, only they were successful in doing so, catching the attention of many gamers. Microsoft managed to join together the software of a PC and a gaming device, to create the Xbox; meaning the interest in the Steam Machine died out, as something much better was on the market.
Maybe the Steam Machine wouldn’t have been such a failure if it wasn’t so expensive! When you buy something expensive, of course you expect it to be the best thing you’ve ever bought and worth your money- so there is no surprise that people weren’t happy when their games had poor quality graphics, lagged and were very limited in its capabilities. For people to be willing to buy and use this device, it would need to be affordable enough to deal with its limitations. When devices are in the same price brackets as the most popular game consoles, they need to be just as good. Alienware (who have a massive game library of over 1200 games and also comes with other features such as windows 10 etc.) is not much more to buy than Steam Machine, so people are much more likely to spend a little bit of extra money to buy a device that has more to offer.
Switch in focus – VR
When Virtual Reality became the new thing, the company shifted its focus away from Steam Machines and more onto developing Virtual Reality Headsets. This means that all the time, energy, and money that could have been spent on improving the Steam Machine was put into the VR. If Steam Machines were made the priority, they may have been more of a success as they could have been made more impressive.