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Steam Machines: the first hybrids of PC and Valve video game consoles are born

Steam Machines: the first hybrids of PC and Valve video game consoles are born

Valve makes the first Steam Machines official during CES 2014, its commitment to a hybrid between PC and video game console.

Those of us who are regulars and lovers of video games are aware that there is a peculiar division between PC and console, not only as a platform, but the same gamers who enjoy them usually consider them as two completely separate worlds. For a couple of decades there has been a divide between gaming PCs and consoles due to the fact that, although both are based on the same philosophy, offer video games to peoplethere are too many differences that separate them.

For example, one of the biggest advantages home console users see in their platform is the ability to simply “plug and play” (what in English is known as plug & play), without having to bother with installing drivers or controllers, building a PC acquiring all its components or spending huge sums of money. On the other hand, lovers of PCs for video games see endless benefits in their machine, ranging from the most spectacular graphics and superior to those of consoles, to huge game catalogs and the obvious advantage that a PC can be used for much more than play.

But, what happens when both platforms are unified into one? It seems utopian, but Valve devised a way to make it a reality, or at least something very close to what it would be the perfect hybrid between a PC and a video game console. Although the topic has sounded a lot in recent months, in reality the rumors that Valve would “create its own console” have been heard for more than two years. In the end it has not been like that, but the result is infinitely superior.

The Steam Machines they are the way in which Valve in theory offers us, video game fans, all the possibilities of a console in a computer for video games. And I say in theory because during the fair CES 2014 We’ve seen somewhat disappointing releases, accompanied by surprises on the right track, on the path that Valve wanted for their platform.

Valve doesn’t actually make Steam Machines. What the company founded by Gabe Newell, which revolutionized the PC video game market, actually offers is an operating system based on Linuxcalled Steam OSwhich allows you to run Steam platform games comfortably from the sofa in the living room of our homes, as long as it is accompanied by a remote control, and even better if it is the steam-controller, controller designed by Valve to work perfectly (in theory) with any type of PC video game. But during CES 2014, Gabe Newell has chaired a press conference in which nothing less than 13 official Steam Machine modelsfrom the hand of different manufacturers, highlighting some and disappointing others.

Talking about a hybrid between PC and console “disappointing” may sound somewhat peculiar, but it is that of the 13 models presented by Valve, only a few met the parameters desired by the Newell company, although not established as such. Valve indirectly wants to compete with the “next generation” home consoles, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. However, some of the prices of these early Steam Machines bordered on the ridiculous.

In general, the first Steam Machines have a price range from $499 to $6,000, and this last figure is simply laughable for those looking for an alternative to the new consoles. Originally, when Valve announced SteamOS and its plans to bring its massive catalog and community into our living rooms, it promised Steam Machine models starting at $99 and up. The promise has not been kept by the manufacturers on which it depended, and so it is not surprising that Valve now does not rule out launching its own Steam Machine, despite the fact that at the end of 2013 it assured that it would not.

Meanwhile we have very attractive proposals, such as the one from the company CyberPowerPC and of iBuyPowerwhose Steam Machine model starts at $499, very competitive price with consoles and even when compared to an average gaming PC with high performance graphics (which is not to say that this Machine is equal in this area, but it gives the size), in addition to models such as Zotac for $599 or the Alienware for a “competitive” price compared to PS4 and Xbox One; we also have Steam Machines like the Digital Storm “Bolt II” at a cost of $2,500, or that of Falcon Northwest that reaches 6,000 dollars, a price perhaps disproportionate.

In short, the brands that have partnered with Valve to release this first batch of official Steam Machines are: Alternate, Material.net, CyberPowerPC, Next, iBuyPower, Digital Storm, Alienware, Origin PC, Webhallen, Gigabyte, Scan Computers, Falcon Northwest and Zotac. Its features include processors ranging from an Intel Core i3 to an Intel Core i7, and graphics from an AMD Radeon R9 270, to the highest range of NVIDIA GeForces.

But beyond the data sheet of the models of these 13 partners, which in some cases it is worth saying that they are of the highest range, we find that the trend seems to be unclear. We have few Steam Machines that can compete head-to-head with next-gen consoles on cost, but high prices that could simply be ignored by the general public abound. Would anyone rather spend $6,000 on a Steam Machine than build their own PC, even with more potential and less money?

I see brands a bit confused as to what Valve wants with these machines. The company responsible for franchises as successful as Half-Life wants to start a trend, where playing on PC is not synonymous with spending a lot of money and great complications. And although we see that at CES 2014 the Steam Machines have had a somewhat bittersweet start, the trend will come, and the presence of Steam will begin as a platform independent of Windows and as a true alternative to home consoles.

Because this goes beyond the 13 models that have been presented, this can mean a big change in the video game industry, an industry that, as we have seen in the architectures of PS4 and Xbox One, is getting closer to the PC. , so unifying both worlds as Valve is doing may be the right bet. In the meantime, we can count on E3 2014 we will see many more Steam Machines debut to try to win us over.