Why Would You Buy A Steam Machine?
With the announcement of Steam Machines being available for pre-order (who precisely is supposed to want to pre-order a first iteration of new hardware I don’t know), it brings back to mind a very good question that was first asked when these PC-console hybrids were first announced. Who precisely are they for?
The Steam Machines appear to fill a gap in the market that isn’t there.
A solution looking for a problem. Now of course, there are people in the gaming community who will buy them simply for the sake of having one. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I might at some stage buy a cheaper one just for the sake of having it hooked up to my projector along with my consoles, while my real gaming PC sits in the corner. Though this is out of my lack of self-control and inherent need to own every gaming platform. The Steam Machine isn’t even a unique platform with any unique features or exclusive titles. To someone of sounder mind than me, where is the appeal?
The age-old battle between consoles and PCs at least had valid points on either side. PCs were more powerful and customizable and can also perform other tasks, but had the downside of cost and the need for more regular upgrades.
Consoles, on the other hand were good until the next generation, much easier to use and play on, and significantly cheaper. They were less powerful and had fewer overall uses, however. Consoles and PCs alike also had the draw of exclusive titles.
What niche are Steam Machines after? They combine the worst aspects of consoles and PCs. They lack a PC’s versatility and a console’s simplicity. There is no target consumer who comes to mind who would purchase a Steam Machine over a console or PC.
Choosing a Steam Machine means that you want to be a PC gamer rather than a console gamer. But you do so by buying an overpriced wannabe console.
Why on earth would you not simply purchase a PC with similar (or better) specs than the Steam Machine? If the simpler nature of the Steam Machine is the appeal for you, then buy yourself a console. If you want to be a PC Gamer, then buy an actual PC. Even financially, they don’t seem to make much sense.
The Steam Controller on the other hand may have merit
Steam Machines literally don’t do what they are advertised to do.
Whether or not Steam Machines may be viable in the future is up for debate, but at present most games don’t even work on its operating system, SteamOS. So that makes it absolutely the worst console/PC (or whatever you want to call it) on the market. As of right now, they are overpriced, lacking games, and sit uncomfortably in an imagined niche - and they aren’t even out yet.
But who knows?
I may well be proved wrong and we may see them bought in droves by console gamers who would like to play PC titles, but who don’t want to build a PC or purchase a non-dedicated gaming machine. Console gamers who want an easier and guided way to enter the PC world are the closest thing that Steam Machines have to a market. But I don’t see that working either.
True console gamers will view it as a PC and steer clear, whereas true PC gamers will view it as a console and keep away in turn. It is sitting on the fence and trying to be friends with both sides. The Steam Machine is the Switzerland of gaming devices. Then again, I've been to Switzerland - and it is rather nice.
What do you think of the Steam Machine? Is there any chance it could succeed? Let us know in the comments below!