Why Would You Buy A Steam Machine?

The Steam Machine is so close now, but it has yet to justify its existence. Who exactly is this thing for?

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!


Video and Tabletop game obsessed. Blogs, reviews and writes about video games when not actually playing them. A dinosaur... not as organised as title may claim.

Published Jun. 6th 2015
  • Corey Kirk
    Featured Columnist
    I think the Steam Machine is a good introduction to PC gaming. Yes, they are overpriced. Yes, they are more cumbersome than consoles. Yes, if you are already a PC gamer, there is no need to get one.

    However, I know a few people who are console gamers and are thinking about getting into PC gaming, but they don't want to build their own (because they don't know how) and don't want to spend the money for a traditional pre-built PC.
    This gives them a gaming PC that is more powerful than a PS4 on a console budget that they don't have to build themselves. Plus, they have controller options. Plus they can get a steam link if so desired. Plus access to all the exclusive valve titles that aren't on consoles but are on SteamOS (which is nearly all of them.)

    Is it a very niche market? Absolutely! However, more consumer choice is always a good thing.
  • OrganisedDinosaur
    More consumer choice is definitely a good thing. A valid point, well made. The thing is, there are countless excellent sites that will build you a custom PC that will be better than these as well as cheaper. If you know literally nothing about computers - not even a CPU from a GPU, then, maybe they have a purpose. Again, in that situation, there are pre-built models of Desktops that are cheaper and better. If someone can't use reviews to tell which machine is generally considered more powerful then I would be surprised. So again, Steam Machines suddenly have no purpose at all again. There just doesn't seem to be a single consumer type who would be better off with one.
    Looking forward to trying the controller though!

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