Do you remember Steam Machines? The high-concept idea first floated by Valve in 2012 was built around an affordable semi-standardized computer running a Linux-based ValveOS which would give customers an easier entry into PC gaming. It was also meant to be a sort of bulwark against what some in the industry saw as over-aggressive attempts by Microsoft to turn Windows into a walled software garden cutting Steam out of the future.
Steam Machines launched in 2015 as offerings from various hardware manufacturers. Along with the Steam Controller amd the Steam Link, some pundits saw a potential Valve end-run around Microsoft. Alas, it was not to be. Muddled messaging, controversial pricing, and a campaign that never overcame the inertia of the market hobbled the effort before it ever really began.
Valve has quietly taken the Steam Machines page from the front of the store client, and they’ve removed the listing under the hardware dropdown. Although you can get to the page via a direct link, potential buyers without may never find it on their own. A Steam death sentence for sure.
The kicker is that the catalog alteration may have occurred on March 20th. It took the fansite, Gaming on Linux to notice the change a week later! A sad indicator of just how few people cared.
Get a good, long look at Valve’s newly announced Steam Controller. Notice anything different from the controller you have plugged into your PC now? It’s missing analog sticks or a d-pad! Valve’s idea of a controller made for PC gaming uses dual circular trackpads to translate thumb movements into commands. Valve promises that the control method’s “resolution approaches that of a desktop mouse.”
The Steam Controller also features a touchscreen in the middle to be used in ways similar to the Wii U. They can set it to be a second screen, a menu, the player’s inventory, or any other function they wish. The controller screen will pop up on the main TV or computer display when a player clicks it, so they can keep their eyes on the action.
Valve expects community hackers and modders will help bring new functionality to the controller due to its open software.
Valve is giving away 300 prototype Steam devices. Following on the previous announcement of the SteamOS, Valve revealed that they will be randomly selecting about 300 Steam users to help them test the prototypes of Steam Machines. While Steam Machines will be manufactured by various hardware partners, Valve is developing their own prototype for testing purposes.
As always, we believe the best way to ensure that the right products are getting made is to let people try them out and then make changes as we go. We have designed a high-performance prototype that’s optimized for gaming, for the living room, and for Steam. Of course, it’s also completely upgradable and open.
The sign-up process for getting on the list of candidates has a deadline of October 25th.