As a direct competitor to the home console, Steam Machines have a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time. Valve‘s gaming experiment is poised to make a big splash in 2014, but whether gamers adopt the new, self-contained PCs is another issue entirely.
One such Steam Machine developer that is hoping to set a new precedent with their device is Alienware. As we have already learned, Alienware plans to have their Steam Machine ready by September, but, as it turns out, that device is only the beginning. Alienware plans to turn their Steam Machine releases into an annual event, further distancing the device from consoles with increasingly better specs.
The news comes courtesy of Trusted Reviews who, in an interview with Alien GM Frank Azor, discovered that Alienware plans to update their Steam Machine more frequently than any console’s life cycle. They plan to have a new Alienware Steam Machine available every year.
Lifecycle wise, consoles update every five, six, seven years, we will be updating our Steam Machines every year.”
As to why there needs to be a yearly update for the Steam Machine, Azor reveals that the Alienware product will not be customizable. There will be no options to increase the CPU, GPU, or RAM — all of those upgrades will seemingly come with the next year’s release.
“There will be no customisation options, you can’t really update it. The platform will continue to evolve as the games become more resource intensive.”
Of course, this runs in direct opposition to one of the main appeals of PC gaming: flexibility. While Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One are self-contained devices with limited upgrade potential outside of the HDD, PCs offer gamers the ability to meet more resource-intensive games’ needs without starting from scratch. Upgrading isn’t always cheap, but the option is always there.
Similarly, it might be hard for gamers to know which Alienware Steam Machine will meet a certain games’ needs. And at a rumored $400-500 per machine that’s quite a gamble to take. If the company can’t effectively communicate, or differentiate, one year’s device with another then that could lead to even more confusion. Steam Machines are not an easy sell for the average consumer, but they are the devices’ target demographic, which makes any unnecessary confusion a bigger barrier to entry.
The good news is that Alienware is only one of at least 14 different Steam Machine brands headed to market, so there will seemingly be an option tailor made for each type of gamer.
Do you think it is a smart move for Alienware to release new Steam Machines every year? Would you prefer they make their device upgradeable?
Source: Trusted Reviews