One of the more intriguing things to happen in 2013 was Valve's introduction of the Steam Machines (or Steam Box, if you prefer) and Steam OS. As many console gamers will tell you, PCs are still a little intimidating and lack the ease of use that Xboxs and PlayStations do. With Steam Machines, Valve aims to blur the lines between the two camps and bring PC gaming - and Steam's immense library - to the living room.
At CES 2014, the beloved company introduced a number of different Steam Machines from several manufacturing partners, and kept the momentum going by discussing the Steam Controller at Steam Dev Days. Soon after, however, both were delayed to 2015, and Valve became relatively quiet.
Now, though, talk of Valve's newest endeavor is slowly coming back up, because Steam Dev Days usually occur early in the year. And what better place to discuss launch details for the Steam Machines than at their own event? Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be a Dev Days event scheduled for this year, which would explain why there hasn't been much to read about this year's plans.
Speaking to Gamasutra, a Valve rep explained that a Dev Days event is perfect when Valve has something new to show. Not so much this time around.
"Steam Dev Days was a great way to brief a large number of Steam developers. This year our focus will be a bit different, so we are planning a larger than usual presence at GDC. So, there will not be a Steam Dev Days this year, but we will certainly consider doing it again in the future."
If Valve's "larger that usual' showing at GDC is any indication of an impending launch, then word from sources close to the matter should further confirm people's speculations. According to these sources (via Not Operator) Steam Machines are confirmed to launch at GDC 2015 this March, while the designs for the Steam Controller have been finished. Steam OS, meanwhile, the operating system that'll run it all, is also said to be ready to come out of beta and show everyone what it's all about. Although, last we heard, SteamOS wasn't compatible with every Steam game, which kinda takes away from its overall goal. Remember, SteamOS is based on Linux, and that isn't supported as much (or as well) as Windows and Mac.
Of course, none of this is official until Valve says something and GDC 2015 kicks off in full. Regardless, Steam Machines are still in people's minds, if only because they're such an odd set of hardware going after a potentially large market. When they do finally debut, both Valve and the Steam Machines will be competing with the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and other PCs - All of which are all doing relatively well for themselves.
The Steam Machines definitely have a tough fight ahead of them, with one of its biggest concerns being how it'll justify its existence and convince people to try it out. Nevermind the large number of offerings -14 different machines!- that come with wildly different pricing and components; simply choosing a machine could be a hassle for consumers in the same way that PCs can be.
Then there's the Steam Controller, which, as said previously, was delayed last year due to feedback from early testers. Originally, its design lacked traditional buttons and sported a touch screen. The last time it was shown, the controller more closely resembled an Xbox 360 controller, save for the placements of the buttons and no joysticks. Who's to say even more hasn't changed over the months? Similar to their introduction, there's still a lot to learn about the Steam Machines, and one GDC event to, hopefully, provide enough answers.
Do you believe the Steam Machines still have a place in 2015, or is Valve simply trying to hard? And out of all the hardware that's been shown, which, if any, has your attention? Some are pretty expensive.
GDC 2015 runs from March 2 to March 6, 2015.