Although Valve just recently released a series of Steam Machine prototypes to beta testers, they have no plans to manufacture any retail version of the streaming device for public consumption. Instead, the company wants to assist where needed, while leaving the actual development duties to companies like iBuyPower and Alienware.
While Valve has been the spearhead for the Steam Machine movement, they see themselves as a trendsetter more than anything else. As Valve Co-Founder Gabe Newell explains, the end goal was never for Valve to manufacture their own machine. Rather, they wanted to provide the groundwork and the platform, and then let other companies take over.
Strangely, that’s exactly what’s happening, as 14 different Steam Machines were unveiled at this year’s CES. Newell was on hand to show off the machines, which range in price from $500 to $2,000+, but he didn’t have any consumer products to show from Valve.
It should be mentioned that there are Valve-manufactured Steam Machines in the wild – the company created about 300 prototypes – but those were issued to beta testers, developers, and manufacturers. They were not meant to be the first prototypes for an inevitable Valve Steam Machine.
However, although they won’t develop their own retail Steam Machine, Valve won’t play armchair quarterback either. As Newell explained, the company will step in wherever and whenever necessary — be it platform or controller related. Ultimately, the success of the Steam Machine benefits Steam and Valve, so it is in their best interest to ensure the “consoles” are of a certain quality.
“We’ll make what we need to. We really view our role in this as enabling. So we’ll do whatever is going to be helpful to other hardware manufacturers — whether that’s with controller design or building specific kinds of boxes.”
Ultimately, this news from Gabe Newell isn’t all that surprising, even if it is disappointing. Whenever Valve spoke about the Steam Machine and PC streaming they always approached the topic from the perspective of an enabler. Their work would show company’s how to get the ball rolling, and the other manufacturers would take over from there.
We’ve yet to actually see the Steam Machines in action ourselves so there are a lot of question marks regarding the devices’ usability and competency. But, much like when SteamOS, the Steam Controller, and the inevitable Steam Machine were announced, we are very intrigued.
Do you plan on buying a Steam Machine? If Valve released their own Steam Machine would you choose it over other manufacturers’ device?