As many gamers across the board know, Steam is one of the most popular clients and marketplaces when it comes to purchasing and playing games on any PC/Mac/Linux device. Now, Steam continues to expand its marketplace to incorporate trading cards, software, and even popular movies in the recent months. In addition to these expansions, Steam has also decided to release their own lines of Steam Machines, computers that are designed with the accessibility of consoles that run on SteamOS which is a modified version of Linux, Steam Controllers, and Steam Links. So, someone has to look at these experiments on Valve’s part, and figure out if they were actually worth it for the consumer, or just a waste of everyone’s time.
First up is the line of Steam Machines Valve released which will also include SteamOS as an operating system to see how one of Valve’s most ambitious endeavors panned out. For those who do not know, Steam Machines are pre-built gaming PCs, meant to easily connect to televisions and act as video game consoles. Unlike standard video game consoles though, there is no set hardware specifications to a Steam Machine as they vary in quality, maker, and price, to make it more accessible. Unfortunately, a large flaw of the Steam Machines is the operating system they run on, which is SteamOS, which has been found to be slower than if the Steam Machines just ran Windows. Despite having the same hardware parts, GameSpot found that overall, when running games on SteamOS they are more prone to have longer load times and fewer frames per second. Because of this, some manufacturers have purposely not released SteamOS based Steam Machines and instead stuck to running Windows. Since their release, Steam Machines have continued to be a moderate success but it is doubtful they will achieve the the reception Valve is hoping for unless SteamOS is upgraded for better gaming performance.
Next, is the controller that left PC gamers on the edge of their seat to see if Valve had found the Holy Grail of video game controllers. Equipped with gyroscopic sensors, haptic feedback, and two clickable touchpads in order to replicate and better the concept of analog sticks, the Steam Controller went through multiple iterations and different designs including the concept of a touchscreen in the center. Since then, the controller has found positive reception amongst gamers for its design and its accessibility to not only the Steam Link but regular Windows/Mac/Linux computers as well. Not only can the controller handle a wide variety of gaming genres, it can also please those who regularly prefer a keyboard and mouse. Of course, controlling games with a keyboard and mouse will always be a large preference in the PC gaming community, but to make a controller that can bridge the cap between keyboard and controller is a noble pursuit on Valve’s part and hopefully they will find further success to do so in the future.
Last, is the noble pursuit to display beautifully rendered PC games on user’s TVs without the need for excessive cables and input lag. The Steam Link seeks to fulfill that goal by using an HDMI cable to successfully mirror what gamers see on their computer monitors and display it on their living room television. It is most likely tied with the Steam Controller as being the most successful piece of hardware Valve has recently released due to its ease of use between a medley of gaming controllers and the overwhelming audience of gamers who love the idea of not having to lug a massive computer around their house in order to display it on their television. While a wired internet connection is highly recommended, a wireless connection is also possible which only furthers the appeal of the device for casual and intense gamers alike. All that it requires is a Steam Account and a wireless network, after that it is the gamer’s time to decide how they will wield such a powerful piece of equipment.
So, there is a small overview of the recent ideas Valve brought to the table through Steam. Do you own any of the products described above? If so, how does your opinion of the product compare and contrast with the points listen above? Make sure to leave a comment below and let us know what you think!