When Valve started the hype train for Steam Machines in 2015 I was excited. I love consoles but I don't love having to re-purchase games for each device I own so the thought that you could by a game one and run it anywhere really interested me. Plus I love Valve and Steam so getting a dedicated Steam Machine for playing games in my living room seemed like a great idea. Since i'm not usually the first to adopt brand new tech I decided to wait for the reviews to come and had a thought to picking up a second or third generation machine because, by then, the kinks would all be worked out. Thing is... Steam Machines seem to be a first generation only thing because frankly, they seem dead.

Are Steam Machines Dead?

Officially Steam Machines don't seem dead as they are still listed on Steam itself but PC Gamer did an interview with three Valve partners that released Steam Machines and they have basically discontinued them due to lack of interest.

“Nobody was buying it with SteamOS,” Digital Storm marketing manager Rajeev Kuruppu tells me over the phone. The manufacturer had already been building the Eclipse—which is still available with Windows—when Valve pitched SteamOS, and added a Steam Machine build mid-project. That version has since been axed, and Digital Storm no longer has an active relationship with Valve.

“I think over time as the demand from customers wasn’t there we basically had no reason to speak with Valve,” says Kuruppu. Digital Storm is still open to working with Valve, so long as its customers want what Valve is putting out. Right now, they don’t."

Valve Released The Steam Link And It's Incredible

I wonder if part of the reason why the uptake of Steam Machines wasn't high was because alongside Steam Machines Valve released the Steam Link. The Steam Link is a $50 steaming device that let's you transmit your PC Steam games to your living room in 1080p and it seems that users decided to go that route instead. And it's not a bad choice either because i'm using it right now and with all the updates Valve has brought to it.... it's incredible.

When I attended Steam Developer Days I got a free Steam Link and Steam Controller with the ticket. After my son was born I really didn't have much time for PC gaming so the Link sat in the closet and recently I dusted it off and hooked it up. After 10 updates I started streaming games from my ASUS ROG laptop. The streaming was great but, occasionally, the game would lose a frame or two. It wasn't a huge deal but it was noticeable and I remember reading reviews that suggested you use it over wired ethernet. The Steam Link and my ASUS ROG are both connected to wireless and my router supports 5G Wireless 802.11ac 2x2 (MIMO) so I figured all would be fine but there were noticeable hiccups. I have a PC gaming desktop that is connected to wired ethernet and I decided to give that a go and the Link streaming was perfect. So it seems that if one of the machines is connected to wired internet that can help considerably and moreso if both are.

I've tested a few games on the Steam Link but the game i've played the most is Death Road To Canada, which is perfect for the living room. Fallout 4 ran well and I didn't notice any kind of performance issues with it either. I don't imagine i'll be playing a ton of shooters that way for but platformers, adventure games and rogue likes playing Steam games in the living room is a great way to experience them.


Travis   Admin wrote on 03/12/2018 at 03:16am

With wireless, the issue isn't the speed, it's the inherent latency. It's why even on 802.11b back in the day, even if your internet speed was 5mb and your wifi speed was twice as fast, people recommended you play online games while wired to the router.

The Steam Link is an amazing device. The only hiccups I ever noticed were when I was playing a CPU intensive game, since the pc you're streaming FROM needs some CPU cycles to encode the video on the fly.

I'm pretty OK with Steam Machines not going anywhere honestly, as long as Valve continues to support Linux. The work they've done for Steam OS has benefitted gaming for all Linux users, and I hope they keep that up.

Travis   Admin wrote on 03/12/2018 at 01:29pm

It's also worth noting that the Steam Link goes down to like $5 on every major sale, so there's no reason not to try them. And it works with just about any controller you already have.

Plus, if you're a tinkerer you may choose a $5 Steam Link over a Raspberry Pi depending on what you're after(retro emulation and Kodi, for instance, can run as native apps on the Steam Link)

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 03/13/2018 at 03:35am

Native apps is a great step. I wonder if subsequent versions will allow usb storage and a larger hard drive to make a mini steam machine? I mean, it already is but the storage is somewhat limiting.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/03/2018 at 11:52pm
Travis   Admin wrote on 04/04/2018 at 12:39am

Yeah, this doesn't surprise me. Again, as long as Valve continues pushing the Linux market (which they seem to be, and Steam OS seems to still be in active development for the time being) I'm totally ok with the fact that Steam Machines never went anywhere.

It was an interesting experiment, and I was way wrong about how effective the experiment would be, but in the process we got way more Linux support for gaming which, honestly, is a win for everyone, not just Linux gamers.

Travis   Admin wrote on 04/04/2018 at 02:01am
jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/04/2018 at 03:27am

Thanks for that update, it's awesome to hear that Valve is very committed to Linux. There is a hacking community for the Steam Link and you can install things on it using the bit of disk it has available. I wonder if Steam Link v2 that may potentially do 4k or more will have more disk and it will allow for certain games to install. Or maybe a Steam handheld? Who knows but his

"At the same time, we're continuing to invest significant resources in supporting the Vulkan ecosystem, tooling and driver efforts. We also have other Linux initiatives in the pipe that we're not quite ready to talk about yet; SteamOS will continue to be our medium to deliver these improvements to our customers, and we think they will ultimately benefit the Linux ecosystem at large."

Can't wait to hear more.

If you want to join this conversation you need to sign in.
Sign Up / Log In