Steam Machine: The Customisable Console

In the world of customers satisfaction, the business model of knowing your consumer has been turned on it’s head. Rather than a company knowing what’s best for it’s customers, we’re led to believe that consumers actually know what’s best for themselves. Bonkers, right?

Good thing Valve are giving customers a choice of what they want their Steam Machine to be then.

In case you didn’t know, Valve, the creators of Steam, have made their own gaming console called the Steam Machine. They run the Steam operating system, and are made for gaming. Unfortunately, early reports are unclear as to whether these machines actually produce steam. If not, they’ve clearly missed a trick.

The cool things about these machines, however, is that Valve decided to get different companies to make their own versions of the Steam Machine. And, rather than whittling it down to one console to lead the others, Valve have revealed all of the consoles from all the different companies. Why not one, you might ask?

Because they all do different things.

Take the high end of this spectrum – the Tiki from Falcon Northwest. It’s the size of your average computer tower, with a stone base to keep it weighted. The CPU is customisable, immediately differentiating it from the standard consoles from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. You’ll get a Nvidia GeForce GTX TITAN graphics card, which is as souped up as it sounds, 8-16 gigabytes of RAM and around 6 terabytes of space. That will set you back the sphincter-tightening sum of $6,000.

Don't do drugs, kids. And definitely don't do drugs and then paint a tower case.

Don’t do drugs, kids. And definitely don’t do drugs and then paint a tower case.

If we go down the lower end, we find the machines more optimised to challenge the Xbox One and Playstation 4, with specifications and prices to match. Take Cyberpower’s Steam Box, which include $699 and $499 models. The specifications are understandably much lower than the Tiki, but will still run the Steam OS and will still run these games well.

Microsoft and Sony, the two companies holding the console market monopoly at the moment, have only just released their consoles and they’re pretty great – why would you bother with a Steam Machine? For gaming, I would answer. And no, not ‘primarily’ for games, purely for games. The companies involved in the production of these Steam Machines are interested in one thing, and one thing only – optimising these machines for gaming. With their reputations in the computer gaming world, there’s no better group of people to deliver on that, either.

As mentioned above, the full list can be seen over at Develop. The first thing that struck me when I saw them, honestly, was how hideous they all look. But, looking past that, they’re all very different. Shapes, sizes, colours – there’s an element of variation, and I think that’s where the ‘console’ will mount it’s flag.

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Not all of the machines’ specs are revealed yet, most notably in regard to Alienware’s Steam Machine. Valve have collaborated for four years with Alienware to create their Steam box, and it’s earmarked as the one to please most Steam users. Keep an eye out for updates on it as they become available.

Will any of you be investing?

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