steam big picture

Above: The Alpha’s reliance on Steam’s Big Picture mode can cause complications.

Image Credit: Valve

What it can’t do

Play Uplay or Origin games in console mode

Sorry, Titanfallers. The Alpha’s console mode is only compatible with Steam at this point. Any game that relies on U-Play, Origin, or other Steam competitors such as will not work.

Azor did mention that Alienware is open to adding these other services.

Play League of Legends, Minecraft, other games that aren’t on Steam in console mode

Again, the console mode will only pick up games from the Steam library. These games will work in desktop mode, but the press wasn’t really shown the Alpha’s desktop mode. Alienware bills this as a console, after all.

Play DVDs or Blu-rays

The Alpha does not have a disk drive, so it can’t play discs without some help. If you have an external USB disk drive, you can probably get these to work in desktop mode.

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Use entertainment apps like Netflix or Hulu in console mode

The Alpha is a video game console, and that’s it. You can access these as websites or apps in desktop mode.


When BioShock Infinite crashed, Diana had to kick the console into desktop mode and use a mouse. This is a major problem for a box that Alienware is aggressively marketing as a mouse-free device.

Diana said that an “oh, shit” command is being worked on. This controller button combination will halt all applications and bring you back to the main menu.

Still, it seems that any issues or problems will require a mouse, which hurts the whole “living room console” idea.

Upgrade the GPU

The Nvidia “Maxwell” GTX GPU is there to stay. It is a piece of hardware inside the Alpha that owners can’t remove. Azor said this particular model came out February and was custom-made for the Alpha. AMD fans are out of luck.

Run Desktop Mode without a mouse

The Alpha simply won’t permit players to select desktop mode without a mouse. If you had any plans of using your controller as a makeshift mouse to click out of a desktop window or crash, think again.