The console-like Linux-based PC gaming future may need a few more years before it’s ready. Valve has dropped the “Steam Machines” section from its marketplace (as PC Gamer first spotted), which means they are now buried off of the front page.
If you hover over the “hardware” tab on Steam, you will still see the Steam Link, Steam Controller, and HTC Vive but the Steam Machines option is no more. The controller and the Link serve as a bundle to enable you to play your PC games on a television through in-home streaming. And the Vive is the company’s virtual reality headset that it built in partnership with HTC.
I’ve reached out to Valve to ask about the future of its hardware business, but the company has repeatedly said that it is interested in making its own devices to work with its games.
Valve hasn’t wiped the Steam Machines product pages from its service. You can still find them if you search for them or just click on the generic hardware tab. But they are buried beneath the Vive and Steam Link. The company is done drawing attention to them with a section on its store dedicated to Steam Mahcines, and that makes sense. The devices never took off for Valve or its hardware partners like Asus and Alienware.
The idea of the Steam Machines was to provide a smaller, quieter, and simpler box dedicated to working in a family room with a television. That concept built up a lot of hype, but the final execution didn’t quite deliver due to high prices and the Linux-based SteamOS that Valve created to bypass Microsoft’s Windows.
The issue with SteamOS is that it is a risky game platform to support as a publisher, developer, or player. Every PC game comes out on Windows and a significant majority of players are on Microsoft’s operating system. So if you want to make a game for the biggest audience, you’ll make it for Windows. Likewise, if you want access to the largest library of games on PC, you’ll use Windows. These days, more games are coming to Linux and SteamOS, but you have plenty of notable exceptions and you often have to wait for a port.
Spending $500-to-$1,000 on a gaming box for your TV is already asking a lot, but asking people to take a chance on SteamOS pushed the Steam Machines into a niche market from which it could not escape.