Valve Steam Machines delayed until 2015

Much to the frustration of gamers, Valve's SteamOS Linux-based Steam Machines will be delayed until 2015.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
Valve's having trouble perfecting its Linux SteamOS gaming controller.

Well, that's annoying.

Valve product designer Eric Hope, posting under his screen name Axiom, has announced that Valve's own SteamOS Linux-based Steam Machine will be delayed. "

Realistically, we're now looking at a release window of 2015, not 2014," Hope said.

The problem isn't with the Steam Machine itself. There are more than a dozen Steam Machines besides Valve's own that are already in pre-production. As technology teardown firm iFixit found when they ripped apart the first beta Valve Steam Machine, the game console itself is quite straightforward.

No, the problem is with Valve's wireless controller.

Hope explained: "We’re now using wireless prototype controllers to conduct live playtests, with everyone from industry professionals to die-hard gamers to casual gamers." He added: It's generating a ton of useful feedback, and it means we'll be able to make the controller a lot better. Of course, it's also keeping us pretty busy making all those improvements."

"Obviously," he continued, "We're just as eager as you are to get a Steam Machine in your hands. But our number one priority is making sure that when you do, you'll be getting the best gaming experience possible. We hope you'll be patient with us while we get there. Until then, we’ll continue to post updates as we have more stories to share. "

There is, of course, no reason other companies that have committed to making Steam Machines can't release their systems. Gaming PC heavyweights Origin PC and Alienware, for example, are still committed to this Linux-based gaming platform.

SteamOS, the operating system based on a Debian-based Linux distribution, is continuing to mature rapidly. While it's designed to first and foremost to run Valve's Steam and Steam games, it also supports the GNOME desktop, so you can also it as a regular Linux desktop.

On top of Debian 7, SteamOS features various third-party drivers and updated graphics stack, a newer Linux kernel, and a custom graphics compositor designed to provide a seamless transition between the Steam games and the SteamOS system overlay. The Steam client and some of the drivers are proprietary.

Of course, you don't have to buy a Steam Machine at all to run SteamOS and play Steam games. You can install SteamOS and start playing games today on any PC with an Intel or AMD 64-bit capable processor; 4GBs or more of RAM; a 500GB or larger hard drive; and a NVIDIA graphics card. AMD also states that it now support SteamOS with its ATI graphics with its Catalyst driver as well. Support for Intel graphics is on its way.

In addition to gaming, Valve is also adding music and video streaming functionality to SteamOS. Music streaming will come first, followed by video.

In the end analysis what all this means is that while Valve itself may not be shipping a Steam Machine by the 2014 holiday buying season, I see no reason to think that other companies won't be selling them by the fourth quarter of 2014. I see this more as a hiccup than a real delay in SteamOS gaming's rollout to the mass market.


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