A colossal failure.
Looks like Valve’s Steam Machines initiative is a total bust- seven months after their initial launch, it seems as though they’ve managed to move an appallingly low number of units. As Ars Technica reports, as part of an update on new Steam Controller functions, Valve announced that it has sold over 500,000 Steam Controllers since the early November launch.
A Valve representative specifically confirmed to Ars that this number includes the controllers that are packaged with every branded Steam Machine sold through Valve’s hardware partners, meaning that the already nebulous ‘over 500,000 units’ figure is inflated, too.
The failure of Steam Machines was always going to be a given, in spite of multiple Valve fans’ insistences to the contrary- as a concept, Steam Machines are flawed. They are prebuilt PCs being sold with SteamOS, for living room PC gaming, but without compatibility for any game that doesn’t run on SteamOS, which not only includes a significant portion of the Steam library itself, but also some of the most popular games on PC, such as Battlefield, Minecraft, Hearthstone, League of Legends, and World of Warcraft.
Add to that the fact that SteamOS, for those who are interested, is free to download, meaning anyone can make their existing PC a Steam Machine, as well as the fact that Valve’s strategy for pushing Steam Machines was messy and unfocused – there were no standards set, there was no marketing, confused messaging, and consistent delays – and this failure is obvious.
It always was obvious to most people. There were just some extremely fanatical Valve fans unwilling to accept that. Valve, on the whole, will not have suffered much from this debacle, because it appears as though this was a low priority project for them (and since they never manufactured Steam Machine hardware themselves, they didn’t have much financial investment in the initiative either). But Valve’s partners will probably find themselves stung, and this may thwart any future ambitions for the hardware market that Valve may have.