During an interview with GameSpot today at the Consumer Electronics Show Origin PC CEO Kevin Wasielewski revealed his thoughts on the state of Steam Machines and they are not great. He did however have some positive news about Valve's Steam Controller though, in that it has now been finalized after several iterations and feedback cycles.
In regards to Steam machines he said: “I think that's kind of pretty much dead, it's like a living room PC–is now the new term. Living room PCs have been around forever. That's not anything new either. But it seems like there's a legitimate demand and push for living room PCs.” This seems to be at odds with the last announcement from Valve that the release date would be sometime in 2015, but this was over half a year ago now and the only news since then was that it would not be appearing at CES this year.
While Steam Machines were always more powerful than standard living room PC's, which were generally just used for media playback, most living room PC's can now play a lot of games thanks to massive improvements in the last few years in integrated GPUs. Having said that, as you know, there is still a requirement for dedicated GPU systems when trying to run any high-end game at a decent framerate. However with advances in Steam Home Streaming, as long as there is one good gaming PC in the house, most of the need for a second gaming PC is gone and along with it, maybe some of the market for Steam Machines. So maybe Valve has partially been the cause of the failure of Steam Machines in this case.
In regards to the Steam Controller however there was much more promising news, with Wasielewski mentioning that “their controller is finalized. So now they're going to production and at GDC is when they're going to announce more stuff.”. That sure sounds like Valve will be officially announcing a release date for the controller at GDC sometime between the 2nd and the 6th of March.
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KitGuru Says: Steam machines seem like they were a very expensive experiment for Valve, what with setting up a whole dedicated lab to make and test them along with shipping out over 300 of them to testers with various hardware configurations. At the end of the day this may be a drop in the bucket for Valve financially but it still seems like a bad business decision if they are indeed abandoning the project.
At least we may soon be able to -literally- get our hand's on a Steam Controller.