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Steam Machines will ship only after Valve finalises everything

Over a dozen of personal computer manufacturers introduced their Steam Machines gaming systems based on Valve Software’s SteamOS at the Consumer Electronics Show last week. However, none of those PCs will enter the market before the software developer finalises its Steam controller as well as the operating system.

The first rumours about Valve’s “Steam Box” initiative started to emerge in early 2012, but the company officially confirmed its living room initiative only in September, 2012. It took Valve another year to reveal details about its plans: the company formally announced SteamOS, Steam controller and architecture of Steam Machines in September, 2013. At CES 2014, the company and its partners finally introduced gaming PCs designed for the living room. However, they will not ship until Valve finalises design of its Steam Controller as well as SteamOS operating system. Finally, Valve will need to grant formal licenses for use of its trademarks to PC makers.

According to Valve, a PC maker who intends to sell a Steam Machine needs to get a license that allows to redistribute Steam client (as part of the SteamOS or as a standalone program), use the Steam symbol and terms like Steam, SteamOS and Steam Machine. Unless a PC maker is a Valve licensee, it cannot publicly suggest any connection to Valve or Steam.

“You won’t be able to sell a Steam Machine without the controller,” said Ricky Lee, marketing manager at IBuyPower boutique PC maker, in a conversation with SlashGear. “When SteamOS is ready and when the Steam Controller is ready, we’ll be ready. It depends on Valve. We could ship this [Steam Machine] next month.”

Earlier today it turned out that Valve had decided to drop touchscreen from Steam controllers and redesign them in certain way. Since development of the controller probably has not been completed yet, it cannot hit mass production. Even if mass production of controllers starts next week (which is doubtful), it will take some time to assemble the first batch and then deliver them to Europe and the U.S. As a result, it is highly likely that Steam Machines will not reach the market till March.

It is also unclear whether SteamOS is now fully-developed and can be shipped on commercial products. Only a week ago Valve added support for AMD Radeon and Intel integrated graphics adapters to the operating system, which may indicate that not everything is ready and the development continues.All-in-all, it is completely indistinct when Steam Machines are expected to reach the market. There is a market rumour, which suggests that the majority of Steam Machines will be delayed till the second half of the year.

KitGuru Says: In a bid to be a competitive entertainment platform for the living room, SteamOS will need to offer not only video games, but also music, video and communication services. So far, Valve has not even started to talk about such features…

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