Steam was maybe the greatest invention in the world of PC gaming since mouselook in FPS games. It is a digital game library combined with a webshop, a community and an achievement tracking system. It is not tied to a single computer – you can install it anywhere, download your games and play them wherever you go, or you can even share them with your family members. And this year Steam will go one step further: it will finally leave its natural habitat, your PC, and take its place in your living room, thanks to the new line of Steam Box consoles.
The new line of Steam Machines was revealed at this year’s GDC, an event attended by game developers and enthusiasts alike from Australia to Alaska. While Australia has the best Royal Vegas online games, the Steam Box will have even more – basically all games you are now able to run on your desktop will run on it. And if you combine it with a Steam Controller and the Vive virtual reality headset, you will be able to step into a completely new world.
Valve will not build the Steam Machines itself – it will leave the job to those more experienced in this matter. Valve has revealed 13 manufacturers to build the Steam Machines for it back in January last year – the list includes big brands like Alternate, CyberpowerPC, Falcon Northwest, iBuyPower, Next Spa, Scan, Digital Storm, Gigabyte, Materiel.net, Origin PC, Webhallen and Zotac, not to mention Alienware, the maker of some of the most beautiful gaming PCs on the market. But the list is by far not complete – Valve is still open to new partners to sign up. The estimated price for a Steam Machine will be variable depending on its hardware configuration – Syber, the maker of the CyberPowerPC, will sell its own hardware for prices between $450 and $1,400, and it will offer three different configurations.
But there are many more Steam consoles on the way, most of which will not be revealed until this November. Other partners have signed up to the project since the GDC – Asus will offer its Steam Machine for $699, which will be powered by an Intel Core i5/i7 CPU, a GeForce 9-Series GPU and up to 16 gigabytes of RAM. Most other models will have a similar price point. All of them will be stylish enough to fit into any living room, and strong enough to run the best games already available on Steam, including the (hopefully) upcoming Half-Life 3, powered by Valve’s Source 2 engine.