Valve Corporation, Steam Learned How to Make the Steam Deck by Failing with the Steam Machine
That is the new portable gaming pc that is coming out, hopefully at the end of this year. But it looks like a lot of the pre orders, for that are gon na actually be shipping in the first quarter of 2022, but regardless the steam deck is at heart, a steam machine, its just valves own interpretation of its now nearly decade old idea of bringing The steam os platform to the player and putting it in the living room in place of in many cases, or at least that seems to be the original concept in place of a traditional console. So regardless were going to talk a little bit about steam machines today and how thats translated over to valves newly announced steam deck. But all that comes right after a word from todays sponsor, and that is the coldest water which makes a lot of different water bottles. Different colors different sizes, but the thing they all have in common is theyre insulated. They keep your water cold all day long and they are fantastic bottles. Links are in the description down below for the rolling giveaway they run as well as a discount code down there. If youre interested in an awesome water bottle cannot recommend it enough see those links down below now before we get into the concept of the steam machine. Let us know in those comments down below what you thought of the original steam machines back from 2013. Were you a purchaser of those, or did you laugh and just move on? Let us know in those comments and also while youre down there, that subscribe button should look really good and clickable.
So for those of you that dont remember the original steam machine idea was actually a really simple concept: valve was going to create steam os, which is a custom linux, variant or rather distribution. I suppose i should call it a custom linux distribution that was gon na ship pre installed on different linux boxes, with the concept being, these would be gaming machines, which is not something we normally see when we think about linux based pcs in general, they are not Really the go to gaming platform, but steam was hoping to change that, so these were announced as a concept all the way back in 2013.. Typically speaking, a lot of these steam machines were going to be really small machines in almost a console, like form factor where they would be able to just slot in under your tv, in your entertainment system and with the included steam controller, which, by and large, was Kind of a mess – and yes this has first hand knowledge. It was a bit of a mess, but the whole idea was: you would replace the normal windows operating system, which was not very friendly. If you were trying to play games on a couch setting, for instance, but youd, replace that with steamos steamos would give you big picture mode as a default. And it would just come across as a very console like experience to get pc gamers into the living room. But, unlike with the steam deck valve, decided to take a hands off approach with the actual design aspects of the steam machines, that is uh valve, created this concept, and then other companies were going to be putting out steam machines with steam os pre installed.
You could buy it whether it was through the stores directly of those manufacturers like, for example, alienwares, alpha steam machine or if you went to valves steam page, they would have the devices listed there, so they would link to those pages where you can actually find the Steam machines – it was a very decentralized idea, but it was a concept that valve seemed like they were gon na back now before i go through all of the specific downsides that i sort of identified as big deal breakers. I do want to mention some of the upsides of the original steam machine idea. First and foremost in theory, it works because there was a growing market back in 2013 of people that were getting excited about the pc ecosystem. But the big downside has always been that, while, yes, you can connect your computer to a tv and a living room setting the interface that windows gives. You is not one that is exactly couch friendly. That is often you need to bring a wireless keyboard and mouse combination of some sort just to navigate through the the different programs or steam epic game store whatever to get to the games youre actually playing, then you can switch over to a controller. The idea that valve had was with the steam controller and the track pads included on the controller you could sort of navigate windows or whatever operating system. You were choosing with the controller itself and then, when you actually got into the game, you wouldnt need to switch over to a different control mechanism.
Youd already be holding the controller that youre using the steam os sort of allowed us to cut out the middleman of the steam controller in general. You dont really need a trackpad in big picture mode, so you could actually just use the controller from the get go that you wanted to use with the games and bypass a keyboard or a bad controller in general. Another one of the upsides i do want to highlight once again is the size of the typical steam machine, that is, they would easily fit into a home, theater setup and a lot of the times they were designed to be sort of unassuming boxes now, thats, not Always the case, for example, again, the alienware alpha was fairly flashy if you had the rgb lighting going, but for the most part these things would sit under your tv and not draw a lot of attention and they would just be there ready to game or really Do whatever else you wanted to do with your pc like watch netflix youtube whatever and keep in mind back in 2013? Not all tvs were shipping as smart tvs, so the ability to just load up youtube, netflix or whatever other streaming service. You happen to be using back then without relying on any sort of stick that you have to plug into your tv or just knowing that you have the lack of a smart tv. This was a nice little value, add and valves infrastructure with steam.
As a platform was one of the big selling points here, where you could have a battle station, like you see behind me with a really awesome gaming pc, you could be playing your game and then save it and drop. What youre doing go down to the living room boot up your steam machine there and the saves would be just saved because cloud save is fantastic and you could jump right back into the game roughly where you were when you were playing on your battle station. It gave a lot of flexibility within the household to move from a battle station setting to maybe a living room setting. If you have multiplayer games, then. Obviously, if youre gon na go split screen which, by the way split screen, is still a thing even on pc. Obviously, but you could do that in the living room and then still have your dedicated battle station for all your sort of hardcore gaming needs. But of course, with all of those upsides. There were a lot of downsides to the steam machine concept and valve sort of dropped. The ball a little bit with uh the concept as a whole, at least back in 2013. But as we now see with the steam deck, the concept wasnt dead, it was just sort of evolving. In the background, the first big downside is that models of steam machines were not particularly cheap, especially considering one of the selling points of a pc back in 2013.
In particular, because consoles back then were not powerful at all, even when the ps4 and xbox one just launched, they were underpowered consoles from the get go, they were not powerful systems and one of the selling points of the pc platform has always been for the same Price, you can build a similar pc, but then the platform itself saves you money in the long run through uh, free online play or just through games being generally cheaper, when you can catch them on sale, but the steam machines, because they were packing such a small Form factor that actually elevated the cost to the point where you could get a mediocre steam machine. That was probably going to be irrelevant in a couple of years, just because the hardware was fairly weak to begin with, and it would cost you the same price as a console. The downside, of course, being with a console games, are being developed with that hardware in mind for the duration of the generation, whereas with the pc platform, if youre already getting weak hardware to begin with modern aaa titles, arent necessarily taking into account the specific hardware, you Have and a lot of these steam machines were operating with mobile hardware, anyways, basically, hardware that was intended for laptop use being put into the steam machines, because theyre also those small form factor. Pcs. The hardware was just kind of expensive for what it was to put it in super, simpler terms.
I could have taken the same money. I would spend on a steam machine and just build my own gaming pc, and i could get much better hardware with that gaming. Pc but then the biggest downfall, at least to me, was the software compatibility issues now valve has come a long way with getting windows, only games on the steam platform to actually run on linux through its compatibility layer, proton, and that has been working fantastically for a While now to the point, where that list of games that just dont work on linux, if youre playing them through steam, that list is getting shorter and shorter by the day. But that was not the case in 2013, where, if the games you were playing were windows only games, it was gon na be a little bit of a headache to get them running on steam. Os now sure you could always just install windows on your steam machine. Just like youre going to be able to install windows on your steam deck if youre going that route here in the near future, but that sort of defeated the purpose of a steam machine right and lastly – and i cant mention this enough – the steam controller itself was Terrible it feels cheap. The triggers are terrible. The bumpers are, i guess, theyre click. The bumpers actually arent that bad but theyre kind of an awkward shape, but these track pads are just not a replacement for a proper joystick, and i know you still get one proper joystick, but you really need two with modern games, especially first person shooters like you Need two proper joysticks if youre going to be playing with controller and the steam controller, while a cool concept and did open up real time strategy games in the living room, much better than a traditional controller, yeah it just wasnt up to snuff.
Now, with all of that background being handled with the original steam machine, its also worth pointing out that the concept has continued to evolve. Since the steam machine essentially died. And i know some of them have been sort of kicking around for years now and were made up until very recent years, but the concept itself never really got off the ground, but in the background it seems like valve was refining what it already had on the Software side of things i already mentioned that proton has solved a lot of those major complaints that i had with the original steam machine just being that steam os could not run a lot of windows based games with no headaches. Proton has solved a lot of those issues and it seems like maybe even valve always had this day in mind where they would be launching the steam deck with their steam os 3. I believe it is, and it seems like this version of steam os is going to give us many many many fewer headaches to the point where you might not even really feel the need to install windows on the steam deck, but also importantly, on the hardware side Valve is keeping this one in house instead of decentralizing the steam machine platform like it did in the past, the steam deck is an in house. Design of hardware, so valve is staying very hands on with the hardware which keeps them in control of things like pricing, which is going to be very important.
If valves goal here is to drive people to the steam platform, where they make their actual money, then keeping the hardwares pricing under control is incredibly important and with that hardware, control also weve seen big gains in mobile chips and the performance that we can get out Of those mobile chips to the point where building a handheld pc that can play triple a titles yeah its actually possible now, whereas back in 2013, that wasnt really a thing but possibly the greatest thing to come out of the original steam machine idea. Is valves. Sort of beta idea now, if you look at the steam machine originally as this alpha concept, where valve was just throwing this at the wall and seeing what part of it stuck then maybe the steam deck is the sort of spiritual child of the original steam machine. Where valve saw everything that worked? Okay with it and a lot of the problems that were there with the original concept, they took that identified a new market that i think is a better market for a steam machine or a steam deck. In this case, anyways with the mobile handheld pc sort of rising in the last couple of years and becoming a thing that didnt really exist back in 2013. Now that valve feels they can build. This theyve taken some of the good concepts of the original steam machines and they refined them back into the steam deck, and what im hoping is the steam deck is the start of this sort of revival of the steam machine, where maybe it doesnt just stay strictly? As a handheld, maybe there is a future where a more traditional steam machine that is almost like a console replacement can come back into the marketplace, but using the dock with the steam deck seems like a fantastic way to bridge that gap between being a console replacement.
Pc, but also then combating something like a nintendo switch. Its a brand new area of the gaming pc market that really isnt being serviced by any other company at a reasonable price like valve, is targeting here with the steam deck. So, needless to say, im very excited to see what the steam deck actually brings to the table when the hardware is in consumers hands. But this is where i kick it back to you guys. What do you think of the original steam machines? Were you a consumer of the original steam machines, or are you just now looking forward to the steam deck and you dont actually care about the steam machines at all? Let me know all your thoughts in those comments down below. Of course, if you like the video, give it a like share, subscribe comment, all those things are very helpful for the channel. You can follow me both on instagram and on twitter, at hoosier hardware and as always ill.