Valve, the company behind Portal, Half-Life, and digital video game download service Steam, has delayed the launch of its first pieces of hardware, pushing the release window of its Steam Machines and Steam controller from 2014 to 2015. In a post on Steam, Valve's Eric Hope suggested the release dates were pushed back to allow the company to work on the controller, after live playtests with wireless prototypes generated a "ton of useful feedback." While Hope said that feedback means Valve will be able to make its Steam controller "a lot better," it's also keeping the team behind the project "pretty busy making all those improvements."
Valve's Steam controller, first announced in 2013, is the result of more than two years of research and design by the video game company. In its current form, the controller sports two touchpads on its front, in place the analog sticks present on most modern console controllers. Using the touchpads offers players very precise control over their games, but as The Verge reported last November, the experience isn't immediately intuitive for people weaned on analog stick or keyboard and mouse control.
Valve didn't say whether third-party Steam Machines would launch this year
In his post, Hope didn't clarify how the delay will impact the planned launch of its Linux-based operating system, SteamOS. Nor did he specify whether the 14 other companies also aiming to release a Steam Machine will be delaying their own launches. It was assumed that the third-party machines, from PC builders and component manufacturers such as Zotac, Gigabyte, and CyberPowerPC, would ship with Steam controllers. Alienware, one of Valve's hardware partners, announced earlier in the year that it planned to launch its own Steam machine this September.
Games are being ported to SteamOS slowly
Valve has taken its time in the run-up to the launch of its Steam Machines, only recently ending a lengthy beta trial of Steam's new In-Home Streaming service. Slow too is the pace at which top-rated games are being made playable on the Linux-based SteamOS. Valve boss Gabe Newell foreshadowed his company's decision to focus on Linux in 2012 when he branded Windows 8 "a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space," but despite the steady stream of games being ported to the operating system, SteamOS' software library still pales in comparison with the number of games available on Windows systems.
The delay is an annoyance for those hoping to have their small-form living room PCs by the end of the year, but it's not an unexpected move. After all, Valve is a company so well-known for lengthy release schedules that fans have coined the term "Valve time" — "like a New York minute, but in reverse" — to describe the glacial pace of release cycles.