Valve has gone ahead and quietly hidden a link to its Steam Machines webpage from the Steam store itself, a move indicative of the ill-fated project to push a console-like transition for gaming PCs in the living room. The move, noticed by PC Gamer today, doesn’t mean Steam Machines can no longer be purchased. You can still find the live link here, and you can even purchase the recommended Alienware Alpha Steam Machine from Dell if you so choose, as well as the Valve-designed SteamOS controller over on Amazon. But the “hardware” tab on Steam now only shows the Steam Controller, the HTC Vive headset, and Valve’s game streaming service Steam Link.
It’s clear Steam Machines are no longer a priority for Valve, which couldn’t overcome the product category’s nebulous target consumer. Those interested in PC gaming were always more keen on a desktop setup with a mouse and keyboard, not a console-like hybrid that plugged into a living room TV. And those not eager to use a desktop were more likely to spend time gaming in the living room using a PlayStation or Xbox console. That left Valve catering a niche audience that never really grew substantially enough to warrant putting more time and resources toward hardware and software design, despite some of the benefits provided by the Linux-based SteamOS.
As PC Gamer points out, the Steam Machine initiative also suffered from delays, cancellations, and high costs of entry for consumers. Back in 2015, when the project was at its peak, it was difficult to recommend anyone really buy into the presumed vision. Eventually, Valve shifted its focus to game streaming with the launch of Steam Link, and Steam Machines have withered due to a lack of support across the board. It’s too bad, as the idea of PC gaming in the living room remains an attractive one that’s nonetheless still out of reach.