Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Steam Machine

Like many kids growing up in a middle class home in the 90's my gaming options were somewhat limited. Once I got into games I didn't really adapt a dominant opinion toward one company or format or another... with maybe the exception of Sega. So not only was I interested in console gaming but PC gaming, too.
This is something that didn't develop much until much, much later in my life. The most I played on my family's home computer were either demos of modern games that barely ran or older games that only ran because they were older. And even then some of them didn't perform at peak performance because my parent's wouldn't shell out the mega tons of cash to get a gaming PC, rightfully so.

Then I went off to college where I used a Mac. You know where this is going.

While I never had the right hardware for PC gaming I was always interested because it was a territory I rarely experienced. So a couple years ago when I got my current laptop that could play PC games competently (many modern games had to have the settings lowered of course) I was naturally excited. My Steam library grew pretty quickly but it was my GOG library where I played the most. Those being the games I fawned over for years with most of the Steam games I came across also being available for console.
I did try to power through a few more modern games on this lesser machine to not much enjoyment. Two decades of using a controller exclusively has turned me off to using a keyboard and mouse. Sure I could use an XBox 360 controller but event then I still sometimes have to use the keyboard or go through a bunch of customization junk I don't want to deal with.

Then Valve's Steam Controller and Steam Box were announced.

PC gaming from my couch? I loved it! I was very excited at the idea of having a console like machine for my Steam library utilizing a controller modeled after something I was much more familiar with. Would it be 100% compatible? No, of course not. Some of the games I have are definitely made for keyboard and mouse but that's fine. Still I wanted to see what this new machine would bring.
Sadly little seemed to be said about it for a long time. It wasn't until recently that I found an article listing the different prices for the different machines that I finally got interested in talking about this again.

Safe to say the pricing was not surprising and I was left disappointed.

Before going any further you may as well take a look at the article I read. Right HERE.

I really should have seen this coming. It was definitely a "too good to be true" that there would be a PC-like console-esque system at an affordable price. The low end costing around $500 and the high end being $5000. Which of course begs the biggest question... which one should I get? Or more importantly... what's the point?

I cannot stress enough how much I love the idea of playing a lot of these PC games from the couch, what with being console in mind and never dove that much into PC. And I guess it was unrealistic for me to expect a console-like unit to sell for a similar price but do what a PC does as a gaming machine. PC is always better in basically every aspect technologically because of the nature of how it's put together. Yet when I look at that list of prices it makes me wonder why I should even bother.
I ask because... can't you just build a regular PC from the bottom up for those prices? Not to mention you can hook up your PC to your TV and use the upcoming Steam controller on your regular old computer? So what's the big deal with the Steam Machine? Convenience? Sure but these prices seem high for something that frankly feels illogical to buy when you can get something similar or better for the same price... depending on how much you want to spend.

I will give it the benefit of a doubt. Maybe there's something I don't know about this machine that would make it better than I think it will be. Not gonna lie, I'm currently more interested in this than I am a PS4 or XBox One. But that's mainly due to the sheer volume of games I already have, making it a sound investment. And I do like how it's going the 3DO route of "we have this core idea but all these companies can make their own machines and games that will play on it." It gives freedom to an otherwise closed off world.
Yet that makes me wonder what I'd be missing out on if I paid $500-$700 for a machine as opposed to a $2,000-$5,000 machine. And the line in the article that says "...the chances you'd need to upgrade anytime in the next 20 years are slim." I find that hard to believe especially on the less expensive end.
It only may ring somewhat true for someone like me because I don't pre-order or buy day one games on Steam all out of fear that they won't work on my machine. I've accumulated a lot of games from the early to mid 2000's period of gaming with a few really new and really old games in the mix. At some point I may get a game that won't work on my machine (if I were to get one) and I find it hard to believe I'd have to wait twenty years for that to happen.

I know jack shit about modern PC companies but I do know Alienware is known for making really good gaming PCs. Seeing them on the cheaper end gives me mixed feelings of comfort, confusion, and worry, though.

So do I think this would be a good investment? Not particularly. I am still curious. Curious to see what they offer, how they perform between models, and so forth. At the very least I am very interested in the controller. I can tell you one thing for sure, there are things I'd rather be spending that kind of money on despite my initial interest in this concept.
Just feels like a lot of money for something that could be done just as well, or better, doing it the old fashioned way.

...also most of the PC games I'm interested right now come from GOG so it's not like I could play them on this machine anyway.

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