The concept of a Steam Box has been interesting from the beginning. Harness the power of a PC, include the expandability and upgradability, but keep the system simple and secure.

Unfortunately, that dream is slightly farther away at this point. Valve used their Steam Community page to post an update on the Steam Machine status:

"We've been getting emails from the Steam community asking us how our in-development Steam Machines are coming along. It's great that you're excited about it, and we know you appreciate it when we keep you in the loop on stuff like this, so we wanted to give you all a quick update.

We’re now using wireless prototype controllers to conduct live playtests, with everyone from industry professionals to die-hard gamers to casual gamers. It's generating a ton of useful feedback, and it means we'll be able to make the controller a lot better. Of course, it's also keeping us pretty busy making all those improvements. Realistically, we're now looking at a release window of 2015, not 2014.

Obviously we're just as eager as you are to get a Steam Machine in your hands. But our number one priority is making sure that when you do, you'll be getting the best gaming experience possible. We hope you'll be patient with us while we get there. Until then, we’ll continue to post updates as we have more stories to share."

The controllers are unlike anything seen on any previous console, so it’s not surprising they are generating a lot of feedback.

E3 is just around the corner, so hopefully there will be a more comprehensive update at that time.

Source: Valve via ArsTechnica

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  • Murloc - Thursday, May 29, 2014 - link

    Steam now (or will soon, I've seen it in the steam news) supports LAN streaming of games between computers logged in with the same user. Basically virtual desktop for the game. And while it currently supports only windows as host, it supports linux and mac os as clients.
    This means that as long as you have a PC in the house, a weak steambox on linux may still do what it needs to do to be a casual gaming platform, even if games don't support linux.

    Of course the latency will probably not be acceptable for competitive multiplayer gamers (especially FPS), but it's fine for casual gamers.
    After all, competitive players will not use that controller or play from the couch, and they're a minority.
  • Flunk - Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - link

    I'm not sure I see this being a big seller no matter when it launches.
  • dagnamit - Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - link

    It won't be a big seller when it launches, but it will pick up when people are tired of the underpowered consoles and see what a $500 midrange PC can do. Native 4k gaming will be possible at around $500 in the next 2-3 years. That's the system seller. People need to justify that big 4k screen.
  • inighthawki - Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - link

    Native 4K in 2-3 years on a $500 PC? lol. Unless your plans include running 5 years old games, that's not gonna happen.
  • dstarr3 - Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - link

    The problem I have is that I struggle to justify spending gaming PC money on a PC that only does games. I put a lot of money into my PC, sure, and a lot of that delivers a great gaming experience, but this PC is also a workstation for me. I put in all this horsepower for a wide range of tasks. Therefore, I could justify the cost. But I really can't see myself or anyone really investing so much money into a PC that they then just shove under their TV and only use for the single purpose of gaming.

    I think it just makes a lot more sense to run an HDMI cable out to the TV and play that way, or if home layout makes that difficult, building a small, quiet, $300-ish HTPC for streaming. Because, if you don't have a gaming-capable computer, why would you buy/build one and just stuff it under the TV instead of using it for everything, and if you do have one already, why would you spend so much on another when streaming will be perfectly acceptable and much cheaper?

    There's just a lot better solutions to the problems that Steam Machines are being designed to solve. As much as I want PC gaming to be simpler and more foolproof like console gaming, I'm skeptical. Because Steam Machines don't solve any of the problems inherent in developing games for PC versus console.
  • hpglow - Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - link

    Valve's streaming solution works very well. I conducted some tests between two wirelessly connected PCs and in most cases it worked nicely. I used wireless just so I could see worst case scenario on my network. The input lag was not noticeable (I perceived none). There was jerkyness in only one title and it was very minor and cleared up quickly. Color banding occurs during dark scenes. I think streaming will be the real home run assuming the user has a decent gaming rig somewhere in the home.

    I will root for Valve and hope the OS goes somewhere but I run Linux all day and they have some serious hurdles to make it consumer ready. I have a stack of wireless adapters that only work with windows. A couple I bought because reviews stated Linux support only to find out the vendor had switched to another chipset. Stuff like that and lack of software will be hard to overcome.
  • Impulses - Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - link

    I think streaming could be a real hit for people like myself and dstarr3, I would really rather just play most games with a kb and mouse at the same desk where I get other stuff done (photography post processing etc)... But I'll be all over streaming if I can buy a cheap box that allows me to stream games that are big screen friendly like console ports, party games, etc. Would never invest in a dedicated HTPC (my DVR, Chromecast, etc meet all my needs) but I'll happily jump on the streaming bandwagon.
  • inighthawki - Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - link

    What games did you test? Obviously something like an FPS will have higher perception of latency than say, a point and click RPG :)

    I for example an incapable of playing any game with vsync enabled, which at a solid 60Hz typically adds a worst case of about 48ms of latency (3 queued frames ahead), but often less. I've heard that the average latency just from the streaming adds about 75ms of latency on a wired connection. For me this would be completely unplayable. TVs often also have (sometimes significantly) worse latency than a monitor, especially those for gaming.

    I'd like to try the streaming myself, but at this point I cannot even imagine it being acceptable for me :(
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - link

    I say try it. Steam Streaming is out of beta, so anyone can use it now.

    Your total latency will come down to your input device(s), gaming PC, network, streaming PC, and its display. A lot can go wrong, but in my testing at home, nothing did. I tested on two gaming PCs (as the 1920x1200 sources) and streamed to five different PCs (mix of wired and wireless). In general, the wired connection always added about 20ms to the experience while wireless was a range of 35-55ms.

    In total with all parts considered, it's probably gets as high as 75ms over wireless, but the connection itself does not add that much latency which surprised me greatly. You won't be happy if you expect twitch-perfect latency from a dedicated gaming machine, but for everything else, it's really damn good.
  • Impulses - Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - link

    What are the exact client requirements? I don't really have a spare laptop that's recent enough to just try it myself (old netbook and a Core Duo are the only laptops around here)... I'm wondering how cheap they can make the client boxes tho. For $200 or less I'd get one just to try it and see how it evolves.

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