Valve Steam Machine release date, news and features

Is the conquest of the living room destined to be a three-way fight once more?

Valve Steam Box release date news and features

Once there was a world where PC gaming was at the desk, console gaming was in the living room and never the two shall meet. That's all coming to a close now, as Valve prepares to bring Steam to your HDTV thanks to the Steam Box.

If you're unfamiliar with Steam, think of it as iTunes for video games, with a buddy list and chat for joining your friend's games. It started off on Windows PCs, but now has a healthy number of titles for Mac, too.

Valve's Steam Machines are set to shake up tradition, bringing PC gaming to the living room TV. They won't actually be built by Valve - third part manufacturers will be putting together their own boxes - but Valve will be injecting them with SteamOS, its currently-in-beta, Linux-based operating system.

Valve already took a big step into the living room with Steam's Big Picture mode, but that still required putting a computer in your entertainment center, or running a really long HDMI cable, at the very least. Perhaps because of that, a lot of the phrasing in Valve's SteamOS reveal treats Steam and the SteamOS interchangeably.

Still, Valve's goals with Steam Machines and SteamOS are clear: give PC gaming the ease and accessibility that console jockeys already enjoy, and do so in a way that lets OEMs make the hardware and compete.

And put Steam right at the center of it, ready to vacuum up the cash like it's the Steam summer sale all year long.

Valve Steam Box release date news features

The journey from announcement to launch has been long and a tad messy, but at GDC 2015 Valve revealed the final details of its living room plans, which included Machines, the revised controller and its Vive virtual reality headset.

Syber, one of Valve's early Steam Machine partners (and a sub-division of CyberPowerPC), got in there early, announcing a slew of new Steam boxes that will be available later this year. That includes a number of different variants: Steam Machine-Mini, Steam Machine-Mercury and Steam Machine-Switch and Steam Machine-X. The Mini will cost you $450 (about £290, AU$575) while the high-end X comes in at $1,400 (about £910, AU$1,780).

But during a briefing with Valve we were able to see the full final lineup of Steam Machines that will be arriving in November. Zotac, Maingear, Digital Storm, and Scan Computers all have boxes in the roster, and you can get into more of the specifics of each here.

Valve Steam Box release date news and features
Valve would probably like to see this as a metaphor for the console's grip on your TV

Meet the final Steam Controller.

A tricky part of the Steam Machines will be input, and Valve is trying to solve the problem with its own Steam Controller, which is part of the reason the Steam Machines are taking so damn long to arrive. Valve's gamepad has undergone a number of iteration on its journey to launch, but we got to play with the final iteration of it at GDC 2015 - you can read our initial thoughts here.

Last year, Valve announced it has taken user feedback into account and decided to take the controller back to the drawing board.

"It's generating a ton of useful feedback, and it means we'll be able to make the Controller a lot better," Valve's blog post read. Making sure the controller is absolutely spot-on seems to be a huge priority for Valve, and rightfully so.

Steam Controller

Hands on with Alienware's Steam Machine at E3

Since Lily Prasuethsut went hands on with the Alpha at E3 2014, she has seen its final user interface in screen shots. Check out here most recent impressions of the Alienware Steam Machine.

Alienware went through eight revisions over two years in collaboration with Valve before it came to its final Steam Machine. That's how serious Alienware claims to be about Valve's hardware initiative.

Steam Machines

Now it seems the Steam Machine with the alien head logo could be one of the first to hit the market. Dell plans on releasing the Alienware Alpha regardless of whether the Steam Machine program goes live this year. And at E3 2014, we got some extra hands on time with the device, now known as Alpha and with finalized specs.

Hands on with Valve's Steam Controller at GDC 2014

Valve has almost entirely transformed the face of its Steam Box controller since we last saw it at CES 2014. Now, the company is set on getting the input device to market by holiday 2014, so it can be bundled with every make and model of Steam Box, and sold separately at a "competitive" price point. That said, a few planned features have been put on the back burner, if not tossed out entirely. Regardless, it's still a novel and functional method of control.

While it's disappointing to see Valve ditch a unique feature like the controller's touchscreen, the company has a history of going back to the drawing board to much success. When the controller and Steam Machines come out this holiday season, it won't be prying the keyboard and mouse from fingers, it'll be joining them.

We go even more in depth on the new changes to Valve's divisive input device in text form. Read all about them in our updated hands on Steam Controller review.

The Steam Box is coming. Half-Life 3 confirmed?

Hmmm, maybe. At least that's what Counter Strike co-creator Minh Le suggested in an interview with goRGNtv. "I think it's kind of public knowledge, that people know that it is being worked on," Le said. "And so if I were to say that yeah, I've seen some images, like some concept art of it, that wouldn't be big news to be honest."

"I guess I could say that I did see something that looked kinda like in the Half-Life universe," said Le.

Will Half-Life 3 launch alongside the first wave of Steam Machines? Well it makes sense, though perhaps Portal 3 would be better suited to Valve's virtual reality headset...

Steam Box hardware partners unveiled at CES 2014

CES 2014 wasn't really a gaming show, but thanks to the Steam Machines, games dominated the headlines this year. Well, games and Michael Bay's Samsung implosion.

Before introducing the world to its thirteen official hardware partners, Valve's head honcho Gabe Newell addressed the crowd. It was an informal chat, Newell fielded questions from the crowd and teased that 3 million Xbox One sales still puts Microsoft's console behind Steam's install base.

Newell: Dota 2 is "bigger than Monday night football"

Then came the prototypes, from behind a literal curtain. PC building moguls such as Alienware, Origin, Maingear, Gigabyte and more were represented. See them all on display in the video below.

All the Steam Boxes from CES 2014