Valve has posted a spirited defence of both Steam Machines and the future of gaming on Linux on its Steam Community forums.
Valve’s response (opens in new tab) comes after news that the company had removed prominent links on its Store to Steam Machines. These are compact, console-like gaming PCs that run a customised version of Linux called SteamOS.
Many people took Valve’s move as a sign that the company was giving up on Steam Machines, as well as SteamOS, and while these were rather niche products, many people who were looking for a viable gaming alternative to Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system were disappointed.
No ghosts in the Steam Machines
The forum post, written by Valve employee Pierre-Loup Griffais, insists that the removal of any reference to Steam Machines was simply “a routine cleanup of the Steam Store navigation”, which was “removed from the main navigation bar based on user traffic”.
Because this move sparked a large number of people to speculate on the future of Steam Machines, Valve decided to set the record straight. As the post acknowledges, “While it's true Steam Machines aren't exactly flying off the shelves, our reasons for striving towards a competitive and open gaming platform haven't significantly changed.”
This means that Valve's commitment to Linux remains intact. Many gamers and developers aren’t too happy with the dominance of the Windows operating system for gaming PCs. Microsoft’s push to make its own Microsoft Store, a rival to Valve’s Steam store, an integral part of Windows 10 could be seen as a major reason why Valve wants to set up an alternative operating system.
The Microsoft Store isn’t too popular with many gamers either, due to its lack of content, high prices and locked-down nature that prevents people modding games. The fact that you need to buy a licence for Windows 10, while SteamOS – like other Linux distros – is free, is another reason why people aren’t too happy with being stuck with Windows.
While Valve is honest about the lack of success of Steam Machines, it highlights that it has learnt a lot from customer feedback, and is working to address a number of issues. One of these is by its ongoing investment in the Vulkan graphics API, which is an open source alternative to Microsoft’s Windows-only DirectX tools. If more developers use Vulkan, more games should be able to run on Linux.
So, it’s good to see that Valve remains dedicated to finding an alternative to Windows for PC gamers. If Windows is indeed dying, or Microsoft continues to annoy gamers, then the need for a different operating system for our gaming rigs will be more important than ever.