Steam Machines released for PC gamers who don’t want to build rigs

Valve’s Steam Machine initiative was met with a confused, lukewarm response after Gabe Newell revealed the first wave of consolized PCs at #CES2014 — at least from the online denizens who comment on articles, social media sites, and Web forums.

One of the most repeated knocks against #Steam Machines (even more so than the Linux-based operating system which currently supports a fraction of Steam’s #catalog) is that PC gamers won’t want them as they can build their own rigs for less money.

Is that so?

If all these PC gamers are constructing their own beast machines, then how does Alienware, iBuyPower, and other PC manufacturers stay in business?

There’s a prevailing attitude, perhaps one born of platform elitism, that PC gamers are hunkered down in their game rooms, constantly swapping RAM sticks, updating drivers, replacing hard drives, and other such hardcore computer leanings. It’s probably safe to say that at some point PC gamer will pop their systems’ tops and tinker with the innards, but that doesn’t mean that every one of them desires to build one from the ground up.

The iBuyPower SBX Steam Machine.

In a previous piece, Jeffrey L. Wilson wrote about Steam Machines and an oft-overlooked convenience factor. The idea of placing a console-like PC in my entertainment center is much more appealing than having a laptop or traditional desktop in the living room (or snaking wires between rooms). Alienware catered to people like me with the X51, a PC that looks very much like a video game console. In fact, the rumor mill once stated that the X51 may have been based on an early Steam Machine spec.

If PC gaming is to find a place in the living room, it will need to take a new form. People will want a gaming PC that blends well with their big screen TV, IKEA stand, DVR, and cable box. Traditional desktops and laptops aren’t seen as “living room” devices, but a streamlined box that effortlessly exists fits into the pre-existing environment could do the job quite nicely. Valve spokesperson Anna Sweet agrees.

“And a lot of people want to buy a new, dedicated living room machine that’s sort of a nicer form factor for putting on a shelf in your living room,” said Sweet in an interview with Joystiq.

The big picture: Steam Machines are PCs in an entertainment room-friendly body. You’ll find them in multiple builds, price ranges, and operating systems as with any other PC.

And a portion of the PC gamer audience will buy them without building.

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