Alienware Expects Steam Machine Will Be Least Profitable System

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LatiosXT

Most people I've talked to about the Steam Machine don't think it's relevant.

However, there are a lot of people who think, because Steam is now running on Linux, that it means the death of Windows based gaming. To which I say... "Yeah, let's see the results first. Because every year is supposed to be The Year of Linux"

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bpstone

As with most things people could obtain in real life, Linux distros are not the perfect fit for everyone. People mistakenly think of them as a complete as is OS that should do absolutely everything their Windows PC did without exceptions. Groups of individuals put them together to meet certain needs or desires. You can customize to your heart's content. You could even legally build your own from scratch. A lot of computer scientists who could easily use a Linux distro as their primary work environment instead choose either OS X or Windows for the sake of time and convenience. Windows OSs will continue to dominate for a very long time. The reason why the majority of consumer systems come with Windows has more to do with increasing profits than it being so much better.

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dgrmouse

I was somewhat interested in the concept of small, inexpensive Roku-style Steam boxes to stream games to TVs from some host PC... until I saw how horribly insecure Valve's streaming setup is (it can stream your desktop, too, btw).

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bpstone

I have no intention of buying a preassembled Steam Machine. Throw some hardware from a retired system in a HTPC box and walla!

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jgottberg

I thought the whole idea of a Steambox was pretty silly. I don't hear anyone ever say, "Wow, I'd love to game on a PC but it's just too hard and I can't figure out how to install a game."

I don't understand who the target audience is.

Console gamers are console gamers and aren't going to be woo'd away from the console by buying a Steambox because they just HAVE to have linux. Besides, there are still games that are exclusive to consoles like Madden NFL that they can't play on the PC so they still need a console.

PC gamers already have PC's for gaming and most PC gamers would rather build their own box rather than something off the shelf.

And that leaves pretty much a market for no one or such a small populace that it's not profitable to build these things.

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Renegade Knight

With Windows 7. If you wanted softare you bought it form your favorite vendor. Steam, Origin, Amazon, Direct Download, Local Store etc.

With Windows 8. You can do that on Desktop. However you can only get Metro Apps from the Microsoft App store. At least for non corporate customers. That was a warning shot saying that Microsoft clearly has an intent to be the sole source of software for windows for Metro and a high risk of them implementing that for all of windows at some point.

Valve saw what could happen to Steam and figured out that if MS does what it looks like they are setting themselves up to do they will have something ready and able to allow Steam remain a viable computer game market.

Today there is a small audience. What are we all going to do if MS says. "Windows 9 will only allow software from the App store" ?

I'll keep my used game library going and I'll be happy to buy or make a Steambox.

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Spiral01

I would like to add to your spot on comment. See, I have a PC in my bedroom and a PS3 in my living-room. The switching I do from PC to C onsole allows my seat cushion to become refluffed in both rooms. Also, the pressure on ones spine from sitting in one place all day is abosolutly asking for chronic back issues. Get up and move some, it does a body good, from time to time, of course.

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psycoking

I remember when the iPad came out and everyone was confused as to who the target audience was. Who would want to buy a larger, less portable iPhone? Everyone was looking at the iPad from the wrong angle, thinking of it in terms of their phones rather than looking at it a miniaturized computer that could handle most (laymen) user's daily computing needs in a form factor smaller and lighter than a laptop.

I know, I said something positive about an Apple product :( But I think there are some parallels here. It seems to me that everyone is looking at Steam Machines the wrong way, which is why there seems to be a lot of confusion about them.

Everyone is looking at Steam Machines as though they were consoles, which they are not. If I remember correctly Gabe Newell himself said that they are not going after console gamers with Steam Machines. While I've heard some console gamers that were interested in trying PC gaming express interest in Steam Machines, these people are not the target audience.

Steam Machines are small form factor gaming PCs whose appearance would fit in well with in a living room setting.

The target audience is PC gamers looking to hook up a PC to their home theater for gaming, but don't want to move their PC out of their office, don't want a tower in their living room, want something that won't look out of place on their TV stand, but don't necessarily want to spend the time or energy shopping for parts and building their own mini-ITX rig.

Personally, I'm a part of this target audience. Right now I have a full tower PC hooked up to my TV, but I really wish I had something that fit in my TV stand and looked good against my consoles, etc. I've been looking into mini-ITX cases for a while, and I also have quite a bit of interest in Steam Machines. I doubt I'm the only PC gamer looking for an HTPC gaming rig that's interested in Steam Machines either.

It's a niche audience, but one that's not that small. Plus interest in Steam Machines or similar small form factor rigs will probably grow once more PC gamers start seeing them in the wild.

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jbitzer

I can think of a few targets, but it's going to require them to get a few more of the promised features perfected and do the right marketing.

They could totally sell these if they are small, quiet and lower power consuming enough.

First, they need to get the media functions on point and easy to use.

Then they have to perfect streaming, they could sell these on the idea of upgrading one pc, and streaming to the old steam machine you bought years ago, it isn't like there are going to be a ton of upgrades to the living room TV in the next decade, 4k took like 10 years over 1080.

I would love to have all of my data, media, games, etc, on a central machine, and be able to just access it from the silent little box in the living room, but the convergence isn't here yet.

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jgottberg

I see what you guys are saying about the streaming option, that is pretty cool. The only problem is that there isn't a "standard" game controller for PC games.

For instance, if I were a flight sim guy and wanted to see the glorious horizon on a 65 inch TV, I'd have to make sure all of the peripherals like thrust stick and all the other flight sim controllers were compatible with the Steambox. Not only that, I'd have to carry that equipment from room to room anytime I decided to play on the PC again.

If playing in the living room, a KB/mouse isn't very convenient to use on my laptop...

And not all games are gamepad compatible. I play MW3 on PC and use the gamepad from time to time. I still have to navigate menus with the KB/mouse but play the game with the gamepad. Way too cumbersome.

Can't the same streaming be done without a steambox if you have the same nVidia cards in both the main PC and streaming pc?

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jbitzer

SO, as for peripherals, I agree, that's one of the features they have to perfect. Essentially, Valve will have to "own" Steam OS and ensure compatibility. Don't forget, there are different controllers and peripherals with consoles too, that's why I don't see it being a huge obstacle, as it's not a unique problem or new ground, a decent API could take care of it, unless I'm way off base. Plus, I still occasionally have to grab a gamepad from another room for one of my xboxes.

As for streaming, it works on some titles, but it's not that great. I know I got a decent framerate on my laptop with bioshock 3, but then my laptop can play Bioshock3 on its own better than the streaming looked. The streaming kind of gave me a headache.

Steam does have big screen mode or whatever that lets you control the interface with a game pad, so That issue seems to be more of an interface design problem to overcome, not a game breaking limitation.

If they could refine Steam OS to work like the Xbox or PS3 interface, and get the streaming to be seamless, it could be a great whole home system.

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jgottberg

True that with different controllers for consoles as well... I guess time will tell.

I've never used the streaming option but have used the big screen mode and they pull that off pretty well. Even in that mode however, I still have to use KB/mouse to navigate menus within the game itself. The gamepad works fine on the Steam menus and such.

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SliceAndDice

Until this article today I had completely forgotten the name "Steambox." I think that means they're irrelevant. That idea had Ouya written all over it.

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John Pombrio

I am surprised that Steam machines are not already dead. We know what they will be and have people trying them with tepid reviews. The biggest issue is that there is no "standard" for a Steam machine, some pack them to the gills while others go cheap. That means you can buy a Steam machine that is not capable of playing the games you own. Therefore, all Linux games on Steam will have to say "this game is good to go on this brand, this brand, but not this brand."
"Steam Machines?" Just die already, will you?

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jbitzer

you know, or you can use the game streaming feature, but I'd hate someone to jump all over me for picking on you, so that's all I'll say.

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jgottberg

lol!

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fung0

You have to be careful with price comparisons...

1. This is the first generation of Steam Machines. DVD players started at over $1,000. Seems ridiculous now. Sony sold the PS3 for $650. There's no reason a PC can't be competitive, when you look at pricing on laptops. Early models are likely to appeal to the high end customer - players who want a truly state-of-the-art gaming machine, not a hobbled toy like the PS4 or XB1.

2. Console pricing sounds lower than it is. There are hidden gotchas. First, you need a subscription to get the full service, including things that nobody would pay for with a PC. Over the life of the unit, those fees add at least $200 to the price tag. Second, with several incompatible consoles in the market, you always need more than one to play all the new game releases. Even though the PS4 and XB1 in particular are almost identical inside. Third, both the PS4 and XB1 have been squeezed so tightly on pricing that both will almost certainly need a hard drive upgrade to play the coming wave of 50GB games.

3. Steam Machines will have a dramatically lower R&D cost than the consoles. Microsoft and Sony spend idiotic amounts of money every few years to re-invent the wheel. They create proprietary operating systems from scratch. And end up with something that's essentially a generic, mediocre PC with no expandability or compatibility. They also ask players to re-purchase all their old games. SteamOS needs a one-time transition to GNU/Linux, and most Steam Machines will be able to boot Windows as well. So, way more bang for the bucks.

There's no question, from an engineering standpoint, that Steam Machines are how living room gaming SHOULD work. Sure, there was a niche for the NES and SNES and N64. But somewhere in the Xbox/PS generations, that niche closed up.

At the very least, the dual standard is no longer supportable. Like Beta, or HD DVD, at least one of the major consoles needs to die. But why not ditch both and move to a more sensible system, with real competition among numerous hardware vendors? Prices may start a bit higher, but they'll nosedive if consumers are sensible enough to see where their best interests lie.

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LatiosXT

The point of a gaming console is this:

I want to sit down on my couch, plop a game in, and get started. No need to worry about hardware configurations, setting up options (except maybe controls or brightness if that needs adjustment), have a controller in my hand, and I'm ready to go. It's simplicity that makes console gaming an experience some people enjoy more than PC gaming.

You can't get that with a gaming PC. Sure, there's been a push to reach that point, but it's still a far cry from it. And to non-PC gamers, PC gaming is something like sitting at a desk, with a mouse and keyboard in front of a smaller screen. That doesn't sound like a very comforting experience after a long day at work.

And if you're going to get a PC that's just dedicated to games and lives in the living room, to me, that just screams "get a damn game console". A PC should be a multifunctional device. If I wanted a machine for one task, I want a machine engineered for that specific task.

As far as the fees and pricing go, only XBL Gold is the ripoff. PS+ gives you a selection of discounted games and free-for-life games. No, that's not free for the life of the subscription, free for life period that you can access if you have a subscription (and you've downloaded it when it was free).

The other thing that makes me sort of face palm is the notion that Sony and Microsoft blow away money, rather than using Linux. The thing is, Linux is often provided as-is with no support. In fact, much of the GNU licensed software runs on this model. So if they're going to spend resources supporting an OS, they may as well support one that they built and know well.

Also Sony uses a FreeBSD based OS and much of the system software is either GNU licensed, BSD licensed, or some other open source license. Go pull it up on the consoles, the free software license list is pretty lengthy.

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Renegade Knight

I can't get that with a console anymore either.

"You can't play your game until you download the update."
"You can't play your game unless you sign in."
"You can't play your game unless you are online."

The era of plug and play is ending fast. Even on consoles.

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John Pombrio

"Steam machines" are just rebranded PCs with a deliberately hobbled operating system. Should not cost a whit more than any other PC that does not include a decent operating system installed.

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jbitzer

Precisely. There will be a markup though to cover the support that alienware usually bundles with their system, and labor is not an outrageous markup.

Deliberately hobbled, might be a bit harsh though, it's not as if they are breaking something out there, it's just not very feature rich. Besides, you can install any old OS you want on it.

I'm more interested in seeing if boutiques will start making custome components in smaller enclosures, This is what is most appealing to me, that and getting the streaming to be stable. I want a NUC or BRIX or smaller sized machine that's quiet, has low power draw, and no noise that I can stream fro mthe big noisy beast upstairs.

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balindos

PC people these machines are not for you. These are for the console loving people who dont game on pc. We all know we can build our own at a cheaper price. Knowledge does pay. Quick hating on it and appreciate that it is only going to bring more games to the PC.

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wumpus

I don't get the hate (other than a revulsion at alienware). A PC type can likely throw together some sort of Steambox from old parts* and suddenly have all your unplayed games available in the living room. Even if you insist on ITX components, it doesn't mean a pre-packaged computer.

* those who might have trouble cramming yet another computer in the house might take a page from the VCRvo (a mediabox casemodded into a VCR). Susan (wife of our casemodder) had put down her foot on "no more computers upstairs", but was happy to have an ultra-powerful VCR. First gen (read largest) consoles ought to be cheap (well, except for PS3s with emulation, go with RRod Xboxen).

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Rift2

Steam Machines are not marketed enough like you can't buy one at Walmart which is the problem they have no identity are brand marketing predictability. It's a bunch of parts put together by various companies for the coach big picture mode player which is dominated by X-box one an PS4.

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devin3627

if it tickles you enough, just buy a alienware case and put your cheapest shit in it, nobody would know the difference........................ its ludicrous, we have better things to look at than the Porsche or Ferrari of computers. i've always thought alienware was dumb as hell, i NEVER met a single person who bought them. they should of died off as a fad years ago.

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devin3627

i have a power supply i have had since 2009, and a case since then too. these stupid-ass things are pathetic. i paid $300 black friday november for my machine upgrade, these pieces of shit... you should just pay for half the price and upgrade your machine with half the price when your obsolete and you need a piece of shit machine like these that go obsolete so quick. wooooO! warrenty! bolony! warranties never work for PCs, they delete all your data whenever they do warranty. all companies NEVER f**king give a f**k about your DATA! they lose it. these machines have NO point of existance. they are a f**king rip off. they send you a new harddrive clean formatted. f**k dell. they did that to me. scammers.

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jbitzer

You need to spend less time posting about how old your hardware is and more in class kid, then your rants might fall on this side of coherence.

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jason2393

Just accept Steam Machines as the loss leaders for now (manufacturer-wise). The less manufacturers make on them now, the bigger the market will become, and the more they can make on them in the future.

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devin3627

idiots. should start selling 1 million dollar machines, not everyone is rich, they have their heads stuck in their ass when they go to work everyday to see fellow humans with lots of money in their stiff prick business uniforms, they are all caught in their own little world of peps. why do you think Obama is the president? hmmmmm, most of the people in this world all chose him of similar preference. especially in a bad economy, are you all stupid? "one day we will see Ferrari's on the way to work on every corner, the world is only getting better." idiots, people like price tags, all the time you fail and history repeats itself, especially with bitcoin, (heard of the rise and fall of the roman empire?) all unrealistic visions, thats what most people have. can't foresee and lack common sense.

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jbitzer

what in the holy hell are you even babbling about?

Go take your meds, you are a clock tower and a rifle away from a rampage right now.

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AFDozerman

Is it just me or does that sound a lot like silencer?

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kiaghi7

So instead of being ludicrously overpriced, it will just be preposterously overpriced?

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Ninjawithagun

0.0 LMAO!! Yes indeed. Alienware went "Plaid" years ago with their MSRP for their products.

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devin3627

COME ON F**KING 10K FOR A RIG. LOOK IT UP. $10,000 FOR A COMPUTER?!?! $14,000 SYSTEMS IN 2004

Do you get it? alienware charging extreme prices. if a business decided to buy 100 of these machines for its offices, it'd cost over a million dollars. now F**K that! the videocard is the most precious piece to the machine, SSDs once were but look at them now, not trying to rip off everyone. you are buying the "name" with these overhyped shit. |

these things are as bat-shit as religion.

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USMC3531

Let me preface my comment with the statement that I would never buy an Alienware system. I like to build my own, and I think that's a better value.

Now on with my comment:

You have got to stop smoking whatever you are smoking. I just went on Alienware's website and tried to build the most expensive system I could (within reason) and I had a hard time cracking $5,000. I don't know where you are getting $10k from much less $14k.

These Steam Machines are not being built for you or me. They are being built for someone that doesn't have the confidence or the experience to build their own machine. Not everyone knows how to get a PC running again when something goes wrong with it. They need a company they can call and get help rather than having one PC part manufacturer blaming another for something that is wrong with the system.

It's this kind of attitude that is scaring off those dirty console peasants from our chosen way of life. Suppose you are a console person and you are looking for a low-cost way to get into PC gaming. You don't have any friends that are PC people because they play console also. You don't know how to build a PC and you are too nervous to just look it up online and throw over $500 away when you may very well screw up the process. You see Steam Machines advertised and think that sounds good and then you have PC elitists such as yourself pushing people away from a viable entry into the PC universe.

I see nothing wrong with Steam Machines. Valve is trying to show console users the light about PC gaming. PC vendors are jumping on board because they hope that it will help to expand PC gamin in the future, and here you are complaining because Dell screwed you over years ago.

This is why we can't have nice things.

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Ninjawithagun

I do agree with you that the Alienware laptops and desktops today are at around the $5000 price range fully loaded (not including extra 3rd party software). However, that does not justify saying that Alienware does not overprice their products, because they do. Other companies sell the same types of configurations with the exact same hardware specs for thousands less.

I also agree with you in that comparing Steam machines to PCs is probably a misguided agrument altogether. They are very different products aimed at different consumers. Dell knows this and is once again trying to exploit this portion of the market by offering an overpriced piece of hardware to fill the gap. Once again, Dell will fail as other Steam box competitors will offer less expensive alternatives with the same or better hardware specs.

And Dell wonders why they are in financial trouble. Plain and simple. Price your products to be sold by the vast majority - the middle income population. The middle income population makes up for about 80% of the total working force and also accounts for the vast majority of profitable margin within the sales market. Why on Earth would any company aim a product to the vast minority high income population. Plain and simple, there is no profit to be made by doing so. This has been proven over again and again. When will Dell learn to properly market their products effectively so that a profit can actually be made? Dell is ultimately doomed to failure. It's only a matter of when and not if...

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/story?id=88223