Linux Support Is Priority Over Streaming For Steam Machines

Steam Machines is being positioned to be important, not only for the Linux Foundation, but for PC hardware manufacturers.

by on 10th Jan, 2014

Steam Product Designer Greg Coomer has gone on record on CES that native Linux support for games on the Steam Machines is Valve's priority over its streaming features.

Coomer actually told press that their content partners are interested in native Linux support. This will help extend the reach of said developers, and also explains why Steam Machine manufacturers were eager to unveil the most high end configurations.

In light of this, streaming is a meaningful, but transitional feature. It will feel great to have your entire library at your finger tips in the living room thanks to streaming, and there is no intention to delay the release of lower end Steam Machines that were made precisely for streaming as well.

Coomer’s statements are interesting because it makes two implications. One, Valve is reaffirming their commitment to the Linux Foundation, to help propel the platform forward. Two, in spite of the earlier hype, they’re downplaying streaming in general. (I believe the streaming feature was upsold by many early observers in articles like this one.)

So it turns out streaming isn’t intended to be Steam Machines’ killer application, as some outlets have implied, but is intended to be a transitional feature. One could imagine, as the years pass, presuming Steam Machines enjoys wide adoption, PCs will upgrade and Steam Machines will come along with it, at a faster rate than consoles. This will give Valve a huge edge over their technological rivals Sony and Microsoft, who are betting big on the cloud instead.

Oddly enough, this places Valve in the same position as Nintendo. Both are affirming the quality of physical hardware over the possibilities offered by streaming and the cloud, even as they lightly play around with those same possibilities. Even more than that, however, Valve is ultimately positioning themselves as a key player for PC manufacturers for the years to come. Who wants to take bets Microsoft will be losing some of their OEM business to Valve? If nothing else, I think this is most certainly happening.

Image is of Falcon Northwest’s Steam Machine line, the Tiki.

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