A New Challenger Enters: Steam Machines vs. PlayStation 4

The console wars have been something that companies have taken part in since more than one system at a time became the norm on the market. The major players on the market have been pretty much the same for the last almost 20 years since the original PlayStation came onto the market. Some systems have completely dropped out of the running and been replaced with others. At this time Sony’s biggest contender is of course Microsoft but it seems as a new possibility is entering the ring as the digital marketplace expands for many people. Steam Machines, Valve’s “Steam powered” box is joining the fight.

Many game fans are familiar with Valve’s Steam site. It is one of the main sites that people looking to get legitimate digital copies of AAA as well as fun indie titles turn to. The company’s seasonal sales draw in thousands of buyers as they slash prices for digital copies of some of the hottest games of that year and with the low prices, it is almost as if the company is giving them away. Because of the easy access that players have found with the Steam platform, the company has found success.

Now they’re moving away from a solely a digital download market into producing their own dedicated machines. Well, it will be more like the Android in that they will be providing the operating system, the SteamOS and other hardware developers will be producing the actual hardware. The profit for the company will be coming from the Steam Store where players will be downloading games.

From just the surface it seems like the forthcoming Steam Machines will not offer any real competition to the systems like the PlayStation 4. The dedicated game machine has been developed with the sole purpose of game play. Sony has a strong following and history of a solid and enjoyable product. The response from their fan base as well as those that have decided to switch over to the PlayStation 4 for their next generation console.

Steam Machines vs. PlayStation 4However, Steam has managed to corner one market that Sony is still admittedly struggling with, the digital market. Although Sony is making moves to into the digital market the majority of console games are still brought on disks. Sony wants to move into the digital market and although their user interface for such activities is well established, they have not been able to make the move over compelling for shoppers.

But Valve coming in with the Steam machines could potentially change the playing field for everyone involved gaming. It may in fact prove itself to be stiff competition in that Steam machines will help computer gamers move of their machines in into the living room which is a space traditionally reserved for console play breaking down the final barrier for many players who prefer their PCs to consoles.

But other small systems that come at a lower cost have not managed to break into the market such as the Ouya. The difference is that Steam already has a following of fans to help build up and promote this system. They have user base of over 50 million people who are already using their service. Purchasing a dedicated system is a quick adjustment.

The other point is games. Steam has the same titles that are put out on the major consoles combined with the ability to award instant gratification to users looking to purchase them. They have already worked with and solved the issues of downloading large games simply because that is all their platform does. There is no need to worry about other system requirements as the device would likely but only for the streaming of virtual media.

These are all high points in its development but it still has some logistical obstacles to tackle before it can truly take the crown. The Steam Machine ideally exists in a world where everyone has access to the internet all the time. This however is not the reality of the world that we currently live in. Many game players still do not have access to the internet or have low bandwidth for a number of reasons. The number at a guess would seem small but it is actually quite significant. Simply put, the world is not as wired as we would all like to think.

Because of this, although the ideals of the Steam Box are quite possibly the wave of the future, the disconnect between it and the current market means it is not likely to topple the gaming giants anytime soon.

What do you think? Do you think Valve's Steam Machines are going to steal some of Sony's customers, or does Sony having nothing to worry about?

Article by - Dusty W.
Insert Date: 10/11/2013

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