Bellevue game giant Valve released another dollop of news today, announcing that its Steam Machine game systems will finally go on sale in November. It also disclosed a new, $50 streaming device called the Steam Link.
“We continue to see very strong growth in PC gaming, with Steam growing 50 percent in the last 12 months,” Gabe Newell, Valve’s president, said in a release. “With these announcements we hope that we are helping build on that momentum.”
The announcements were made at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, where Valve is also presenting the virtual-reality headset it has developed with HTC. Valve teased the VR announcement with a brief news release last week, which was followed by HTC’s presentation of the “Vive” headset Sunday at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona.
At GDC, Valve also is presenting a VR input system and a new in-room VR tracking system code-named “Lighthouse,” which will be shared with developers. The company also is announcing Source 2, a new version of its game engine that will also be shared freely.
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Steam Machines are potent PCs designed to run high-end video games delivered by Valve’s Steam game service. The PCs are based on a customized version of Linux called Steam OS and come with a new game controller designed by Valve.
Dell’s Alienware brand and Falcon Northwest are among the PC makers that will be shipping Steam Machines starting in November.
Valve first unveiled a lineup of Steam Machines in January 2014 with plans for a launch last holiday season. Prices started just under $500, comparable to what Microsoft was then charging for its Xbox One console.
But Valve took longer than expected to finalize everything, particularly the Steam Controller. Some PC makers went ahead and began selling the hardware last year, such as the Alienware Alpha, which launched in November. The console-sized PC starts at $499 and comes with the “Steam Big Picture” interface but runs Windows 8.1 and ships with an Xbox controller.
Steam Machines are one way that the 125 million users of Steam can get the service and its games on their TV sets.
Another option is the Steam Link, which will stream games from a PC to a TV set elsewhere in the home with 1080p resolution and the low latency needed for high-end games. The Link will work with the Steam Controller, which Valve will begin selling as a $50 accessory in November.