The marketing manager of iBuyPower says companies making high-end Steam Machines are missing the point of Valve's living room gambit.
Despite initial expectations that the Steam Machine would be a fairly standardized, console-like system, there are actually an awful lot of designs and price points in the pipe, which is perhaps not terribly surprising given that 14 different companies have signed up to build them. Entry into the club will come as low as $500, but gamers with extra-deep pockets and a burning need to be on the bleeding edge will be able to drop as much as six grand on one.
The question on a lot of minds following the Steam Machines reveal was how exactly they will be different from a conventional gaming PC. Ricky Lee, the marketing manager at iBuyPower, explained that in order to sell a PC with a preinstalled version of Steam or SteamOS, manufacturers must acquire a license from Valve and bundle a Steam controller with it. He said his company could ship the SBX Steam Machine it revealed at CES next month, but when it will actually be able to go out the door "depends on Valve."
He also made the very interesting observation that builders going to the high end of the price range, like Falcon Northwest and Digital Storm, "just don't get it." Like it or not, Steam Machines will have to compete with consoles if Valve wants to make inroads into the living room, and for an awful lot of consumers that means a price point that's at least remotely console-like.
It's a valid point. Gamers willing and able to drop the coin on a multi-thousand-dollar Steam Machine are probably going to be more likely to just build their own custom rig and slap Steam on it. But it also reveals that even among the people who are making them, there's no consensus on what the actual intent is - if there even is some specific "goal" at all.