Valve says the removal of Steam Machines from the front page of the Steam Store — which some had taken as a symbolic end to the two-and-a-half year venture — was nothing more than “a routine cleanup” of the page’s navigation and it still has plans for the hardware and its operating system.
“While it’s true Steam Machines aren’t exactly flying off the shelves, our reasons for striving towards a competitive and open gaming platform haven’t significantly changed,” Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais said in this update. “We’re still working hard on making Linux operating systems a great place for gaming and applications.”
Steam Machines, a line of pre-fab gaming PCs that run Linux-based SteamOS, first became available in October 2015, going on store shelves a month later. Valve had partnered with major brands in PC gaming hardware, such as Asus, Alienware and Gigabyte, to develop the all-in-one boxes on the premise they would bring the Steam PC gaming experience into living rooms.
But that was partially undone by Steam Link, which was announced in March 2015 and launched alongside Steam Machines that November. That device allowed users, for just $49.99, to stream games from their gaming PC to a television.
PCWorld speculated in June 2016 that no more than half a million Steam Machines had been sold in the first seven months, based on reported sales of the Steam Controller (which included ones bundled with the PCs). Valve has never released any official sales figures for Steam Machines. There is still a page for Steam Machines, even if it’s no longer in the “hardware” tab of the front page. It lists five machines at prices starting from $449 to $1099.99.
Griffais acknowledged that Steam Machines had shown shortcomings in the Linux ecosystem for video game developers. “We’ve taken a lot of feedback and have been heads-down on addressing the shortcomings we observed,” he said. “We think an important part of that effort is our ongoing investment in making Vulkan a competitive and well-supported graphics API, as well as making sure it has first-class support on Linux platforms.” Vulkan is an open-source 3D graphics API, where major developers typically target APIs like OpenGL or DirectX.
Griffais also obliquely said that SteamOS was alive and well. “We also have other Linux initiatives in the pipe that we’re not quite ready to talk about yet,” he said. “SteamOS will continue to be our medium to deliver these improvements to our customers, and we think they will ultimately benefit the Linux ecosystem at large.”