Steam boxes

Steam boxes

If you want to play PC games but don't want to do it on your PC, game developer/publisher/tech conglomerate Valve has a solution. Later this year, you'll be able to buy a series of Steam machines — essentially PCs that run Valve's SteamOS operating system, put its store front and center and in some cases look like consoles.

The idea being, Valve wants to make it easier for you to play PC games in the living room rather than at your desk, competing with consoles more directly than it has in the past.

Unlike Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, Valve won't be manufacturing a box itself, at least not at first. Instead, the Half-Life creator sees this as an opportunity to expand its reach through other manufacturers. In early January, Valve revealed 13 different Steam machines ranging in price from $499 to $6,000.

Valve has also developed a new controller to help its cause of bringing PC games into the living room, one that looks like a console gamepad from a distance but includes tweaks such as trackpads in place of analog sticks. The idea isn't to replace the traditional PC game interface, but to give players options. "People who are really comfortable with their mouse and keyboard, we are in no way saying that that is changing or going away," Valve's Jeff Bellinghausen told Polygon in January. "That is fantastic. What we're trying to do is provide a way to get close to that performance but kick back on your couch."

All that said, it should be noted that Steam machines will run fewer games than traditional PCs given their reliance on Linux.