Why has there been such a lack of demand for Valve’s Steam Machine?

Seven months on from its launch, and it appears that the Steam Machine hasn’t quite taken off as well as expected.

As part of an update on new Steam Controller functions, Valve revealed that over 500,000 controllers have been sold since the November 2015 launch.

Valve confirmed to Ars Technica that figure includes the controllers that are packaged with every branded Steam Machine sold.

Assuming a percentage of that figure, however small, will be made up of additional controller sales, its pretty safe to say that in seven months Valve and its hardware partners have only managed to shift less than 500,000 Steam Machines.

At first glance, that figure might not sound too disastrous, but let’s not forget that the Steam Machine was intended to truly take PC gaming into the living room and rival gaming consoles.

A quick look at sales of the Steam Machine’s biggest rivals, PS4 and Xbox One, and it just shows how underwhelming sales have been for Valve’s gaming device.

In the first day alone, both the PS4 and the Xbox One sold over a million consoles each. After seven months, Ars Technica reports that the Xbox One had sold around 5.5 million, while 10.2 million PS4s had been snapped up.

So, why has there been such a lack of demand for Steam Machines?

While the idea of making a computer that looks like a console, giving users a PC-quality gaming device fit for the living room and offered up by one of the biggest platforms in PC gaming seems like a sure-fire hit, something clearly went wrong.

Some have wondered whether a Linux-based SteamOS put some gamers off, as it restricts the number of games you can play, eliminating some AAA titles.

A few months before the Steam Machine went on sale, consumer publications such as The Verge were warning gamers to not splash out on the device just yet, pointing out that, at the time, there was only one game out of the top 10 titles on Steam that was actually available on SteamOS.

With numerous publications suggesting consumers wait until further iterations of the device are launched, it’s not difficult to see how some would take that advice when the November launch rolled around.

In a bid to win over those gamers hesitant to buy a Steam Machine right away, Valve introduced the $50 Steam Link. The set-top box is capable of streaming the user’s Steam library from their PC straight to their TV.

What seemed to be set up as a sort of tester for those thinking about getting a Machine, turned out to be a better option. Those with a strong enough network have found Steam Link an ideal way of making their current PC setup fit for the living room, meaning the idea of coughing up hundreds of dollars for a brand new machine becomes a lot less appealing.

Couple all this with the fact that the Steam Machine and its controller had suffered from numerous delays – it was originally slated for a late 2014 release – and could it be that Valve simply missed the boat by taking too long to release the device?

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