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Valve's Steam Machine Delayed Until 2015

Game Controller Redesign at Issue

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

After receiving Best of CES honors for Best Gaming Product this year in Las Vegas, we have heard nary a peep about the Steam Machine, Valve”s entry into the hyper competitive gaming console market. The Steam Machine, which Engadget called Valve’s Android to the PC gaming industry, has had major manufacturer sand gaming support, and was scheduled to ship just in time for the 2014 holiday shopping season. But the design of the game controller has been deemed confusing by Beta testers and has prompted Valve to start from scratch. And that means we won’t be seeing the open source game platform until 2015.  

It looks like it’s back to the drawing board for Valve’s Steam Controller.

The benefit of the Steam Machine is that it can harness Valve’s Steam gaming app store, which has allowed PC users the ability to play popular games without having to invest in expensive gaming consoles. But Valve also believes that there’s room?for Steam, and has commissioned its hardware partners to create a their own versions of the Steam Machine based on their design specs. But unfortunately, Valve has been getting feedback from game and beta testers that the current design of the Steam Controller really isn’t quite ready for prime time.

We're now using wireless prototype controllers to conduct live play tests, with everyone from industry professionals to die-hard gamers to casual gamers. It’s generating a ton of useful feedback, and it means we’ll be able to make the controller a lot better. Of course, it’s also keeping us pretty busy making all those improvements. Realistically, we’re now looking at a release window of 2015, not 2014. – Eric Hope (Axiom), Valve Blogpost

While it’s good that Valve is responding to player feedback, it may also indicate the radical new controller design that turned heads at CES is proving to be too confusing for gamers. I’ve also heard that when it comes to first person shooter games, the accuracy of the controller is lacking. The new design sported two touch pads, in stead of analog joysticks, and users are finding the learning curve after playing over a decade with Playstation and XBox controllers to be problematic.

Obviously we’re just as eager as you are to get a Steam Machine in your hands. But our number one priority is making sure that when you do, you’ll be getting the best gaming experience possible.

But it also means that Valve sees that the gaming platform can be even better. And if you’re going to delay your launch, it’s better to do it now, rather then deal with the two 800 pound gaming gorillas, which are fighting it out like Godzilla and Mothra. Since both the XBox One and PlayStation 4 launched at the same time, users have been steadily choosing the PS4 over the XBox One, forcing Microsoft to move the Kinect 2 controller out of the XBox bundle so they can drop the price, and try and recover sales. And we haven’t heard a thing from Nintendo with the Wii U, which at this point is a?disaster. So, for Valve, it’s best to let Sony and Microsoft bloody each other up, and then come in next year with a killer e3 presentation that gets users all excited again.

And it’ll also give Steam’s gaming developers plenty of time to add more games to support the platform, which has also been rather slow of late due to a lengthy beta trial of Steam’s Linux-based OS. And although there’s no word on if this design pause will affect Valve’s hardware partners from releasing their own Steam Machines, frankly, I think it’s a win-win. Sure, we would love to play it now, especially since it won the CES Best of, and everything. But this isn’t the first time a product wowed in Las Vegas and stalled in the real world. And it won’t be the last.

To keep on Steam’s developments, head on over to the Steam Community forum boards.

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