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Thread: News - Steam Machines won't be money-spinners, says Alienware boss

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    Re: News - Steam Machines won't be money-spinners, says Alienware boss

    Quote Originally Posted by cptwhite_uk View Post
    My friend was telling me last night Steam now has incorporated ability for streaming to a TV via a client from a main workhorse PC elsewhere in the house (a la Shield). Maybe this is where the future lies.
    You can do this now. I have it up and running, anyone can. All you have to do is install Steam on both a host and client machine that are connected by a home network. Open up steam on the client machine in settings go to "in home streaming" it will then recognise the host and let you access any games installed on the host machine. Pick one to play and it will stream automatically on the client machine (it also plays on the host machine at the same time). It is an absolute doddle to set up and it works really well, no noticable lag and just the odd stutter. It's amazing, I can't believe Hexus haven't run a feature on it!

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    Re: News - Steam Machines won't be money-spinners, says Alienware boss

    'Renewed enthusasim' = corporate spanked him. I'm not sure if I'd buy a prebuilt, but if I get a TV in my next place, I may jam steamos on a NUC or something, and stream from my desktop.
    Quote Originally Posted by Agent View Post
    ...every time Creative bring out a new card range their advertising makes it sound like they have discovered a way to insert a thousand Chuck Norris super dwarfs in your ears...

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    Re: News - Steam Machines won't be money-spinners, says Alienware boss

    Quote Originally Posted by cptwhite_uk View Post
    My friend was telling me last night Steam now has incorporated ability for streaming to a TV via a client from a main workhorse PC elsewhere in the house (a la Shield). Maybe this is where the future lies.
    I was trying out the steam streaming feature last night and I must say I was impressed. I used it on a computer in another room, this is a business machine circa 2008, no 3d graphics as such, its a bog standard dual core pentium machine with 2GB of ram, I loaded Steam and everything that was installed on my main machine was available to play, I thought here we go, have to wait to install but nope, just clicked "stream" and that was it, game titles come up, I was playing Dirt 3 I think on this box that struggled to run peggle like I was sat on my own machine, absolutely loved it. Was using my xbox 360 controller on the client machine no problems.

    Also you can play your games in Linux with the streaming feature whether they are made for linux or not, handy for when I use my laptop. Overall apart from some slight controller lag issues that randomly appeared I now don't see the need for a steam box as I can use my main machine and just plug my laptop or any low powered device into the TV downstairs for instance.

    And as you can't play more than one game at a time with your steam account, makes the steam box redundant for me anyway
    Jon

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    Re: News - Steam Machines won't be money-spinners, says Alienware boss

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    That is just support from AMD though. I really hope an entire platform can't be held ransom by one company's inability to maintain a driver.
    Nvidia is the only company that has done anything and that is because they have at least 70% of the professional market,and that is because they invested in compute before Intel and AMD took it really seriously.

    Not only AMD,but plenty of other companies don't support traditional Linux distros that well either when it comes to graphics if you actually want any performance. The Linux community since it is made up of mostly geeks/nerds who have a massive web presence and make a huge noise,but desktop and laptop Linux distros,make up a tiny fraction of all laptops and desktops.

    Me and many of our mates are geeks/nerds/computing people so have used Linux or use for various applications as required,whether it be for media use,server use or to run certain Linux specific software.

    However,compare that to most people I know including almost every gamer,most have never even touched a desktop Linux distro.

    Even when netbooks launched with desktop Linux distros,they were unpopular:

    http://gizmodo.com/5058953/linux-net...sions-says-msi

    They were a commercial failure.

    Mac OS X 10.9 has many times the marketshare of ALL Linux distros on the desktop and laptop.

    The public are more likely to change to Max OS X than go to Linux.

    ALL desktop Linux distros make up at most is under 2% of all laptops and desktops:

    http://www.netmarketshare.com/operat...10&qpcustomd=0

    Even the growth in Linux marketshare,is mostly down to governments using Linux instead of XP in their locked down terminals/workstations which have a customised UI for whatever applications they need to run.

    No body is holding anyone for ransom, it is the poor marketshare of desktop Linux distros which is to blame,and the fact that AMD needs to prioritise its spending.

    Now consider how many of those systems running Linux will be having modern cards which can actually run a game,then in absolute numbers,its even worse.

    Since AMD mostly targets consumer systems and embedded systems running Windows and have limited money,where do you expect them to target?? The operating systems where most people are likely to buy their £80+ new cards for??

    The operating system with dozens of different versions,which makes up under 2% marketshare,or Mac OS X,Vista,7 and 8 which make up at least 95% of the market??

    Look at the consoles - the XBox One is running a cutdown version of Windows and the PS4 OS is apparently based on FreeBSD.

    The graphics drivers for the PS4 are obviously fine, and AMD has hardware in things like the Mac Pro and they have been in various Mac laptops and desktops on and off for years. Driver development is OK there it seems for two sets of Unix like OSes.

    So it does mean the "AMD ransom" is purely a financial decision,and they probably did some housekeeping and realised it was unlikely to be worth a significant amount of resources. Driver development is not free is it?

    Hence,them trying to push out as much of the development to the open source community.

    Its a chicken and an egg situation.

    Lets look at an article you linked to recently regarding OpenGL drivers:

    http://richg42.blogspot.co.uk/2014/0...r-quality.html

    Vendor B
    A complete hodgepodge, inconsistent performance, very buggy, inconsistent regression testing, dysfunctional driver threading that is completely outside of the dev's official control. Unfortunately this vendor's GPU is pretty much standard and is quite capable hardware wise, so you can't ignore these guys even though as an organization they are idiots with software. Basic stuff like glTexStorage() crashes (on a shipped title) for months on end with this driver. B's driver devs try to follow the spec more closely than Vendor A, but in the end this tends to do them no good because most devs just use Vendor A's driver for development and when things don't work on Vendor B they blame the vendor, not the state of GL itself.

    Vendor B driver's key extensions just don't work. They are play or paper extensions, put in there to pad resumes and show progress to managers. Major GL developers never use these extensions because they don't work. But they sound good on paper and show progress. Vendor B's extensions are a perfect demonstration of why GL extensions suck in practice.

    This vendor can't get key stuff like queries or syncs to work reliably. So any extension that relies on syncs for CPU/GPU synchronization aren't workable. The driver devs remaining at this vendor pine to work at Vendor A.

    Vendor B can't update its driver without breaking something. They will send you updates or hotfixes that fix one thing but break two other things. If you single step into one of this driver's entrypoints you'll notice layers upon layers of cruft tacked on over the years by devs who are no longer at the company. Nobody remaining at vendor B understands these barnacle-like software layers enough to safely change them.

    I've occasionally seen bizarre things happen on Vendor B's driver when replaying GL call streams of shipped titles into this driver using voglreplay. The game itself will work fine, but when the GL callstream is replayed we'll see massive framebuffer corruption (that goes away if we flush the GL pipeline after every draw). My guess: this driver is probably using app profiles to just turn off entire features that are just too buggy.

    Interestingly, Vendor B has a tiny tools team that actually makes some pretty useful debugging tools that actually work much of the time - as long as you are using vendor B's GPU. Without Vendor B's tools togl and Source1 Linux would have taken much longer to ship.

    This could be a temporary development, but Vendor B's driver seems to be on a downward trend on the reliability axis. (Yes, it can get worse!)

    On the bright side, and believe it or not, Vendor B knows the OpenGL spec inside and out - to the syllable. If you can get them to assist you, their advice is more or less reasonable about plain GL matters (not extensions).

    Vendor C - Driver #1
    It's hard to ever genuinely get angry at Vendor C. They don't really want to do graphics, it's really just a distraction from their historically core business, but the trend is to integrate everything onto one die and they have plenty of die space to spare. They are masters at hardware, but at software they aren't all that interested really. They are the leaders in the open source graphics driver space, and their hardware specs are almost completely public. These folks actually have so much money and their org charts are so deep and wide they can afford two entirely different driver teams! (That's right - for this vendor, on one platform you get GL driver #1, and another you get GL driver #2, and they are completely different codebases and teams.)

    Anyhow, this vendor's HR team is smart: it directly hires open source wiz kids to keep driver #1 plodding forward. This driver is the least advanced of the major drivers, but it more or less works as long as you don't understand or care what "FPS" means. If it doesn't work and you're really motivated you can git your hands dirty and try to fix it and submit a patch. If you're really good at fixing this driver and submitting patches then you may get a job offer from this vendor.

    Anyhow, driver #1 is unfortunately pretty far behind on the GL standard, but maybe in 1-2 years they'll catch up and implement the spec as of last year. But you can't ignore this driver because they have a significant and strategically growing market share. So as a developer who wants to reach this market, you can't afford to use those fancy extensions or the latest trendy "modern" GL supported by vendors A and B. You must do a min() operation across all the drivers and in many cases this driver gates what you can do.

    Vendor C has no GL tools at all for either platform. Sorry - want to debug that graphics problem you're having? Welcome to 1999.

    Vendor C - Driver #2
    A complete disaster. This team's driver is barely used by any titles because GL on this platform is totally a second class citizen, so many codepaths in there just don't work. They can't update a buffer without massive, random corruption. This team will do stuff like give you a different, unique, buggy driver drop for every title in your back catalog for perf analysis or testing. This team will honestly ask you if "perf" or "correctness" is more important.

    I've seen one well-known engine team spend over a year attempting to get their latest GL 4.x+trendy extensions backend working at all on this team's driver. Hey guys - this driver just doesn't work, just move on already and implement a plain GL 3.x backend with workarounds (just like togl and other shipping titles do today).

    On the bright side, Vendor C feeds this driver team more internal information about their hardware than the other team. So it tends to be a few percent faster than driver #1 on the same title/hardware - when it works at all.

    Other drivers:
    In addition to the above major drivers, there are several open source drivers, mostly developed by the community, for hardware from vendors A and B. They tend to be behind the times from a GL perspective, but I hear they mostly work. I don't have any real experience or hard data with these drivers, because I've been fearful that working with these open source/reverse engineered drivers would have pissed off each vendor's closed source teams so much that they wouldn't help.

    Vendor A hates these drivers because they are deeply entrenched in the current way things are done. These devs have things like mortgages and college funds (or whatever) to keep funding, so there's a massive amount of inertia from this camp. There's no way they are going to release their Top Secret GPU Specs to the public, or (gasp!) open source their driver. Vendor A will have to jump on the open source driver bandwagon soon in order to better compete against Vendor C's open model, whether they like it or not.

    Vendor B halfheartedly helps their open source driver by funding a tiny team to keep the thing working. At some point, the open source driver for Vendor B's GPU may be a more viable path forward then their half-functional closed source driver.
    So that is BOTH AMD and Intel.

    There is another similar article which I read,where there was a similar rant at other ARM based SOC companies too.

    The worst thing is that something like SteamOS would make more sense for something like an APU,or system with a lower end graphics card,where AMD have traditionally done well. Nvidia does not serve that area well,and neither does Intel. Ultimately,SteamOS needs AMD more,than AMD needs SteamOS.

    Now we could argue about Android being Linux in its own right,but again the Android SOC market is cut throat and both Nvidia and Intel have made losses in the billions of dollars in the last few years and BOTH AMD and Nvidia are moving towards more industrial applications to get better margins. Even in the consumer area you can see AMD targeting the Windows tablet market since the average selling price is higher and even that will be difficult TBH with Intel contra-revenue.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 22-05-2014 at 07:16 PM.


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  5. #21
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    Re: News - Steam Machines won't be money-spinners, says Alienware boss

    Quote Originally Posted by crossy View Post
    "need a Windows PC to play your AAA games anyway" - erm, don't think Microsoft and Sony would agree with you there.
    Sure, you can buy a console to play your AAA games in the living room. But then what's your use case for a steam box?

    Quote Originally Posted by crossy View Post
    Other objection I have to what you're saying is that you're assuming that porting to another OS is a big deal.
    It's not so much that it's a big deal as that it's more work than not porting them - for any game to run natively on SteamOS it needs porting to Linux, and that's never going to be no work.

    AFAICT the market is going to look like this - there'll be high end Steam boxes that are powerful enough to play AAA titles, but they'll cost as much as a similarly specified Windows-based gaming PC. And there'll be low-spec Steam boxes designed for streaming from your powerful gaming PC, but they won't be powerful enough to play AAA games natively so you'll need another device - either a Windows gaming PC or perhaps a high-spec steam box - to stream the games from.

    Given the inertia in the market and the fact that most games will do a Windows version regardless, as a game dev/publisher you're looking at that high-end steam box market and deciding whether that's going to make you enough money to make it worth porting your game to Linux for. Or, in other words, how many people with a steam box of any kind are likely to also have a console or a Windows PC on which they can buy and play your game. At the minute porting for SteamOS just doesn't look like a good business option, as there's barely any market there and a portion of that market are going to stream games off a more powerful Windows PC anyway - as you say yourself, there's lot of enthusiasm out there for the streaming functionality of Steam, but that won't support sales of a Linux port of a AAA game.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see the majority of games do cross-platform release to Linux as well as Windows, and it's certainly possible that SteamOS will push devs and publishers in that direction - we've certainly seen some big name engines move towards Linux support which can only help. But I still don't see where 3rd party steam boxes fall into the ecosystem. To make them powerful enough to run AAA titles natively under SteamOS they'll need to be priced way above existing consoles, and as partner devices to a gaming PC they won't drive the porting of AAA games that they'd need to make high-performance Steam boxes a viable option.

    There needs to be a driver to start the whole cycle off, and I haven't seen that yet. There's no big SteamOS exclusive or launch title to drive adoption of the platform, and without adoption I don't see many studios developing for it "just in case" it takes off. if that comes along - if Valve or some third party come up with a compelling reason for people to invest in a Steam box - then I can see the pump being primed and the cycle kicking in - people will buy Steam boxes, studios will see the market so they'll port more games to Linux, which in turn will drive greater adoption of SteamOS, and so on. But until that driver appears - until something primes the pump - I just don't see how it's going to take off.

  6. #22
    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    Re: News - Steam Machines won't be money-spinners, says Alienware boss

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    <Stuff that must have taken ages to write>
    Intel don't come off so well in that article do they, but the thing is a while back Intel drivers would lock your machine solid on a daily basis (for me at least) so badly that you needed to use the power button to get it back. My god they have come such a long way, and at that pace the fact that they are about as bad as AMD is really bad news for AMD.

    As someone who used to game under Linux back in the days of Loki games (who made one commercial mistake else they would still be around now as they said the business was basically profitable) and who has written things like pre-emptive schedulers, comms stacks, filesystems and all that good stuff you get in an OS (and I shudder to admit even done a little Windows device driver work) I have to say Windows has really held the world back. So to me the money issue for Windows sounds something like this:

    "Everyone I know who plays games wears leg irons. We can all play games fine, and we are used to hobbling around so we are happy with that. I weigh 90kg, so the fact that I have another 5kg of iron on my ankles just isn't an issue. If some games means I have to wear leg irons, then why should I bother with taking them off every now and then when I can probably play the same games with my leg irons on? And I know the latest leg irons are a bit heavier and not as nice to use but Leg Irons 7 still works fine and I heard Leg Irons 9 will be made of titanium or something that is really light and I will be able to hobble about really fast."

    Where we are now is rubbish. Take a step back, and dream of what could be. Then be a part of what can make that happen.

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    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: News - Steam Machines won't be money-spinners, says Alienware boss

    I should do some FRAPS measurements for Neverwinter Nights under Windows and SteamOS. And maybe try out a few of the Source games that run on both. Be an interesting little experiment

  8. #24
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    Re: News - Steam Machines won't be money-spinners, says Alienware boss

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    Intel don't come off so well in that article do they, but the thing is a while back Intel drivers would lock your machine solid on a daily basis (for me at least) so badly that you needed to use the power button to get it back. My god they have come such a long way, and at that pace the fact that they are about as bad as AMD is really bad news for AMD.

    As someone who used to game under Linux back in the days of Loki games (who made one commercial mistake else they would still be around now as they said the business was basically profitable) and who has written things like pre-emptive schedulers, comms stacks, filesystems and all that good stuff you get in an OS (and I shudder to admit even done a little Windows device driver work) I have to say Windows has really held the world back. So to me the money issue for Windows sounds something like this:

    "Everyone I know who plays games wears leg irons. We can all play games fine, and we are used to hobbling around so we are happy with that. I weigh 90kg, so the fact that I have another 5kg of iron on my ankles just isn't an issue. If some games means I have to wear leg irons, then why should I bother with taking them off every now and then when I can probably play the same games with my leg irons on? And I know the latest leg irons are a bit heavier and not as nice to use but Leg Irons 7 still works fine and I heard Leg Irons 9 will be made of titanium or something that is really light and I will be able to hobble about really fast."
    Which is all fine and dandy,but with estimates of between 1.4% to 1.76% desktop share for all Linux distros,and at least 4 times that for OS X10.9 it is a tiny market,you can see the problem.

    Outside of my mates(many of who are software devs,computing scientists,etc),only one is even considering maybe getting a Nvidia card next time so they can try out Linux gaming again,after not bothering for years and just moving to Windows for gaming. Everyone else I know has just given up,and just uses Windows 7 and Windows 8 for gaming dualbooting,or just uses a console instead of a Windows box. These are all people who do run Linux everyday or do want to at least.

    In fact,I look at the games I want to run,and very,very few actually have any Linux ports at all. OFC,I could mess around with WINE.

    Alternately I can just use Windows and not need to bother.

    Sorry,but until 100% of ALL the games which I want to play under Windows can run well under Linux,I am not going to consider it as my main gaming OS.

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    Where we are now is rubbish. Take a step back, and dream of what could be. Then be a part of what can make that happen.
    It might be,but in the end the only reason I want a desktop is to run games,and I am not going to be locked into Nvidia,by wanting to run Linux,and I have a GTX660 ATM.

    Windows 7 and Windows 8 cost me under £30 due to the deals,and as a result hardware is the major cost for me,and with things like Mantle and DX12 coming along,we are finally seeing some efficiency improvements coming to Windows gaming,which are long overdue. It took AMD with Mantle to do that:

    http://www.oxidegames.com/2014/05/21...graphics-apis/

    However,most AAA games are still primarily developed for consoles or Windows,and things are changing,but even the blasted The Witcher 2,has made its Linux DEBUT THREE years after it was released for Windows.

    Metro:Last Light took like six months to get a Linux version,and id software who for years supported Linux gaming gave up.

    Or I could just stick with what I have now.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 22-05-2014 at 08:22 PM.


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  9. #25
    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    Re: News - Steam Machines won't be money-spinners, says Alienware boss

    Cat, you seem to think I am telling people to run Nvidia cards, but I'm not.

    I don't want the world to buy Nvidia, I want AMD to get their act together. Part of my purchase choice is how ethical I consider a company to be and whether I want to be giving them my money. They aren't angels by any means, but AMD have a better record on that than Nvidia. So, whether I am right or not on the ethics is a separate debate but I have a leaning towards buying AMD, but I feel I can't because they don't have drivers that I can use while working. I work in a office full of Dell workstations and they all have Nvidia Quadro cards for the sole reason that the drivers aren't junk. This is not a small market.

    Not replied until this morning because I was setting up a new house server last night. It is a Linux box, using an A8-6500 APU and no graphics card.
    Previous purchase before that was a 260X graphics card to upgrade my wife's PC.
    I do buy AMD kit and if they hadn't shot them selves in the foot I would buy more. The lack of choice is just so frustrating.

  10. #26
    Anthropomorphic Personification shaithis's Avatar
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    Re: News - Steam Machines won't be money-spinners, says Alienware boss

    The only thing this press release would do for me is keep me from buying an AW steam box (not that I would have anyway but still)

    Anyone who states their kit won't sell very well leaves me wondering how much effort they actually put into it.
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  11. #27
    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    Re: News - Steam Machines won't be money-spinners, says Alienware boss

    Quote Originally Posted by shaithis View Post
    The only thing this press release would do for me is keep me from buying an AW steam box (not that I would have anyway but still)

    Anyone who states their kit won't sell very well leaves me wondering how much effort they actually put into it.
    I took it more that they won't get as much margin per machine on these, do they sell many Alienware machines anyway?

  12. #28
    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: News - Steam Machines won't be money-spinners, says Alienware boss

    Quote Originally Posted by shaithis View Post
    Anyone who states their kit won't sell very well leaves me wondering how much effort they actually put into it.
    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    I took it more that they won't get as much margin per machine on these ...
    As DwU says, the article isn't about how well steam machines will sell, it's about where the marketable price for one lies and what that does to the OEMs profit margins. The issue is, that impacts the entry cost to the platform, which in turn will directly effect the uptake.

    As I said previously, OEMs are stuck with a choice of making a well-specced machine but charging twice as much for it as a current-gen console and still barely making any profit, or charging console prices but having to spec machines that can't play AAA games at 1080p. A high price for steam machines will inhibit their adoption, and a low spec that can't handle native games will inhibit adoption. Without good adoption you're going to limit the amount of work game studios will put into porting games to SteamOS/Linux, and without plenty of games for the platform you're going to - guess what - inhibit adoption.

    The whole platform basically looks ripe for implosion because there isn't an obvious candidate to make the initial investment and take the initial losses (well, there is, but Valve hasn't shown any clear indication so far that it's willing to do that). The only parallel market I can really think of where something similar has happened (i.e. single use device with common OS but many hardware suppliers) is Android phones, and the issue there is that the primary use - phone & text messaging - requires very little in the way of performance. The same can't be said of a primarily gaming device - they are very performance sensitive.

    As I've said, I'd love it if lots of game studios jumped on board and Linux gaming became a genuine option - it's something that lots of us have been hoping for for over a decade (pretty much since I first ran NWN on a linux box, in fact ). But I don't see how the current strategy is going to acheive that. It needs someone to produce a powerful steam machine, at around console pricing, to drive adoption of the platform. Valve don't seem willing to do that, and apparently the major OEMs aren't able to do that and remain profitable. How many people are going to shell out £800 for a gaming machine that has hardly any native AAA games and requires a Windows PC to play the majority of your back-catalog of games? You could buy both current gen consoles for that...

  13. #29
    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: News - Steam Machines won't be money-spinners, says Alienware boss

    Maybe we should Kick start a fund for AMD to make better performing drivers for Linux!!


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

  14. #30
    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    Re: News - Steam Machines won't be money-spinners, says Alienware boss

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryjim View Post
    The whole platform basically looks ripe for implosion because there isn't an obvious candidate to make the initial investment and take the initial losses (well, there is, but Valve hasn't shown any clear indication so far that it's willing to do that).
    I have been pondering that and a couple of thoughts came to mind.

    Firstly, if you look at the Steam statistics there are an awful lot of laptops registered on there. If people can find content worth playing on a laptop then that is an easy target to beat. Also, if the price is low enough then as long as it is on par with the last generation like the PS3 then there might be a market for that. Beating the PS4 for hardware value isn't going to happen, I think you are right on that.

    Second thing is, if Valve do step in with some stonking deal to kick start the sales, then given how the whole SteamOS thing started such a move could be taken as an aggressive move by Microsoft. I think the ball has to be well and truly rolling before they go around poking MS with a stick

    I get the impression Valve are hoping to sell at a few price points, presumably hoping that combined sales will be enough even if no one platform is going to be mega.

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    Maybe we should Kick start a fund for AMD to make better performing drivers for Linux!!
    Lol! Now that is an interesting thought. I buy their kit, they already have some of my money. Perhaps that is too subtle

  15. #31
    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: News - Steam Machines won't be money-spinners, says Alienware boss

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    Firstly, if you look at the Steam statistics there are an awful lot of laptops registered on there. If people can find content worth playing on a laptop then that is an easy target to beat. Also, if the price is low enough then as long as it is on par with the last generation like the PS3 then there might be a market for that. Beating the PS4 for hardware value isn't going to happen, I think you are right on that.
    I've got to say the ~ £200 market looks a better fit to me - cheap enough to be a companion device to a main gaming PC, hopefully still enough power to play some decent games natively. As long as game studios are willing to target a lower base spec when creating new games, there's no reason most modern games couldn't run on, say, a Kabini SoC at minimum detail. And minimum detail in a modern game looks better than full pretties on a lot of older games

    Of course, the other potential for a low-powered steam machine would be online game streaming. Not sure anywhere's got good enough - or perhaps reliable enough - broadband internet for that to be a viable market right now...

    As to kickstarter, crowdsourcing could be one way to go for improving the open source AMD drivers. You'll never get real progress without input from AMD directly, but if you could fund a small team to work on optimising APU drivers it'd make affordable steam boxes much more realistic...

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