Valve's Steam Machine experiment could be on the way out, after the company removed Steam Machines from the hardware section of the Steam storefront. Steam Machines were initially introduced by Valve as a way to get PC gaming into the living room, effectively offering up a console-style experience but with that extensive Steam gaming library at a user's disposal.
Delivered by third parties such as Alienware, these Steam Machines formed part of Valve's larger hardware plans, as seen by other offerings such as the Steam Controller. However, Steam Machines never really gained traction, particularly in comparison to the continued success of the PlayStation 4 and the recent huge popularity of Nintendo's Switch console. As such, some were left wondering what the future held for Valve's venture.
As it turns out, it may not be pretty for Steam Machines going forward. Valve has now removed the Steam Machines option from its Hardware drop-down on Steam, instead leaving potential customers with the options of Steam Controller, Steam Link, and the HTC Vive. Although the Steam Machines page is still available on the Steam website, and are still available to purchase, it's looking as though Valve isn't looking to push this particular foray into the living room any further.
Exactly why Steam Machines failed to make an impact is a subject of much debate, although fault can be found in many places. For starters, the machines themselves struggled to get off the ground and were subject to a multitude of delays and technical issues. When some of the prices being bandied about put Steam Machines well above established console brands, it was hard for them to seem like a viable alternative to what has become the fastest-selling console generation in history, and PC gamers with a rig of their own haven't felt the need to shell out that level of cash.
In part, this is down to the fact that Valve reduced the appeal of Steam Machines as a whole with another piece of hardware in the form of the Steam Link. Acting as a means to stream PC games in the living room, the Steam Link meant that any PC gamer with a decent enough setup could get the same experience as a Steam Machine at a fraction of the cost. All in all, Steam Machines didn't stand much of a chance without a truly unique selling point.
What comes next for Valve, then? The company may be putting Steam Machines out to pasture soon, but at the very least Valve is getting back to its roots by returning to video game development. The company's own comments at the time of the announcement suggested that it's not quite done with hardware just yet, so this is unlikely to have turned Valve off the idea of new hardware in the future.