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Alienware manager on Steam Machines lull: Windows 10 changed things

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PC Gamer had a chat with Alienware manager Frank Azor about the changing situation of Steam Machines. They feel Windows 10 is part of the reason Steam Machines and SteamOS didn't do so well.

Quote“I think the landscape two years ago was very different to what it is today,” Azor said. “The catalyst for the Steam Machine initiative was really around what Microsoft’s decisions were with Windows 8, and if you remember that operating system, it really stepped away from gamers in a big way. We were concerned as an industry that we were going to lose PC gamers on the Windows platform to any other platform that was out there, whether it was console, Mac OS X, Android. 
“So that’s where the partnership between Valve and Alienware really initiated around the Steam Machine concept,” he continued. “We said: ‘Hey, we can’t lose Windows as a gaming platform.’ We had to take matters into our own hands because we couldn’t rely on Microsoft. So we did that, and we started pursuing the path that we did.”


He also mentions that the limited library we have compared to Windows is an issue, which is obvious, but slowly improving with time. One comment that I found a bit odd was his comment about what controller you can use (he says controller, meaning gamepad), as Linux generally has very good support for almost all gamepads. SteamOS specifically will also soon gain official config support (like what you can do with the Steam Controller) for the Dualshock 4, which is currently in Beta. This will be rolled out to others in future too. Even without that ability for other gamepads, Linux/SteamOS still works well with most of them.

Sadly, he also points out that the Alienware Alpha with Windows 10 significantly outsells the Steam Machine version of the unit. Not sure I'm really surprised there though.

I don't see the Windows 10 store being much of a threat yet, considering the low sales that have been described and the controversy surrounding the newest Call of Duty. With the release of the latest CoD, gamers found if they got their copy from the Windows store they couldn't play with anyone on Steam. The fact remains though, things could still turn sour at any point—especially if Microsoft start adding in more and more cross-play titles with Xbox One and the Windows 10 store cutting into Steam sales. I don't see Valve dropping SteamOS anytime soon due to this.

Personally, I don't ever want to use Windows 10 for anything more than benchmarks and comparisons. All those privacy issues are just too much for me. I know you can turn some off easily, and others with downloadable scripts, but it goes too far for my liking. I am surprised more people don't have an issue with just how much it tracks you. It's worrying.

It seems like the release of Windows 10 has calmed down OEM concerns about users gaming on PC. This isn't good for us, but it's certainly not the end of the world. The fact still remains that SteamOS and Steam Machines have pushed Linux gaming to heights some of us never dreamt to be possible.

So while SteamOS momentum may be slow, Linux gaming in general is still doing rather well in my opinion. Just look at how many games have been ported this year despite SteamOS and Steam Machines not doing so well in terms of sales.

We still need more day-1 ports of bigger titles, VR support and games that perform closer to Windows to even begin eating into Windows market-share.

What's your take on this?

Thanks to calvin for letting sending it in! Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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63 comments
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WonderingDane 14 November 2016 at 1:02 pm UTC
We have to wait for a more mature Vulkan.
Jahimself 14 November 2016 at 1:08 pm UTC
I'm sorry to doubt the Dell argument about steam machine, as windows 8 and 8.1 still have better performances over windows 10 and 7 on gaming.

And now that windows 10 is going even more against gamers with UWP platform, with lower perf than windows 7 and 8.1, microsoft is fine for dell?

This does not make much sens, but most of the devs intervening on that debate was saying the same as dell, and in the end many of them have accepted to work on UWP which really is a shame for them.

Luckily as you say Liam, Linux gaming is still growing, and getting better everyday thx to the devs who actually care of other platforms and don't fall in the UWP windows 10 only trap.

If steam don't get too much money from MS to accept to make crossplatform with UWP it will be a good point for valve in the future of Linux gaming.


Last edited by Jahimself at 14 November 2016 at 1:11 pm UTC
Testman 14 November 2016 at 1:12 pm UTC
I believe that the "open platform" part of Windows is still in danger.
Microsoft's push towards closed ecosystem is still very much in progress.
Valve's concerns which lead to the creation of SteamOS are still valid.
Therefore it is even more important that SteamOS / Steam Machines don't get completely scrapped, as they will be needed in the future as an alternative to Microsoft's walled garden.
kellerkindt 14 November 2016 at 1:17 pm UTC
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QuoteSo while SteamOS momentum may be slow, Linux gaming in general is still doing rather well in my opinion. Just look at how many games have been ported this year despite SteamOS and Steam Machines not doing so well in terms of sales.
I also think, as long as nothing really *big* happens, gaming on linux will also be a thing in the future. With Vulkan and more and more engines having (better) linux support, there is just less reason to not support linux (even if its market share wont make you rich alone), which just accelerates the whole progress.
Also Valve would be really dumb, if they would dump linux and all their effort they put into it just as it starts to gain momentum - which in return, companies like Epic and Unity know, making them willing to invest in good cross-platform support.
lucifertdark 14 November 2016 at 1:46 pm UTC
Windows 10 is 100% spyware, I wouldn't let that monstrosity onto any machine I own, if I had to buy one that included it I'd wipe it the first time I switch it on & install Linux, Never Windows 10!
SketchStick 14 November 2016 at 1:52 pm UTC
Was the Steam Machines even available outside of the US? I wanted to buy one but none of them appeared in Australia.
Mblackwell 14 November 2016 at 1:59 pm UTC
Not sure how Windows 10 alleviated concerns for anyone considering forced upgrades, lock-in to Microsoft services for things like driver distribution, Secureboot changes that effect what OS can be installed and how the system can be modified, and the continued push for UWP and encryption of software that uses it making it a complete black box for users. Top it off with the now unable to be removed spyware (as of Anniversary Update). Win10 made me MORE concerned for the future of PCs not LESS.
reaVer 14 November 2016 at 2:13 pm UTC
I think headway can be made if we would rally behind a competitive game. My preferred title would be Guilty Gear, but really any will do. A game that requires good performance and good accessibility and works really well in the context of being thrown into a venue there to serve as tournament machine. Having such an arcade like experience will probably bring more people into the fold than just relying on small time indie games.
Leopard 14 November 2016 at 2:26 pm UTC
We need Vulkan to getting adopted by big devs as soon as possible.

We must face the fact, the gamers are more interested with big AAA products.

Which is pretty normal.

And one thing to this closed platform vs open platform thing.

Gamers simply don't care it.They are just looking for ultimate gaming.Open or closed,they simply don't care.

So with much more AAA(even a Witcher 3 will be spectecular) products and with much more multiplayer games(which is great in Linux,Cs:Go,Rocket League,Dota 2;but i personally saw that many of casual gamers are just wanted to move on Linux but the lack of League of Legends most of them just giving up from moving Linux decision)and with Vulkan performance getting similar to Directx SteamOS and Linux will accomplish their gaming goals.
RafiLinux 14 November 2016 at 2:48 pm UTC
Windows is not a choice for me. Been on Linux for over 10 years and STEAMOS is a great choice for my family and myself. I did not buy any of the STEAMOS machines but I got the controllers and it's been dope!
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