[Update, April 4: In a post to the Steam community last night, Valve employee Pierre-Loup Griffais writes that the Steam Machine link on the Steam store front page was removed “based on user traffic.” He also acknowledged that “Steam Machines aren’t exactly flying off the shelves,” while in the same breath adding that “our reasons for striving towards a competitive and open gaming platform haven’t significantly changed.”
Working on Steam Machine hardware, Griffais said, helped Valve “[learn] quite a bit about the state of the Linux ecosystem for real-world game developers out there. We’ve taken a lot of feedback and have been heads-down on addressing the shortcomings we observed.” Griffais also highlighted Valve’s continuing work on the Vulkan graphics standard, whichnow supports Mac and Linux thanks in large part to the company’s efforts.
“We also have other Linux initiatives in the pipe that we’re not quite ready to talk about yet,” he continued. “SteamOS will continue to be our medium to deliver these improvements to our customers, and we think they will ultimately benefit the Linux ecosystem at large.”]
Original story, April 2: Valve is no longer highlighting Steam Machine hardware through the front page of its online Steam store, seemingly putting a final nail in the coffin of Valve’s partnership with third-party PC builders.
While you can still access a Steam store page linking to four remaining Steam Machine partners through a direct link, Steam Machines no longer show up under the drop-down menu for “Hardware” on the main Steam store page. Promotional language and images for Steam Machines were also previously featured prominently on a hardware-focused landing page on the store (archived version), but that page now redirects to a simple search results page for the store’s “hardware” category.
The marketing change seems to have happened around March 20, according to snapshots from The Internet Archive. Fan site Gaming on Linux was among the first to note the change publicly over a week later, though, perhaps highlighting just how little interest there has been in SteamOS-based hardware of late.
The ultimate fate of the Steam Machine line of gaming PCs has been clear since at least mid-2016, when Valve revealed that fewer than 500,000 Steam Machines have been sold in about seven months, barely making a dent in the wider PC gaming market. While Alienware made a renewed effort to upgrade and market its Steam Machines around that time, PC makers have shown next to no interest in launching new Steam Machines or pushing existing ones for a while now.
When Valve first announced its Steam Machine partnership plans and SteamOS efforts back in 2013, Valve CEO Gabe Newell was publicly worrying about potential “catastrophe” of Microsoft exerting stronger control over the Windows gaming ecosystem. Years later, though, even Microsoft skeptic and Epic CEO Tim Sweeney acknowledges that “the PC market remains free and vibrant.”
The Linux-based SteamOS that formed the backbone of all Steam Machines, meanwhile, suffered from a lack of support from most major game publishers and poor technical performance compared to Windows on many games. But SteamOS, which continues to see updates, has unquestionably helped with mainstream acceptance and availability of gaming on Linux. Steam now lists over 4,400 SteamOS games for sale , a massive order-of-magnitude increase from just a few years ago.
A Valve representative did not respond to a request for comment from Ars Technica.