12151378486_c57593a1cc_zFirst gaming machines from game platform Steam designed to compete with Xbox and Playstation

Game platform Steam will be releasing new gaming consoles—the Steam Machine and Steam Box, which will be developed by Valve and will be tied-in to Steam’s gaming platform that currently has 65 million active users.

The current platform is PC focused and allows users to buy and download games directly to their computers, rather than buying physical disks. The flexibility of transferring games has been key components to their success thus far.

Valve’s long-awaited partners in this pursuit include PC gaming juggernauts Alienware, Falcon Northwest, and Gigabyte. The less well-known partners will be iBuyPower, CyberPowerPC, Origin PC, Materiel.net, Webhallen, Alternate, Next, Zotac, and Scan Computers. Early reports indicate that prices range from as low as $499 to as high as $6,000.

Valve’s SteamOS is one of the biggest talking points in tech right now. SteamOS is an operating system dedicated to gaming. The devices will depart from traditional consoles, allowing users to customise Steam Machines and upgrade them, unlike Sony’s PlayStation 4 or Microsoft’s Xbox One.

An issue flagged by users has been the generational aspect of the traditional consoles. Technology advances lead to new models being released every few years, with higher and higher price tags attached. Gamers must buy the new consoles to keep up with the processing power needed to play larger and larger games. An approach whereby gamers could make additions to their original console, and see it evolve, would be extremely welcome.

Valve was quoted saying: “As we’ve been working on bringing Steam to the living room, we’ve come to the conclusion that the environment best suited to delivering value to customers is an operating system built around Steam itself.”

The new ‘Steam Controller’ has also been announced alongside the hardware specifications for the Steam Machine. The controller is designed not only for consoles but also for games traditionally played with keyboard and mouse controls. It features two high-resolution clickable trackpads (replacing the typical thumb sticks on modern control controllers), and 16 buttons, including face and shoulder buttons.

Although initially planned to have a 2014 release, Valve has stated that the first offerings of Steam Machines will be available on November 10, 2015.

— Tom Healy, Correspondent (Tech)

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