When Valve announced Steam Machines last year at CES 2014, one of the main things that stood out was the lack of a cheap, simple machine dedicated solely to streaming PC games from one source to another. After all, Valve had implemented Steam in-home streaming into its venerated games service and pigeon-holed it as a cornerstone of the Linux-based SteamOS--a much-needed one, given the relatively small (but growing) number of native Linux games. But everything we saw at CES was a computer in-and-of itself, capable of running games of its own accord.
Nothing for me, in other words. I already have a perfectly capable gaming computer.
Enter Steam Link. Announced Tuesday, Steam Link is Valve's streaming solution. "Designed to extend your Steam experience to any room in the house, Steam Link allows you to stream all your Steam content from any PC or Steam Machine on the same home network," Valve wrote in a prepared statement.
And Steam Link will be cheaper than I imagined: Only $50 when it launches in November. According to Valve, Steam Link will support 1080p, 60Hz streaming "with low latency," which puts it a step above the streaming offered by the $100 NZXT Doko box (which tops out at 30 frames per second).
For an additional $50 you can purchase a Steam Controller, the final design of which we've yet to see, but is rumored to be revealed here at GDC. That $50 price apparently only applies to the U.S. though. Worldwide pricing will be announced closer to launch.
There are also more traditional Steam Machines being showed at GDC this week--Valve name-drops Alienware and Falcon Northwest in its statement, and Syber already shared details of its Steam Machine initiative earlier today.
Valve's apparently rethought the entire Steam Machine initiative. While last year we had machines with four GeForce Titans--basically, dream PCs if you have a lot of money to throw away--the new direction seems to be this: "Steam Machines will start at the same price point as game consoles, with higher performance." Whether that rules out something like the Origin Omega, I'm not sure yet.
We'll find out more tomorrow when we get a look at Valve's booth! For now, consider me tentatively interested in Steam Link at least--I'm still looking for the perfect in-home streaming solution, and with Valve's reputation for perfection, this could be it. Assuming it actually launches this November as planned, that is.
Fool me once, Valve.
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