Alienware to create first Steam gaming console

8 Jan 2014

Dell’s gaming computer division Alienware has announced it will be teaming up with online games distributor Valve to create the first in a series of Steam Machines which will be expected to throw the market wide open in late 2014.

The Steam Machine project has been on Valve’s radar for a few years now, with rumour and suspicion rife as to what it will look like and what its specifications will be.

Now however, at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, Alienware will be staking its claim as the first console producer among 12 others who will all be making their own individual Steam Machines with various different levels of spec and power using Valve’s own operating system, Steam.

Alienware already has a good relationship with Valve, having worked together over several years, including on their latest computer release, the latest X51 model, where Steam comes as a standard inclusion.

A very different gaming experience

At CES 2014, the other 12 manufacturers who will be making their own versions of the console include Materiel.Net, Alternate, Next, CyberPowerPC, Origin, Digital Storm, Scan Computers, Falcon Northwest, Webhallen, GigaByte, Zotac, iBuyPower, and Maingear.

A number of these companies were showing off their early models and ranged in size from a compact cube size to a large and powerful gaming rig.

Valve, however, has developed its own Steam Controller, which will offer a totally different experience to users more familiar with a PlayStation or Xbox controller.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference is the lack of thumbsticks, which have been a staple of the gaming console since the release of the PS1 all those years ago.

Steam Controller

Instead, the controller will feature two track pads which will provide a totally different feel while still tracking your movement in the game.

Similar to the PS4’s touch-responsive screen in the middle of the controller, the Steam Controller will feature a touchscreen where almost all the other functions, such as going to the menu or sharing a clip with friends, will be accessed from.

New gaming superpower

Valve is best known for the creation of the Half-Life series following the story of rogue scientist Gordon Freeman as he battles aliens from another dimension.

However, since Valve launched its digital game distribution service in 2003, the company has become one of the biggest providers of major and independent titles in the world with currently more than 65m active accounts worldwide.

With 13 different manufacturers covering different-sized versions of the consoles, prices will obviously vary depending on size. However, on their official post about the consoles, Valve said prices will start from US$499 and will begin to hit the market at the end of this year.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic