We ask the PCR Retail Advisory Board

Steam Machines: What kind of a sales opportunity is there for retailers?

We ask UK system builders and etailers from the PCR Retail Advisory Board what they think of the upcoming Steam Machines due to launch this November.

Ben Miles, Sales Director, Chillblast:

"If Valve can secure the support of triple-A developers to develop their games for the Steam OS platform, there is no reason why Steam Machines cannot present a very real threat to the Windows gaming platform.

Progress has, however, been relatively glacial and although we are finally approaching a stage where the OS is ready, there is a threat that Windows 10 with its extensive Xbox platform integration can steal Valve’s thunder.

Most PC gamers also still use their PCs for tasks other than purely gaming, so there is also significant impetus on Valve to ensure that a robust suite of software applications for other tasks is available right from launch and that they are easy to install.

If people have to shut down Steam OS and boot Windows to get actual work done it will remain a fairly niche offering in my opinion. We will indeed be offering a couple of steam machines – albeit with the option to dual boot Windows if the customer wants both OS installed." 

CK, MD, YoYoTech: 

"PC gaming is an order of magnitude larger than the market for consoles.

Companies like YoYoTech are firmly targeted at delivering the very best experience in any game – something that consoles just can’t touch.

Search Google for PC Gaming Master Race and you will find a global movement with the same mindset.

The challenges for PC gaming have been: How can you ensure that every game used has been paid for, how can you make it easy for groups of friends to play together and how can you manage the introduction of new technologies like virtual reality?

Steam overcomes much of these issues and it can offer the power of desktop PC gaming – the challenge will be to see if (a) gamers really want to be playing in their living rooms with others and (b) will TV manufacturers begin to integrate more and more powerful PCs into the screens themselves – possibly with GRID gaming capability."

Nic Carnelutti, Marketing Manager, Dino PC:

"When I think of a Steam OS, I see a Linux based OS that can be installed right now on most of the computers currently on the market, consequently I feel it’s safe to say that pretty much every small form factor PC could be considered a steam machine.

Steam will allow end users to download the Steam OS for free and they will be able to install it on their computers while PC manufacturers willing to sell a Steam Machine using the Steam brand will have to ask for authorization. 

Steam machines will differ in performancedepending on what hardware that particular system integrator decides to use, but the real challenge here is to find a case that has the right balance between size, performances and efficiency.

In the last months we noticed an increase on sales of mini ITX based systems, people are looking for powerful and compact computers with a stylish lookingthat can take pride of place in their living rooms, this is why lately we have been focusing more on small form factors gaming computers, adding new configurations to our website to fulfil our customers’ needs.

We are working on a custom case for a Steam Machine, we want to follow the trend as we don’t want to miss a potentially good opportunity, but at the same time we want to deliver to our customers quality products and I believe that there is no need to rush. We will keep on trying to make our gaming system smaller than ever using the best available products, then the customer will decide if use their system as a normal PC or as Steam Machine."

Craig Hume, Director, Utopia Computers: 

"We have already released our take on a Steam Machine – the Hero. It is shipping with Windows at the moment, but we have recently become a Steam Hardware Partner and are hoping to have our Hero PC included in their list of approved systems in due course. 

For me, PC gaming is coming into its own even without the Steam OS. Steam Big Picture allows for a great living room experience and Windows 10 has all sorts of cool gaming features. Adding to that our Hero, when configured to the max, can run 4K games. This means PCs can give gamers a whole new gaming experience in their living room."

Paul Nolan, Senior Product Manager, Ebuyer:

"GAME has an exclusive on full Steam, so we aren’t stocking the device at the moment. However we are working with Cyberpower to promote a range of specialist gaming desktops, including the Syber range. From that, I’m heavily targeting gaming barebone development for the remainder of the year and using this to drive forward interest in gaming PC opportunities for the living room and not just the bedroom."

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