“Obviously we’re just as eager as you are to get a Steam Machine in your hands. But our number one priority is making sure that when you do, you’ll be getting the best gaming experience possible. We hope you’ll be patient with us while we get there,” wrote Valve employee Eric Hope on the Steam Universe forum. “Realistically, we’re now looking at a release window of 2015, not 2014.”
From Hope’s post it sounds like the primary hold-up is Valve’s proprietary Steam Controller, which is not a huge surprise—the controller’s design has already had two major iterations, and Hope states that extensive playtesting is “generating a ton of useful feedback.” The Steam Controller is a vital aspect of Steam Machines, the bridge between keyboard-and-mouse and traditional console-style gamepads.
For what it’s worth, I gave the updated Steam Controller a try back at GDC and came away a bit disappointed with the experience. Using the Steam Controller was neither as precise as using a mouse and keyboard nor as intuitive as using an Xbox 360 controller—at least to someone who grew up with gamepads in hand—and thus I think it’ll be a tough sell to most core consumers.
But that’s what iteration is for. There’s no telling what we’ll eventually end up with from Valve, and perhaps they can solve the controller’s biggest problems. This also could be good for Valve, allowing more time to secure big-budget, Linux-compatible games before the machine launches—lack of games with native Linux support is still a big barrier to Valve’s SteamOS plans.
We’ll just have to wait a little longer to see what Valve has in store. We’re all Half-Life 3 fans though, right? Waiting is what we do best.