Two years following their release, Valve has removed the section for Steam Machines from its digital distribution platform. Originally planned as a way of competing against consoles, Valve joined with the likes of Alienware to produce the machines. The corporate promoted these as a series of pre-built PC gaming devices running on a Linux OS. They were to be an alternative which balanced the convenience of a console with the higher power of a gaming PC.
Anyone searching for hardware on Steam now will simply see the Steam Controller, Steam Link and HTC Vive listed. The hardware page itself is now absent, and in its place is a simple drop-down menu. Interestingly, the hardware accessories page can still be reached, but it is empty in several regions. While users in the UK and USA can purchase products, those in Brazil and Canada are greeted by a blank page. The sales page for Steam Machines also still exists, with full information and purchase options still available to customers, but it has been isolated from the rest of the platform.
Valve first announced their intention to create a line of Steam Machines back in 2013. As covered in an article by PCGamer, the announcement followed an extremely negative response to Windows 8 by Valve President Gabe Newell in the previous year. While news of the Steam Machines was initially met with enthusiasm by gaming industry veterans, multiple delays, and a problematic SteamOS launch seemingly soured audiences to the product. Within seven months Ars Technica was declaring the line dead in the water, and Steam Machines as a whole were thought to have barely sold half a million units. This is in spite of SteamOS receiving frequent updates over this past year. The latest of which was released just last Friday.
After a troubled production and years of limited sales, Valve is now favoring other methods of promoting their platform. Chief among these is the Steam Link. Rather than serving as an entirely new machine, the Link connects your PC to a television via wi-fi. Two sales bundles in the last seven months have seen the Links discounted to $1.00 when purchased with select games. The first of these was with a prominent indie release by the name of ICEY. The second offered a broader variety of games with Human: Fall Flat, Hollow Knight and DOOM appearing in bundles. From this, it is clear that Valve is favoring the Link as a cheaper desktop surrogate.