John Carmack isn't convinced that Steam Machines will be a hit

By Shawn Knight · 25 replies
Oct 21, 2013
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  1. Gaming legend John Carmack recently took the stage at Nvidia’s Montreal conference where he talked a bit on the subject of Valve and their upcoming Steam Machines. He whole-heartedly admitted to being wrong about the fate of the company’s digital...

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  2. NeoFlux

    NeoFlux TS Booster Posts: 104   +14

    Valve, please, forget SteamOS and deliver Episode Three.
    Tabbywabby likes this.
  3. Come on, this is not news, who cares what he thinks, Valve will own this thing.
    SalaSSin likes this.
  4. coppersloane

    coppersloane TS Enthusiast Posts: 108   +33

    Right, John. And Oculus will be a hit, right? Because you're on the development team. Digital distribution was a no-brainer. For one, it allows gamers to find titles that aren't readily available in stores any longer. Two, it's convenient as hell. Gamers don't have to leave the house to get a great game. Three, it's Valve, so you can rest assured the service will be quality.

    How anyone think such a concept is crazy? Of course, this is coming from the guy who was always reluctant to innovate when it comes to game mechanics. I'll never forget that stupid 'can't use the flashlight and a weapon at the same time' debate when Doom 3 was released. Cormack and id rationalized this decision by saying it created tension. Yeah, tension in my jaws from grinding my teeth because it was such a STUPID decision to make; a decision that suggests my avatar isn't smart enough to use an effing flashlight and firearm in tandem in a dark room.

    He's overrated.
  5. I'd rather shoot monsters in amazing setting than in the dark.
  6. Wait he is the one who praises G-Sync and not SteamBox? He lost his mind after Rage...
  7. insect

    insect TS Evangelist Posts: 349   +132

    My concern with SteamBox will be that it is considered an overpriced "Built-It-For-You" service like AlienWare or similar services. Unless this thing can hit the sub $400 price point (which it can't at a profit and still run PC games decently considering the Vid-card + CPU should cost that at minimum and a good SSD will cost 15-20% of that $400), I see it being a fringe market still.

    Then again, given the attitude towards "do-it-yourself" of the sub-17 year old generation at present and their ignorance of basic PC hardware this could take off. I think a lot of people want to PC game, but don't want to take the time to learn to build a PC because of a) they think its too hard (fear of screwing up) or b) too lazy (could overcome fear with effort on research/gathering cheap/free parts so that if you do screw up, no biggy) or c) too rich (and thus can afford the 20% markup on parts).

    TLDR; If this can be competitively priced with consoles it will take off, otherwise it's just another AlienWare with "Valve"/"Steam" on it instead of "Dell"/"Alienware".
    avoidz and psycros like this.
  8. ddg4005

    ddg4005 TS Guru Posts: 383   +54

    I'm going to sound like the odd man out here and say that while I use Steam I'm not crazy about it. Digital distribution is convenient no doubt, but it gives too much control to game publishers and companies like Valve.

    That said I have to agree with Carmack on this (and I haven't agreed with much of what he's stated lately). Who are Steam machines aimed at? What's the point to them? And no, just because this is Valve's initiative doesn't mean it'll be an automatic success. For the record, I'm glad the original Doom 3 did not require Steam (even though the BFG Edition does). I prefer my games free and clear of DRM as much as possible.
    avoidz, Skidmarksdeluxe and psycros like this.
  9. MrAnderson

    MrAnderson TS Maniac Posts: 488   +10

    You really don't see the value of a G-Sync, or G-Sync like technology being more more important than Steam Box? Or are you trolling? =)

    I'm looking forward to Steam Box given its open nature, but John C. was being honest. He did not say anything bad; it will take a long term investment for it to be successful, and Valve would be one of the companies to see it through. Also, Valve has to do something like this, as the Windows PC moves toward using a digital market place. Moreover, it could be years from now that MS makes Windows into a walled garden for the consumer market, and Valve will be ready. Carmack is a developer and can move with the rise and fall of platforms. Valve is a platform maker now; they cannot aford not to invest in other avenues when they see the potential of being cut off in the future. I also would not put it past Valve to use the Steam brand to provide a game streaming platform as the technology evolves and bandwidth increases. This is where the mass market is going whether we like it or not... I just would like a smooth framerate 1st please... so let's get with the G-Sync!
  10. gobbybobby

    gobbybobby TS Guru Posts: 554   +9

    I think it will work

    do an article on me posting that I think it will work.
  11. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,828   +633

    Besides the obvious question "What the **** has john carmack done in the last 5 years?" But honestly, he's a freakin' dinosaur, why should Steam care what he has to say at this point in the game. He already said Steam wouldn't work, proved him wrong, and now he's "pseudo-scornful" about the situation... Just go away, or release a sequel to Doom that isn't a total waste of time and hard drive space, I am of course talking about Rage.
    SalaSSin likes this.
  12. Oh look all of the steam fanboys are getting butt hurt!
  13. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,869   +1,288

    Oh look, an anonymous coward posted something nobody cares about.
    Adhmuz, LukeDJ, GunsAblazin and 2 others like this.
  14. I think it will work out well. I think Valve has read the signs and are responding to them the right way. Here's a post from Steam Community that I read recently and wholeheartedly agree with (apart from the typos):

    "Why do you think that being able to stay in business is not worthwhile to Valve?

    Valve looked at current trends, projected to the future and rightly concluded that they have to act now(-ish) or be destroyed later.

    Gaming is spread over Windows, Mac, 2-3 consoles and increasingly mobile (IOS and Android and a tiny little bit WP7/8) and 1% or so on Linux.

    The consoles are walled off to begin with. Apple and Google have their own dedicated proprietary stores and keep others from plying freely on their turf.

    Steam is big on Windows PC at the moment. Everything else is either closed to them or a constant hassle (IOS).

    Now MS would love to be more like Apple. That means more vertically and horizontally integrated and with their own store.

    MS already made some moves with W8 and over time they are likely to increase integration with XBox. That's not going to end well for Valve over the long run.
    Valves nightmare scenario (and it will be our nightmare too) is that in a few years every major platform with large market share will be closed off to them - or at the very least treat them as restricted second citizens.
    MS was happy with Valve and Blizzard etc... making good bucks with Wndows gaming while XBox was young and small and they didn't make much money from PC gaming themselves. Valve et al helped cement Windows as default platform with their presence.

    *But* that will and is already changing with MS increasingly making money from gaming and consoles and having their own shop on W8.

    If Valve doesn't act now it *will* be doomed in the not too distant future.

    Google faced a similar situation a few years ago - the result was Android. If mobile OS space would be divided between just Apple, MS and perhaps Blackberry - Google could have easily been shut out from search on mobile - and therefore a fast increasing part of the search market (which is after all their main business). Thus they created Android and gave it away at considerable cost. The result is a market with a free-ish mobile OS that doesn't restrict Google (quite the contrary).

    If Valve is still around and successful in half a decade - SteamOS will be the reason they survived. Give away the OS, help with the hardware - maintain a market for your business.
    Smart move." - Oerthling
    GunsAblazin likes this.
  15. PC EliTiST

    PC EliTiST TS Enthusiast Posts: 51   +7

    The real problem is... For how effing long? I mean, why he still "sells"? Just let him vanish already... They just pay him for nothing, to keep him as puppet. Meanwhile tech sites every now and then... Carmack this, carmack that...

    "he doesn’t believe Steam Machines will be met with an equal amount of success"

    As he didn't believe id software would disappear since they made Doom...

    Remember one thing... in 21st century "legends" don't keep up for as long if they do nothing anymore.
  16. mctommy

    mctommy TS Addict Posts: 215   +38

    I like steam platform but the success of steambox will rely on the pricing of steambox. It will be a very limited niche market if the price point is $500+
  17. Is it just me?

    or does anyone else think the John Carmack is the new John McAfee ??

    (I.e. - has been former tech guru making the rounds...)
  18. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    Only sales will tell.
  19. Gamesinner

    Gamesinner TS Rookie Posts: 86

    There's a saying Mr. Carmack, "all glory is fleeting".
  20. That's the beauty of it, sales aren't required. You can install Steam OS on your computer for free and voila you have a Steam Box...
  21. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,936   +1,101

    I tend to agree with John. PC gaming is still doing good, users love high-end keyboards and mice. It's not that that Steam machines aren't good or usable, but I question the market's desire.
  22. I don't believe John Carmack's statements since he blasted Matrox Parhelia 10 years ago. Matrox was struggling to stay in the consumer video cards market, and he was big then, with a huge hype over their new Doom 3 engine. Basically he told a lie about Parhelia when it was released, which had an considerable negative effect on sales. A few days later he said, like, sorry, I misread the label, or something of that sort, but it was not as hugely advertised and the damage was done. It was obviously paid for by the competition of Nvidia/ATI, and I have no respect to him ever since. Each time I read "John Carmack said..." I ask myself, who paid for it. And notice how he's always being called a gaming legend or veteran... for people who don't have a clue who he is. Because the last real game they did was... Quake? All the rest were just tech demos for their engines.
  23. GunsAblazin

    GunsAblazin TS Enthusiast Posts: 75

    I definitely think Seam Machines will sell. The advantages are: a free and open OS; an OS built for gaming; no Windows BS; developer support, because this is Valve we're talking about - they're playing it smart by having partners from the get-go.

    Valve is moving past just being the best digital distributor to being the best platform to game on. This thing will be cheaper than a traditional PC, because the parts are not their PC counterparts; they are made for the Steam Machine (embedded/mobile versions). The Steam box is what you want it to be - A low end streaming box (if you already own a high end PC), or a tiny but powerful gaming machine (for those of you who haven't yet invested in one). Either way It'll probably fit any budget. And you'll probably be able to install a second OS if it suits you.

    I have complete faith in Valve and don't see this doing anything but succeeding.
  24. TitoBXNY

    TitoBXNY TS Addict Posts: 236   +50

    Who cares what he thinks, he's no longer relevant. Rage was crap...
  25. Bubbajim

    Bubbajim TS Maniac Posts: 241   +168

    As much as I can I try and avoid beign a fence-sitter, but I think this could swing both ways. Lots of the comments above about this being a well-thought out Valve business move are right, as are the counter-arguments about price point and target market.

    I think this'll be a really long-game strategy. I found it a little odd at first that Valve aren't actually making the machines themselves, but I have a feeling that they'll make "second generation" ones (though I realise that it's not strictly a 'generational' thing, when they're sold in this customised manner). I get the impression they're letting other companies take the plunge with the hardware first and then they'll re-evaluate.

    I'd really, really love this to be a success though - but I won't be picking up a Steam Box myself...

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