Steam’s living room hardware blitz gets off to a muddy start

Valve didn’t give itself an easy job when it publicly announced its decision, over two years ago now, to bring the PC gaming experience to the living room TV. Plenty of companies have tried, and most never even got off the ground (see the Infinium Phantom for just one high-profile failure). But Valve is perhaps better positioned for success than any past effort, with a deep understanding of the PC gaming market and a deeply entrenched, market-leading distribution platform in Steam.

Now after a few delays and a soft launch for the OS, Valve is poised to officially launch its run at console gaming. Steam hardware will ship to pre-orderers this week and to others (including select retailers like GameStop) on November 10. It’s a multi-pronged effort that includes a lot of moving parts: the SteamOS operating system; the partner-produced “Steam Machine” hardware designed to run that OS out of the box; the Valve-produced Steam Link box that allows for basic in-home streaming; and the Steam Controller meant to make it all controllable from a keyboard-and-mouse-free couch.

We’ve been putting that entire ecosystem through its paces for a few days now, and while some of those pieces work better than others, all have some trouble living up to the promise of a seamless, hassle-free, PC-on-a-TV-console experience. It’s early, and Valve’s attack on the living room is far from a vaporware failure, but it’s not a shock-and-awe knockout blitz either.

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