Did laptops, desktops, and consoles all inadvertently give rise to Steam Machines? The momentum began when people started getting wise with their desktops’ versatile nature, and increasing numbers took their hardware into the living room to serve as their all-in-one entertainment centre several years ago.
Furthermore, the living room PC scenario quickly gained momentum as internet services like NetFlix (etc) raked in millions of people. People were using their computers not just for gaming and work, but as a TV for the viewing of 4K, 3D, and general 1080p content. They wanted a unified media experience, and few are sitting at a dedicated computer desk anymore. Microsoft's Xbox One earned huge brownie points for allowing players to use it in similar fashion with other devices, dubbing it an all-in-one entertainment hub.
The one advantage laptops have over desktops is portability. Whether it's gaming on the go or simply just a case of setting up where you want in your home, at a moment's notice. The thing is, home PCs are getting increasingly smaller. Recently a buddy of mine took his microATX desktop on a plane as a carry-on. He stuffed it into a medium sized dufflebag with his monitor and peripherals and fit it into the overhead compartment for safe travel. So desktops are rapidly replacing media players, and they are marching into the living room like consoles did years back. All the while they can be taken on-board planes like laptops, so for what reason would anyone pay triple for a gaming laptop unless they absolutely had to game on the go?
Now the reason why this size decrease is possible for desktops and not so much gaming laptops is because there's been a marked shift in gamer expectations. People want smaller desktops more than gamers demand smaller gaming laptops, without breaking the bank. There's also significant concerns as to just how small laptops can get, particularly when taking into account heat dissipation and battery life. We demand a smaller, faster, more epic gaming experience, but we aren't keen on the idea of paying more. Now it goes without saying that neither desktops nor laptops will fade away, there's space for all sorts in this market, but amongst a large segment we will begin to see a fusion - Steam Machines.
Steam is trying to find the middle ground between three markets. Consoles, desktops, and laptops. Steam Machines are already underway in their march toward a unified gaming experience in the living rooms. Furthermore, since they are real PC's they have none of the inherent limitations of consoles, but neither do they all have the expense of a full gaming PC. Small enough to transport even more so than my friend's microATX desktop, these machines may indeed rise to some serious fan power, especially when the entire Steam library of games will immediately work on them all, day one.
The market is in a state of flux right now. Many Steam Machines are like laptops in that they can fit into just about any gamer comfort zone without that desktop hassle. nor the connection limitations of a console. Plus, the Steam Controller has already mixed the precision of a gaming mouse and the accessibility of gaming controller, and the Steam Machine is even mixing the prices, power and parts of desktops with the conveniences of consoles. Some Steam Machines are so small that they even have dedicated laptop components in them rather than desktop parts.
Will Steam Machines make laptops and desktops obsolete? Is this the Rise of the Steam Machines? Let me know in the comments below what you think about the direction the industry is heading!