If Dell is hoping that its Alienware Steam Machine, a custom configured gaming box featuring Valve’s Steam OS, will catch on with consumers it’ll first have to explain to potential buyers why its planning on releasing new versions of the console every year.
Frank Azor, Dell’s General Manger for Alienware announced that it would be releasing new versions of the Alienware Steam Machine every year in statements made to TrustedReview, saying “lifecycle wise, consoles update every five, six seven years. We will be updating our Steam Machines every year.”
It appears Azor and Dell are hoping that the aggressive upgrade cycle will help make up for the Alienware Steam Machines lack of customization options. Dell has already made it clear that users looking to purchase its living room gaming console replacement shouldn’t expect to upgrade their machine’s internals.
Dell says it’ll need to continuously release hardware upgrades so that the Alienware Steam Machine can play the latest and greatest games. That’s a problem that other living room consoles don’t have.
While smartphone and tablet users are used to yearly upgrade cycles, Dell’s decision to follow smartphone and tablet maker’s lead seems to fly in the face of what casual gamers have embraced so far. Microsoft and Sony have slowed their upgrade cycles to around once a decade. This allows game developers to leverage their hardware and learn different techniques that they can use in later titles. This also allows Xbox One and PS4 buyers to know that they can invest in accessories and the ecosystem without worrying about whether their investment won’t be worth it in just a year’s time.
That’s important since living room entertainment and gaming consoles are relatively expensive. The Xbox One costs $499 with the PS4 cost a bit less at $399. So far Dell has only confirmed that the Alienware Steam Machine will be competitively priced when it launches sometime later this year.
Steam Machines, that is devices running Steam OS, are meant to leverage Valve’s custom version of the Linux operating system. Valve and its partners are hoping to unseat Microsoft and Sony from their positions as dominate living room gaming platforms. While Valve already controls large portions of the PC gaming market, it’s yet to make any serious progress in the living room. Dell’s Alienware brand is also popular with PC gamers, however it too has been mostly shut out of the living room.