Valve Discontinues Steam Link Streaming Boxby Ryan Smith on November 20, 2018 6:00 PM EST
First launched mid-decade, Valve’s Steam Link was one of several local game streaming products to hit the market, allowing users to play PC games away from their PC by streaming its contents to another room. And while the device definitely made an impression upon its launch, the writing has been on the wall for some time now that Valve hasn’t been completely satisfied with the hardware. Now the company is announcing that they have wrapped up production of the Steam Link, with the streaming box already out of stock in Europe and most of North America.
Initially released back in November of 2015, the Steam Link was part of a multi-pronged Valve effort dubbed “Steam Universe” that focused on getting Steam and its games on to living room TV screens. This initiative included the SteamOS Linux distribution, Steam Machines running SteamOS, and then the Steam Link. The Steam Link in turn was a relatively simple and low-cost set-top box that served as a remote streaming endpoint; gamers could use it to see what Steam was seeing on their PC, and then remotely play their games. Valve kept the box simple – it was little more than an H.264 decoder with network connectivity and a Bluetooth adapter – allowing it to be small and cheap.
Of the three prongs of the Steam Universe initiative, the Steam Link was in turn easily the most successful. While Steam Machines fizzled almost immediately – and SteamOS remains a neat side-project – the Steam Link was sold in volume by both Valve and retail partners. Though not the first PC streaming solution, it was by far the most prevalent. And, if you could get past the inheriant lag and occasional game compatibility issues, it worked pretty well.
However it’s also been clear that while the Steam Link made an impact, Valve has wanted out. The company has offered frequent sales on the hardware in the past year, often selling it for only a few bucks plus shipping (including right now). So the company has been trying to draw down their Steam Link inventory for some time, and with their latest announcement it looks like they’ve finally completed the task.
And while Valve’s very brief announcement doesn’t officially state why they’re getting out of the STB business, the more recent development of the Steam Link App paints a very clear picture. The STB was little more than an H.264 decoder to begin with, and the massive prevalence of smartphones means that pretty much everyone carries one of those in their pocket, never mind the rapid rise of smart TVs. Even with the Steam Link box, the strength of Valve’s play was in the software and integration, so like so many other discrete devices over the past decade, the streaming STB’s functionality has been subsumed by other smart devices.
Finally, for their part, Valve is reiterating that they will still continue supporting all forms of Steam Link, app and STB. So while hardware production has wrapped up, Valve seems prepared to offer what little support is necessary for their most successful hardware product to date.
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PeachNCream - Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - linkPeople sometimes obsess over buying products with the highest possible numbers in order to feel like they've gotten the best value for the cost. In the case of a screen's resolution, the return for the cost may not be a tangible improvement in viewing whatever it displays, but a psychological comfort attained during its use that comes from a place of purely irrational emotion (though often justified by claims that there are indeed tangible differences). The benefit is that though irrational buyers self-penalize when they shop and tend to repeatedly inflict harm that causes financial distress in both the short- and long-term future, they drive the development of newer technologies and assist in reducing costs for customers that aren't gripped around the proverbial throat by their various feelings. Let them pay and then reap the benefits that result from their expenditures.
Oxford Guy - Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - link4K is overkill but 1440 is a good improvement in image quality.
GreenReaper - Thursday, November 22, 2018 - linkBasically this. My next monitor will probably be 2560x1440 or something along those lines.
I agree with the premise; in many cases 1080p will be enough, and it's less likely to hit bottlenecks. Yet, it is still a hard sell to have a device that can only address 1/4 of the pixels on your screen. I guess at leas it that means it should scale without blurred lines.
Targon - Monday, November 26, 2018 - linkThe larger the screen, the higher you want the resolution to be. Going from 23 to 28 inch, you definitely want to be at 1440p or 2160p(4k). Some of this is based on how far you sit from the screen of course, but saying that 4k is overkill ignores that if you go from 28 inch to 32 inch, or to 40+ inches, you will definitely want higher resolutions. The whole Pixels Per Inch discussion applies.
kaidenshi - Thursday, November 22, 2018 - linkI hate that too, I had to really search to find a 2K monitor for less than a 4K. I don't need nor do I want 4K for workstation purposes, anything between 1080 and 2K is fine. 1600x1200 would be ideal but they are astronomically expensive and rare. I ended up getting a refurb Benq 2K for $20 less than a new 4K at the same size. It's maddening.
kaidenshi - Thursday, November 22, 2018 - linkGrrr at no edit function. I meant to say 1920x1200 would be ideal. 1600x1200 is 4:3 which is ok but not ideal.
jordanclock - Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - linkReally, the company that is notorious for being against iteration isn't iterating on a mildly successful product?
Valve must be run like Google where everyone gets bonuses for new products doing well and nothing for updating existing products.
Icehawk - Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - linkWas it successful - considering they were selling them for $10ea and there is no revenue stream directly created I am going to go with a big "nope".
Now if Apple would just let them release their damn streaming app!
GreenReaper - Thursday, November 22, 2018 - linkAs I recall it was more "you work on things that interest you". I don't know how real that ethos is but I can see people not being so interested in doing Stream Link v2, especially in a competitive marketplace; and arguably the app version in combination with smart TVs is more important.