Alienware predict their Steam Machine will be the “least profitable system we ever sell”

The Alienware Steam Machine has the potential to reach more Steam users than any other.

The range of third-party Steam Machines at CES in January was a funny-shaped fanfare for living room PCs – but the noise has since subsided into uneasy silence as manufacturers prepare their wares for market.

Alienware’s Steam Machine is the one Valve believe will “make the most Steam users happy”. But Alienware aren’t expecting it to make them bags of cash on the scale they’re used to.

Alienware’s Steam Machines are the result of a four-year collaboration with Valve, and will be released once a year to counter a lack of upgrade options.

“It’s going to be very challenging,” Alienware general manager Frank Azor told the Wall Street Journal. “This will absolutely be the least profitable system we ever sell.”

Why’s that? It’s worth remembering that Valve’s hardware partners are agreeing to retain the PC’s open infrastructure: that means none of the royalties the console makers get to claim from the sales of games on their platforms.

But Alienware and other third-parties are pricing their Steam Machines competitively with those same consoles – which means they can’t go much higher than £400.

For Alienware, said Azor, the Steam Machine is a strategic bet – that PC gamers can be persuaded to vacate their desks and move to the couch. Is it a sound bet, do you think?