Usage & Gaming
So the big thing many people may not realize is just because SteamOS is running Steam you do not have access to all Steam titles, well sort of, which we are going to get into. Since SteamOS is Linux for games to natively run on the platform they need to be compatible with Linux or SteamOS. This limits the number of SteamOS compatible games, we do know that there are over 1500 SteamOS compatible games currently out there and the list keeps on growing. To see if a game is SteamOS compatible you can go into its store page and see what operating systems it is currently available for. You can set the store to show only SteamOS titles if you want.
If a game is SteamOS compatible you can buy it and instantly start downloading it. Now don’t think you are limited here, many very popular games out there are SteamOS compatible. Here is an example of some of the better ones we know about: DOTA2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Cities: Skylines, Broforce, Borderlands 2, ARK: Survival Evolved, Hotline Miami, Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2. There is actually a pretty full list here.
Many people buying a Steam Machine may already have a PC in their house. If you have a PC in your house that is on the same network as your Steam Machine you can actually stream all non-SteamOS games as well. So if you want to have that living room experience in one of your favorite games that might not be on SteamOS you can. Just find the game in your library and it will give you the option to stream it if you have a PC on your network with it installed. Stream quality all depends on the speed of your network, but it worked pretty well for us.
Sadly since SteamOS is built on Linux benchmarking the actual system is pretty hard. For most of our graphics card benchmarks we use either a benchmarking tool in Windows or FRAPS. Since there is not a Linux version of FRAPS and most of the games benchmarking tools are made for Windows benchmarking the Steam Machine is quite hard. In the Windows version of Steam you are able to have an FPS overlay, that is absent from SteamOS for some reason so we cannot even show you that. I will say that every game that we did play on SteamOS did play quite well. Check out this video to get a good idea of how the Steam Machine will play various different games.
If you are a PC gamer, which I am, using the Steam Controller is many games will take some time to get used to, but I do feel that the controller was executed quite well. I was actually able to use the controller in FPS games and Strategy games like Cities: Skylines. I feel that it is a perfect mesh between a mouse and a controller. One thing that is cool since Steam is a community is that you can set up and share your controller configurations for different games with other people. You can also load shared configurations, this takes the pain out of mapping the controller. To do this all you have to do is hit the Steam button on the controller and select controller configuration. You should see the different public controller configurations there if they are available.
Now if you do want to play with a keyboard and mouse you can. As long as the device you are using has Linux drivers you should be good to go. I plugged in a Tt eSPORTS Poisedon ZX and a ROCCAT Tyon and both worked without having to install anything. Now if you want to get into customizations or anything like that you’ll have to install the Linux-based software for your specific device, if it exists. We will get into that on the next page. Also for those wondering we plugged in a wired Xbox 360 controller and it worked as well.