Usage & Gaming
Just because the Steam Machine is running SteamOS does not mean that it will run every game on Steam. This is a misconception that many people have. SteamOS runs on Linux so for a game to be compatible it needs to be supported on Linux or SteamOS. This limits the number of games that are available on SteamOS. For example Fallout 4 is not SteamOS compatible. We do know there are over 1500 SteamOS-compatible games and the list keeps on growing.
The beauty of a Steam Machine over say a console is that if you are bored of a game you can easily go into the Steam Store, find a new game and download it. Talking about SteamOS-compatible games here are some of the more popular titles that will run on your Steam Machine: DOTA2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Cities: Skylines, Broforce, Borderlands 2, ARK: Survival Evolved, Hotline Miami, Left 4 Dead 2, and Team Fortress 2.
Many people might be buying a Steam Machine to compliment their gaming PC or to have something to play games in the living room with. If this is the case for you then you are definitely going to take advantage of SteamOS’s streaming feature. This allows you to stream games to the Steam Machine from another PC on the network. This means that if you want to play a game that is not SteamOS compatible you now can! The Steam quality all depends on the speed of your network, but it worked just fine 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 in 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.