Steam machine will be 'least profitable' Alienware system

When Valve unveiled some of the upcoming Steam machines back in January, we saw many designs, including at least a couple of full-fledged gaming PCs priced under $500. Diversity and low prices may help adoption, but at least some PC makers feel some trepidation about the whole idea.

In a recent article about Valve's effort, the Wall Street Journal quotes Dell's Alienware chief, Frank Azor, as saying of the upcoming Alienware Steam machine, "It's going to be very challenging. . . . This will absolutely be the least profitable system we ever sell."

Azor went on to backtrack somewhat in a followup statement to PC Gamer. "Our decision to invest in developing the purpose-built Alienware Steam machine, pairing it with incredible performance and pricing it as aggressively as possible has everything to do with how much we believe in this vision and want to see it materialize," he told that site.

But Azor wasn't the only one to express reservations. The Wall Street Journal story also quotes Tuan Nguyen, iBuyPower's product marketing chief, who complained about the number of disparate Steam machine designs. "It's like the Android phone marketplace," he said. "You have phones all over the place with wild specs and pricing." Nguyen told the Journal he'd rather see Valve market a single system.

In spite of those reservations, Alienware and iBuypower still seem to be proceeding with their Steam machine plans. According to the Journal, their willingness to do so is "based largely on [Valve's] prior success shaping the industry." Steam transformed PC gaming, the Journal points out, and it now has more than 75 million user accounts.

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