Welp, I guess Steam machines won't be coming this year after all. In an announcement on the Steam Universe community group, Valve's Eric Hope has revealed that, "realistically," Valve is now looking at a 2015 release schedule for the set-top systems. The announcement, entitled "Steam Machines Update," reads in part:
We're now using wireless prototype controllers to conduct live playtests, with everyone from industry professionals to die-hard gamers to casual gamers. It's generating a ton of useful feedback, and it means we'll be able to make the controller a lot better. Of course, it's also keeping us pretty busy making all those improvements. Realistically, we're now looking at a release window of 2015, not 2014.
Obviously we're just as eager as you are to get a Steam Machine in your hands. But our number one priority is making sure that when you do, you'll be getting the best gaming experience possible. We hope you'll be patient with us while we get there. Until then, we'll continue to post updates as we have more stories to share.
This might come as a surprise, given that Valve outlined specs for a whole range of Steam machines back in January and promised a mid-year release for them. Valve has shipped Steam machine prototypes to beta testers, as well.
Then again, Valve has earned a reputation for postponing projects in the interest of polish—and polish may well be needed here. The beta Steam machines I saw at GDC in March were somewhat buggy, and the Steam controllers they came with were difficult to use. On top of that, we still haven't seen many game studios and publishers announce support for SteamOS.