They needed more control over the specs, maybe done what google does with Nexus by having 1 manufacturer per generation. It should be possible to build a pretty nice steam box with 200$ 480X but it won't do if the brand is tarnished.
- Just brainstorming a bit, what I would do is ask for only manufacturers willing to sell Steam Boxs at cost (0 profit) with the promise of a 50% cut of Valve's margin on all steam sales made using the steam boxes. This way the companies that build underwhelming machines will refuse, leaving only manufacturers that know they can build machines that a buyer will happily use for 2-3 years giving them a larger profit margin than normal. If valve really wants to get it off the ground, they can even subsidize the machine a little, so that a gamer can buy a steam box for 500$ what it would cost them 650$ for an equivalent PC (-windows cost - manufacturer margin - valve subsidy)
Edited by Nightbird - 6/3/16 at 3:04pm