Valve boss says Apple is biggest threat to Steam Box

Valve founder Gabe Newell believes that the biggest threat facing Steam Box is Apple. He says the question is if the PC industry can get a foothold before Apple "takes over the living room."

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As Microsoft and Sony prepare new consoles and Valve plans its Steam Box (or boxes), it seems everyone is preparing for the three to go head-to-head. Everyone except Valve boss Gabe Newell, at least, who seems unperturbed by either console and more concerned with Apple's movements in the market.

"The threat right now is that Apple has gained a huge amount of market share, and has a relatively obvious pathway towards entering the living room with their platform," Newell told students of the University of Texas' LBJ School of Public Affairs, reported by Polygon. "I think that there's a scenario where we see sort of a dumbed down living room platform emerging - I think Apple rolls the console guys really easily. The question is can we make enough progress in the PC space to establish ourselves there, and also figure out better ways of addressing mobile before Apple takes over the living room?"

He notes that buying consoles comes with its own set of weaknesses, like requiring you to re-buy content and have a separate friends list for each one, which makes a TV-connected PC more attractive. "I can just extend everything I love about the PC and the internet into the living room," he said. "I think the biggest challenge is that Apple moves on the living room before the PC industry sort of gets its act together."

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  • reply
    January 31, 2013 7:55 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Valve boss says Apple is biggest threat to Steam Box.

    Valve founder Gabe Newell believes that the biggest threat facing Steam Box is Apple. He says the question is if the PC industry can get a foothold before Apple "takes over the living room."

    • reply
      January 31, 2013 7:57 AM

      I almost feel like Valve itself is the biggest threat to the Steam Box. Seems like they keep taking shots at the two companies they rely heavily on for continuing Steam in the Desktop environment.

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        January 31, 2013 8:11 AM

        not really, steam runs on any relevant os and as its now apple and mircosoft are making a push to cement and wall of their stake (win8 emulating the apple store bullshit).

        valve are hedging their bets, part of that is the steambox and independence from windows and osx with linux support (which is given the success of android, the bsd relation of bsd/osx to nix/linux hence at this pointz a nobrainer. you can still install windows but the ease of use of ubuntu and other distros with the better gpu driver support lately don't really necessitate that).

        if you look at how apple managed to become a relevant player in the handheld place (though playing games on a phone sucks ass and playing on a tablet its only really decent for some specific games) or how mircosoft muscled their way into the console market with what was basically a shitty pc back in the day and their absolute disregard for the pc platform with their games for windows bullshit and other empty promises, you can see how valve would not want to be marginalized as a publisher/distribution platform once win8 hits the market or apple released a tv/console box.

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          January 31, 2013 9:34 AM

          Who is really going to port their games to Linux just for steam box?

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            January 31, 2013 9:45 AM

            The ps4 is supposed to be linux, so steambox should be trivial. And Mac is very similar, so you get all three with relatively little effort. There was a thread about this earlier:

            http://www.shacknews.com/chatty?id=29615072

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              January 31, 2013 9:45 AM

              (assuming that reddit post isn't utter bollocks, which it might well be)

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              January 31, 2013 5:07 PM

              We didn't exactly get every XBOX game even though porting those should have been relatively simple too. And Square Enix ported the FF13 engine to PC for FF14, but they didn't release 13 or 13-2 on PC.

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            February 1, 2013 3:57 PM

            The same small devs who already exist simply because of steam? Maybe indie will lead the way.

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        January 31, 2013 8:43 AM

        I think Steam would be fine without OSX support. Windows on the other hand, not so much.

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      January 31, 2013 8:06 AM

      I don't care about anther console, but I understand why VALVE MUST make this move. I just read an article that stated that for the first time in years the need for PC's with consumers went down something like 20%
      Valve/Steam live on the PC platform. So if they wish to stay relevant they must make this move. Either way it could be dangerous for them.
      If the fuck up this Steam box, it could spell doom for them and if they stay in the PC market the same could be said.
      I just hope they have enough money saved for this kind of mobility.

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        January 31, 2013 8:16 AM

        I have 1 GPU upgrade left before I'm done upgrading my desktop PC for likely the last time. If valve can bring hardware and a steam-wrapped OS to market that brings all the benefits of PC gaming (abundance of control inputs, mods, superior graphics & frame rates) to an affordable package that is the route I will take for future gaming set ups.

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          January 31, 2013 9:26 AM

          Same.

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          January 31, 2013 4:20 PM

          I think I might be with you on that one too - one final PC upgrade late this year. I dunno, I kind of hope not but the traditional tricked out monster PC isn't for me anymore. My next PC will be M-ATX, 1 SSD, 1 Video card and RAM - it's basically a console in a PC case, no extra HDD's no weird PCI cards etc.

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            January 31, 2013 5:13 PM

            I just did this and I have it set up as my HTPc and Steam big screen "console". It rocks and make for all the cool things you might want to do from the comfort of your couch pretty sweet and connectedness to all my home audio systems.

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          February 4, 2013 9:23 AM

          Quitter!

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        January 31, 2013 8:41 AM

        I look forward to new consoles, I like not worrying about upgrades. That's my main worry about Steam Box. There's no guarantee a game will run well on it. There's no standard. If they standardized it at least a dev team could optimize their game to run well on it. So you hit play and don't have to fuss. I don't want to be able to buy games on a steam box that will run like shit on it.

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          January 31, 2013 8:51 AM

          That should definitely be a development goal for them with the hardware. Future games should be able to detect the hardware and auto-config for it. If Valve is using (for the most part) off-the-shelf parts to build the box, they can update it every year (or every other year) with higher performing parts while maintaining backwards compatibility, with games still setting graphical settings automatically based on which steam console you have. That way games are constantly improving in fidelity but can still run on older hardware if that is what the user has, all seemingly transparent and automatic in operation.

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        January 31, 2013 12:14 PM

        It seems to me like there's missing information here, and it's purposefully obfuscatory. Otherwise, it seems like Valve's general strategy is terrible.

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        January 31, 2013 5:38 PM

        General computer sales may be down that. I bet the number of people gaming has grown. Businesses don't need to replace as often and neither do old people.

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      January 31, 2013 8:45 AM

      Consoles are a disappointment. Once the adoption rate of ps3 and xbox 360 got to a certain level, it was like pc graphics were frozen in time with console development cycles. And the limitations of the two consoles on what you can do with them are irksome (lack of backward compatibility, required subscriptions, you can't put linux on them, etc.)

      But I can't imagine how much worse this gets if Apple gets to design it. They love closed systems, walled gardens, proprietary hardware and software, and really high price tags.

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        January 31, 2013 8:52 AM

        Xbox and PS3 and Wii aren't closed systems?

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          February 1, 2013 4:05 PM

          People don't seem to realize this. Apple's portable devices are handled more like consoles than open PCs. It's actually a positive for some users, and certainly developers.

          Granted it varies by company when you look at things like controller connectivity and USB, but at a basic level you've got a closed system where everybody has the same hardware. The update cycle is just different

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      January 31, 2013 9:15 AM

      it sounds like the steam box is valves ouya. i really do agree that small old school casual and indie games could go places on the right console, what gabe said about a dumbed down living room platform.

      drmikey's indie console. you heard it here first.

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        January 31, 2013 3:47 PM

        I don't see anywhere in his statement that could be construed as saying that there's space for a "small old school casual and indie game... console". What I do see is Gabe stating that there a possible future where everyone pursues a sort of simplified livingroom console and supporting ecosystem, which is exactly the kind of space Apple would utterly decimate it's competition. In that kind of arena, Ouya and its kin would be utterly massacred without even the notice of Apple. Ouya wouldn't even be a speed bump.

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      January 31, 2013 9:42 AM

      Since they're going Linux this is an odd chicken-and-egg thing. Valve may well assume Shackers will buy their box en mass. That's their selling point on why to port to their Linux model. Shackers are right to say, why buy it if there are so few Linux games? But, it sounds like Valve has been trying to move the ball with heavily soliciting dev houses to port to Linux. Wonder if they may be throwing some money around that too.

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        January 31, 2013 10:25 AM

        In the last year or so there has been a decent push to port games over to OSX and Linux. You have countless indies already supporting linux and most of the kickstarter games pledging support for it. You also have developers porting their engines to platforms other than windows. It will be rough for a couple years to expand it beyond indie games but its possible.

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          January 31, 2013 11:57 AM

          As I mentioned in the other thread, it only takes one or two high profile games to NOT be available on the Linux version of steambox to make people pause when thinking of purchasing it over a 3d party windows version of it. They have a long haul.

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            January 31, 2013 1:17 PM

            True but any more than what already occurs with console exclusives. I agree however that a certain game might be a deal breaker for some people. Linux gaming isn't at that point where that will be a problem yet as it has to build the market first.

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        January 31, 2013 4:31 PM

        With HL3 as their launch title they will move millions.

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      January 31, 2013 11:32 AM

      ... Valve just better actually have a product called "steam box"... cuz that would be awesome.

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      January 31, 2013 12:51 PM

      I posted this thought on another forum, but I'm most curious how the streaming game process will work. It sounds great in his speech, with multiple games being run to multiple dumb terminals, from a single beefy desktop.

      BUT, I'm most curious how Gabe plans on sharing the Steam games across multiple terminals. It's already a fight in my house when the kids want to play Plants and Zombies upstairs and I want to play FarCry3 downstairs, and they were both bought with the same steam account. Valve will have to enable some sort of account/library sharing if they want this steam box to work (unless each terminal would need it's own account and game library) and not be killed by it's own DRM. I've had real problems in the past dealing with Steam (don't get me wrong - I love their sales) trying to get in touch with a real person, and attempting to switch games between different accounts. What's to stop the streaming of a game to a larger network beyond the 'family' environment? How could they possibly tell the difference?

      I don't think it will ever happen as he is suggesting it might.

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      January 31, 2013 3:49 PM

      I don't care about the steam box. How about you go back to making games Gabe? Where's HL3?

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      January 31, 2013 4:09 PM

      that's naive or perhaps just trying to reframe the battle. but I think steam or apple would have a hard time against established consoles.

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        January 31, 2013 4:48 PM

        gabe newell is renowned for being naive and not a smart businessman

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        January 31, 2013 5:34 PM

        LOL. Remember when the "established consoles" were SNES and Genesis? Thinking that Nintendo and Sega couldn't be uprooted was just as naive as thinking Sony and MS are here to stay...

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          January 31, 2013 6:14 PM

          The economic barriers to entry are an order of magnitude higher than they were then.

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            January 31, 2013 6:57 PM

            Not to mention that was smack in the middle of the 2D->3D transition, which was already uprooting the industry as everyone flailed about trying to figure out how to make it work.

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      January 31, 2013 5:31 PM

      I predict that google is going to screw everyone with an android gaming/entertainment console that will be affordable and fun to play. Sticking it to all hipsters and geeks alike.

      then again I'm not no Gabe Newell