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Gabe Newell  (Source:
Steam Box has to beat Apple into the living room

Gabe Newell said that Apple may be the main problem with getting the Steam Box into living rooms.

Newell, Valve's co-founder, told a class at the University of Texas' LBJ School of Public Affairs that Apple could be a threat to his company's upcoming Steam Box if it gets to the living room first.

Steam Box is Valve-developed hardware that aims to broaden the reach of Steam, which is Valve's digital distribution and multiplayer/communications platform. Right now, Steam delivers a variety of games to a user's desktop computer, but Steam Box will bring these games to the living room -- such as on a TV with Big Picture mode.

Not much else has been disclosed about Steam Box, other than the fact that it's Linux-based and will be an open system (Newell even said that it'd be possible to install Windows onto the Steam Box). While no release date is in sight, Newell worries that Apple may launch a similar platform for the living room -- thus beating Valve to the punch.

"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 said. "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?"

While Valve is looking to offer the best hardware for the best possible price point, Newell worries that Apple may make a move first and offer a closed platform that will lack the user-generated content that Valve (through Steam Box) would offer.

"The biggest challenge, I don't think is from the consoles," Newell said. "I think the biggest challenge is that Apple moves on the living room before the PC industry sort of gets its act together."

Source: Polygon

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RE: Very strange outlook
By EnzoFX on 2/1/2013 2:22:13 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah but that would work in favor of said Steam box as well.

RE: Very strange outlook
By maugrimtr on 2/1/2013 10:11:07 AM , Rating: 1
It may have lower theoretical performance than current gen PC hardware, but being able to optimize for a single platform can improve performance far more than you'd think. I would not be surprised to see the hardware perform as well as high end PC hardware (GTX 680, HD 7970).

That would be impossible given the significant gulf in brute processing power between a console GPU and a modern GTX or AMD GPU. Optimization doesn't work that way. Computation speed is not theoretical - it's readily advertised.

Console developers will actually figure out how to improve texture quality, followed by polygon count, followed by post-processing and get it to fit within the limited confines of a known GPU as fluidly as possible to maintain 30 FPS.

PC gamers will retain 60 FPS performance with tesselation, HBAO, and other improvements since they have the superior throughput and processing.

The only concession you get are posting inefficiencies. Console ports have a terrible reputation on PCs because they are poorly optimised for better PC hardware. Those inefficiencies tend to make Console games run terrible on a PC which can give the appearance of near equivalent performance. Mass Effect 1, for example, looked really bad on PCs because that early in the game, Bioware had to cut out a lot of graphical goodies to make it perform well on Console (and PCs inherited those decisions - and worse).

RE: Very strange outlook
By inighthawki on 2/1/2013 3:59:04 PM , Rating: 2
This is not about pushing polygons and improving texture quality, its about optimizing the rendering API to remove inefficiencies caused by needing to support generic hardware, and optimizing drivers and such. This is low level under the hood stuff, not "Game developer X pushed really hard to optimize their engine"

RE: Very strange outlook
By ktemple on 2/1/2013 2:12:51 PM , Rating: 2
Not as much. There's optimized, and then there's optimized. "Optimization" refers to the process of taking advantage of hardware specifics, but the Steam Box has fewer specifics since the hardware (and probably most of the OS) is off-the-shelf. There isn't as much to optimize for.

That's not the only problem with the Steam Box, either. It's also lacking in convergence, unless Big Picture gets some serious upgrades at some point. The price point is absurd. The Steam Box is, effectively, nothing more than a PC OEM. A stupid one.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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