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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 ballist1x on 2/1/2013 5:27:40 AM , Rating: 2
My guess is that Steam users and Apple users have a very small crossover on any level.

Dont steam want to expand into people who dont already use it? surely thats the whole point of the device...?

RE: Very strange outlook
By TakinYourPoints on 2/1/2013 6:40:41 AM , Rating: 1
Yup. Expanding past the hardcore is what any company with ambitions for more marketshare wants to do. There are TONS of casual games on Steam.

Someone actually made a great comment about this on Reddit.

Let's say there's a scale of 1-10 going from the most casual to the most hardcore gamer, Apple could probably cover 1-3's gaming "needs" and provide just enough to discourage 4-6 from purchasing a console. 7 and 8 will have at least a console and 9-10 probably all consoles and an expensive gaming machine.

1-3 were never going to buy a console. 7-10 will always have a console. Where Apple can leave a mark is 4-6 which falling right in the middle is probably the largest group as well.

Case in point, I'm maybe about 4 on the scale. iPad got me to play FPS for the first time in a 7-8 years. In terms of gaming experience including graphics it's actually superior to all the FPS I used to play on PC and it's just enough fun to satisfy my gaming needs (alongside all sorts of tower defense and platformer iOS games).

tl;dr. Gabe's got a point.

The point isn't dominating the hardcore "9-10", Valve already owns that. What I play on my PC is the most hardcore of the hardcore, DOTA 2 and Starcraft 2, and what I play on iOS are either quicky games on my iPhone or deep board games or things like Bastion on my iPad. I haven't been interested in playing games on my TV in years, even though my PC is hooked into my home theater though my wall. A Steambox probably isn't for me even though I technically already have one.

There's still a huge "1-7 population" on the TV that's ripe for the picking, and this is what Gabe wants in on.

Valve is completely in the right for wanting to get an affordable and small device to run Steam on. I think the endgame in two years is a tiny and completely integrated Skylake (using the IGP) based Steambox running Linux for the living room.

By the way, if you want a preview of what a Steambox might be like, plug your PC or laptop into your HDTV and try Big Picture mode with a gamepad. It has a much better UI than the 360 or PS3.

RE: Very strange outlook
By elleehswon on 2/1/13, Rating: 0
RE: Very strange outlook
By TakinYourPoints on 2/1/2013 6:02:25 PM , Rating: 2
I don't agree with that example either. I hate FPS on touchscreens, but that's also completely beside the point.

The point is that more casual or "good enough" platforms have a big enough audience that can have negative impact on other more capable platforms.

Years ago people laughed when there was speculation that the iPhone would have any impact at all on Nintendo or Sony, but look at how rapidly handheld sales have declined against the rise of iOS gaming. It gives access to cheaper games in a more portable and powerful device that you always carry around with you.

Obviously the lack of physical controls is a huge strike against a smartphone compared to a Vita or 3DS, but the tradeoff in portability and price makes it "good enough" for many people. It is "good enough" that the 3DS and Vita sell much slower than the PSP, GBA, or DS did, "good enough" and Nintendo and Sony's financials are in trouble.

Its the same thing here but in the living room. Bluetooth is already in the AppleTV (the most obvious trojan horse for Apple into the living room), making pairing with a gamepad possible. Airplay mirroring or using another iDevice as a controller has been here for years now.

Gabe is worried about Apple actually putting more resources into the AppleTV, making it a platform on the level of the iPhone and iPad. The hardware and software will both be cheaper (especially if a universal purchase gets you an AppleTV version as well as iPhone/iPad), development is easy and profitable for publishers, and there is actually some crossover with what is available on PS3 and XBox (The Walking Dead and Bastion for example).

Will it be better than existing consoles? In 90 out of 100 cases, no. Will it be "good enough" to impact current established console makers? Certainly.

As another platform owner, Gabe is rightfully worried. He tried for years to get Steam on the XBox and failed, and he only managed to get a "pseudo" Steam on the PS3 for Portal 2, but that's kind of it. The last thing he wants is another closed living room system that is far bigger than what exists today. This is why SteamBox matters.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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