Gabe Newell Says Apple is Steam Box's Biggest Problem
January 31, 2013 6:58 PM
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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."
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RE: Very strange outlook
2/1/2013 6:02:25 PM
I don't agree with that example either. I
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.
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