Gabe Newell: Apple, not Microsoft, is biggest threat to Steam Box

Valve is aiming to revolutionize the game console industry with its own hardware, which many people (not Valve) have called the Steam Box. Valve has already announced it plans to launch a Linux-based PC that will run games that use the company's Big Picture mode on Steam. Valve has also put some money in PC maker Xi3 which is making its own Steam Box under the Piston name.

You might think that the three big game console companies (Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo) would be the biggest competition to the success of the Steam Box. Newell, as he usually does, has a different view. Polygon reports that during a lecture at the University of Texas' LBJ School of Public Affairs, Newell thinks the Steam Box will get its biggest threat from Apple.

Newell thinks that Apple already has a big entry point in the living room market, adding:

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 Newell might have a point about Apple's products having a shot in claiming the living room space, the question is whether or not Apple is motivated to do so. The company has been selling its Apple TV set top box for some time but its sales pale in comparison to sales of Microsoft's Xbox 360 console. There are a ton of rumors that Apple is creating its own television but there's no evidence that it will be released anytime in the near future.

Source: Polygon | Image via Xi3

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ingramator said,
Wow. So he thinks the Apple TV is in more households then the Xbox 360 or PS3? This guy is on some serious drugs...

What? He doesn't even mention the current Apple TV in the article. He's not talking about the current state of business, but a potential future one. That's what a threat is usually about.

Here's what's going on. Apple is likely about to build a console. The forthcoming Apple TV is supposedly using an A5X CPU. You don't have that sort of CPU in a box if all you're going to do is to stream Netflix. Gabe is worried what that will bring. Apple is usually good at marketing. Apple usually attracts a crapload of attention.

theyarecomingforyou said,

So no, one of the most influential people in the gaming industry should not be shunned.
In the minds of PC Gamers perhaps, but to the wider world, he is really a nobody. Take a hard look at the trends. Desktops are vastly diminishing in popularity and mobile devices are skyrocketing. That's not to say PC's are going away, but their role is changing considerably.

It is no longer the center of the digital home for many people.

Bad Man Duke said,
In the minds of PC Gamers perhaps, but to the wider world, he is really a nobody. Take a hard look at the trends. Desktops are vastly diminishing in popularity and mobile devices are skyrocketing. That's not to say PC's are going away, but their role is changing considerably.

The market is changing but PC support seems to be stronger than ever. Games that previously wouldn't have seen any port, let alone a decent one, are getting PC releases that take advantage of the platform. And crowd-sourcing is funding some incredibly innovative and ambitious projects. The publishers that aren't treating the platform with respect are suffering. For instance, id Software's reputation is in tatters after RAGE's focus on consoles.

More importantly, Steam's success has allowed Valve to invest in projects that could have a dramatic influence on the entire industry, with the Steam Box being a prime example. Valve has the money to be able to gamble big on projects, as it doesn't have any shareholders to worry about.

theyarecomingforyou said,

If you look at Apple it usually releases a product refresh each year and we've seen rapid progress with the iPhone and iPad. In fact it has cannibalised handheld console sales, which is why we've seen Nintendo's DS and Sony's Vita range struggle to gain traction when they used to experience unrivalled success.

As for consoles, the point is that due to the multi-platform nature of modern gaming the long release cycle is now starting to hurt PC gaming. The platform doesn't improve, which is why the X360 and PS3 are struggling to get good performance at 720p at only 30fps - let alone with good image quality, with decent size textures, tessellation, hardware physics, anti-aliasing, 3D, etc. All the previous consoles plugged into a standard TV but now TV technology is advancing rapidly and the consoles have been left hopelessly outdated.

So no, one of the most influential people in the gaming industry should not be shunned. If you look at the ethics of the company and the quality of the workplace there's no other company that comes close, in large part because Valve isn't beholder to shareholders. If employees want to work on new hardware or an entirely new style of game then they're free to. That's in stark contrast to the moves made by Sony and Microsoft.

Put down the Apple Crack and Kool-Aid.

Apple slapping a new version of iOS on a slightly different variation of the SAME FREAKING HARDWARE is not innovation, nor is it intended to progress the hardware of the gaming industry.

Wow.

theyarecomingforyou said,

The market is changing but PC support seems to be stronger than ever.
I disagree. Take any multiplat title. Console always sells more by at least a factor of 2-3:1.

More importantly, Steam's success has allowed Valve to invest in projects that could have a dramatic influence on the entire industry,
Yet few of them actually do. Let alone nobody is asking for the type of projects they are saying they are dong. In fact many of them go against the direction that consumers are heading.

with the Steam Box being a prime example. Valve has the money to be able to gamble big on projects, as it doesn't have any shareholders to worry about.
The Steam Box will more than likely be a failure. It isn't targeting anything that the larger market is interested in. Let alone using a platform that has hardly any support. It is going to take far more than the support of PC gamers to make it success, nothing of which Valve has any experience in or any model that it supports.

Now you Linux guess know that this man is a nut case when he talks about Linux like windows is dead or doesn't work... Am not bashing Linux or anything but am saying you can't take this guy word to justify anything

I hate to say it but i am losing hope for Gabe He use to be such an inspiration but i dont like the stuff he is coming out with at all recently

I don't agree at all, I think people will be surprised by what Microsoft and Sony do next generation. Not updating the hardware for at least 5 years has it's benefits, if anything it pushes developers to code better because of how the systems are "limiting" going forward.

GP007 said,
I don't agree at all, I think people will be surprised by what Microsoft and Sony do next generation. Not updating the hardware for at least 5 years has it's benefits, if anything it pushes developers to code better because of how the systems are "limiting" going forward.

If anything, the normal console release schedule is averaged at roughly 7 years. Based on a history of console releases going back the the 70s...
The PS3 turns 7 this year, the Xbox 8.... Nothing out of the ordinary.

You're drunk Gabe, go home.

The Steam Box or Companion Cube (as I call it) will do fine. Apple is no competition in the slightest.

If Apple goes after game market it would be casual gamers, a completely opposite side of the spectrum than a Steambox running Linux.

I think the Steambox is incredibly stupid though. The living room PC idea is terrible. Hardware is too expensive and/or obsoleted fast relative to a normal desktop PC. Plus since when do PC gamers want to give up keyboards and mice for an imprecise game controller? Is Valve going to subsidize the cost of a steambox and put entire company at risk? Don't think so, so it will be an expensive niche product.

Avatar Roku said,
If Apple goes after game market it would be casual gamers, a completely opposite side of the spectrum than a Steambox running Linux.

What are you expecting on the steambox running Linux? Battlefield? haha, max payne? GTA?

That thing is aimed at the casual gamer, with 10 semi-decent but a decade old games aren't going to cut it, the vast majority will be similar to the KDE-games package (there isn't much else then these 'fun' little casual games on Linux)

TurboShrimp said,
He runs a digital Store what the hell does this guy do ? He hasn't done anything for gaming since half life what a crock.

Even HL is overrated. And more then half of its fame came from the CounterStrike mod which isn't even created by Valve.
Thoug HL story was interesting, but so was SoF's story.
And no freaking way Half Life will EVER touch the original Unreal. Not even close, not story mode... and counting Unreal Tournament as the multiplayer for Unreal... not online either.

Shadowzz said,

Even HL is overrated. And more then half of its fame came from the CounterStrike mod which isn't even created by Valve.
Thoug HL story was interesting, but so was SoF's story.
And no freaking way Half Life will EVER touch the original Unreal. Not even close, not story mode... and counting Unreal Tournament as the multiplayer for Unreal... not online either.

HL also ran on the fame of the Quake engine, HL was fun but certainly hasn't revolutionized the gaming industry like Gabe thinks it has.

The only people on drugs around here are most of the members commenting. Its quite plausible that the 'casual' gaming space can eclipse the more hard core one in the living room (PC vs Console is perfect example of the continuation of that spectrum). My PS3 is much more media center than game box. If Apple does what it's history show with the former, they certainly could be a new entrant.

The problem with Apple is that all their games favor touch and not conventional controller interaction.

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