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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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.

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.

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)

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.

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.

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

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

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...

It's not just about marketshare, mindshare is just as important and that's where Apple scores extremely high.

Ambroos said,

It's not just about marketshare, mindshare is just as important and that's where Apple scores extremely high.

Lets see... Mind share doesn't apply to Macs?

Apple has already made a large influence on gaming through the iPhone and iPad, both of which captured the market by storm. It's certainly not a leap to suggest that Apple could do the same with a move into the TV arena, as the Apple TV wasn't a serious contender.

He's also noting that Microsoft and Sony aren't as much of a threat because they don't update their hardware as regularly, so they're not as innovative. The Steam Box isn't a rival to console in the traditional sense, which is why Newell is more concerned by what Apple is doing.

It isn't about numbers per se, because the Apple TV is so cheap that if they enabled iOS apps then you have an instant console at a very cheap price.

Greetings from China. Who TF is this Apple everyone talks about? Do they make computers? I remember there used to be an Apple who made computers but they disappeared around the same time as that old-fashioned Google thingy. Surely not the same?

Ambroos said,

It's not just about marketshare, mindshare is just as important and that's where Apple scores extremely high.


I am sure if I asked people about video games, I will hear Playstation, Wii or Xbox. You guys are really out of touch with reality to think otherwise.

BajiRav said,

I am sure if I asked people about video games, I will hear Playstation, Wii or Xbox. You guys are really out of touch with reality to think otherwise.

All my friends would say: PC...

theyarecomingforyou said,

He's also noting that Microsoft and Sony aren't as much of a threat because they don't update their hardware as regularly, so they're not as innovative. The Steam Box isn't a rival to console in the traditional sense, which is why Newell is more concerned by what Apple is doing.

It made me laugh. Yeah Microsoft should release a new Xbox every week -.-

Just to show how much an idiot Gabe is, look at the history of Consoles.

NES 1983
SNES 1990
N64 1999

Or lets go with Atari, 2600 was released on 1977, their next one the 7800 came out 1984.
The Jaguar was 1995.

Or the Sega Master System, 1985, the 2nd one... 1992

Playstation 1994, playstation 2... 2000.. playstation 3.. 2006

People do we see a patern here? The current Xbox/PS3 lifetime IS ABSOLUTELY FREAKING NORMAL.
The PS3 is only 1 year over its 'normal' release schedule as of now... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saC13RJ8CUs

This Gabe Newell keeps looking like a tool almost each and every time he comes in the news with his biased and unbased idiocy.
This joker should be shunned.

Shadowzz said,

It made me laugh. Yeah Microsoft should release a new Xbox every week -.-

People do we see a patern here? The current Xbox/PS3 lifetime IS ABSOLUTELY FREAKING NORMAL.

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.

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.

He's completely transformed gaming on the PC. Valve is constantly adding new functionality to Steam and has pioneered major sale events, which has made PC gaming even more affordable than ever.

The guy is a legend and he's exactly the sort of disruptive influence that the industry needs.

Agree but he doesn't made anything as remarquable as HL or Portal for a while... And I don't think Big Picture is good, simple and intuitive enough as GUI for a casual gamers mass market. While Steam was (is ?) a good "Windows" Platform for gamers. it's geting bigger and heavier. I think Valve should improve its Windows base (with Windows 8) instead of trying to kill it with wrong problems and fake rumors.
So "Piston" is a logic "Valve" product name... but it sounds ridiculous at a point it could effectively work. However, I would prefer Valve to keep an dimprove its Windows position.

Edited by Wireless wookie, Jan 31 2013, 11:58am :

theyarecomingforyou said,
He's completely transformed gaming on the PC. Valve is constantly adding new functionality to Steam and has pioneered major sale events, which has made PC gaming even more affordable than ever.

The guy is a legend and he's exactly the sort of disruptive influence that the industry needs.


Transformed? In what form?
Before steam I could buy and download my games online, Xfire did all of the friendlist/chat/ingame info steam does now.

So what has changed? To me nothing, I have steam with around 10 or so purchased games. Yet most games I play are non-steam. And I rarely touch a steam game ~.~

Besides merging existing services into one.... it hasn't transformed anything.

Shadowzz said,
Transformed? In what form?
Before steam I could buy and download my games online, Xfire did all of the friendlist/chat/ingame info steam does now.

So what has changed? To me nothing

It's the fact that everything is integrated into a single, streamlined service. Community features allow you to: take screenshots, share them, post comments; view community game guides and contribute to them; access game hubs for support, sharing media, news, etc; vote on submissions through Greenlight to support indie developers; develop in-game items and monetise them; make recommendations to friends; voice chat with friends; easily join servers that your friends are playing on; create a wish-list for games, etc. Steamworks allows you to store games and settings on Steam Cloud, earn achievements, preload games, protects you from cheaters, etc. And Steam allows you to easily install games on multiple computers, protect your account with extra security, purchase DLC in-game, use Big Picture mode to make your PC a media centre, etc.

One of the best features of Steam is that if you keep your Steam folder on a secondary hard-drive when you reinstall Windows you don't have to reinstall your games - when you launch them they automatically configure all the registry settings and dependencies. If I were to have to manually reinstall 500 games from disc then it would take weeks. It made gaming less irritating and more enjoyable. Steam also pushed publishers away from draconian DRM, at a time when publishers were using limited activations, injectors to corrupt the gameplay, disc-checks that prevented you backing up your games. And the Steam sales have forced publishers to be more aggressive with discounts, to the point where it's not unusual to see 33-50% off a game within a month or two. That's without even going into the impact it has had on indie developers that would never have been able to survive beforehand.

Even if you don't use Steam you have benefited from its impact on the market.

One of the best features of Steam is that if you keep your Steam folder on a secondary hard-drive when you reinstall Windows you don't have to reinstall your games - when you launch them they automatically configure

Well it only took them like 8 years to add that feature in

VAC is a joke, so lets not even bother talking about that.

Valve at one point of timing was great for PC Gaming. But things have changed, they're not as good as they used to be (that said they're still better than a lot of companies). CS:GO and LFD2 were massive **** yous to people who bought LFD and CSS. The people who bought hl2:e2 are still waiting for the final bit of the trilogy. Its been 6 years and there's absolutely no information on it.

The steambox, while cool, is a pathetic idea. The base PC costs 900 and you can't upgrade it without purchasing ovrerpriced bits from xi3.

Gabe needs to quit his hatred of windows 8 just because it has a store that competes with his own. Its getting really sad now.

-Razorfold said,
Well it only took them like 8 years to add that feature in

Actually, that feature was there from the start and has improved over time. The feature that was added recently was the ability to install games to different drives.

theyarecomingforyou said,

Actually, that feature was there from the start and has improved over time. The feature that was added recently was the ability to install games to different drives.

Oh oops, that's right.

Sorry about that got the two confused lol

-Razorfold said,

Oh oops, that's right.

Sorry about that got the two confused lol

Heh, no worries. But you're right in that it took a ridiculous amount of time to add such basic functionality.

theyarecomingforyou said,
He's completely transformed gaming on the PC. Valve is constantly adding new functionality to Steam and has pioneered major sale events, which has made PC gaming even more affordable than ever.

The guy is a legend and he's exactly the sort of disruptive influence that the industry needs.

Did he do this, or did his team? He seems extremely out of touch with reality.

And what have they done recently? He seems to have lost his mind. The more he talks the more he seems like an idiot. More and more people are losing their perception of him as a great developer.

theyarecomingforyou said,
He's completely transformed gaming on the PC. Valve is constantly adding new functionality to Steam and has pioneered major sale events, which has made PC gaming even more affordable than ever.

The guy is a legend and he's exactly the sort of disruptive influence that the industry needs.

Really, how?

Serious game engineers and serious game developers laugh at the infantile rants this person goes on.

Microsoft, alone has a bigger impact on the gaming world and PC gaming world in a month than Valve/Gabe has in their entire career. (90% of the core technologies Valve is using, was invented and designed at Microsoft, and 100% of the HARDWARE Valve is running on was originally a Microsoft design or co-created by Microsoft's hardware engineers.)

So he can rant all day long, not a serious person, and losing customers because of the lack in faith people are having in the company.