Microsoft's Xbox leader on Valve as possible competitor: "No"

For the past several months, Valve and its founder Gabe Newell have been out in the press promoting their ideas about a "Steam Box", a small gaming PC that would run games featured on Valve's Steam PC game download service on a big screen TV. PC maker Xi3 is working with Valve on the "Piston" PC that will run Steam's Big Picture mode.

Today, Don Mattrick, the president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, chimed in on Valve's chances for competing with its Steam Box concept. The Verge reports that Mattrick simply said, "No", when asked if the Steam Box could in fact compete with Microsoft's Xbox console business.

Mattrick was still respectful of Newell and Valve, which has its main office in downtown Bellevue, Washington, just a few miles down the road from Microsoft's Redmond campus. Mattrick said that he "loves Gabe" and Valve is "doing some innovative stuff." However, he added, "The scale of products and things that are being brought to market are probably a little bit richer when I look at Sony, Nintendo, Apple, and Google."

Mattrick also believes that Microsoft should continue to manage the Xbox game catalog carefully, rather than open the experience up more for third party game developers. He stated, "We're trying to make sure that what exists upon our service on our system is done to a quality level and has interest for people who are likely to use it."

As we reported before, Microsoft announced recently it will no longer update its XNA game creation toolset, which was first promoted several years ago as a way for small independent development teams to make downloadable games for the Xbox 360.

Source: The Verge | Image via Xi3

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16 Comments

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I agree that the other companies look at their game consoles and think a lot bigger than just video games which is where this guy is coming from and where Steam Box will be "outgunned"; living room devices rather than exclusive games consoles.

Valve never claimed it was a competitor to the Xbox business, valve are simply offering Steam users another way to enjoy their products

Deranged said,
The XNA bit seems like an extremely pointless tacked on addition to the article.

It's actually not. Valve has been pretty good with indie games for Steam, but MS's dropping of XNA hurts indie development for the xbox.

Mordkanin said,

It's actually not. Valve has been pretty good with indie games for Steam, but MS's dropping of XNA hurts indie development for the xbox.


How? It's still perfectly usable for the Xbox, and the next Xbox will likely use a completely different toolset.

Deranged said,

How? It's still perfectly usable for the Xbox, and the next Xbox will likely use a completely different toolset.

Exactly this.

Dr_Asik said,
I honestly don't see how the Steam Box will be supposed to compete, but Valve has surprised us before.

They just fired a bunch of their hardware peeps didn't they? I don't even know if they're still bringing it out, or changed their plans, or what.

Seems the Steam Box uses Linux as the OS so it's already fail. Almost all my Steam games will not work on Linux. I wouldn't be surprised if 99.8% of all games on Steam did not work on it. Gabe has said you can install Windows on it, but if thats the case then why not simply build your own custom small PC box for the living room. Atleast then you can also make it exactly how you like. Don't see any market for the Steam Box.

It's normal there isn't that much games running on Linux right now, there isn't that much end-users' system running it.

Valve has to start somewhere. There wasn't that much games for OSX before, and Steam for OSX helped with that.

1Pixel said,
Seems the Steam Box uses Linux as the OS so it's already fail. Almost all my Steam games will not work on Linux. I wouldn't be surprised if 99.8% of all games on Steam did not work on it. Gabe has said you can install Windows on it, but if thats the case then why not simply build your own custom small PC box for the living room. Atleast then you can also make it exactly how you like. Don't see any market for the Steam Box.

The majority of customers will have limited access to Linux only games, those that have sense will install Windows on it and simply bought the machine to support Valve and/or the actual case looks neat. The price on the hardware is crucial - too high and it makes zero sense to buy a steambox and just build your own. Anyone looking to do pc gaming on a tv either is a pc enthusiast - thus will build their own machine or looking to save money and not buy a console - so buying a steambox (minimum $200) + another $150+ for a Windows license then figuring out how to install it will start looking at an Xbox as a really valid competitor.

Valve thinks they had no choice, instead of embracing Windows 8 they decided to throw turds at Microsoft hoping they could get somewhere without really thinking it through. They know Steam works on Windows 8 and the way the steam numbers keep coming out it looks like Windows 8 will be the second highest platform using Steam behind Windows 7 users. They could simply have made a Steam for Modern UI app and sold games directly from within, intel is already doing that with their Intel AppUp modern ui app in the windows store.

The market is the casual gamer. Nobody thought the Wii wold compete, but it did great, and didn't even have that many good games. This will also drive more cross-platform game development. Some developers already do cross-platform more are developing platform agnostic games.

Throwing a decent media center in the mix, and that would definitely make it a great buy. Up until this year, I still used an old Xbox running XBMC as my media center. Now I've moved to a PC running XBMC, but most people want easy and something that works with multiple devices. The Xbox sucks with most formats, where others can play just about anything. The way it does folders shares sucks. PlayOn is OK at best. There are much better solutions for the entertainment side.


Mattrick also believes that Microsoft should continue to manage the Xbox game catalog carefully, rather than open the experience up more for third party game developers.

Absolutely not what I was hoping to hear.

rfirth said,
Absolutely not what I was hoping to hear.
I prefer the barrier to entry be high. Skin in the game is a seriously useful thing. Though, we could argue what high means and I'm sure we'd find common ground.