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Valve Says Apple is Biggest Threat to Steam Box

By - Source: Polygon | B 40 comments

The gaming industry as a whole is gearing up to defend its turf against Apple's looming living room invasion.

Valve's head honcho Gabe Newell recently told a class at the University of Texas' LBJ School of Public Affairs that the biggest threat to the company's upcoming Piston (Steam Box) PC is Apple. This would presumably be not the case given that PC gaming and iOS gaming are worlds apart, but Valve won't be immune by the effects Apple has caused on the gaming industry since the introduction of the original iPhone and crazy-cheap games.

Newell suggests that Apple is gearing up to invade the living room, and that could spell bad news for the console gaming sector which still makes up the bulk of the gaming industry despite a shift of focus back to PC. It's bad enough that iOS devices can be played on an HDTV, but with all the talk of introducing an actual iOS-powered Smart TV that's intended to change the living room, Apple is currently looking like a predator waiting to strike on a school of fish.

"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?"

Valve's entry into the hardware space, via Xi3 Corp., will be interesting in that users will be able to easily upgrade the components without having to take the console route and buy a whole new hardware set. No one at CES 2013 would confirm Piston as the rumored "Steam Box," and there's a good chance it may not. But this form factor and modular design makes sense, keeping it not only small in the living room, but highly cost-effective in the long run.

With Apple's invasion looming in the distance, it's no wonder that console makers and PC-related industry veterans like Valve, Razer and Nvidia are looking for ways to defend both gaming arenas from whatever the fruity iPhone masker is gearing up to release. Everyone is seemingly loading up the torpedoes and battening down the hatches, readying for war.

"I think a whole bunch of hardware companies are going to be releasing products in the next 12 months — you'll hear it referred to as Miracast, [Project] Shield from Nvidia, or lots of other people," Newell said. "The biggest challenge, I don't think is from the consoles. I think the biggest challenge is that Apple moves on the living room before the PC industry sort of gets its act together."

Valve's Steam Box will be a Linux platform out-of-the-box, but customers will be able to install Windows if they desire. This is undoubtedly meant to keep the initial cost down although Valve is working hard to support Linux on Steam and beef up its Linux game library.

 

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  • 24 Hide
    house70 , February 1, 2013 1:47 PM
    Living room gaming has traditionally been console gaming. No serious console gamer is going to put down their controllers for anything Apple. There is no serious gamer out there (console or otherwise) that uses Apple hardware for that purpose. Any gamer that sees that Apple hardware gets in the way of his/her gaming will just avoid buying it and choose something else instead.
    IMO, if Apple wants a big chunk of the "living-room business" they'll have to open up their closed ecosystem to accommodate the existing players; otherwise, people will choose something they can actually use.
  • 23 Hide
    Parsian , February 1, 2013 1:45 PM
    I honestly doubt XBOX and PS crowd would switch to iOS's micro transaction type games for their living room unless APPLE can bring those big budget titles as well (especially when they already have access to angry bird style games via Xbox Live and PSN)

    I think the best Apple can achieve is to have a competitor to the current Android based SmartTVs which already deliver comparable games (or identical games) to current iOS selections via Google Play. They may implement controllers or some form of interface but that would be it. I cant see the console folks switch to that.

  • 11 Hide
    scythe944 , February 1, 2013 2:30 PM
    So, crapple is going to release a $5000 TV that's going to compete with a simple plug-n-play "console" device that valve is pushing?

    they expect the public to buy a new tv every year as well, just like the current idiot devices?

    I think not.

    Whatever apple has cooking up isn't going to do much in the way of games in the living room unless you have more dollars then sense. A simple device that you can plug into any HDTV that can be updated with software will prove to be more effective than an extremely expensive TV
Other Comments
  • 3 Hide
    DjEaZy , February 1, 2013 1:41 PM
    ... and... the mac mini is a capable too...
  • 23 Hide
    Parsian , February 1, 2013 1:45 PM
    I honestly doubt XBOX and PS crowd would switch to iOS's micro transaction type games for their living room unless APPLE can bring those big budget titles as well (especially when they already have access to angry bird style games via Xbox Live and PSN)

    I think the best Apple can achieve is to have a competitor to the current Android based SmartTVs which already deliver comparable games (or identical games) to current iOS selections via Google Play. They may implement controllers or some form of interface but that would be it. I cant see the console folks switch to that.

  • 24 Hide
    house70 , February 1, 2013 1:47 PM
    Living room gaming has traditionally been console gaming. No serious console gamer is going to put down their controllers for anything Apple. There is no serious gamer out there (console or otherwise) that uses Apple hardware for that purpose. Any gamer that sees that Apple hardware gets in the way of his/her gaming will just avoid buying it and choose something else instead.
    IMO, if Apple wants a big chunk of the "living-room business" they'll have to open up their closed ecosystem to accommodate the existing players; otherwise, people will choose something they can actually use.
  • 3 Hide
    susyque747 , February 1, 2013 1:59 PM
    DjEaZy... and... the mac mini is a capable too...

    I have XP boot-camped on my Mini for old legacy PC games, works great. I hope STEAM takes off and I can wipe Windows from my big gaming rig and install Ubuntu to utilize STEAM. Need Nvidia to make some good video drivers. Will happen if STEAM is behind it, me thinks.
    As far as cheap little crappy iOS games, just that, crap. I'll take SkyRim, HL2 episode 3, Fallout 4 any day.
  • 2 Hide
    kentlowt , February 1, 2013 2:03 PM
    The best thing that is coming from this is the competition. Even if you hate Apple They will drive the PC side of things to improve. That is already happening in the phone market.
  • 2 Hide
    cscott_it , February 1, 2013 2:04 PM
    Apple can be a force to be reckoned with as we've seen in the past, but without Steve Jobs they seem to have lost some of their potency (not to say their failing, but their stocks have taken a bit of a dive to more realistic levels). I don't think they are going to be replacing the traditional game console ever, but they may drive sales away from media consumption and micro gaming on the console front. I don't see Apple ever really competing with traditional gaming unless development done for it's offering could be ported relatively easily to other devices (regarding console development).

    I'm rooting for Valve - competition is always a good thing and if there is one thing Valve knows - it's gaming. They have DRM built into their delivery system (something devs/studios want), a proven ecosystem and business model, etc. I think that as long as they can provide an affordable traditional console alternative, they have great chances. They have brand recognition and a huge library of games at every price point.
  • -5 Hide
    weaselman , February 1, 2013 2:07 PM
    Don`t worry it wont work like most of the things they put on there phones.
    And you find from one model of the device it has an extra button on it. The do not disturb button that is, if you can get it to work right LOL.

  • 1 Hide
    COLGeek , February 1, 2013 2:13 PM
    I think I'll wait for the market to decide on the success or failure of these systems.
  • 5 Hide
    bustapr , February 1, 2013 2:14 PM
    I doubt apple will be rolling any of the console guys. what console users look for is a competitive games catalog that has wide range of genres and games that dont suck. for apple to successfully move into the living room space, theyd have to get good developers making couch-tv games(console games) and theyd have to surpass the graphics standard of popular consoles. ps3/xbox gamers dont move down to a wii unless they want to play a few really good wii exclusives. theyd always look down on the graphics. same thing would happen with any iOS game. iOS doesnt have a good games catalog, especially for tv. theyd have a hard time moving into the tv space because theyd have to start from scratch. and its widely known that apple is falling from its thrown quite fast. consoles, however, have thousands of games and hundreds of really good games. they also have a graphics standard(which is to be upgraded soon). iOS cant compete with that.

    steams biggest competition is nintendo, microsoft, and sony which are already widely popular choices for the living room. steam wont have as much trouble as apple and android to move into this space because they are a widely respected and popular gaming choice in the pc space. they also launched big picture mode which is already laying the foundations of what we can expect from the steam box.
  • -4 Hide
    eklipz330 , February 1, 2013 2:27 PM
    ParsianI honestly doubt XBOX and PS crowd would switch to iOS's micro transaction type games for their living room unless APPLE can bring those big budget titles as well (especially when they already have access to angry bird style games via Xbox Live and PSN)I think the best Apple can achieve is to have a competitor to the current Android based SmartTVs which already deliver comparable games (or identical games) to current iOS selections via Google Play. They may implement controllers or some form of interface but that would be it. I cant see the console folks switch to that.
    you have to understand that there is a large portion of those customers that are kids, and the parents are ding the purchasing. all you gotta tell the parents is that the games are ridiculously cheap, and the apple console WILL sell.
  • 11 Hide
    scythe944 , February 1, 2013 2:30 PM
    So, crapple is going to release a $5000 TV that's going to compete with a simple plug-n-play "console" device that valve is pushing?

    they expect the public to buy a new tv every year as well, just like the current idiot devices?

    I think not.

    Whatever apple has cooking up isn't going to do much in the way of games in the living room unless you have more dollars then sense. A simple device that you can plug into any HDTV that can be updated with software will prove to be more effective than an extremely expensive TV
  • -7 Hide
    dheadley , February 1, 2013 2:35 PM
    People just don't seem to get it when it comes to gaming. All 3 major consoles combined is like 250 million units combined in the current generations. Farmville and games like it have had over 100 million users at one point. No console game has ever had 100 million users. Gaming on consoles pales in comparison to the number of people that play casual games on MSN, Facebook and the like.

    Apple has in a short couple of years not only overtaken the 3DS/PSP handheld market and easily surpased it in numbers of handheld devices sold (iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad) compared to portable gaming hardware, but also in number of games sold and money made from games through the app store.

    If they would just open up the Apple TV platform to gaming on the large screen they would have access to a huge potential customer base of current iOS users. There have been over half a billion iOS devices sold (they don't even count the Apple TV in those numbers either even though it is an iOS device also). They Apple TV already sells more units per quarter of the current $99 model than Roku has sold in their entire history, or Google TV has sold by all manufacturers in its entire history.

  • 5 Hide
    d_kuhn , February 1, 2013 2:51 PM
    DjEaZy... and... the mac mini is a capable too...


    My Mac Mini spends about 99% of it's time running windows 7 - kids gaming. I don't think that bodes well for any serious entry into the gaming space by apple (beyond mobile min-games).
  • -4 Hide
    qwerty99 , February 1, 2013 2:58 PM
    People used to say no serious gamer would use a console.
  • 7 Hide
    kinggraves , February 1, 2013 3:46 PM
    Not going to be popular here for taking on the great and powerful Oz, but Gabe hasn't even managed to "roll" the consoles yet. If he can't pull more sales or get more titles than a console, and Apple can easily take out consoles, where does that leave him?

    Nope, BS. Still not buying the media's ridiculous notion that I want to play mobile games. Apple TV has been rumored for years now, still not happening. It was rumored before Google TV, still hasn't happened. Apple is weakening, the field of illusions Jobs cast on the public is down. If anyone's going to the living room, it's Android, NOT Apple. They're already there. Ouya much?

    Mobile games are developed to kill minutes, not hours. They're developed for simplistic touch controls, not fine tuned controls. They are developed for coffee breaks, not days off. A developer could not make a AAA title and sell it at $5. A game that would compete against consoles and PC gaming would not fit in with the purpose of mobile gaming. They are two completely different products.

    Let's just see how it pans out. Ouya comes out in April. Let's see if it can even match the Wii U's mediocre sales figures before Nintendo makes good on all the promises of awesome things come "spring" followed by one of the most action packed E3s ever. Last year they would have went up against dried out last gen consoles, this year they're going up against the new breed.
  • 0 Hide
    godfather666 , February 1, 2013 4:13 PM
    So am I right to conclude that Steam Box is mostly a console for the casual social and mobile-style games?
  • 2 Hide
    CaedenV , February 1, 2013 4:20 PM
    ParsianI honestly doubt XBOX and PS crowd would switch to iOS's micro transaction type games for their living room unless APPLE can bring those big budget titles as well (especially when they already have access to angry bird style games via Xbox Live and PSN)I think the best Apple can achieve is to have a competitor to the current Android based SmartTVs which already deliver comparable games (or identical games) to current iOS selections via Google Play. They may implement controllers or some form of interface but that would be it. I cant see the console folks switch to that.

    I agree that Apple is hardly Valves biggest consern in this venture. Apple's phone and tablet games are a neat and lucritive market, but it is also very limited in the scope of what can be done due to the nature of portable hardware which relies on a battery. The Steam Boxes will have the opportunity to be much more powerful, and support much larger games, all without the worry of a battery while being small enough to be portable if you want it to. You are still not going to be playing big AAA titles on it, but Valve has a very healthy indie community, and this may be a good way for indie developers to get a lot more attention and sales through without having to pay the higher costs of publishing through PS or MS.

    All that said, these consoles are going to have to be dirt cheap to get people to buy them. I can already play indie games on my PC, and most people I know may own multiple consoles, but over time they tend to gravitate towards one single one that they actuially buy games for because they do not like the clutter of having multiple boxes/controllers/chargers around the living room.
    This puts Valve at a HUGE disadvantage. Valve does not make the Steam Boxes. The Steam Box (as I understand it) is an OS bundled with a minimum hardware spec, and then different manufacturers will work around that. This means that the box builders need to sell their consoles and accessories at a profit because they are not going to get the game sales income like other console makers will. In my mind that means that they will need to cram a controller, case, psu, cpu, gpu, and game storage (DL service only) under $50 so that they can sell their boxes with a justifiable profit margin while still selling the things for under $100. Using ARM based equipment, and having the OS/software provided free from Valve I think this will be possible, but if they try selling the initial console+controller for over $100 it would be difficult to sell as it is redundant to your computer, and adds complexity to your home theater setup.

    Anywho, there are a lot of potential obsticals to this... but Apple is just not even on the radar in my mind.
  • -5 Hide
    Usersname , February 1, 2013 4:24 PM
    house70Living room gaming has traditionally been console gaming. No serious console gamer is going to put down their controllers for anything Apple. There is no serious gamer out there (console or otherwise) that uses Apple hardware for that purpose. Any gamer that sees that Apple hardware gets in the way of his/her gaming will just avoid buying it and choose something else instead.IMO, if Apple wants a big chunk of the "living-room business" they'll have to open up their closed ecosystem to accommodate the existing players; otherwise, people will choose something they can actually use.
    People said the same thing about PC gamers not transferring to Consoles but they did in their millions. BTW I play Far Cry 3 with Ultra settings on my MacPro with GTX 680. It's every bit as good as my PC gaming rig only I can boot into a better OS whenever I want.
  • 0 Hide
    scythe944 , February 1, 2013 4:27 PM
    godfather666So am I right to conclude that Steam Box is mostly a console for the casual social and mobile-style games?


    Possibly, or it's an "on-live"-type streaming box that allows you to play any game on steam with a subscription or just by purchasing games, without the need to download them and keep them updated.
  • 5 Hide
    linkgx1 , February 1, 2013 4:27 PM
    Quote:
    People just don't seem to get it when it comes to gaming. All 3 major consoles combined is like 250 million units combined in the current generations. Farmville and games like it have had over 100 million users at one point. No console game has ever had 100 million users. Gaming on consoles pales in comparison to the number of people that play casual games on MSN, Facebook and the like.

    Apple has in a short couple of years not only overtaken the 3DS/PSP handheld market and easily surpased it in numbers of handheld devices sold (iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad) compared to portable gaming hardware, but also in number of games sold and money made from games through the app store.

    If they would just open up the Apple TV platform to gaming on the large screen they would have access to a huge potential customer base of current iOS users. There have been over half a billion iOS devices sold (they don't even count the Apple TV in those numbers either even though it is an iOS device also). They Apple TV already sells more units per quarter of the current $99 model than Roku has sold in their entire history, or Google TV has sold by all manufacturers in its entire history.

    Whoa, whoa here. You can't compare a GENERAL handheld device to a GAMING machine. Gaming devices will ALWAYS have lower sales because they are a targeted market.
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