Gabe Newell, the head of Valve Software, hinted to students in New Zealand that the company might expand its Steam platform, or at least some games, to the console space later this year. The comment is vague at best, but at least it shows that the owner of one of the largest game distribution platforms has not given up its living room gaming plans.
Earlier this week, Gabe Newell spoke to students at Sancta Maria College in Auckland, New Zealand, and was asked whether Steam would be "porting any games on consoles, or [would] it just stay on PC?" The response was imprecise, but we cannot really expect anyone to disclose business plans at an event like this.
"You will get a better idea of that by the end of this year... and it won't be the answer you expect," Newell said. "You'll say, 'Ah-ha! Now I get what he was talking about.'"
The whole conversation had been recorded by a student who later uploaded it to Reddit, Ars Technica first reported.
Valve's track record with game consoles in particular and living room gaming in general has been bumpy at best. On the one hand, the company successfully ported its games to consoles from Microsoft and Sony in the past, including the very successful The Orange Box on Xbox 360 and PS3. On the other hand, Valve's Steam Machines initiatives has failed, just like its console oriented SteamOS. Valve's Steam Link, which allowed to stream games from a local PC to a TV, has also failed to get popular enough for the company to keep selling the product.
For gamers, getting their Steam libraries on consoles would be a thing of dreams. It's unclear how Steam would work on those systems, though, as Nintendo, Xbox and Sony all run their own exclusive stores on their platforms. Furthermore, far from all Steam games have versions for consoles, and developing a Windows or Linux emulator for Xbox or PlayStation is one heck of a task. Streaming games to consoles might be a way into the living room for Valve, but controller options may be an obstacle there.
Newell has been living in New Zealand since March 2020, when he was stuck as the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Since he doesn't often do big appearances in the games industry, it makes some sense that a bunch of New Zealand students were the first to hear his thoughts on upcoming announcements.
Linux games? I can do that on my PC rig if I want to. So why do I need Gabe's box for that? That market is pretty saturated at this point. Can Gabe produce tens of millions Steam consoles? Because that's what he might need to get the attention of publishers and is he willing to pay them for timed exclusives?
Lastly consoles are typically sold at a loss, just ask Microsoft and Sony and revenue is recouped via game sales. Who knows but maybe since there will be lukewarm interest in his Steam consoles maybe those will be readily available.
I don't think it's going to be a reboot of Steam Machines. Maybe a streaming service, or a partnership with another streaming service though. They have remote play, but that still requires a PC to stream games off of, and it probably wouldn't be too much of a stretch for them to expand that to run off remote servers.
Steam machines failed for all the mentioned reasons in the above posts but bring Steam to a console of an established player, that could be another ball game.
MS may see this as a chance to take on Apple before they launch their long rumored "games" console while gaining ground on Sony and Nintendo.
I think a fair number of PC players would have interest in an XBSX or even XBSS if they could run it as a secondary PC gaming system. I know I certrainly would. Both my wife and I are gamers with plans on having gamer kiddies.
Steam on XB could really bring down our hardware costs for a lot of users like us AND allow us to have more screens to play on without having to move clunky gear around or conversely deal with the pitfalls of game streaming.
If Microsoft really wants to sell Game Pass it is also a great way to expand that market at the same time. Imagine how many more Game Pass Ultimate subs this could get them in the long term, especially if it was made a requirement for Steam/PC games.
The biggest negative to this is the fact Microsoft would be by default giving up some of their market share to Valve which I am sure investors might not like. Though ultimately it becomes a question of how MS markets and charges for this privilege. Most likely Valve would have to fork over a percent of games sales (either made through a XBSX or maybe even any game played on one) but I don't see this being an impossibility.
Or it could just be Half Life 3 is a XB exclusive ;)
I think there could be some truth to that, I remember when asked what console he thought was better XBSX or PS5 Gabe said XBSX was better and he preferred it more. I think Microsoft probably made them an offer they couldn't refuse with Steam.
There were some rumors a while back to about Steam and MS making this deal. So I ask you which is more likely Steam on XB or Half Life 3...either would be epic IMHO!
The hard bit would be getting Microsoft permission to do it.
My only thought on MS letting Steam on XB would be to kick Apple and Sony square in the jewels. Apple would have a harder time in court I think if this happens over their App Store monoply (MS has publicly thrown their wight behind Epic on that lawsuit and are still pissed over game streaming though they did find a work around) and Sony would have a harder time over them having exclusivity over their digital store front (least post April 2019).
This would be a solid strike against both of their ecosystems. And this would fit with the recent leaks and announcements the MS is trimming their share of game profits on both PC and XB (rumored?) from 30/70 to 12/88 if MS is indeed trying to make them look bad publicly, even further. Plus if MS got some cut of Steam games sold or played on XB this would help fatten their bottom line in the process
BUT mostly likely your right and is why I threw the Half Life 3 joke in there. Again there have been rumors MS might do this for a while now with Steam but I do think it is a stretch if we are being honest. Something with streaming is more likely or something weird like you said.