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Apple is the biggest threat to Steam Box, says Newell

Apple is the biggest threat to Steam Box, says Newell

Thu 31 Jan 2013 1:28am GMT / 8:28pm EST / 5:28pm PST
Hardware

Newell believes Apple could take the living room away from consoles

Apple is the largest threat to Valve's proposed Steam Box, according to a lecture by Valve president Gabe Newell at the University of Texas' LBJ School of Public Affairs.

"The biggest challenge, I don't think is from the consoles," Newell said. "I think the biggest challenge is that Apple moves on the living room before the PC industry sort of gets its act together," Newell said, according to reporting by Polygon. "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."

"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?"

Despite many analysts predicting the death of the PC market in the face of tablets, Newell believes hardware vendors will find a way to leverage PCs for living room gaming.

"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, Shield from Nvidia, or lots of other people," Newell said. "There are going to be a huge set of products that say, 'If you want something that's incredibly cheap, at a price point well below anything that consoles will be able to reach, you're going to take advantage of the PC that's running somewhere in your house. It's like one of those things where afterwards it will seem like it was very simple, when beforehand, everyone sort of denied that it was possible."

[Image via Wired]

38 Comments

Jason Alexander
QA - Senior Tester

20 15 0.8
What is Apple going to bring and what do they have to offer. STEAM...And I am guessing they are trying bring there gaming cloud off of the PC and into the TV itself. Discounts, Indi games and a fan base all they would have to do is Relase HL3 with it for free and sales galore. That is just high hopes though.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Dan Howdle
Head of Content

280 810 2.9
Jason - Heads-up; bit of a typo in your job title, fella. Sounds a bit rude.

RE Apple Vs Valve Vs Microsoft Vs Sony Vs Nintendo: Reaching for popcorn as we speak. 2013 is going to be quite a show.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
Apple could/should dominate the living room. Here is why:
1) They are the masters at making devices user friendly. This matters when you are going after the great unwashed masses.
2) They have global distribution in a way well beyond Xbox and PS3. With their own stores in many countries.
3) They have the immense existing customer base to cross sell to.
4) They have very low cost hardware manufacture.
5) They have the compelling ap store business model. And a relationship with over 100,000 developers for games alone.
6) They are not locked into some historic plastic and cardboard business model. No rotating memory necessary.
7) Their marketing skills are well beyond those of the competition. Hence they can get away with the Apple premium.
8) They have the technology.
9) They have the money, lots of it. They could buy Sony with their petty cash.

I am mostly expecting Apple to beat Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. Of these three I think that Microsoft has the greatest chance of putting up a good fight.

As for the Steam Box, does Gabe have 1) to 9) above?

Posted:A year ago

#3

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

810 1,012 1.2
I found the hubris level of Gabe's comment quite stunning.

I could understand if he thought that, say, their new kit could be a threat to Apple. To say all the other established brands are a threat to his talkware is just wrong. Turned me off instantly. Come back when your thing is actually one of the top machines in peoples lives.

I can think of no reason why anyone would by a steam box and am predicting cricket noises and tumbleweed.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 31st January 2013 8:55am

Posted:A year ago

#4

gi biz
;,pgc.eu

341 51 0.1
@Bruce: I don't know where you see the user-friendliness... I needed a tutorial on the internet just to learn how to close a running program on iOS. And I still find it far from intuitive. If you speak about OSX, again, their stubbornness with their single-button mouse in the era of mininimum 5 buttons mice is close to obsession. You spend 70 euros for a blank mouse where even telling if it's facing north is hard, and you still need to configure it to simulate right clicks or go for the very unpleasant (and not intuitive at all) command+click combination. On the technical aspect I've only seen an incomplete compliance with Posix, especially when it comes down to pthread. Not to mention the weird mixup of past and future openGL functions, although I didn't check if they did any progress on that in the past 2 years. If it's about the user-friendliness of the console that you want to speak, or their recurrent multi-language "sorry the system has stopped to work" screen I'm all ears as well. The package manager looks like a poor surrogate of Portage and only works half of the times without having to hack here and there. Don't misunderstand me, if you're the casual internet user who occasionally wanders to ebay, facebook and giallozafferano than it's the perfect tool, but I doubt you can go beyond that without hacking and jailbreaking. Heck, even a simple removal of the pre-installed music player was a pain.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Andrew Watson
Programmer

92 200 2.2
Don't misunderstand me, if you're the casual internet user who occasionally wanders to ebay, facebook and giallozafferano than it's the perfect tool
But those are exactly the people apple markets stuff towards.

Posted:A year ago

#7
"I needed a tutorial on the internet just to learn how to close a running program on iOS."

What, double clicking the home button, holding the icon til it shakes, then clicking the x? Unless I'm missing something, you make it sound like rocket science.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Dave Herod
Senior Programmer

520 743 1.4
@Fran - And you knew that without being told? I spent ages searching around the settings for a task manager before having to look that up. Easy to say that once you know, but that's the point about it being intuitive. It isn't. Not in the slightest.

Posted:A year ago

#9

gi biz
;,pgc.eu

341 51 0.1
@Fran: how could I miss that? I had even tried the "tap corner, spin on myself, tap and hold another corner, double jump sweep and block".... I went so close! :D Look, the fact that there *are* tutorials in itself should tell you how not intuitive it is.

@Dave: lol!

Edited 2 times. Last edit by gi biz on 31st January 2013 10:57am

Posted:A year ago

#10

Lee Walton
Co-Founder & Art Director

33 4 0.1
Of course Gabe's right and he's not even talking about the future. With my Apple TV using Airplay mirroring right NOW I can see any game played on my Macbook on my big screen TV. It's laggy, as I have a 2yr old macbook... but it works, with no wires in full HD. The latest iOS devices ALSO do this. Anyone else doing this is late to the party already. Ironically Steam exists on Mac of course, so players can already stream a game to their TV if they have say an iMac plus Apple TV.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Lee Walton on 31st January 2013 11:14am

Posted:A year ago

#11

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,153 935 0.8


Posted:A year ago

#12
Dave, Michele. Intuitive? Sure, I get that it's not. But then, how would you guys have designed it? My point isn't so much that it's not intuitive, more that it's not like Apple made it overly complicated. Or maybe it's just a sign that we, as consumers, have become so spoilt that we expect we should instantly know how to do something? That's not a dig at you, just a genuine observation - like I said, whilst I get it's not necessarily intuitive, I also don't really see how they could have made it so.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Fran Mulhern on 31st January 2013 11:10am

Posted:A year ago

#13

Lee Walton
Co-Founder & Art Director

33 4 0.1
about Apple interface... my 2 year old boy has NO problems using our ipad. It is very intuitive. He's rather hooked on it, and obviously has never read a tutorial. There is almost nothing more intuitive than touch screen interfaces, other than maybe talking to our computers (Siiri?).

The question you need to ask is- why do i need to "close" an application? What does "close" actually mean? It's an interesting choice of word- because it's based on the entire concept of "Windows" that need "closing"... remember that OS? There are 10s of millions of iOS users who have never "closed" an application, or even know how, and they will never need to know.

Anyway- turns out I'm being fanboyish, but I just wanted to comment (as an Apple TV owner) that what Gabe is talking about is possible now. So, yes, be afraid if Apple chooses to pursue the console market. They may see it as a way to boost sales of Macs, who knows.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Dave Herod
Senior Programmer

520 743 1.4
The question you need to ask is- why do i need to "close" an application?
Because if you don't it sits there wasting resources and draining your battery?

@Fran By having a task manager/running apps page? I don't have this problem with Android because just idly browsing through my apps reveals that. I didn't require any special knowledge, just browsed around till I found it. I also don't even need it so often because Android actually has a "back" button which allows you to quit out of an app without leaving it running in the background. I can't stand the way iOS leaves the user to tidy everything up behind themselves.

I know why Apple do it, it's their obsession with hiding everything out of sight to make it look "tidier". Like the one button mouse thing. They think by hiding or limiting the outward interface they're "simplifying" things, whereas they're actually doing the opposite by making simple operations require special case knowledge.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Dave Herod on 31st January 2013 11:40am

Posted:A year ago

#15

Lee Walton
Co-Founder & Art Director

33 4 0.1
@Dave no actually, I believe it doesn't.... (I'm no iOS programmer though, I just read press releases about new versions, as a developer). Background apps are in hibernation right? Just like in OSX. It takes up almost no resources, other than memory unless the developer wants it to. Hence, no back button or no need to close applications. The cleaning up as you put it, is no different to clearing an internet cache. I take it you also do that obsessively (I do it a lot too)? How many computer uses leave that recycle bin full, or never delete internet history or data caches?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Lee Walton on 31st January 2013 11:49am

Posted:A year ago

#16

Lee Walton
Co-Founder & Art Director

33 4 0.1
I think what we can learn from these comments (it's really really obvious anyway) is: what the general public wants from any OS, is completely different to the desires of programmers... :-)

Posted:A year ago

#17

Dave Herod
Senior Programmer

520 743 1.4
When I "upgraded" my iPod Touch to the version of iOS that introduced multi-tasking, I found my battery life was absolutely destroyed overnight. Previously I could leave it switched on for days without charging (when I wasn't using it), suddenly, it was drained within hours (still not using it). When I looked, it had loads of apps still running because I hadn't closed them down. Once I did that, battery life improved.

Posted:A year ago

#18

gi biz
;,pgc.eu

341 51 0.1
@Fran: on my Symbian I just hold the only button and a task manager pops up. Besides, being iOS so closed they could easily add a TRC-like requirement that apps should have an "exit" button somewhere. They could also give in and add some sort of disappearing window decoration.

@Dave: you worded my thoughts perfectly.

@Lee: surely your son never wondered if he should put an app in background or kill it. Closing a program is not really a Windows concept, it's more generic and I can't see how you could possibly get rid of it. Maybe you want to leave your music player paused in background and resume that long speech two days later from where you left it, or maybe you don't mind and it can close. How is the OS supposed to know?
About the streaming thing, I think such transmitters have existed for a long time now (5 years at least). A quick search shows quite a few devices capable of streaming video from various sources (and to transmit input back), meaning I could run the Mame on my Linux box and play Metal Slug on the TV. Apple is just re-packaging the wheel and labeling it iWheel, and surely somebody at Valve is aware of these devices.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by gi biz on 31st January 2013 12:06pm

Posted:A year ago

#19
@ Dave & Michele. Fair enough.

Posted:A year ago

#20

Lee Walton
Co-Founder & Art Director

33 4 0.1
heheee. Guys, I have to say. I work from home mostly (alone).... and for a minute here I feel just like I'm in a game dev office. Same old coders ganging up on the artist! :-D Our brains just work differently.... my point was, my son just enjoys using his ipad and does not care how it works, and therefore he is an extreme example of exactly how 99% of Apple device owners feel, and a perfect example of how 99% of the interface is very intuitive. Multitasking ruined iOS for me too... it was fine the way it was before, but guess who moaned about it all the time (coder tech press basically).

fyi. Closing a Window to STOP a program running is exclusive to Windows OS as far as I know? What about Ubuntu? I can't remember if Solaris did this- remember that OS? Mac OSX does not work like this, and never has.

p.s. my percentage numbers were completely made-up by me, I have not surveyed them, so you're gonna love that..... (us artists and our crazy thinking again!).

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Lee Walton on 31st January 2013 12:17pm

Posted:A year ago

#21
"Closing a Window to STOP a program running is exclusive to Windows OS as far as I know? "

Actually, that's a point I was wondering - of all these methods of closing apps, which ones are patented? Might be none, it's a genuine question - I have no idea.

Posted:A year ago

#22

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

642 250 0.4
@Fran: on my Symbian I just hold the only button and a task manager pops up. Besides, being iOS so closed they could easily add a TRC-like requirement that apps should have an "exit" button somewhere. They could also give in and add some sort of disappearing window decoration.
Actually, their TRC prohibits having any means of exiting the app apart from the home button (switching to another app does not count), as the recommended behaviour is to return the app into the same exact state where the user left it. Different apps handle it differently, as Apple is only keen on the no exit part.

Posted:A year ago

#23

Brian Smith
Artist

195 84 0.4

Posted:A year ago

#24

Stephan Schwabe
Multichannelmanagement

74 34 0.5
I dont get this, most appel users dont have a mac that is abel of playing modern games. A mac is for most ppl just a tool for movies, music or work.


Edited 2 times. Last edit by Stephan Schwabe on 31st January 2013 1:36pm

Posted:A year ago

#25

Patrick Williams
Medicine and Research

93 61 0.7
Michele's hyperbole is a bit ridiculous. The point I will grant him is that you need to learn your way around the OS a little, but an engine programer should be able to learn basics such as pressing command+q or understand that all programs on iOS work with the bar at the top of the screen. There would be little point to use iOS if it worked exactly like Windows. And there hasn't been a 1 button mouse in years. Try injecting less emotion from your personal dislike of the platform, it'd be sad for GI.biz to degenerate.

The part where I disagree with Gabe Newell about Apple and gaming is that very few developers actually started releasing their games on iOS to follow Valve's example several years ago. The game libraries therefore do not compare unless you bootcamp a copy of windows on a partition, at which point there is little purpose to paying a premium for Apple's hardware. The iPad is a great little machine and it pretty much owns the tablet market right now, but the discussion to be had there is with portable consoles, not tv consoles.

Posted:A year ago

#26

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,153 935 0.8
@Stephan

What makes you think that Apple's attempt at the living room has to be anywhere near as expensive as a Mac?



Whilst I'm not saying this will happen, but it could. Apple usually know how to price and market a product incredibly well, even if that price seems inflated they know how much their user base are prepared to pay.

Posted:A year ago

#27

Caleb Hale
Journalist

154 229 1.5
There seems to be a sense of "If you build it, they will come" with these new gaming platforms that fall outside of console boxes. I'll admit they are intriguing options, but no company is going to get a free pass without the kind of titles the core gaming population wants to play. For all its success, Apple doesn't have that. Steam has it to some degree, but I see some holes that are very likely to keep it just under the established consoles when all is said and done.

Posted:A year ago

#28

Adrian Herber

69 23 0.3
A quick comment on the need to close iOS apps - I routinely leave over a dozen apps open pretty much all the time and even so my battery life goes down maybe 1% overnight - there is certainly no need for everyday users to close apps. That said, if I want to play a game like Infinity Blade I do often need to close other apps, and its not obvious how to do so.

As to Newell's comment, I think I see where he is coming from - Steambox and an Apple TV gaming device would both be disruptive devices using established low cost digital distribution, so they're potentially fighting over the same market to some extent.

Posted:A year ago

#29

Stephan Schwabe
Multichannelmanagement

74 34 0.5
@ Adam


Ask your self what is it you wana play for me i wana play Civ 5, Dishonored, Saints Row, X-Com. 2 of this games will never be on a IOS form becurse its to much violence. Somthing like Call of Duty for apple? I dont see that with the lates news about the Syrian game.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Stephan Schwabe on 31st January 2013 2:53pm

Posted:A year ago

#30

Anthony Gowland
Lead Designer

176 559 3.2
When I looked, it had loads of apps still running because I hadn't closed them down
Just because something's in that tray, doesn't mean it's running. Most apps stop executing code in the background after a few seconds. Some run for up to 10 minutes. There are a few that can run indefinitely, so you do need to watch out for any of those that are badly written.

http://speirs.org/blog/2012/1/2/misconceptions-about-ios-multitasking.html

Posted:A year ago

#31

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,153 935 0.8
But here's the question, Stephan, how do you know that isn't the approach Apple will take. Is it not a possibility?



I'm not sure how valid your point on the games really is. If Apple courted a company like Activision to bring the latest COD titles to their console, considering their power in the consumer electronics industry I honestly don't think they would say know, yet, I could be wrong... Its not ultimately about what I or you would want to play but the majority of people who would go on to buy it.

Apple TV right now is just a streaming box, yes, that's clear. But Apple could really make any 'box' they want. Like many in the industry have been saying as well, it doesn't really matter as much what the hardware itself is, its the ecosystem. I personally think Apple entering a market where they can push their own strong ecosystem iTunes/AppStore, but with games as a big focus here it could be dangerous. Newell thinks so and I think so too but its an opinion ;)

Posted:A year ago

#32

Stephan Schwabe
Multichannelmanagement

74 34 0.5
Newell just sees a lot of monye and he wont to be a part of it.

Posted:A year ago

#33

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,153 935 0.8


Either way, I don't think it really changes the fact that Apple have the potential to be a major player in just about any area of consumer electronics. A premium HDTV itself isn't outside the realm of possibility let alone a console... Bear in mind, we're talking about potential here as is Newell, none of this has actually happened yet but we're seeing ways in which an existing success story could be expanded.

For the general expansion of the industry and increased competition, I'd be completely up for that. Though I'd be worried for certain players if they didn't step up.

Posted:A year ago

#34

Dave Knudson
Sr. Technology Manager

42 7 0.2
I think one question is - Can Apple sell big numbers of something that is not a "status symbol" type product? iPad, iPod, and Macbooks all have that going for them as they are products that you are seen with. Then to boot they have great design/usability, and a premium price.

With a console/living room type device, no one is going to "see" you with it.

Posted:A year ago

#35

Craig Page
Programmer

382 218 0.6
If the Steam Box stays at $1000 with horrible hardware, then EVERYTHING is a threat to it. They shouldn't just be worried about Apple, they should be worried about: frisbees, jenga, board games, even a hammer + nails + block of wood.

Posted:A year ago

#36

Rafe Gaskell
Lead Programmer at the Design Institute

11 12 1.1


I think they are already taking on the current console model but where MS and Sony traditionally high end systems that seem to be getting less powerful (going on the rumoured specs), Apple started the other end with a fairly low powered device that going to get powerful quickly going on how fast the mobile hardware market is going.

I think Gabe's on the money here.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Rafe Gaskell on 1st February 2013 10:11am

Posted:A year ago

#37

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