Gabe Newell: Living Room PCs Will Compete With Next-Gen Consoles

Gabe Newell: Living Room PCs Will Compete With Next-Gen Consoles

Steam’s Big Picture mode was just the first step: according to Valve boss Gabe Newell, you’ll be able to buy a living-room-friendly PC package next year.

Speaking to me during a brief interview on the red carpet at the VGAs last night, Newell said Valve’s current goal was to figure out how to make PCs work better in the living room. He said the reaction to Steam’s TV-friendly Big Picture interface has been “stronger than expected” and that their next step is to get Steam Linux out of beta and to get Big Picture on that operating system, which would give Valve more flexibility when developing their own hardware.

He also expects companies to start selling PC packages for living rooms next year — setups that could consist of computers designed to be hooked up to your TV and run Steam right out of the gate. And yes, Newell said, they’d compete with next-gen consoles from companies like Microsoft and Sony.

“I think in general that most customers and most developers are gonna find that [the PC is] a better environment for them,” Newell told me. “Cause they won’t have to split the world into thinking about ‘why are my friends in the living room, why are my video sources in the living room different from everyone else?’ So in a sense we hopefully are gonna unify those environments.”

Newell said he’s expecting a lot of different companies to release these types of packages — “We’ll do it but we also think other people will as well,” he told me — and that Valve’s hardware might not be as open-source or as malleable as your average computer.

“Well certainly our hardware will be a very controlled environment,” he said. “If you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general purpose PC. For people who want a more turnkey solution, that’s what some people are really gonna want for their living room.

“The nice thing about a PC is a lot of different people can try out different solutions, and customers can find the ones that work best for them.”

I also asked Newell what sort of software they’re working on these days. He wouldn’t give specifics, but he did reiterate that they’re working on their next-generation engine — which he said will work with next-generation consoles as well.

“Hopefully that’s gonna give us some interesting opportunities on the game side,” he said.


  • The last generation of Microsoft and Sony’s consoles have been “poor man’s PCs” anyway because they lack any distinguishing feature that gives them a unique experience. With so few important exclusive franchises on those consoles it makes sense that Steam will be a strong force against them. It’s not rocket science. Go Gaben!

    • The unique experience is that you buy a game with a 360 or PS3 logo, and with 100% confidence pop it in the appropriate box and start playing the game that was designed specifically to run on that exact machine 🙂

      • Yeah but you have to admit these days there are much fewer exclusives between PC and Consoles. It was like you could have 2 completely different gaming experiences back in the day of the PS1/PS2.

      • Problem is, that doesn’t always mean it’s a good experience.
        I was buying most games from 360 instead of PS3 due to the fact that the ps3 versions tended to have frame rate slowdown.
        The PS3 handles playing with friends terribly.
        MS has shitty dlc and update policies that are detrimental to the end user experience; They rip of consumers with their hardware by making you pay extreme prices for hard drives, etc, and by denying licensing to 3rd party peripheral makers E.G., Logitech G27 wheel won’t work with the 360.

        I just want to be able to buy games on steam and play them on any console\PC I choose.
        I have friends who only PC and others who only 360 or PS3… I don’t wan’t to have to buy 3 copies of a game to play with different friends.

        • Amen to that!

          What I wish is that there was a way that ALL consoles could play together (without roasting each other) in multiplayer, so they get the experience they want differently from others while still getting to play with people who chose differently. That way there would be lots less arguing over fanboy-ism and hating for a brand name and more peace, as well as not having to choose a platform based on their friends, colleges and other people’s decisions and make their own.

          And if anyone can do that, it’s Gaben, Valve and Steam.

    • All I need is ps4 and my steam box.

      *turn on ps4 signs in to psn with psn name.*

      *turns on steam box signs in to steam with psn name*


  • The big thing I’m hoping for is that it cam compete in terms of being a full turnkey system, no ads (or at least only as many as Steam currently has), and can play bluray media. Would also be nice if it could be used as a HTPC too (VLC integration?) – then they’d have the market cornered.

  • After using Big Picture for the first time the other and being very impressed I’m so tempted to build a HTPC, but it will never be able to replace my gaming PC. I feel more comfortable in a good office chair using a mouse and keyboard than lounging with a controller.

      • A lot of times going on the PC means that you allow someone else to watch the TV. I dunno, there will always be some of us resistant to using the TV because monitors have a higher pixel density and among other reasons. I’d like to see what type of “features” will be in addition to gaming.

  • Well I can see it work, and valve linux os could work as well, as a alternative Grome/KDE for Ubuntu or Fedora (or other) as a option that is friendly with controller and has pre installed controller friendly apps ( like a controller version of VLC!), so I user can always switch back to grome or kde what ever and use it as any regular linux machine or partition/format and install good enough windows 7.

    I have been using Fedora for a year now mostly on my schools computers but have it installed at home, the interface is different but its easy to learn, only thing that cripples the os for newbies is that installing applications can be tricky. ubuntu have got around this with their software center with automatic handle everything with install function, but still alot of work needs to be done in this area to help computer newbies who dont want to touch terminal, but other than installing its pretty much user friendly GUI for everything else and functions much better than windows.

  • I’m not so happy about this, if only for the fact that we may not see any more Valve games on the three current console makers’ machines. Whilst it does seem like a pretty sweet idea, my PC is in my room, where I want it, not out in the public space.

    • You realise they are just increasing the options, not limiting them. So, keep your computer in your room. They don’t care! Steam will be available everywhere but because major consoles are so closed and don’t support Steam fully (non on Xbox and very limited on PS3) so they thought this will be their best chance at penetrating the living rooms.

      • Naw, it’s just I like Nintendo first party games, and I’d like to have seen Valve games on the Wii U. I also like controllers, you see. It’s not really a problem, but rather a personal preference.

        It’s not a complaint, not really. And I probably won’t buy the Steam Box unless it offers a different and excellent new way to game, when it’s competing with my new tower.

  • So you’re complaining that valve games won’t be on consoles, because valve are essentially going to make their own console…sounds like you don’t have anything to be worried about.

    Just pick a SteamBox this gen and leave the other consoles behind. You’ll have a platform for your living room, and a platform for your PC, and better yet, they’ll probably be able to sync between each other. I can’t imagine a better way to game, and if anybody can pull it off, it’ll be Valve.

    Edit: meant for @Nachos_Xth

  • i’m running big picture on my htpc/file server… i7 920 w/ gtx470… good enough for now 🙂 love what they’re doing with big picture 😀

  • It’s interesting that no one has posted about the Linux problem. It requires developers to target a different platform. This means only newer games may work on it. I don’t see many developers going back to redevelop old games to run. I know there are projects like wine and cedgar but they are not 100%. Plus I don’t see steam offering support for a 3rd party.

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