Gabe Newell Says Apple, Not Consoles, Is The Biggest Threat To The Steam Box

Most of the talk of Valve's recent excursion into the world of living-room PCs has focused on how their hardware, née the "Steam Box", would compete with gaming consoles like the Xbox 360 and PS3. But Valve co-founder Gabe Newell has another competitor on his mind: Apple.

Polygon reports that Newell, speaking to a class at the University of Texas, said that Apple is much more prepared to take over the living room than console-makers.

"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?"

As we've pointed out in the past, console-makers should certainly be worried about Valve's foray into the living-room space. But Newell makes a good point; they should all be keeping one eye on Cupertino.

Gabe Newell: Steam Box's biggest threat isn't consoles, it's Apple [Polygon]

That image up top is of "Piston," an Xi3 computer that Valve says is one of multiple Steam Box prototypes.


    LOL Gabe good one, put the crack pipe down and make Half life 3 already.

      What Gabe is saying is the truth, Apple could come in and own the living-room space and do a lot of damage to Microsoft, Sony and the potential of the Steam Box.

      Having said that... hurry up and make Half life 3 already.

        Not really, Apple is now on the down ward spiral. As far as gaming goes, its touch devices are still terrible compared to consoles/handhelds/any dedicated gaming device out there.

        Gamers would not flock to an iDevice for gaming, and we would continue to get cheap games with terrible touch controls. Even if a proper controller was released I doubt we would get the same quality of games we would expect.

          who cares about gamers? nintendo showed casual gamers is where its at, of which apple has the market pretty much trumped. they have the best penetration for their all in device iphone, and are making inroads to the living room with the apple tv. its not a jump to see the apple tv running games, with your idevice as the controller/other bluetooth controller - googles various boxen have been doing this for a couple of years

          I want you to be right, because I like gaming on my console and PC, but here's why I think you might be wrong:

          1) Gabe probably knows what he's talking about: He's smart. After making millions at microsoft, he went on to made some of the best games ever, before then becoming a billionaire when he saw and implemented the future of online distribution when nobody else did. He is deeply immersed in his business, it's his full-time job and passion and I'll assume he's done his research when he makes a claim about Apple being a competitor.

          2) Apple might be on a downward trajectory in the smartphone market, but that's only because they used to dominate it. They are still in a strong position, especially in the tablet market. Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world (either the biggest or second biggest after ExxonMobil, depending on which day you check). It has enough money to make a strong push into any market it wants.

          3) For the average person, the Apple brand still has a lot of clout. You might be right that "Gamers would not flock to an iDevice", but gamers aren't the majority of people with money to spend. It wasn't gamers who made the Wii a smash or who made the ipad a hit, it was average consumers who wouldn't probably label themselves as gamers but enjoy a round of Wii Sport or Angry Birds.

          4) Apple has the technology ready to go. It wouldn't take a huge R&D money/time investment to make it happen.

          5) Developers will go where the numbers are. If Apple is successful and sells a lot of consoles, all the great developers will make games for those systems, which means the great games will come out for those systems too.

          TL:DR: Gabe is probably smarter than you. Apple has the money. Apple has the clout. Apple has the tech. Developers, and therefore the games, will go where the money is.

          Last edited 31/01/13 2:43 pm

            The point about Gabe being smart only supports your argument if you also assume gabe is being completely open and truthful.

            Maybe his talk was aimed at misleading apple and luring them into making the Pippin II :)

              You might be on to something there! Remember what Gabe said about not being interested in the Playstation 3, only for us to catch him with her later...

          What makes you think that if Apple were to enter this market, they would try to compete directly with Xbox and Playstation? Surely they would be competing more at the Wii end of the spectrum?

        If apple values its share price it will not undertake any risky moves such as moving into a new field where it has very little experience and taking on the established players. Sure, it would be a great and innovative move, which would force Sony/MS/Nintendo to react quickly with innovations of their own, but it would be very expensive for long time, which would make the share price volatile.

    If Apple TV (or rather, then next iteration of it) could support modern games, they'd infiltrate the living room faster than the steam box. There's a lot more people in the world who'll buy iProducts than there are gaming fans who are familiar with Valve/Steam.

      Yes probably, but there is more gamers out there willing to shell out for a proper gaming experience with quality titles on a console. Mostly iDevice fans would flock to it to play Angry Birds, Temple run or some other seemingly simple game on there TV.

      And people should flock to consoles right now, besides the price of games on Steam, the service really is starting to crumble.

        "And people should flock to consoles right now, besides the price of games on Steam, the service really is starting to crumble."

        How so? Price is a major factor in choosing Steam, but isn't the service the exact same? The only thing I can see going against Steam is the new competition cropping up, but even then that's a good thing.

    Apple has just as many haters as it does fans I don't really ever envision it becoming a product that would enter the hearts and minds of all consumers to become a Monopoly in the Living Room.

      I think the idea that Apple is still a divisive brand is one that is only shared by the more...nerdy inclined. There are obviously a lot of people who choose Windows and Android over OSX and iOS because it caters for their gaming, tinkering, power user etc needs, but a lot of people use Windows and Android simply because they are normal people who want to spend less on things. In the real world, Apple are just another brand.

      That's why you're not gabe. Hate as much as you like - but do not underestimate your enemies. They are where they are for a reason.

      How many people have gone from owning an iPod to an iPhone + iPad and then adding a iMac + laptop to their family? Then there's Apple TV. It wouldn't be a hard jump to move into the console area.

    It's a good point. AppleTV + iPad/iPhone makes for a decent console replacement for casual fans willing to let Apple dictate how they use their media.

    I think there will probably always be users like me who prefer a slightly more open platform than Apple provides, though.

    Not necessarily a completely open platform, just that having Apple trying to tie up and limit the usability of your devices (e.g. dictating that iTunes media will only stream to an AppleTV) will always rub some people the wrong way.

    I only see one problem with this, Apples gaming catalogue isn't the best, and I'm saying this as a mac owner. The majority of titles will be those on the Mac App Store, which are AAA games made 4 years ago, or iOS games.

    This is a nice strategy by Gabe...
    Detract Steam Box by identifying Apple as major threat to the games market until Steambox quietly starts its domination. Nice one ;-)

      God I hope not. I love my PC but frig me, steam is turning into a slow horrible mess. Id like to leave it as a stand alone on my PC right now and have a console hooked up to my TV.

      You know who else identified Apple as their biggest threat: Nintendo. We all know where they're going these days.

    If steam want my loungeroom, they need to do something about the single account log in set up they currently have. I am not running with seperate steam accounts for each Media device in my home.

    yeah. i worry about this.
    i dont mind mobile style casual games existing but if it is at the expense of console style "full" games then im not happy.

    that said, maybe it wont be so bad, some of my favorite games in the last couple years have been xbla games and theoretically these sized games could triumph on an apple platform. (still hate apple though)

    Apple iConsole release March 2014
    Apple iConsole2 release March 2015
    Apple iConsole3 release March 2016
    Apple iConsole3S release August 2016
    Apple iConsole3SX release March 2017
    Apple iConsole3SX Pro release August 2017
    Apple iConsole4 release March 2018

    Oh yeah I can't wait to buy more consoles than I do games. Apple have mastered selling trendy and selling software upgrades disguised as Hardware, but the problem with being a Flavour of the month is theirs a new month coming all the time.

    Don't get me wrong the iPhone reinvented the Smart Phone market, without it we would never have seen the Android devices but Apple are now in a state of Stagnation rather than a state of Innovation.

    At the same time, you could've said the same thing about the possibility of an Apple phone.

    Don't care. Talk about Half Live you fat bastard.

    Just remember, people said that Linux was a DEAD gaming platform, and we're not even out of Steam's beta yet and have over 74 titles, Blizzard announcing a port and a bunch of other studios/publishers making the jump. Apple already has a lot of pull with developers, wouldn't take much to see an apple TV device with a decent GPU suddenly sucking in a ton of app developers to make games.

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