Why Gabe Newell Isn’t Worried About The Xbox One

Why Gabe Newell Isn’t Worried About The Xbox One

Sitting at Valve’s CES conference in Las Vegas today, one inquisitive audience member couldn’t help but ask…is Valve worried about keeping up with Microsoft’s momentum, having just announced 3 million units already sold?

Here’s how it went down, transcription courtesy of Kirk:

Question from the audience at a Valve CES presentation: Microsoft just announced 3 million units of xbox one were sold at launch for the last three months, can you hit that target by the end of the year? Can you do 3 million units?

Newell: Well, it’d take a while for them to catch up. I mean, we’re at 65 million.

(Huge laugh from the crowd)

Part of why we think that this is the right direction to go in is that we can benefit from everything that people have already done. If I buy a game on Steam and am running it on Windows, I can go to one of the Steam Machines and I already have the game. So the benefit as a developer, you benefit as a consumer, having that PC experience extended into the living room.

Top image credit: Isaac Brekken, Invision

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  • Well seeings as just recently the PS3 and Xbox 360 just passed 77 and 76 million sales respectively, there is still a big audience for sole purpose devices that require no tinkering. Just trying to get my Fallout 2 from GoG running made me run highly screaming back to my Xbox. When I sit down to play I want it to work, straight up. The tinkering novelty has well and truly worn off.

    • I’ve always had a dream of playing Fallout 1 on a tablet. Stupid me got the Surface RT which can’t load Fallout. 🙁

      I wish they did the same thing as with Baldur’s Gate and had an official release.

    • I bought Heroes of Might and Magic (whatever number they’re up to) on Steam and the sound didn’t work properly, the cutscenes only play half a screen (the legs in the battle scene were pretty exciting) and during the game the mouse cursor jittered around so badly I had to google the solution which ended up being installing a frame counting program and locking the frame rate at 1 frame below what the game was running out. After a few days of tinkering I finally got the game to work.

      It’s great that the PC is an open platform, if you’re a pro-user, but it’s always going to have these problems when you’re trying to run a definitive piece of software on an infinite amount of possible hardware. The walled garden of consoles dramatically reduces this problem (I’m ready for people to post examples of console games not running properly, and no intelligent person would deny this).

      • Definately agree there, I refused to start Arkham Origins until they released the patch to stop Xbox game save corruption :S

        I think the deal breaker for me with PC gaming was when I bought BioShock the original, day one, and the audio was just a static. They didn’t release a patch that fixed it for months. In that time I bought my first 360 and every time go back I get a new reminder as to why I don’t bother anymore 😛

        • Yep. Tried to get back into PC gaming after oer a decade of absence. Installed Windows 8 on a MacPro, got Steam going, downloaded Arkham City for $7.50, thought “Awesome”. Went to play it, game wouldn’t even save.

          Then I bought Crysis for $3, thought “Cool, cheap Crysis”. *Installing executables*……..EVERY SINGLE TIME.

          Yeah fuck PC gaming and everything that goes with it.

          • What do you call people who assume all of their values are the “right” way? Some people see flawless performance, ease of delivery and unbeatable pricing worth a small amount of tinkering. It took me about 3 hours to assemble my computer and another 3 to ready it for games and what-have-you. Also, it does everything else. I clean it with compressed air every 3 months which takes about 15 minutes and all 278 games I own on steam plus the 30-something I own on gog work perfectly. Had a few problems like a cursor appearing in games or a program failing to launch but luckily with the advent of the internet, I search the problem and it’s solved within minutes.

            No, the point of games aren’t to be easy, the point of games is games.

          • Yeah. I’m one of those people who sees flawless performance.

            I own – at last count – 789 games on Steam.
            99.99% of them ‘just work’. No tinkering. The worst I usually have to deal with is waiting forever for the intial directX check when first running a game.

            (And yes, I know you can cancel it then run the game, and it won’t do the ‘first time setup’ directx step, but I since discovered that very occasionally a game will actually add a few libraries to your directx, which if you don’t have them, can cause problems down the track. So now I just let it run. Maybe some people who are experiencing problems didn’t let it run…)

            So yeah, for me personally, I can’t see the so-called advantage to console’s ‘just work’ concept.

          • For me it’s price point. I can’t afford a a kick ass PC at the moment but I can shell out for a next gen console. I own a decent PC that lives in the office and I have a fair few Steam games that don’t require a beast machine, fun stuff, old stuff and indie games. But not all of us can afford a Ferrari. Some of us gotta drive the Commodore.

          • The cost of a PC that rivals the new console’s is about $500-$600 depending on storage and extra’s and if you already have a half decent PC it’s only going to cost you the price of 2.5 Console games (GTX660 is average $230) to buy a graphics card to run all games at “Next Gen” Console level graphics.

          • “99.99% of them ‘just work’. No tinkering”

            Which tenth of a game doesn’t work?

            Not that I disagree – the last time a game in Steam gave me trouble it was because it wanted G4WL which I hadn’t set up yet.

            I’ve had about as many issues with console games as with PC games.

          • Partial because I got it to work with minimal fuss. 😉

            (Also… because y’know. Hyperbole. But who admits that on ze Internets?)

          • I never called anyone anything?

            Pretty sure I was purely speaking for myself and my experience no?

          • Everyone I know with a Mac has problems running Windows and Windows games on it. I had a friend with a Windows loaded MacBook Pro come to one of our lan’s once and we couldn’t even get CoD4 running on his machine!

          • I believe everyone is entitled to their opinions, but seriously “fuck PC gaming and everything that goes with it”?

            Either I just got sucked into your trolling (if so, pat yourself on the back), or you’re not the brightest light on the Xmas tree if you truly believe that gaming is going be flawless on a MacPro running Windows 8.

      • If your cutscenes are only displaying half a screen, try uninstalling the windows update KB2803821. You need to do that to play Dragon’s Lair, which is entirely cutscenes, so I would assume it is a similar issue, especially for an older game. I encourage you to do your research first, though, as I don’t expect you to trust a random stranger on the internet immediately.

        • Eh, I just YouTubed the cut scene. That was easier. I don’t really play Heroes games for the lore.

    • @ Chivo: Yeah I agree. I do like PC gaming… when it works. PCs really are hard work… sitting down to play a game should be easy and thats the appeal of a console. It might not have the latest and greatest in shaders or graphics cards but its designed to work straight up without the need to constantly fork out money for upgrades or new hardware.

      That being said, I kinda like the idea of the Steam Box… it has a market for sure. Just not something I’d rush to buy.

    • And what happens when games don’t “work straight up” on console? I know people who still haven’t played Skyrim through due it always freezing on their PS3. After dropping $70 on the game and finding it doesn’t work there’s nothing you can do on console except wait for a patch with your fingers crossed or take the game back.
      If thats happening to a game on my PC I change graphics options, look for what piece of hardware is causing the problem and update its firmware, download non-broken files or mess with .ini files. If all that fails (it hasn’t yet), I’m happy to wait for a patch because I paid less than $30 for the game, more often than not less than $10.

      • I’ve taken a handful of console games back to the store when they didn’t work. I keep the receipts

        • See I’d rather spend 5 mins trouble shooting why the game won’t work on my PC than take it back and miss out on playing it.

    • You are talking about running a game from 1998. The chances of you getting a xbox launch title running on your Xbone without tinkering is remote without tinkering.
      Running GTAV on either xbox, PS or PC doesn’t require any tinkering

      • I do understand that, but when it’s been repackaged and resold through GoG I do expect better. Also please note I had similar frustrations on the launch of the original BioShock in that my MoBo soundcard was not supported until months after launch…

  • I know what Gabe mean but I think he’s being silly. MSFT could argue that they’re winning by how many people operate on Windows, Windows Phone & Xbox One device combine by a larger margin than 65 million. We’ll see how well Steam does in the PC/Console market when they actually release the Steam-Box.

    • It was a joke. He got asked “Isn’t your competitor doing great” so there isn’t many ways to answer.
      You can slag of the competitor, tell your shareholders that a competitor is doing great or you can make a joke and then explain your plans.
      The point of that statement was to defuse the question. It was over the top but that was the springboard to talk about how the existing userbase of people with PCs can benefit if they buy a steambox. Not saying this is true or not but that was the statement he made.

  • what i dont get is why steam machines dont have specs that need to be met.
    you will still have the pc/android issue where a user can not be certain that a game will work on their system at an acceptable level.
    if we lived in an ideal world where every steam box was a bare minimum of an xbone then you could be certain that all games will run acceptably on that and then get better as your specs go up. but ive seen intel integrated graphics on some of these machines but they still cost $500
    i think we were sooo close but not close enough

    • You’ve nailed it perfectly here.
      With no fixed system requirements, Steam won’t succeed in the living room.
      You can’t sell a game as “works on Steam Box” if people don’t know that it will.

      That’s going to be the pain spot and where this falls over. Which is a shame.
      If they set minimum specs and every game on Steam ran on those (with optimised settings like the new Nvidia tool does) we’d get everything we love about PC gaming, with the simplicity of a console.

    • This is the main issue on bang for buck I get better performance out of a $200 Xbox 360 than my $800 laptop – the laptop has its own purpose but unfortunately gaming isn’t part of it!

      • I stopped reading when mentioned gaming on a Laptop…

        Lol $800 laptop.

        I have a $2400 laptop and I don’t consider that fit for playing high end games. Yet I have a $500 desktop computer that is built FOR gaming which I play all my games on. every year or so i simply swap out the graphics card when needed.

        your logic is flawed.

        • $2.4k for your laptop, and it still can’t run games decently…? either that’s pretty old or you got ripped off man.

          • yes I can Run games on my 2.4k laptop but I prefer not to, if I wanted a ‘gaming laptop’ I would have gone out and purchased one of those razor/alien ware types.

            put it this way.

            It’s like having a small family built car
            it can go up to 180kph at 7.5k revs (limiter).

            Just because It can does not mean I should do it for prolonged periods of time as it’s not built for that.

            If I wanted to sit at 180kph for prolonged periods of time I would be better suited in buying a something like a sports car that is purpose built for high speeds

            both cars in this example would have cost the same as well.

        • No my logic is simple it costs less for me to play AAA games using a console than a computer

    • what if all I want to play is Game Dev Tycoon, why should I pay for boxen capable of running Crysis in Ultra High def, when I just want to play some low end game?

    • Different people have a different idea of what is “acceptable”. The low quality textures, poor draw distance, and so on that you get with most current console games would make them unacceptable to many PC gamers.

      Personally I started gaming when 3D was flat polygons in single unit frames per second. I can put up with a lot of things that the 60FPS CoD crowd would find jarring.

      I haven’t yet found a game that failed to work pretty well on my current PC, which has a CPU around 4 years old (quad core AMD) and a newish midrange graphics card. If the new Steam boxes aren’t better than that, I would be very surprised.

    • Yep, exactly. This year we need a “Steam Box Level 1” minimum spec. Next year a level 2 minimum spec. This is the only way to avoid fragmentation. It is what Apple and consoles effectively do and what Android and Steam desperately need to start doing.

      • pretty much what I was thinking.
        this year I think the new consoles should be the base line. seeing as they are effectively pcs anyway. then for the next few years you could say that a level 1 box will match an xbone for all games.

        while I am aware that this is a pc not a console. running steam instead of windows should help minimise some of the downsides.
        PCs suffer because optimising a game for the thousands of different hardware configs is effectively impossible. if there were actual baselines to aim at i’d wager this would improve. maybe it would never get to the point where an identically speced PC would be 100% as gaming powerful as an xbone but it would be so much closer than in the past.

        bringing pc gaming to the TV is meant to be for everyone. a way to leverage the flexibility of a PC but provide the interface and consistence of a console. steam need to have a system in place to control quality or users will get annoyed and it will remain much like PC gaming is now, for people like us that know what we are doing and are happy to work around things. as opposed to an actual sellable consumer product

  • I would much rather pay $500-$600 once and then not have to worry about upgrading over the next 9 years, and feel confident that the newest games will work on my unit without hesitation.

    I still play my PC, but for things that I can’t buy on console. Things like FTL, Binding of Issac and Papers Please. Things that CAN run on most computers. I still buy cheap games when I can on PC because ONE DAY I might play it.

    The argument of keyboard/mouse vs controller is silly as it’s a preference. So other than cheaper games, all PCs have going for it are better looking games. And really, who cares about that when it’s going to cost you much more over 9 years for the unit to be able to play it at ultra pretty settings?

    • I care. If gaming is your hobby spending 500 bucks every 2 years to upgrade the oldest parts of your PC to the latest and greatest is a small price to pay.

      I can see myself easily saving that due to purchasing all my games on steam sale and buying 20 or so games per year.

      I also of course pickup both consoles due to what you said about them being a one off purchase for at least a few years and then just purchasing the exclusives for them.

    • Average Lifespan of the xbox 360 was 1.5 years on a good day, expect to upgrade 6 times over the next 9 years. Also by the time you buy say 3 games you could of replaced your graphics card then for the rest of the year say you buy 3 x $90 games or on PC you might buy 25+ on steam.

      Logic not even once

  • 65 million steam users does not equal 65 million steam box users

    people will continue to buy Playstations and Xboxs not because they are in anyway better, or worse, but because they only have to make one complex choice. The biggest problem the Steam Box will have is that there are too many choices which will not appeal to many consumers and the the consumers who it would normally appeal to are probably people who would prefer to build their own computer rather than buy one outright

    • 65 million steam users does not equal 65 million steam box users

      I agree, but i think the point he was trying to make, is that the numbers reset each time a new console is launched, that’s the reason why they bought up the figures of 3 million Xbox One’s sold, there are currently 3 million Xbox One users.

      For Steam however the number never resets, it just fluctuates, the point he was trying to make is even if a quarter of the Steam users pick up a Steam box some time this year, it will destroy the Xbox One is sales (it may or may not happen and i am not saying it will or wont).

      • Good point though i don’t think it being a restart is an accurate description. There is a lot of brand loyalty behind the Xbox and the PlayStation; it is a major reason why there is such huge arguments about the two amongst gamers

        As a bit of a counter point to your second point, you could say the same thing about Xbox 360 players moving over the the Xbox one. if only a quarter of current uses converts within the year than they will beat the Steam boxes in sales.

        • As a bit of a counter point to your second point, you could say the same thing about Xbox 360 players moving over the the Xbox one. if only a quarter of current uses converts within the year than they will beat the Steam boxes in sales.

          There is two problems with that however, 1. we assume that people who bought the 360 are also interested in the X1 and were not turned off by Microsoft’s initial DRM polices, i have a feeling that the DRM policy’s alone would have cost Microsoft a lot of customers.

          And 2. the lack of games on the X1 at the moment, which is not an incentive to buy the machine.

          Now if you look at the Steam box if you are a Steam user you already have a massive library of games to play and you are already used to the DRM on Steam, so there is no surprises there.

          I am not saying one is going to be more successful than the other, what i am saying is that for a launch of a pc / hybrid console, the Steam box is going to do what Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo have failed to do with each and every console launch, and that is provide tonnes of games for users to play at launch.

          It’s going to be interesting to see how this all work out.

          • It will be interesting to see what happens.
            Personally i think that the biggest problem the steam box will have is that there is over ten of them whereas the xbox and the playstation and the WiiU there is only one choice. I think there will be a lot of choice paralysis with the steam box

          • Yep i 100% agree, they are going to have a tough time marketing it because of all the variations there are and all the confusion that creates.

            If your average person can’t figure out the difference between the Wii and the Wii U, just imagine them trying to buy a Steam Box, which would they choose? what do the specs mean to them? whats the difference between box A, B, C and D? Whats the best value for money?

            Your average consumer would probably through up there hands in frustration trying to figure it all out.

            So here’s hoping the individual company’s that are making the boxes do some good advertising to explain what it’s all about.

  • That’s funny that he’s saying Steam is better because you can play all your games on any console, which is what Microsoft initially proposed for the Xbox One.

    Of course everyone bitched about being modern and having change and Microsoft changed their mind.

  • He’s got a point. Console gaming is losing it’s one true advantage over PCs – true plug and play. Let’s consider the current console generation:
    – day one patches
    – broken and glitchy games
    – patches in general
    – large games, small storage space
    – expensive games
    – broken online
    – DRM systems

    Please note, I’m not saying PC gaming is better. I’m just saying that the differences between the two are getting nigh indistinguishable. The SteamBox would do a lot to mitigate the few remaining grievances (price-performance, controllers, and location in home theatre).

    • The worst offenders last gen for the kind of stuff you mentioned (that i found, there might be more that i did not play) are Saints Row 3 GOTY edition and Dead Space 3.

      It took around an hour for my feet to hit the ground in Saints Row 3 GOTY edition, i had to sit through the game install, patching, all the intro splash screens, the first mission where you are falling to the ground from the wrecked airplane and then before you even hit the ground you have to sit through what seemed like 20 unlocks of things added to the game from the GOTY edition and you could not skip any of it, just messages popping up on the screen one after the other, in my opinion it was very poorly done.

      The other Dead Space 3, it took so long to get into the game when you booted it up each time, you had to sit through all the online checks and then the menus were the worst, every single time you selected something you had to sit through the same bloody animation over and over which really slowed the process down.

      I am hoping company’s learn from all that and really think about the quickest way to get the user from the title screen into the game, but i have a feeling that this is just the beginning of something a lot worse.

      Plug and Play is dead. 🙁

  • Lets all agree to disagree.

    As a PC gamer I feel the cheap games, multi functionality and fun I get from tinkering with my PC far out way any advantages of console (are there any? Price maybe, but that goes out the window with the price of games)
    I don’t HAVE to upgrade my PC all the time, I CHOOSE to every 2-3 years ( so thats like 3 times in the previous gen of consoles lifespan). It cost me about $500 each time, I get $200+ back from selling my old parts and save the other $300 nearly every year during Steam sales, and other people can use the TV while I’m gaming (except when I feel the need to go large). If wanted console like graphics (30fps kill me now) and performance, I’d only have to upgrade every 5-10 years.

    • Don’t forget 720p @ 30FPS 😛
      I seriously don’t know how people could play with such low framerate :-\

      Note: I don’t know what the xbone or ps4 are like, but every time I saw the 360 in use it had horrible frame rate issues sometimes dropping to what looked like <10FPS.

    • The best part of console gaming is the chance to sit next to someone and play split screen and now so many games don’t even have that which really pisses me off because i enjoy playing with my friends and being actually able to talk to them face to face at the same time

      I also kinda prefer playing on consoles

  • I don’t know about all you “console” players out there, but I’m absolutely sick to death of trying to play GTA5 or Battlefield 4 on our modern day consoles. Why? Because the one and only thing they’re supposed to do, which is play the game smoothly, seems to be the one and only thing modern day consoles are incapable of. The load times are completely ridiculous. And console games are being released with bugs that users can’t find “work-arounds” for as you would with a PC.

    I hark back to the early Nintendo and Sega cartridge consoles rules the world. The graphics are nothing compared to today’s standards, but they were pretty incredible for 8-bit and 16-bit systems. No such thing as load times. And you were guaranteed a certain level of perfection and playability to your games.

    The day a console gives me the same, smooth, seamless gaming experience I’ve had with my PC over the last 5 years, I’ll continue on my path as a PC user. While the developers of these consoles battle it our in price, market share, how to reduce piracy without entirely up-ending the console world. Your modern day console is generally nothing more than a last generation PC technology with a shiny case and a custom proprietary operating system that can only run proprietary software and games.

    I was forced to buy a console this Christmas to play GTA5 as developers are still holding back the release dates for PC version. Something that I just cant fathom the reasoning for.

    Until next time, to all of you console elitests our there. I you think consoles have improved since the Nintendo 64, PSX or Sega Mega Drive, you’re sorely mistaken. Almost every step in console gaming has been one step forward and two nails in the coffin of the console.

  • Cmon Guys!! Just buy a PC and put it in your lounge.
    Now if Net-tops could run steam games that would be rad!
    XBOX Game controllers for PC games

    • That’s what I do, I don’t get nerds that still have a console. You can get 4 player Xbox 360 controller games, good framerates at 1080p, cheaper games. For non-nerds up until the steam box there wasn’t really an option, but for mad nerds like myself, hook in already!

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