Gabe Newell: Steam Box's biggest challenge is Apple, not consoles

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Gabe Newell has been talking about the dangers faced by Valve's Steam Box - and other living room based PCs. You'd think the greatest threat to couch-centric gaming would come from the existing dominance of Sony and Microsoft, but Newell disagrees. "The biggest challenge, I don't think is from the consoles," he says. "I think the biggest challenge is that Apple moves on the living room before the PC industry sort of gets its act together."

Newell was speaking at a lecture to students at the University of Texas' LBJ School of Public Affairs. On the challenge Apple poses, he states: "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?"

But Newell notes that, if delivered well, the PC offers many attractive features for people looking for a lounge gaming solution. He cites increased hard-drive space, customisable form factor and the attractive prospect of using hardware a consumer may already own.

"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, [Project] Shield from Nvidia, or lots of other people," Newell continued. "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."

So why isn't Gabe stressing the existing consoles? He counters that, for Steam users, the benefits of carrying their existing content over is just too great.

"We're happy to do it if nobody else will do it, mainly because everybody else will pile on, and people will have a lot of choices, but they'll have those characteristics. They'll say, 'Well, I could buy a console, which assumes I'll re-buy all my content, have a completely different video system, and, oh, I have a completely different group of friends, apparently. Or I can just extend everything I love about the PC and the internet into the living room.'"

Thanks, Polygon.