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Gabe Newell says Apple is the Steam Box's biggest threat

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Gabe newell (Polygon)
Gabe newell (Polygon)

Valve's Steam Box may be a challenger to consoles as we know them, but Gabe Newell said today that Apple is the company's biggest threat in the living room, Polygon reports. During a lecture given at the University of Texas, Newell said that "Apple has gained a huge amount of market share, and has a relatively obvious pathway toward entering the living room with their platform." He 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." Valve's challenge, Newell explains, is to make progress getting a PC in the living room, and to "figure out better ways of addressing mobile." Valve could have an uphill battle to get there, but based on what we know about the Steam Box, it could have several hooks to get people's attention.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Verge at CES 2013, Newell confirmed that Valve plans to build a Linux-based Steam Box that could act like a local gaming server for various screens in a household. While Valve plans to release its own version, it is encouraging other hardware makers to jump in — a primary reason for the company's attendance at CES this year. Valve is targeting three tiers of hardware specifications, ranging from "Good," to "Better," to "Best." The company is also interested in creating innovative controllers that use biometric technology to affect gameplay "on a level below the player's conscious thoughts." In his lecture, Newell said that companies selling Steam Boxes will need to convince consumers about the value of their hardware, including features like hard drive space, customizable form factors, and the ability to use existing components.

"The biggest challenge, I don't think is from the consoles."

As Polygon reports, Newell said that the transition to the living room will be more difficult if Apple gets there first, and that Apple's platform would shut out Steam's open-source creativity. Newell said that "the biggest challenge, I don't think is from the consoles. I think the biggest challenge is that Apple moves on the living room before the PC industry sort of gets its act together."

Valve's concern about Apple isn't unilateral. Newell's comments echo those made by Nintendo back in 2010, when, as Engadget reported, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime claimed that Apple is the primary "enemy of the future" as a result of its success in mobile.