Video game consoles from Microsoft Corp., Nintendo and Sony Corp. are sold quantities that total tens of millions of units every year, but Valve Software does not believe that those systems can represent a threat for its Steam Box PC-based console concept. The head of the company things that Apple is a much more formidable danger as the company is trying to find itself a place in the living room.
"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. 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," said Gabe Newell, chief executive of Valve, while speaking at a lecture at the University of Texas' LBJ School of Public Affairs.
Apple currently offers only one product for the living room, the Apple TV set-top-box, which can stream video games from iPad and iPhone to a big screen as well as provide access to Apple’s vast library of video and audio content. Apple’s media tablets and smartphones are gaining performance for high-quality games at a rapid pace and at some point will rival not only dedicated portable game consoles, but more powerful non-portable systems. Moreover, going forward Apple is projected to release its own TV-set, which should provide even better capabilities for gaming, which automatically creates an even stronger entertainment 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," asked Mr. Newell.
The head of Valve asserts that PC companies have to exercise their traditional strengths when it comes to creating solutions for the living room, e.g., offer better hardware, as well as try to extend usage of hardware “that the consumer may already own”. As an example, he reminds the recently announced Nvidia Shield gaming console that uses remote Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics card to render PC games.
Apparently, Valve’s own Steam Box console concept may rely on something similar and may take advantage of a PC that is running somewhere inside one’s home.
While the idea teaming up different hardware to unify capabilities across devices sounds as a good idea, the actual user experience will depend on just too many things and may not be consistent as in the case of a standalone platform.