Discussion in 'PC/Console Game Discussion' started by FrankA, Mar 3, 2012.
Well if they're serious about this I guess the next question is: what will it cost?
The actual interview: http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/8/3852144/gabe-newell-interview-steam-box-future-of-gaming
Look how well that argument worked for Sony and the PS3.
Why buy a Steambox at $1100 if you can buy a PC for less than that and then just download the apps you need for the same functionality?
Of course, that may just be misdirection from Valve to its competitors and then they announce a sub-$500 box.
Straight from the horse's mouth, Xi3's failed kickstarter:
Of course that entry-level design wasn't aimed at this market, and probably would have had shitty graphics, but presumably that's more in the direction they're aiming.
I honestly don't think that Valve wants to actually be a console manufacturer. However, I do believe they have positioned themselves to be the content distribution method for anyone who wants to make a PC-as-console device, and these partnerships and announcements are largely intended to use Valve's clout in the PC gaming space to get people thinking more seriously about a PC-as-console device and to shine a publicity light on it - free publicity.
That could be but the issue with this approach might be that the hardware only side of the PC as console isn't terribly lucrative. Sony and MS took losses on their hardware initially, the only reason they could do that was because they get a good size chunk of the third party software end, without that the Xbox and PS simply wouldn't exist. Trying to get PC hardware to be affordable and have good performance for games isn't going to be easy. Unless Valve is willing to send a cut of software sales to these manufacturers I don't see it happening. Current media boxes that are essentially PCs (Roku and such) aren't built to handle games and are by no means high end hardware.
It almost seems like Valve's pursuing an OEM strategy here, where others will handle the hardware and they just provide a reference platform. That's a way to avoid the hardware inventory risk (which is a huge sunk cost), but I'm not sure it's necessarily going to work.
1. You can build a reasonable gaming PC for $500-600. When people quote $1000+, they are talking about *top of the line* gaming PCs. Which you don't need, because even if you build a $600 gaming PC today, you'll be playing PC games released for the next couple years without dificulty.
2. Valve gets a chunk of third party software. Do you think they don't collect money on every sale from Steam?
3. Valve could sell the box at a loss, or with "free steam games" which costs them nothing, and more than make up the difference.
Sure, but are people willing to pay $600 for a console, pretty sure the PS3 showed that might be a little on the high side.
Jason Pace made was that Valve wouldn't be selling the boxes but that some other manufactures would create these gaming boxes with the intention of using Steam as the content distribution. I'm saying those manufacturers aren't necessarily going to get a cut of software sales the way MS and Sony do with their consoles.
Valve producing their own devices makes sense to Valve (more customers to buy products off Steam) to an extent, but third party manufacturers aren't likely to get that and certainly won't get 100% of Valve's cut. A good portion of the profits for these third party manufacturers would have to come from the hardware sale itself.
Okay. What does that have to do anything? Valve has said specifically that they will sell their own box. It's still Steam; of course any other manufacturer can do what they want.
Assuming it sold well, the Steambox would obviously be profitable (as Charles pointed out). As far as I can tell the three questions are:
1) How much will it cost?
2) Will it sell at that price?
3) How much is Valve willing to sink into the project?
Valve will have to sell it below $500-$600; my guess is that people won't look at it until it's $400 or below. I don't know if you can build a gaming PC for that price. My guess is that you probably can, especially if you're building a run of a few million, but now you're talking a major investment in inventory. Figure you build 2 mil @$300 per unit, now you're sitting on $600mn in inventory. I don't know what Valve's finances are like, but that's some srs inventory risk right there if the whole thing doesn't pan out.
Recall: the last major new entrant into the console space was Microsoft, over a decade ago, and at one point they were nearly ten billion in the red on that endeavor. I think Microsoft made as series of pretty obvious screwups with regards to the original Xbox (and the early years of the 360), but the point is that this is a tough market to enter into. Other than general good feelings toward Valve for making some kickass games and an awesome distribution system, I don't see any reason to expect they'll be able to navigate these waters with any particular success.
If Valve actually does make their own boxes, expect them to be... Alienware. A Valve brand Steambox from Valve will be high end and high dollar. But if you don't have $1200-$1500-$2000 to blow on a PC-as-console, here is a list of other venders who all make their own Steamboxes ranging from $300 to $800...
At that point it really doesn't sound much like a console as it is a certification program. "Steambox Ceritifed" or some stuff.
Alternate theory of Steambox: rich guy nerdraging over Win8, burns pile of money. (I'm kidding. Mostly!)
Seems pretty clear that it is not, nor will ever be a unified console. That's not PC gaming's advantage. Hardware vendors want to make money from up selling to their customers. What Valve can do is provide the clear and cogent guidelines that show customers exactly what Steamboxes will handle what games and how well. Through Steam they can become the buying guide (and maybe even order processing) for PC-as-console Steamboxes.
Charles mentioned it, but no one really seemed to notice, if Valve actually had its hand in the sale of the Pistons, they could easily sell at a loss. That could bring the price down and possibly get them competitive with other consoles.
(I'd still probably just hook up my PC to my TV, i still get steam, valve still gets my money, and I probably get to take advantage of their eye tracking tech, unless for some reason they make it linux only.
There's no indication that Valve have any real partnership with Xi3 though. The Xi3 guy was all but denying it in the Machinima interview. If Valve do make a Steambox and sell it at a loss, that's going to kill interest from third party Steambox makers. I just don't see it.
That's true. Plus "Make Steambox and sell it at a loss," is easier said than done. Assuming they want to hit a $400 dollar price point they're probably going to have to absorb significant inventory risk. I don't know what Valve's financials are like (obviously) but I question if Gabe is really going to sink up to a half billion dollars into inventory. Valve's undoubtedly successful but I don't know if their spare cash is really in the territory of billions.
Yes, to be clear the original announcement just says:
For all we know[*], Valve just contributed to their Kickstarter.
[*} Although the Kickstarter failed, so, OK, it's separate from that.
The issues that Steam is facing are:
1) The PC market is down on hardware sales, with people going out and buying tablets and smartphones instead
2) Console makers are moving away (and have been trying for a while) from just being games machines towards being home entertainment hubs, offering games, movies and other streamed content
3) AAA game development is on the slide down, which was the major money maker for the games industry
4) A huge potential risk was that legal decision in Europe saying that people have the right to sell the digital version of any game they buy, which would hurt Steam's sales a lot
If Valve just lets Steam muddle along as it has, they'll maintain dominance over digital retail sales but will become increasingly tied to a shrinking platform (which doesn't mean "the PC is DEAD", just that Apple and Android are starting to cut in and people aren't buying as many new PCs / laptops anymore) and that Valve will also then have to rely on indies and constant discounting of their back catalogue to keep the revenue rolling in. That's not so great if a lot of indies head to mobile platforms, outside of Steam's current reach.
So Valve have decided to go for the home entertainment hub option. They've got more than enough money to do it now and experiment. Even if it fails, they'll have learned a lot for another push into what I think will be tablet territory.
Hardware sales are down; but I don't know that means that the PC market has shrunk, so much that it's a) reached saturation and b) PCs last a lot longer than they used to. I mean I remember having to upgrade PC components every couple of years to keep pace with the latest and greatest games; now I only really replace stuff as it fails and I still play everything at high resolution.
Microsoft invested around $2 billion in the development of the XBox. The XBox division operated at a loss until Q3 of 2008 when it finally showed a profit, thanks in large part to Halo 3's release. Now XBox is a revenue generating machine, turning a $1.3 billion profit in 2011 and proving to be a huge success. If Valve actually wants to enter the console market Microsoft is probably a good amalgam for what to expect and I would agree that even with all their resources Valve is probably not in the best position to devote that much money to doing this thing right. I think that without a solid partner they may never even make it to market.
The 'Store' page is up at http://xi3.com/buy_now.php
Apparently an old Athlon, 2gig of ram and a 16gig flash drive comes to $500
-Potential unified hardware base for PC games.
-Steam Big Picture is already better than the Dashboard or XMB.
-Linux as a gaming platform.
-Having one would make you a Linux user.
-Emulating Windows games for profit will cause a legal shitstorm.
-Valve does not have the presence to single-handedly turn the PC market from Windows to Linux.
-Feature creep. (It's a server! Social networking! Biometric gimmicks that any good game will ignore!)
-The OUYA is going to tarnish this whole HTPCBox trend when it inevitably crashes and burns.
My first thought was "Yay! $500 isn't $1100." My second thought was "what the hell video chip is in this thing?" because it doesn't seem to be listed anywhere. Some kind of integrated Fusion chip?
Haha, aww. I'm a Linux user and I'm terribly excited to see Valve pushing it as an OS, but I certainly agree with most criticisms levelled against it.
The default hard drive size is really tiny, like smaller than my Xbox 360 and it's 20gb harddrive, which is already stifling, and I mostly use it for XBLA games. I couldn't use it to install Rage, for example.
It will be interesting to see if Steam pushes for DirectX emulation, or tries to push for more OpenGL adoption. Don't the phones all use OpenGL, so porting 3D phone games would be easier?
That looks really... weak.
That's not the steambox.
Yep, phones and tablets are all OpenGL. The only systems DirectX is used on are the Xbox and windows.
Yeah, I knew that, but what will Steam attempt to push for on their Linux box? =) Dx emulation or try to get developers to do OpenGL? It makes a difference, because developers for PC and Xbox are doing DX, and if they don't have to swap everything over to OpenGL, that's one less hurdle to get things on the steambox.
If the X3 is what they are actually having as the steambox though, it looks like their main competition would be the Ouya as far as games. =)
Or more likely, the steambox will be a personal onlive, with the steambox owner's PC as the server.
I'm thinking Wine, most likely, and I'm fairly certain that it has been used in commercial applications before, though I'd be hard-pressed to name an example.
I'm not sure why you think this. For a start, even if it uses Wine, it won't be emulating anything because Wine Is Not an Emulator - it's a native implementation of some Windows DLLs and APIs. There's no Microsoft code in it, so no copyright issues and you're not required to have a Windows license to use it. In addition to the FOSS version, there are commercial, proprietary versions (i.e., sold for profit) developed by CrossOver and TransGaming, amongst others. Finally, some ports of commercial games to Linux and OS X already use Wine to get a leg up on the porting process - the Linux/OSX versions of Humble Bundle games being the ones that spring to mind most readily, but I'm pretty sure that there are higher profile ones (on OS X anyway).
Android is Linux as well; in fact, a lot of things are Linux these days. Only time will tell but it's not inconceivable that Valve could put out a Linux-based machine that doesn't look like your typical Linux-based machine.
I still don't understand the business logic of this at all. The number of people just waiting for a company to make it possible to easily play PC-type games on a TV is tiny at best (regular posters on a PC gaming forum notwithstanding). My girlfriend would sooner try and build a space ship out of her car engine than hook our PC to the big screen TV in the living room, but she bought a Wii for herself and a 360 for her son. I fit the hardcore gamer profile, but if I wanted to play computer games on a TV I could do it right now with a HDMI cable and a little bit of setup time. I have zero desire to add another box to our living room collection, which already has a PS3, 360 and Wii. What possible reason is there to buy another system, especially with new Microsoft and Sony versions coming out in the next year?
Look at it from another place. Can Valve afford not to ? If Microsoft goes the way of the walled garden infrastructure and joins the digital distributor crowd, as seems likely, Steam is dead or at least severely diminished as soon as MS closes the gates. And MS has no reason to allow Steam in, but a lot of incentive to block access to what is at that point a competitor. That it is possible and very profitable to get such an infrastructure into place has been demonstrated by Apple with IOS. And of course MS want a slice of that pie, forcing Steam to sit alone in the rain. At that moment Valve have four options - selling themselves to MS, getting out of the distribution business by getting rid of Steam, creating their own OS and directly competing with MS in the consumer market, or opening a new market for PC games that is not within the walled garden. It is easy to see which option is the most appealing. At least if the first one is not really an option for Gabe Newell, which seems likely based on his comments.
Edit: In other words- it might not be an easy market to open up, but if you have nowhere else to go... (dramatic music)
And iOS and AppleOS are not that far away, given that Darwin is at least partly based on BSD flavours, and is free software following POSIX. But hey, let us not get into the way of mindless bashing of stuff.
From what I've seen of the Windows 8 apps store Microsoft has a long, long way to go before they'll be giving Valve any cause for concern. Right now they make Origin look good, and I hate Origin. These are the guys who created the monstrosity known as Games for Windows Live, after all.
It isn't about looking good. If MS ever decide to go the way the Appstore in IOS works, just locking Windows down and controlling which apps are acceptable to buy via their store, Steam is gone from any new Windows install. If you are the only on it does not matter how well you work. Will they do that ? Not in the next two or three years, I guess. But there is a lot of incentive to do so, with very little not to. Apart from driving users away to Apple, which means they have to wait for them to go first.
It's been years since I followed PC hardware closely. Can someone who does answer a few questions regarding that xi3 thing?
- Is that hardware capable of running modern PC games at 1080p? The lack of a real video card makes me dubious, but I have no idea.
- To what degree does the $500 pricepoint represent a potential price floor for the components going into it?
Microsoft isn't Apple though. Apple has always maintained a closed infrastructure, so the App store was a natural evolution for their iOS products. For Microsoft to try and impose that on the PC market would be incredibly stupid, and could help kill off what's still their golden goose. What's my incentive for upgrading to Windows and Office X if their ham-handed attempt to control the digital distribution market alienates the major gaming companies? I can already do most of my non-gaming activities with my tablet, so if I wasn't gaming I'd start to wonder why I bother with this hulking desktop in 2013. It seems a lot more logical to me for them to want a piece of the digital distribution pie while not impeding the existing open access. After all, Steam helps sell new PCs, and new PCs still need Windows.
The simple answer is that Microsoft has fired the first shot with their "Windows Store" apps using WinRT, which is likely to be followed by XBox 720 development also being in WinRT. Microsoft at that point has no reason to want you to buy PC ports of popular console games, but if you were going to you'd be buying them via the Windows Store because that's going to be a cheaper option for publishers than porting the game back to x86 just so it'll run on Windows via Steam. Unless Steam marks out their own platform with a userbase large enough to warrant being treated as such.
It's a slow phase-out, but sitting back and waiting a few years to see how this plays out would be too late to do anything about it for Valve which already is running into issues with publishers setting up their own digital storefronts to exclusively sell their own games.
Separate names with a comma.