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More on Steam Hardware

Engadget has follow-ups to comments recently attributed to Ben Krasnow about plans for Steam hardware. Ben says he was misquoted (or mistranslated) and that he did not confirm Linux support and he does not think they will be showing off anything of the sort this year as reported (thanks HARDOCP). Meanwhile, there's an interview with Valve's Gabe Newell on The Verge where the Valve honcho talks of how they are working with many hardware partners on "Good, Better," or "Best" boxes for playing Steam games, and also goes ahead and says they will be releasing Linux-based "Steam boxes," among other things, also discussing their interest in low-latency controllers, biometric controllers, and other cutting edge-ness. This includes much discussion of open versus closed systems.

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45. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 20, 2013, 12:47 Mordecai Walfish
 
Beamer wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 13:15:
Verno wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 12:11:
I get that, but I don't really see how this is going to succeed to the point where everyone is using a steambox, rather than a normal console.

It doesn't necessarily have to cannibalize their own users and directly compete with consoles to succeed, it has a lot of crossover market appeal. The greedy comment is really silly, all products are designed to make money. It's how they go about doing it that matters and that remains to be seen in this case. Valve has a pretty good history of consumer value and customer friendly decisions so I'm not worried.

Yup.
It isn't about making everyone use a Steambox, it's about getting people that prefer consoles to start using Steam. Those already using Steam on their desktop/laptop will still do that and Valve will still happily serve them and take their money.

There's a certain paranoia I keep seeing where certain people think everything is designed to screw them over or make a change they don't like and don't want. Some things are aimed at people that simply aren't you. There's a direct correlation between these people and ones that use things like "kiddie gamers" to talk about console gamers. These people are incredibly quick to talk about how different they are from other gamers yet don't think Valve is smart enough to realize this, too.

Valve isn't envisioning a world where everyone uses the Steambox. Valve is just envisioning a world where every gamer uses Steam.

Exactly.
 
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44. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 10, 2013, 09:39 Verno
 
I'm not surprised to see this at all, dovetails nicely with a SteamBox - XBMC on Greenlight and takes cares of 90% of the video shit in a slick app.

They get a Netflix app running on Linux and they're off to the races already.
 
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43. Re: More Big Picture Details Jan 10, 2013, 08:30 gray
 
HorrorScope wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 18:31:
Since they aren't a public company they don't have to live by the growth rules. It's up to them if they want more.

Exactly the steambox doesn't have to stand on it's own feet, it's an extra brick in the foundations. Valve has no public shareholders, they are Innovators. There is a long game being played here. It's almost not fair to listed companies who can't look beyond the next set of results.

They don't even want to touch physical but are having to because it creates a gap in the roadmap as some developments require new iterations of hardware that haven't been forthcoming. The next lightest touch for them is to partner with third parties to fill that gap and enable continuation.

This comment was edited on Jan 10, 2013, 08:41.
 
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42. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 10, 2013, 07:14 Dades
 
Same was true of Windows once. I remember devs screaming for OpenGL support in DirectX since Direct3D was so shitty. Everything starts somewhere.

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41. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 10, 2013, 01:43 StingingVelvet
 
Dades wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 20:06:
You obviously haven't used Ubuntu lately. There are even premade customized HTPC flavors of it, XBMCBuntu, OpenElec and more. What do you think Android is built on? Linux doesn't need to be complicated. Wine is a pretty decent abstraction layer these days and with a professional company porting gaming software others are bound to follow.

I'll keep an open mind but the idea of a Linux HTPC that works as simply and easily as a console, AND plays a lot of games natively, is... well let's just say I am skeptical.

We shall see though, Valve certainly have the clout to get some things done.
 
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40. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 9, 2013, 20:06 Dades
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 18:42:
Beamer wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 16:23:
The reason HTPCs haven't taken off is few people want to bother with that. They just want something that works.
If Valve designs this in a way that it just works, and I'm guessing that's how they've spent the year or two we've been speculating about this, then they will find more success than HTPCs have.

That would be one hell of a Linux conversion.

You obviously haven't used Ubuntu lately. There are even premade customized HTPC flavors of it, XBMCBuntu, OpenElec and more. What do you think Android is built on? Linux doesn't need to be complicated. Wine is a pretty decent abstraction layer these days and with a professional company porting gaming software others are bound to follow.

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39. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 9, 2013, 18:42 StingingVelvet
 
Beamer wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 16:23:
The reason HTPCs haven't taken off is few people want to bother with that. They just want something that works.
If Valve designs this in a way that it just works, and I'm guessing that's how they've spent the year or two we've been speculating about this, then they will find more success than HTPCs have.

That would be one hell of a Linux conversion.
 
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38. Re: More Big Picture Details Jan 9, 2013, 18:31 HorrorScope
 
Beamer wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 11:59:
RollinThundr wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 11:18:
Beamer wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 09:52:
RollinThundr wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 08:49:
Dades wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 07:34:
StingingVelvet wrote on Jan 8, 2013, 23:35:
I'm not even sure who this is for, really. What market do they think they are appealing to? I can't think of anyone, from PC gamers to console gamers, casuals to Android indie worshipers, who isn't better served with a different product.

Helps if you try thinking about it for 10 seconds. The hardware in there could make it everything from a kickass HTPC to a living room console that has access to a massive existing library of games. The biggest barrier to the PC in the living room has been form factor and input, this combined with the ten foot interface solves both problems.

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The biggest barrier is hardcore PC users generally couldn't care less if they're wired or not or on the couch or not. You're thinking of the casuals who will move on to something else as soon as the "oooh shiny" wears off.

Well, you have to consider two things:
1) Valve has captured the hardcore PC market. Captured. Exhausted, even. How is Steam supposed to grow? Nearly every game is released on Steam, and I think we all agree that Steam is probably doing more revenue than B&M at this point. So where is Steam supposed to grow? How do you grow when your market share is already monumentally larger than the next guy?
2) That casual market you think is all "oooh shiny" brings in more dollars collectively than the hardcore market. You think only PC gamers are hardcore. PC gamers spend less than console gamers. Yeah, they may spend more per user, but there are fewer users

It only makes sense that Valve, wanting to continue growing but running out of space in its own market, and seeing another fat market just sitting there, would want to reach into that market.

So hardcore PC users aren't a barrier here because they're not the market here. Hardcore PC users can keep dedicating a desk or a room to their hobby and sitting in there away from anyone else in their home. Non-hardcore (which isn't necessarily casual) want something more social and requiring less space. So long as some of those hardcore users are early adopters to create buzz they're fine.

Convincing someone like you to buy a Steambox is not their plan.

Steam is a digital storefront, what is there to "grow"? It's a god damn marketplace that has done well out of how convenient it makes it to buy PC games. Are we going to see a Origin box next? How bout a Gamer's Gate box? Some of you guys talk up Valve and Steam like they're Christ reborn. Stop it, it's ridiculous.

It's impossible to talk business with you when you fail to understand even the basic goals of a company.
"Grow" means increase revenues. Companies typically grow in a few ways:
1) Capture more of the market
2) Increase the size of the market
3) Enter a new market
4) An acquisition (that achieves one of the 3 above)

Steam can't really capture any more of the market because they're so dominant. They can really only seek to either increase the size of the market, meaning draw new people into playing the games on Steam, or enter a new market, meaning start carrying games on Steam that appeal to someone other than hardcore gamers (the type of people that tend to like their gaming most on a TV.)

So Valve is going for that route. Will it succeed? Don't know. But they need to try something, because their year over year sales are likely starting to go flat.

I also don't see how this is talking about Valve or Steam like they're Christ reborn. Nowhere in the post you quote do I compliment them or speak particularly highly. I just said they've basically exhausted how large they can grow by simply offering a PC game store that carries hardcore games.



Since they aren't a public company they don't have to live by the growth rules. It's up to them if they want more.
 
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37. Re: More Big Picture Details Jan 9, 2013, 18:30 HorrorScope
 
gray wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 07:35:
This is all a stepping stone to wearables.

There ya go, I was trying to figure it out. There is a step back performance wise, like cell phones. But they are working on wearable gaming/vr stuff. So in their mind the step back to bring the tech up is viable. We'll see.
 
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36. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 9, 2013, 17:23 RollinThundr
 
Beamer wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 16:23:
Verno wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 15:41:
StingingVelvet wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 15:38:
Verno wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 14:59:
Regardless it'll be an interesting experiment and I welcome any effort that puts the PC into other markets and spaces.

It's interesting sure, I'm just not sold the market is there to make it more relevant than an Alienware media PC advertised in the back of PC Gamer. Other than the Steam name, of course.

Customized operating system, bunch of IP to throw at it, probably a better value proposition, advertised to non-traditional markets and backed by an existing large platform, better form factor, HTPC applications, etc. It's got a better shot than the Alienware PC if nothing else. Its going to depend on a lot of factors, too many unknowns to really judge right now.

Yeah, my guess is that this is being very tightly controlled so that you just take it out of the box, plug the HDMI into one end, the power into the other, log in to Steam and that's it. No additional setup.

You can't claim that with an HTPC. Those require you to buy them, set them up, update drivers, install the software, troubleshoot, etc.

The reason HTPCs haven't taken off is few people want to bother with that. They just want something that works.
If Valve designs this in a way that it just works, and I'm guessing that's how they've spent the year or two we've been speculating about this, then they will find more success than HTPCs have.

Oh fuck, I agree with Beamer on something, a section of hell clearly froze over. I think that's the make or break for this thing, if it's plug and play and just works and is intuitive. Most people who aren't big time PC players don't want to meddle with OS setup or drivers, etc. Which is what I was trying to get out earlier in that I didn't see the point of who they were targeting as a customer base for this.
 
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35. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 9, 2013, 16:23 Beamer
 
Verno wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 15:41:
StingingVelvet wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 15:38:
Verno wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 14:59:
Regardless it'll be an interesting experiment and I welcome any effort that puts the PC into other markets and spaces.

It's interesting sure, I'm just not sold the market is there to make it more relevant than an Alienware media PC advertised in the back of PC Gamer. Other than the Steam name, of course.

Customized operating system, bunch of IP to throw at it, probably a better value proposition, advertised to non-traditional markets and backed by an existing large platform, better form factor, HTPC applications, etc. It's got a better shot than the Alienware PC if nothing else. Its going to depend on a lot of factors, too many unknowns to really judge right now.

Yeah, my guess is that this is being very tightly controlled so that you just take it out of the box, plug the HDMI into one end, the power into the other, log in to Steam and that's it. No additional setup.

You can't claim that with an HTPC. Those require you to buy them, set them up, update drivers, install the software, troubleshoot, etc.

The reason HTPCs haven't taken off is few people want to bother with that. They just want something that works.
If Valve designs this in a way that it just works, and I'm guessing that's how they've spent the year or two we've been speculating about this, then they will find more success than HTPCs have.
 
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34. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 9, 2013, 15:41 Verno
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 15:38:
Verno wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 14:59:
Regardless it'll be an interesting experiment and I welcome any effort that puts the PC into other markets and spaces.

It's interesting sure, I'm just not sold the market is there to make it more relevant than an Alienware media PC advertised in the back of PC Gamer. Other than the Steam name, of course.

Customized operating system, bunch of IP to throw at it, probably a better value proposition, advertised to non-traditional markets and backed by an existing large platform, better form factor, HTPC applications, etc. It's got a better shot than the Alienware PC if nothing else. Its going to depend on a lot of factors, too many unknowns to really judge right now.
 
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33. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 9, 2013, 15:38 StingingVelvet
 
Verno wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 14:59:
Regardless it'll be an interesting experiment and I welcome any effort that puts the PC into other markets and spaces.

It's interesting sure, I'm just not sold the market is there to make it more relevant than an Alienware media PC advertised in the back of PC Gamer. Other than the Steam name, of course.
 
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32. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 9, 2013, 15:25 Verno
 
That's the big question, it depends but they could potentially solve that problem with marketing and leveraging existing users. At least making the product gives them something to sell to a store and point to. Right now they're relying on people installing an application which is losing a bit of relevance with the casual markets and they can't depend on closed operating environments as much as they used since those platforms are trying to monetize them.

Companies have built platforms on less, Valve has a good stable of IP and solid relationships with many developers and publishers. I doubt it will ever be a massive success but who knows, they obviously see something there and they didn't get to be a billion dollar company by accident. It could even be a business statement to companies like Microsoft, a shot across the bow to let them know that they don't want to be muscled around on their future app store/OS or whatever.

Right now the desktop PC market isn't seeing any growth and other markets are. This at least gives them a foot into a different area and puts a marketable PC into non-traditional spaces. Many companies with innovative products end up stagnant because they never diversify (RIM for example), Valve if nothing else are creative thinkers who that hopefully won't happen to.

This comment was edited on Jan 9, 2013, 15:38.
 
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31. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 9, 2013, 15:21 avianflu
 

Market penetration is likely to be its Achilles heel.

Sure there's many that will want it, but sufficiently many?

 
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30. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 9, 2013, 14:59 Verno
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 14:48:
Verno wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 11:47:
The aesthetics are fine and I wouldn't be surprised if the hardware ended up as powerful or moreso than current consoles, people put up with way worse in the living room. I don't see why the OS matters either, its just how many compatible games can it deliver and that depends on what kind of weight Valve can throw around. No reason it couldn't run Windows too, some people have speculated that a higher tiered SKU might do so. If they were a smaller company I'd be dubious but they have an incredibly large customer base. HTPCs are expensive to build and the prebuilt options (Zotac, Foxconn) aren't powerful enough for the kind of gaming most want to do. It has a lot of crossover market appeal unlike the Razer thing posted in the news story below this one. If they could get external videocards (Thunderbolt, maybe in a year?) finally sorted out then this sort of thing would be ideal even.

That's all well and good but it doesn't answer the question: who is it being sold to? Console gamers will not switch to this at the same time new consoles much more powerful come out. The indie/androud lovers will go Ouya or an equivalent. PC gamers would have to install Windows and then be turned off by the lower specs and upgrade constraints.

I don't know who the audience is.

Already answered, the same people who buy gaming computers, laptops, desktops, potentially curious console people, HTPC consumers, etc. It doesn't have to sell 10 million units to be profitable either. It'll be a versatile device that can do more than just game as well, look at how many PS3s just play Netflix for example. Android is a lot more limited as a gaming machine so I don't see people automatically flocking to it either. PC gamers don't have to automatically install Windows, it all depends on how good the user experience is.

This is just a first effort too. Valve has displayed remarkable vision before and literally built a billion dollar market. Maybe they see the Windows empire coming to a close and are bridging out. Maybe they just want to put a PC in the living room because that's where the conflict in the market is. With Khronos finally pushing OpenGL back into relevance in the gaming industry we could be on the cusp of some interesting times for the PC.

Regardless it'll be an interesting experiment and I welcome any effort that puts the PC into other markets and spaces.
 
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29. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 9, 2013, 14:56 Beamer
 
StingingVelvet wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 14:48:
Verno wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 11:47:
The aesthetics are fine and I wouldn't be surprised if the hardware ended up as powerful or moreso than current consoles, people put up with way worse in the living room. I don't see why the OS matters either, its just how many compatible games can it deliver and that depends on what kind of weight Valve can throw around. No reason it couldn't run Windows too, some people have speculated that a higher tiered SKU might do so. If they were a smaller company I'd be dubious but they have an incredibly large customer base. HTPCs are expensive to build and the prebuilt options (Zotac, Foxconn) aren't powerful enough for the kind of gaming most want to do. It has a lot of crossover market appeal unlike the Razer thing posted in the news story below this one. If they could get external videocards (Thunderbolt, maybe in a year?) finally sorted out then this sort of thing would be ideal even.

That's all well and good but it doesn't answer the question: who is it being sold to? Console gamers will not switch to this at the same time new consoles much more powerful come out. The indie/androud lovers will go Ouya or an equivalent. PC gamers would have to install Windows and then be turned off by the lower specs and upgrade constraints.

I don't know who the audience is.

Valve is hoping to get more Linux development. But it's a chicken/egg thing - devs won't port to Linux if no gamer uses Linux over Windows, and no gamer will totally abandon Windows because Linux doesn't have enough ports.

So make a device that focuses on gaming and Linux. Then tell developers that they have a wide open user base just dying for games. Developers port a bit more. More people buy. More developers port a bit more. More users buy.

Or so the hope goes, but without a reason to port to Linux no one is going to port to Linux, and since virtually anyone that wants a game on Linux also has Windows, there's no reason to cater to the platform.
 
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28. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 9, 2013, 14:48 StingingVelvet
 
Verno wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 11:47:
The aesthetics are fine and I wouldn't be surprised if the hardware ended up as powerful or moreso than current consoles, people put up with way worse in the living room. I don't see why the OS matters either, its just how many compatible games can it deliver and that depends on what kind of weight Valve can throw around. No reason it couldn't run Windows too, some people have speculated that a higher tiered SKU might do so. If they were a smaller company I'd be dubious but they have an incredibly large customer base. HTPCs are expensive to build and the prebuilt options (Zotac, Foxconn) aren't powerful enough for the kind of gaming most want to do. It has a lot of crossover market appeal unlike the Razer thing posted in the news story below this one. If they could get external videocards (Thunderbolt, maybe in a year?) finally sorted out then this sort of thing would be ideal even.

That's all well and good but it doesn't answer the question: who is it being sold to? Console gamers will not switch to this at the same time new consoles much more powerful come out. The indie/androud lovers will go Ouya or an equivalent. PC gamers would have to install Windows and then be turned off by the lower specs and upgrade constraints.

I don't know who the audience is.
 
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27. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 9, 2013, 14:09 Beamer
 
Verno wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 13:52:
RollinThundr wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 13:33:
Multiple skus, Linux os, somehow I just don't see the console crowd running out and embracing what's essentially a porting of steam over to a mini PC. I get what they want to do out of this, I just don't see the overall point of it.

*bangs head against wall*

They are not selling a console, it's a PC. Valve will eventually release their own brand of pre-built gaming HTPCs, essentially. It will come with Linux because they hate Windows now, but like any PC it will be open for you to do whatever you want with it. It's a not a console vs console situation where the audience and metrics are largely the same.

People saying that they can't charge too much because it wont be able to compete with consoles, or that they have to keep it closed because they don't want to scare away developers, are looking at this from the completely wrong direction. They're building and selling a PC. This isn't intended for RollingThundr to run out and replace his gaming desktop. It's for the people who might not otherwise do it or need multiple PCs in a household. A lot of people will not build a custom PC and prebuilt desktop PCs don't bridge the same gaps a product like this will.

Yup. There's undeniably a market out there. There are people that are curious about PC games but don't want to have a gaming desktop.

Will this beat the Xbox? No, but Valve isn't looking to do that yet.
Will this replace desktop gaming? No, but Valve isn't looking to do that.
Will this sell 70 million units? No, but Valve isn't looking to do that yet.

All Valve wants is to have something that caters to people that are interested in PC gaming but don't have an interest in a gaming desktop. Some of them will be swayed by a box they can hook up to their TV that allows them to play a whole bunch of new and cheap games as well as stream movies and music. If it sells 100,000 it's a runaway success as it now has people doing TV gaming easily on Steam, and it's advanced the PC into an area that's currently console-exclusive for all but the most hardcore users.
 
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26. Re: More on Steam Hardware Jan 9, 2013, 13:52 Verno
 
RollinThundr wrote on Jan 9, 2013, 13:33:
Multiple skus, Linux os, somehow I just don't see the console crowd running out and embracing what's essentially a porting of steam over to a mini PC. I get what they want to do out of this, I just don't see the overall point of it.

*bangs head against wall*

They are not selling a console, it's a PC. Valve will eventually release their own brand of pre-built gaming HTPCs, essentially. It will come with Linux because they hate Windows now, but like any PC it will be open for you to do whatever you want with it. It's a not a console vs console situation where the audience and metrics are largely the same.

People saying that they can't charge too much because it wont be able to compete with consoles, or that they have to keep it closed because they don't want to scare away developers, are looking at this from the completely wrong direction. They're building and selling a PC. This isn't intended for RollingThundr to run out and replace his gaming desktop. It's for the people who might not otherwise do it or need multiple PCs in a household. A lot of people will not build a custom PC and prebuilt desktop PCs don't bridge the same gaps a product like this will.

This comment was edited on Jan 9, 2013, 14:01.
 
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