Microsoft VP Marc Whitten Isn't Worried About Steam Machines

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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Microsoft VP Marc Whitten Isn't Worried About Steam Machines


Microsoft Corporate Vice President Marc Whitten says he's "not sweating" the looming launch of Steam Machines because they're fundamentally different than consoles.

The major players in the console wars have remained more or less constant for so long that it's hard to imagine a new player coming along and changing the balance of power. That's exactly what Valve appears threatening to do with Steam Machines, its PC-powered living room gaming gambit that's backed by partnerships with more than a dozen different manufacturers who will make rigs ranging from $500 to more than $5000 [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/131066-Steam-Machine-Prices-Range-From-499-to-6-000-for-First-Generation].

Yet while Valve has a way of making things happen, Whitten, Microsoft's chief Xbox guy, told Engadget that he doesn't feel threatened by the new kid on the block. "I personally don't know how to think about Steam Machines yet," he said. "I'm not knocking it or whatever. I continue to think that PC gaming -- the sort of uber configuration and I can change everything and I can mod -- that's an important thing and there's a lot of people that wanna do that."

But the living room is a different sort of environment, one that eliminates a lot of advantages the PC holds over consoles. "When you get into that living room environment, you don't want to spend any of your brain cells doing anything but being entertained. I don't want to work on it; I don't want to feel like I have to know how it works. I would like to be blowing things up now, or watching a thing now. That's the fundamental thing that you want to do," he continued. "I think there's space for both. I'm not sweating it."

As a long-time PC gamer, I can see where he's coming from. We've come a long way from setting IRQ jumpers and needing to know the difference between Extended and Expanded memory, but PC gaming is and always will be more demanding than playing on consoles. And while Valve initially appeared to be positioning Steam Machines as a turnkey solution for the living room -- essentially a Steam console -- everything we've seen so far indicates that they're just PCs with Steam OS installed. Maybe there's more to it than meets the eye, but maybe Whitten has a good reason not to be worried, too.

Source: Engadget [http://www.engadget.com/2014/01/10/xbox-marc-whitten-steam-machines/]


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weirdee

Swamp Weather Balloon Gas
Apr 11, 2011
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i feel like over time they're not gonna be able to claim as much due to the erosion of their own advantages...even the insular nintendo now relies on regular updates and fixes

ofc, even steam can't claim to have the best sales anymore, but even then, most of the time the other games sold lead back into the steam system anyway (since the steam system is the deepest established database besides all of the older games that crop up on classic game websites), and now that they have the leverage in virtual item marketplaces, i think their game plan is to rapidly expand on their hat economy...
 

XMark

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Jan 25, 2010
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If Steam Boxes become a thing, and every PC game ends up targeting SteamOS... Well, SteamOS is based on Linux so suddenly Linux would actually become a good option for gamers.

If Linux PCs become a viable gaming platform, then there's one less reason to use Windows (and many other reasons to use Windows are moving to web-based services or have free cross-platform alternatives). So Microsoft should fear Steam Machines, and not just for the fate of the XBone.
 

Adam Jensen_v1legacy

I never asked for this
Sep 8, 2011
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He should be worried. Valve plays the long game. It's slow, but in the end it always pays off. Like every other idea they've ever had.
 

Little Duck

Diving Space Muffin
Oct 22, 2009
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They may be more PC orientated, but these are consoles at the end of the day. You can't use word on them (without installing a new os) and they are fundamentally different yes, but not different wii u/ wii kind of way where the audience is a different arena of gaming. This is a different product in THEIR market, in the PS4, xbone zone, with the ability to be a standard same price console, but also the capacity to be whatever the end user wants it to be. Sony/microsoft are marketing these as elite gaming devices for the living room. Well here's an elite gaming device that people can choose to make as elite as possible.

Also it has 1080p. So there's that.
 

FalloutJack

Bah weep grah nah neep ninny bom
Nov 20, 2008
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Be careful there, fella. You know what they say about famous last words.
 

Little Duck

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Oct 22, 2009
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XMark said:
If Steam Boxes become a thing, and every PC game ends up targeting SteamOS... Well, SteamOS is based on Linux so suddenly Linux would actually become a good option for gamers.

If Linux PCs become a viable gaming platform, then there's one less reason to use Windows (and many other reasons to use Windows are moving to web-based services or have free cross-platform alternatives). So Microsoft should fear Steam Machines, and not just for the fate of the XBone.
I think this is a bit of a dream fantasy at the moment. Steam OS isn't a platform designed for say, doing the office presentation on. I'd suggest it might make a good dual boot, but I have a dual boot system (this message was written on a mac os with windows available on the other side) but dual booting is a pain in the arse to be convenient.

If Steam's long term goal is to take on microsoft os (I don't think it is) it'll need to be convenient. I think it's doing what it sees as the future, your games are available everywhere. Do what you want, when you want sir etc.
 

weirdee

Swamp Weather Balloon Gas
Apr 11, 2011
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final verdict: if the new generation comes up dry for most of this year (by say, making the mistake of dogpiling christmas, AGAIN), the pc's advantage of the seemingly eternal game library and range of affordable games is gonna hammer them hard

the success of the new games is basically the only thing standing between them and failure
 

Albino Boo

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Jun 14, 2010
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cursedseishi said:
Well let's see here...

Skyrim on consoles sold better on 360 than PS3.
If Steambox is capable of playing Skyrim at an equal level as the 360, BUT also includes the capability of mods. 360 loses.



See where I'm going Microsoft? Sony wiped the floor with you simply by not being complete utter idiots, and Valve is going to grind its heel into whatever else is left of the Xbox One with removing whatever else was holding an edge over it, if the Steam Boxes are affordable and equally priced.

And that little comment he makes about the "living room advantage" completely ignores what has been announced about the Steam Box. It shows just how little he actually even has paid attention to the system, and thus disrespects and underestimates it. I hope that the Steambox is competitively priced and crushes what little is left of the Xbox one, solely because of that.

And I'd say he has EVERYTHING to be worried about potential competition.
Steambox doesn't add anything that you can't already do on PC. Most graphics cards have an HDMI output so you can plug into a TV. You can plug in a USB game controller and hey presto you can do anything that the steam box can do.

The only way to play Skyrim on steamos is own a second windows PC and use that as a dedicated streaming device to play it on your steam box.
 

Sigmund Av Volsung

Hella noided
Dec 11, 2009
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Look at him, smugging it up:

"Ooh, I'm the Microsoft Corporate Vice President!"

Yeah, well I am the corporate Vice President of my desk!

And we both know which one is the swankier of the two!

#blueledsforthewin

OT: To be honest, no console manufacturer should really be all worried, Steam Machines are aimed at people on the fence of deciding to buy a next gen console, and those people are not their priority market right now.

Not to mention the fact that marketing the Steam Machines will be reasonably difficult(it's still not a brand per se) and that the electronic makeup of the machines is still a bit hazy.

Best case scenario: Valve manage to get a few customers in that will spread the word, this first generation of Steam Machines really won't do all that much to shake up the gaming climate, it's the second and third generations when things will get interesting methinks(at that point we will see how popular they are after they have had time to become established sufficiently to the average consumer).
 

Albino Boo

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weirdguy said:
final verdict: if the new generation comes up dry for most of this year (by say, making the mistake of dogpiling christmas, AGAIN), the pc's advantage of the seemingly eternal game library and range of affordable games is gonna hammer them hard

the success of the new games is basically the only thing standing between them and failure
Except you can't play very many games on steamOS. There is no money in other publishers porting their back catalogue to Linux if you have already bought the game on steam.
 

CriticalMiss

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Jan 18, 2013
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I'd love to see the Steam Machines do well and force this guy to eat his words, but I'm not really sure how big of an impact they will have. I doubt they will topple the competition but they are at least going to do better than the Ouya and if they promote Linux gaming to the point that people start a mass exodus from Windows...Microsoft should at least be a bit cautious.

Adam Jensen said:
He should be worried. Valve plays the long game. It's slow, but in the end it always pays off. Like every other idea they've ever had.
Except episodic gaming, that didn't work out as planned.
 

CriticalMiss

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Jan 18, 2013
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I'd love to see the Steam Machines do well and force this guy to eat his words, but I'm not really sure how big of an impact they will have. I doubt they will topple the competition but they are at least going to do better than the Ouya and if they promote Linux gaming to the point that people start a mass exodus from Windows...Microsoft should at least be a bit cautious.

Adam Jensen said:
He should be worried. Valve plays the long game. It's slow, but in the end it always pays off. Like every other idea they've ever had.
Except episodic gaming, that didn't work out as planned.
 

Agayek

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Oct 23, 2008
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Little Duck said:
I think this is a bit of a dream fantasy at the moment. Steam OS isn't a platform designed for say, doing the office presentation on. I'd suggest it might make a good dual boot, but I have a dual boot system (this message was written on a mac os with windows available on the other side) but dual booting is a pain in the arse to be convenient.

If Steam's long term goal is to take on microsoft os (I don't think it is) it'll need to be convenient. I think it's doing what it sees as the future, your games are available everywhere. Do what you want, when you want sir etc.
Given Gabe Newell's many and varied comments (all of which are negative, to one degree or another) about Windows and the direction Microsoft is taking it, I feel pretty safe in saying that the SteamOS was likely designed specifically to entice developers to stop making games for Windows and design for Linux instead.
 

holyshaman

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May 19, 2013
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check list

installing before playing. check.
takes about 1 min to boot up from a cold boot up. check.
modding. maybe later.
third party solutions. none.
takes 5-30sec per loading screen. check.
customizable. only some few thing.

yep consoles are almost PCs now
 

MetallicaRulez0

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Aug 27, 2008
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I still don't understand the goal of steam machines.

So you're building a rig with all the negatives of PCs... why not just build your own PC? I guarantee you'd get more use out of a custom rig than a steam machine, what with Windows OS > Steam OS, plus you can save money on parts and assembly. What am I missing? If you want a living room gaming experience, there are 2 superior solutions to this Steambox thing.

A) Custom PC hooked to your TV.
B) Console that costs about half as much and is much more convenient.

What niche are these things supposed to be filling? Right now it looks like the worst of both worlds.
 
Apr 28, 2008
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You know, 10 years ago Steam only had one game. Half Life 2. Steam was also really shitty back then.

Now? It's a juggernaut and *the* place to buy PC games.

When the Steambox launches, sure, it won't have as many games as the consoles. May not sell that great at first. But I'm wondering where it will be in 10 years. If it follows the same path as Steam... then the next Xbox and PS5 may have some very, very stiff competition.
 

Zipa

batlh bIHeghjaj.
Dec 19, 2010
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Well I can understand MS's attitude to this, its a niche market not a mass market. The majority of PC gamers are not going to bother with a Steambox as they already have one in the form of their PC. A lot of the traditional console market won't be interested as they are for the most part won't of heard of Steam or Valve.

The only people who really would be inclined to buy one are people who want to upgrade a older PC on the cheap (parts wise the Steamboxes are really good value for money) or PC people who don't have the time or the knowledge to build a PC.