Even though Valve’s Steam Box promises a whole different approach to the console experience, Microsoft isn’t scared. When asked if he viewed Valve as a competitor in the next generation console market, Microsoft’s president of the Interactive Entertainment Business, Don Mattrick, simply replied, “No.”
This news comes from question fielded at this week’s Microsft TechForum (via The Verge). While Mattrick doesn’t consider Valve a threat, he does have a lot of respect for what they are doing. He says they are making some “innovative stuff” and are promising some amazing new experiences in the coming generation. “I love Gabe, I was there for his lifetime achievement award so it's wonderful to see what they're creating,” said Mattrick. However he went on to say, “The scale of products and things that are being brought to market are probably a little bit richer when I look at Sony, Nintendo, Apple, and Google.”
Mattrick was also asked about his opinions on third party developers. With the Steam-Box, Ouya, and even possibly the PS4 opening themselves to indie publishing, we are all wondering whether or not Microsoft will follow in step. According to Mattrick, they likely won’t and will instead stick with their current curated approach to Xbox LIVE content. “There's a certain level of technical and production competency that people have to get through because we're trying to curate great experiences,” Mattrick said. “We're trying to make sure that what exists upon our service on our system is done to a quality level and has interest for people who are likely to use it.”
Unfortunately, Microsoft’s current approach is not the best for independent content. Their approval system and price tag on patches has caused serious problems for indie games like Fez and Skullgirls. If the Steam box provides a faster, easier, and cheaper publishing process for indie studios, it may become more of a competitor than Microsoft thinks.