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How Apple Is Changing the Video Game Industry Without Even Trying


Let’s get a few things out of the way. I like video games, don’t get me wrong. I love them in any way shape and form; I am not partial to any one company. Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft- I love them all. I just don’t have much time to play them anymore. That’s the thing, the people I know and associate with along with a majority of the observable public, do not seem to have as much time to sit and play a game these days.

Casual gaming is the new thing. Yes, there will always be a place for standalone consoles for die-hard gamers, but it seems that more people are gaming on the run, and in short intervals. Layovers in the airport, shopping trips with the spouse, the waiting room at the doctor’s office- people are now gaming for short periods of time while on the run.

Now that I’ve set the scene as I see it, I’ve noticed that Apple’s devices are primarily what people are killing their time on these days. Sure, mobile phones in general are being used more and more to entertain us, but I’m noticing that Apple’s devices are leading that pack.

That leads me to my main point, and what inspired this piece- Nintendo just lowered their price for the new Nintendo 3DS. Some claim this price drop is due to the introduction of the Vita, a new handheld video game system made by Sony. I think it’s due to Apple’s encroachment into the market Nintendo used to, and largely still does, dominate.

What intrigues me the most however, is that Apple is doing this by proxy. They are simply selling a platform, the side effect of which is a penetration into the mobile gaming market. Apple did not set out to do this deliberately- that is, take on the handheld gaming market- but it sure is a nice side effect to have in their favor.

What I’m saying in a nut, and with no disrespect to other platforms, is that Apple is growing in this area, and they haven’t even tried. More and more people are turning to their smartphones for entertainment, and Apple currently holds the largest mindshare in that market. This isn’t a statement being made from the point of view of an Apple fan, this is simply the reality of things.

Now just think if Apple were to throw weight behind this idea. Granted some of Apple’s iPod touch advertisements have suggested that it is a great gaming device, but that’s really as far as they have pushed it. Developers, and in turn consumers, have decided that for them. And if that sells devices, that’s fine by Apple. But just think if they really pushed.

The Apple TV is just begging to be tapped into as well. The hardware and the software is in place, the only thing left is for Apple to flip the switch and allow developers access. If they were to do that, think of the flood of games that would arrive on a hypothetical Apple TV App Store. Then all of the sudden Apple would be in the video game console business. Plus, think of the integration that could be done with this idea. iPhones and iPod touches could be used as controllers, much like Nintendo’s just-announced Wii U console.

The amazing fact at the core of all of this, is that Apple adopted the same “console” licensing business model for their platforms, that video game console manufacturers use, and have used since the beginning. That is, you pay a royalty to Apple for the privilege to develop on their platform with their blessing (and help). It’s not like Apple really turned things on their head in the business world, to accomplish what they’ve done with iOS gaming.

Like I said in the beginning, there will always be room for the Sonys, Nintendos, and Microsofts in the market, but as our cellphones become ever more sophisticated, they will eat into other markets. Point and shoot cameras are one such market, video cameras are another. It’s just a matter of time before handheld vide gaming systems as we know them today, are swallowed up as well- and right now Apple is leading the pack.

Agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think. Leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you!

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  • jhrogersii

    Great synopsis, Alex! I totally agree with what you are saying. If Apple just did a little bit more, I think they could really twist the knife thay have already stuck in Nintendo and Sony. It really wouldn’t take a whole lot in my opinion. If Apple would just beef up GameCenter and make it would we all expected it would be at this point, open up the SDK to allow more access to third-party game controllers like the iCade and iControlPad, and make it dead easy for devs to stream their games at 720 or 1080p to the Apple TV using the new Screen Mirroring over AirPlay, then they could put the mobile gaming market in their back pocket and sit on it. If Apple really delivers on giving users high-res access to apps they already own via their small, simple, and relatively cheap Apple TV, they might end up putting pressure on the console market, too. As for GoogleTV, you can totally stick a fork in it if this happens. They seem to have abandoned the platform already.

    I have been running the iOS 5 betas on my iPad for a while now, and picked up an Apple TV recently to try out this new feature. I was disappointed at first, but after upgrading to a better router (a Netgear N600) and moving my the Apple TV to the top of my entertainment center to avoid obstructions and interference, Screen Mirroring over AirPlay works beautifully. I’ve really been pushing it, too, playing a lot of intense, fast moving games like Supersonic HD, Boost HD, Asphault 6 HD, and the new Shift 2. The mirroring works well enough now that I can watch the screen to play these games without looking at the iPad at all. Now, if more devs will follow Firemint’s lead and implement full 1080p widescreen streaming to the big screen, then I think the Apple TV might just go mainstream. We’ll see. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Apple says about this at their upcoming hardward/software reveal.

  • umm dont worry about my name

    I have to disagree, I have a 3ds and it is the best portable console I have ever purchased. Ocarina of Time is amazing in 3d, it adds a world of depth to the already deep world of Hyrule. Apple offers those shovelware games that are only fun for about 5 minutes. Nintendo on the other hand offers amazing games that are fun for hours on the go. To say Apple is threat to a company who has been around since the 1800s is ignorant (Nintendo started off as a card company in case you.didn’t know) and they’ve been making games for the almost 30 years now. Why do you think that gaming companies always copy Nintendo, because they no what they are doing. Now Zelda pushed over a million 3ds’ world wide, imagine what’s going to happen when Mario 3d land, Star Fox, Kid Icarus, Mario Mart, Luigi’s Mansion 2, Tales of the Abyss, Super Smash Bros., Resident Evil: Revelations etc. come out. Nintendo will be fine, they always get bashed by morons on the internet who think they are critics. Hell the DS got horrible reviews when it first came out, now its the pinnacle of portable gaming, imagine what the 3ds will do, it has better graphics then the Wii, and its completely innovative. Watch what happens around the holiday season and those games start getting released.