Could Apple Enter the Game Console Market?

Lots of rumors floating around about Apple purchasing Electronic Arts or perhaps coming out with a game console of some sort. So what if they did? What would it be like?
Well, first of all, lets differentiate between console and handheld. Apple already has a great handheld gaming device: the iPod Touch (and iPhone, too, of course). The only problem with it is the price. $229 for a Touch places it way above the $130 Nintendo DS Lite. But if you factor in the iPod and video capabilities of the Touch, it probably has more bang for the buck.
So what about a console — a device to hook into your TV and use game controllers?
Apple has something that looks like a console already — the Apple TV. But it isn’t. It just plays music and video.
But wait a minute, it does have a wireless bluetooth remote. And it does have some advanced graphics stuff in it to enable it to play back video. A Nvidia GeForce 7300 last time I checked. And it has a hard drive. And it is connected to the Internet. And you can purchase things on it. It is even high definition, which is better than we can say of the Wii.
The Apple TV has inside what it would take to me a game console, though a processor, memory and GPU boost wouldn’t hurt in a new version.
So what would it take, really, to make the Apple TV into a gaming console? Well, a software update that allowed you to purchase and run games. And a new “remote” that was a game controller.
But what about the games? Well, if Apple TV is really running Mac OS X anyway, then there are plenty of Mac/PC games available. But the PC gaming industry has been over this many times. PC games, which require a mouse, keyboard and high-resolution computer monitor just don’t work well in a console setting with a controller and TV set.
But what it does mean is that the developer community already exists for an Apple TV game console. As we saw with the iPhone, developers are ready to spring into action as long as Apple provides a way for them to get onto the device and make money.
So here’s how I think Apple will do it. First, there will be a new version of the Apple TV. Just a bump in capability, nothing to write home about. But then it will be revealed that this new Apple TV is capable of playing games. Remember when they did this with the iPod 5G?
We’ll have things like Monopoly, Scrabble, Texas Hold’em, etc. Casual games.
These first games will use the little bluetooth remote, but soon Apple will come out with a game-controller-like remote featuring accelerometers. Look for it to have fewer buttons than the Xbox and PS3 controllers, or even the Wii.
Then, after there are 20-30 games available, we’ll start to notice that some of the new ones are racing games and shooters. The little Apple TV will be shown to be comparable at least to the Wii, and perhaps the Xbox 360 in capabilities.
Then Apple will announce the Apple TV app store. Developers will be able to make games and sell them through Apple. Within a year, there will be 10 times as many games on the Apple TV as all the other consoles combined. Most will be crap. Most will be less than $5. But those crap $5 games will sell a lot of Apple TVs.
Now some people may note that developers can already make games for the Xbox and Wii. So why haven’t those consoles filled in this role? Because developers really can’t make games for them. Microsoft and Nintendo strictly control the release of new games. A small developer with little budget doesn’t stand a chance of getting on those platforms. Apple TV will stand alone and become the closest thing to an open gaming platform.
Of course, there are a lot so ifs and maybes here. But it is fun to speculate.

Comments: One Response to “Could Apple Enter the Game Console Market?”

    5/16/09 @ 12:20 pm

    WOW! That was well said.

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