Apple and the Console Gaming Landscape

Apple_TV_2012_4

It seems even Valve boss Gabe Newell thinks Apple is a threat to the gaming market as a whole. Not just handhelds either, but the living room space as well. Specifically he said “I think Apple rolls the console guys really easily.”

I think I’ve talked about Apples path to the living room at least once here but looking back I can’t find any blogs specifically devoted to the subject. Either way I think Apple’s current ecosystem has serious potential in the living room, and that could have serious ramifications for the other competitors.

“The threat right now is that Apple has gained a huge amount of market share, and has a relatively obvious pathway towards entering the living room with their platform,” Newell said. That is, getting iOS working on a television screen, whether that be through some actual television set or a powered-up Apple TV.

I have no illusions of Apple actually making a game console. If apple actually tried — if they actually marketed and geared their current platforms a bit for core gamers with things like buttons and a higher price ceiling on software I think they could make a great gaming platform with their current ecosystem, but I don’t think they’re going to do that. I don’t even think they really have to. In fact I think they can end up making a successful “console” without even trying.

Apple took the handheld market basically by accident. They wanted iOS to be a platform where third party developers would make software for all kinds of uses, but I imagine they didn’t expect gaming to become the single biggest category. To this day their relationship with gaming has been basically noncommittal. I think that if they wanted to they could do the same thing in the living room.

All they really have to do is get iOS working well on a television set and the software developers will eventually take care of the rest. When the iPad came out iOS developers quickly started adjusting old games and developing new ones specifically for the iPad’s form factor. The same thing would probably happen with a TV device — iOS games more fit for the living room.

This would probably never draw in traditional console gamers, but I have a feeling it would suck away the mass audience. In order to get in on the mass audience pie, Microsoft and Sony created Kinect and PlayStation Move respectively along with other initiatives, so I don’t doubt they’d pull a similar imitation gambit if Apple moved into the living room.

If anything Microsoft is already poised to attempt this by turning Xbox into an app ecosystem. The Xbox 360 is sort of in the initial stages but it’s likely the next Xbox will have access to the Windows 8/RT app store — basically their equivalent to the Apple TV.

At the very least I can tell that the next console generation is gonna be full of more suitors to the living room market than ever before. Aside from the traditional three you’ve got Valve’s Steambox trying to bring PC into the living room, Ouya, and possibly Apple. We might end up seeing one of the most diverse console landscapes ever.

BULLETS:

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