Last week Nat Brown, one of the founders of the Xbox team within Microsoft, said in his “ILike.Code” blog that Apple can kill the Playstation, Wii-U and xBox by introducing an open, 30%-cut app/game ecosystem for the Apple TV (the set-top box) and the rumored, Apple-branded HDTV (the “iTV”) should it ever materialize. But how about some serious Apple love for Mac gaming?
More on that in a moment.
Brown has this to say (and you can read his entire blog at http://tinyurl.com/bgqgk5t): “Apple is already a games competitor broadly, even if Apple-TV isn’t yet a game platform or a console. Mobile generally and iPad specifically have grown the total hours of game play and grown the overall game market. Only in the last 18-24mo has that overall growth turned from a segment-expanding rising tide to a tsunami swamping the console game vendor profit boats hitched to the docks. It is accelerating. Apple, if it chooses to do so, will simply kill Playstation, Wii-U and xBox by introducing an open 30%-cut app/game ecosystem for Apple-TV. I already make a lot of money on iOS – I will be the first to write apps for Apple-TV when I can, and I know I’ll make money. I would for xBox if I could and I knew I would make money. Maybe a “console-capable” Apple-TV isn’t $99, maybe it’s $199, and add another $79 for a controller. The current numbers already say a lot, even with Apple-TV not already an open console: 5.3M sold units in 2012, 90% year-over-year growth — vs. xBox 360 — about 9M units in 2012, 60% YoY decline.”
For another interesting take on Apple gaming, pick up the latest issue of “MacLife” and check out their dream virtual reality video gaming system: the iMmersion.
With the “halo effect” of the iPad and iPhone, Mac sales are increasing. But I think an Apple push for gaming on the Mac would spur them on even more. To do this, I propose two solutions, which I’ve mentioned before:
° An Apple joystick/gamepad. It could require an OS X upgrade (in OS X 10.9, perhaps?) with “hooks” by which game developers could offer support for the peripheral. This is probably a pipe dream, but I know some users are tired of having to jump through a lot of software configuration hoops to play Mac games using a joystick/gamepad rather than the keyboard and mouse.
° The GameDock (based on a concept first developed by — yep — “Mac/Life” a couple of years ago): based on the success of the iPhone/iPod touch as a gaming platform: “Take this nifty little gaming platform and assign it double duty as both a handheld and a console system. The GameDock [pictured -- in mock-up form]accommodates the iPhone and iPod touch and hooks directly to your TV and the Internet. Whether you download a game wirelessly via the handheld or wiredly via the GameDock, you pay just once for two versions of the same title.
“This is where things get interesting. When you download a game straight to your handheld, you can immediately begin playing the touch-controlled version of the game. And it’s glorious! And the next time you seat your handheld in the GameDock, the console immediately sucks down the full, expanded version of the game from the App Store, and stores it in its voluminous hard drive.
“So now you can play the console version of the very same game — with more features, more content, expanded controls, and, thanks to the GameDock’s integrated graphics processor, better visuals.
“And should you first download a game when your handheld is seated in the GameDock, the ‘mini’ version of the game shoots straight into your iPhone or touch, ready to play the next time you disengage from the console and hit the road.
“Of course, the GameDock scheme wouldn’t be quite so interesting if not for its seamless integration of content. For some game titles, the handheld version of the game exists as sort of an autonomous ‘mini game’ — its gameplay model runs independent of the console version’s. But for other titles, the handheld and console versions of the same game work together. Gameplay models obviously differ between the mobile and full versions, but each version hooks into the other in creative, novel, symbiotic ways. And through the power of syncing, your progress in level- and achievement-based games is saved and always propelled forward, regardless of which version you’re playing.”
What if, instead, Apple used the GameDock as a way to sell more Macs by offering gaming options that tie in with the iPhone and iPod touch as well as the Apple TV/iTV? In my scenario, Apple wouldn’t enter the console game wars, but would turn the Mac into Wii-like computer gaming system.
Instead of connecting to a TV — or, in addition to connecting to a TV, the GameDock would connect to a Mac (and perhaps be built into iMacs), allowing Apple computers to run the “bigger” versions of the “mini” games on the iPhone and iPod touch that “Mac|Life” suggested. The GameDock would also allow multi-touch, accelerometer-equipped game controls (made by Apple, natch) to be used with the Mac games.
Heck, let’s take it a step further. The iMmersion game system mentioned earlier could be made to work with a Mac, as well as a television set.