Gaming. Gaming is the single most important force behind current consumer technology. It is and has been the driving force behind pushing the IC envelope all these years. Super Computers being the other driving force, but they were so niche that GPU’s are now in use for Super Computing. That’s how big of a deal games are. Games are huge. Bill Gates knew it, which is why he helped push for Direct X and pretty much secured PC Gaming to Microsoft. The crazy part being that Mac’s are the closest “console” equivalent to the PC as you can get. You have an extremely limited hardware line to look at which means that it would have been much easier to develop and have your games running on Mac. But history shows us that’s not what happened. If home computing ended at browsing the Internet and work computing stopped at spreadsheets, the entire hardware makeup of today’s computer would look laughably inferior. My point is, if there was a legion of 16-24 year-olds drooling over the discovery of the higgs boson, the Large Hadron Collider would have been running since the 80’s.
“Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.” This is a great axiom. I’d like to assign an axiom of my own along these lines, “Those who underestimate gaming are condemned to obsolescence.” Which leads me to:
iPhone gaming. It’s more than that now, it’s really touch based gaming of all kinds, be it Android, iPad, WP7, WebOS, etc. However, it would be disingenuous to deny that the iPhone isn’t king of touch based gaming. There are a few handfuls of genuinely fantastic gaming experiences to be had on iOS, this despite Apple clearly indifferent to gaming. (Successful) Apple has never and will never form around anything. “They” will form around Apple. So how did the fruit company become king of touch based gaming? It is my belief that convenience and price are largely the reasons for the eruption in Cider Land. It sure as shit isn’t Steve Jobs behind this devious coup on the mobile gaming market. Let’s review shall we? Steam! Steam, the pinnacle of PC gaming puts their weight behind OSX, completely overhauled the Source engine to use OpenGL, and what does Apple do? They briefly mention it for 30 seconds during the 90 minute “Back to Mac” event held Oct 2010. That’s 5400 seconds (for those who are counting) which means Apple spent 0.0056% of the event talking about the HUGE announcement that was Steam on Mac. Literally, Tim Cook was more excited about Autodesk than Steam for Mac. Which do you think has the larger userbase? The talk for Steam
starts at 3:57 (click here).
Perhaps Apple is catering more towards iOS than OSX. To be fair, I’d like to count how much time they showed infinity blade for the iPhone but I can’t find the commercial. I know they spent more time with it there, but still my point stands. Apple is to gaming as oil is to water. The shits just don’t mix. Want more proof? How bout we search games from the Apple Store.
76 games for Mac OSX. Seventy six. I like to have an imaginary discussion between the reader of this text and myself because undoubtedly the question that should arise is, “Come on, Cary, iOS and OSX gaming are two completely different things. DirectX and Windows install base made it all but crazy for any developer to invest resources into a Mac port. Can you please stick to why Apple is indifferent to games vis-à-vis iOS?” Certainly. Steve Jobs doesn’t understand games. I don’t honestly believe any of the higher ups of Apple understand games. It’s just something that happened. They didn’t anticipate that gaming would become one of the reasons people decide between an iPhone and Android phone. What facts do I have to back up my theory? Well, if Apple really really understood gaming, they would have already knocked the nuts out of Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. Let me state that again, if Apple really understood gaming, they would be #1 in gaming.
Let’s create a hypothetical; If Apple made a gaming iPhone and made it cross compatible with Apple TV, they would have disrupted the entire gaming market. Apple TV is $100. That is an awesome price for a home console “if” you could play all the “game control” enabled apps AND AND also play those purchased apps from your hypothetical Gaming iPhone, people would already have a library they could play on the big screen. The reason Microsoft and Sony are so well suited to invade our living rooms is because of the trojan horses that is Xbox 360 and PS3.
Instead, what happened? Apple created an entirely new market of mobile gaming. They did and are doing it so well that they made Sony and Nintendo play by their tune. If nothing else, besides the staggering success that Apple has had, it’s making everyone else run in circles panicking trying to “me too” Apple. I.E. DSiware, PSP Mini’s and now WP7 “Xbox Live” (I’ll explain the quotes later). Most of the games on these services are essentially iPhone games at a higher price. They can not and will not beat Apple with these tactics. But Apple isn’t going to beat them either if they continue to just maintain the same form factor. Please understand this, yes, gaming does work well on touch based devices, but you are missing out on many genres that just can’t be properly done with touch only based hardware. (Later this week, I am doing an article on what does and doesn’t work on touch based devices) They are taking so long to actually accomplish this, if they are, that they allowed Sony to introduce a gaming Android phone, the Xperia Play. Sony is pushing forward on hardware agnostic devices playing games from Sony’s library. Sony isn’t ready to make the leap just yet. However, they are definitely testing the waters right now. There is a greater chance of Sony allowing you to play games on an Android gaming phone and also play that game through Google TV with a DualShock 3 as opposed to doing the same with iPhone and Apple TV with some type of real gaming controller (please Apple, don’t do something stupid like using an iTouch/iPad/iPhone as a game controller for Apple TV). The DualShock 3 is already bluetooth, it works with Android NOW! It is only a hop, skip and jump away from Sony making this a huge deal. And Apple is truly the only one in a proper position to combat this (unless MS wisens up). To touch back on the WP7 remark made above, the reason Apple is the only one well suited is because Microsoft is so desperate to be the iPhone that they’ve basically conceded to the touch-only form factor. Microsoft has gone on record stating that WP7 is their platform for mobile games.
Are they nuts? They could easily leverage the entire suite of XBLA games if they made a proper Xbox Phone running WP7. I don’t know about you, but how many people do you see using WP7 phones? Essentially, what Microsoft did was take there leading Xbox Live platform and dumb it down to try and compete with iOS gaming. Let me reiterate what I said above, NO ONE is going to beat Apple at touch only based gaming. Leading to Nintendo, who, as always, will just do whatever it is they do and make millions of dollars (see 3DS).
The race is officially on now, and even though Apple could have been a few miles ahead of the competition, they are just at the starting gate. Imagination Technologies is really pushing forward on their mobile GPU technology and Samsung just announced their super fast 512-bit wide mobile ram. That RAM should be able to easily feed the future monsters of the SGX series. The 543+ is looking like a great starting point for hardcore mobile gaming. I don’t really care who wins this particular race. It would be pretty cool if it were Apple, because I do like how the free market arranged prices on the App store. I’d take Android if Sony really put their muscle behind it (We all know Google won’t.) And I am a huge fan of Xbox Live and XBLA, the prices will be higher, but it would be easier to sift through the (minimal) shovelware.
Apple really could own the gaming market. It’s just too bad they have no idea that they could.