Apple TV and the future of gaming

Apple TV and the future of gaming

Earlier this week, Nat Brown, one of the original Xbox team members at Microsoft, wrote a piece on the present and future of gaming, and Apple's potential to shape it. From iLike.code:

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.

M.G. Siegler, who has good sources on Apple, says that while he hasn't heard anything about an Apple TV SDK specifically, he does believe that something is on track for the fall. From TechCrunch:

This is all speculation, of course. But while everyone is busy focusing on the hardware, they’re looking past the obvious software advantage of anything Apple does in the living room. The 800,000 apps won’t translate directly, but in two categories in particular: video and video games, Apple is going to dominate where their rivals cannot simply because of the support of small, third-party app developers.

Just like with power users vs. empowered users, hardcore gamers would likely lament the death of the dedicated console market, but their numbers and concerns would be dwarfed by the influx of casual, mainstream gamers.

Read both posts, it really would be a "delicious twist".

Source: iLike.code, TechCrunch

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple TV and the future of gaming


The question is how Apple will make this transition as their current Apple TV has no storage capacity. Will it be streamed via airplay like Real Racing? I'm excited to what Apple will bring to the table. They don't need a dedicated gaming console but maybe release the next generation Apple TV which will storage capacity for apps? I don't know. It will be interesting to see though. Maybe it won't be the iTV that we are hoping for but a more powerful Apple TV.

I like what Ouya and GameStick are doing with Android. If Apple can make the AppleTV run a flavour of iOS, add a bluetooth game controller and give devs a simple API to access the controller then it will be good night Wii/PlayStation/Xbox. Where do I sign up!?!

Waiting with baited breath for the new ground breaking, paradigm shifting Apple TV. All I keep seeing is a black box in the store that hasn't changed in years.

Are we comparing Angry Birds to Halo? Really? Or Infinity Blade to Mass Effect?

There is no real "gaming" on iOS, none whatsoever. There is very casual gaming, supported by a touch interface that is horrible to any game but the most casual. Apple and the media in general are desperately trying to position iDevices as "gaming" devices and they are not, they are casual gaming devices, which is a completely different animal.

iOS is not a gaming OS, the devices lack computing power and storage to run anything that resembles real gaming, like Skyrim, Call of Duty, Far Cry or Assassins Creed. No one will want to fire up a 50" TV for a session of "Where's My Water".

Apple TV lacks storage and computing power. If Apple plans to run anything different than Fruit Ninja on it, they better came out with a REAL overhaul, otherwise this is moot. And if Apple does that, it will be building a console just like the PSP and the XBox, not a crippled streamer like the current Apple TV.

Exactly! This is what MG and everyone else seems to be missing. Gaming on iOS or Android devices is fine if you're talking about casual fare like The Room or Fruit Ninja/Angry Birds and yet developers keep filling up the App Store with games that have on screen virtual joysticks which are terrible to use and quite frankly embarrassing. Also no iOS device has anywhere near the horsepower to run a real game like Mass Effect or Battlefield and the notion of running a real Call of Duty game on the current Apple TV is laughable at best, ignorant at worst.

The basic premise is:

The market for casual gamers is much larger than the market for "real" FPS games.

Apple's app store business model is so much better than the current game console model that'll it'll sweep away that old game console model through shear force of ease of use, which enables more games and more money for everyone involved. It's a pretty big network effect.

Apple is perceived to be following a yearly hardware upgrade cadence. Current A6 SoCs may not be competitive to 5 year old game consoles, but just wait a year or two. Two years from now, an Apple SoC could have 4x the CPU and 4x the GPU. This is another thing that can obviate the game console business model where there's one hardware update every 5-8 years. So, even if those big FPS games aren't there at the beginning, they will come as the hardware is improving at 2x rate or so, and will be able to support those FPS games.

So, yeah, that's why all these game console folks think Apple could disrupt the current game console market if they so choose. I think Apple is hesitant because it's really a smallish niche and simply won't be as profitable as smartphones and tablets.

I don't think the market for casual gamers, people that expect free games or $0.99 games can be compared to the real games market, where people routinely pay $50 for a good game. It is a multibillion dollar industry that passed the "casual" phase about two decades ago.

Apple app store business model is better for Apple, who takes 30% of everything for doing nothing, not for gaming companies or developers. This model will not last for long, the whole gaming industry will not roll over like the music industry, RIP.

Apple chips are low power ARM based processors, they will never compete with dedicated processors like the ones used on the PS3. The architecture is completely different, geared towards different objectives. It is not a matter of a year or two, it would need a shift from mobile back to desktop. Let's remember that Moore's Law is broken and processor power is not advancing like it did in the past.

If Apple disrupts this industry based on its marketing force, what we will see is the death of gaming as we know. Apple cannot provide an environment with the power of a PC or console, so those games will die off and we will have the Age of Angry Birds.

I agree with you but I don't feel it would be such a bad thing even if Apple did attempt to do this anyways since I feel the people who enjoy the casual games the most are not the people who go out and buy a console so I don't see it changing the minds of people who are already part of this niche. I see Apple as a bigger threat to Nintendo since it normally targets younger generation players and has different graphics which would be easier to imitate on iOS and portable gaming devices like the Vita and 3DS since for the most part they are less powerful or capable than the console counter-part. At the moment I don't see the need for Sony or Microsoft to worry but if Apple did attempt this and it started gaining tracting and more power then they would need to accomodate Apple into their worries.

Each device adds processing power. Think about how the AppleTV, with it's A5-A6-A7 processors, maybe even dual, co-powered by your iOS device(s). I'd imagine some processing would be done on the TV and some done on the device, now to me that smells like a solution to the whole notion that an AppleTV cannot power higher quality games.

Nintendo's Wii U gamepad (tablet) drops framerates in half when a second gamepad is added/used at the same time. I doubt we'll see the same happen since iOS devices have gotten beefier each cycle.

I don't think the AppleTV could power any higher quality games because even through processor iteration cycles it would take it much longer to catch up to the current gen(kinda past) without requiring a pretty large jump in price. I also see the processor iteration cycle as a problem because games would be developed for the current generation (at least the better games) and if that changes every year then the consoles (or AppleTV in this case) would become outdated. So the combination of higher price and the consoles becoming outdated quicker would simply not work. This is of course assuming that Apple would do the same thing with the consoles that it does to most of their other devices. The reason that game consoles don't have updated specs every year is because they shouldn't. If they did people would be less willing to purchase a console since games made for it would be obsolete the next time and it would make it more difficult for game designers to make sure their product reaches as many people as possible. It would be similar to the fragmentation seen on android in a way. The only way Apple could actually give competition against Sony and Microsoft is if they made an actual console not an upgraded AppleTV or any kind of version of it.

So long story short, no the AppleTV could not power higher quality games without reaching the cost of an actual console and it would be a bad choice because it would cause fragmentation with its yearly or semi-yearly update cycle.

I don't think the living room has ever been the real domain of the hardcore gamer. If anything, Apple TV gaming would simply polarize that more- simple gaming in the living room, hardcore gaming on an amped up PC.

I think it depends on what kind of hardcore gamer were looking at. There are those that I would call devoted hardcore gamers who have a gaming desktop or laptop and regular hardcore gamers who play on consoles by choise or due to monetary constraints. Each have their pros and cons but I see what you meant with your post. Im assuming they were referring to the second type of hardcore gamer I mentioned.

"Hardcore" gamers....1 of the only groups that can rival phone OS "fanboys" in terms of overestimating their importance & also providing laughs for the rest of us

Except that "Hardcore Gamers" are a dying breed. The whole world is rapidly becoming "Apple Fanboys."

Huge difference.

There are many hardcore gamers who may enjoy time-killers like CutTheRope and AngryBirds, but when it comes to REAL gaming they still stick to actual console and physical controllers.