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What will a video games industry run by Apple look like?

Mark Hattersley | Nov. 30, 2012
Apple more or less owns the video game industry already with the iPhone, and the iPad mini is likely to take over from traditional gaming devices; and that's before the television arrives. What will an Apple controlled video games market look like?

CNN's Kevin Chou claims that "These new consoles, despite their high-profile launches, represent a rapidly decaying ecosystem This is the first wave of video game consoles that is expected to sell in fewer quantities than the generation preceding Chou claims: "The best guess, both from inside our company and from industry analysts, is the fall-off will be more than 30%. Much of the decline will be in the out years of sales, after the most loyal fans have snapped up early units."

Of course, predictions are a precarious thing. But with Nintendo posting its first ever loss last year, and Sony's Fitch rating recently downgraded to Junk; even Microsoft's Xbox division went from making $210 million in 2011 to a $229 million operating loss in 2012.

Apple made an astonishing $41.7billion profit in 2012, the tide does seem to be turning away from Japanese console manufacturers. It's easy to see how devices such as the iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone (as well as the myriad of Android-powered mobile phones) are affecting the video games industry.

Apple may not care that much for gaming, but with the App Store Apple introduced an agency system of publishing to developers, whereby it took 30 per cent of the payment in return for handling the transaction. Apple's primary interest was not games, but programs in general. The games just sort of wandered along with the social media and creative apps, and turned out to be phenomenally popular.

The first big change this introduced was lowering the barrier to entry for developers. It is far cheaper and easier to become a developer for Apple devices than for traditional consoles. Xbox and PS3 development kits, for example, are not publicly available and cost in the region of $2,000 each. Getting your game onto the Xbox and PSN stores requires developers to work closely with both Nintendo and Sony and drop thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of pounds.

Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade Team Manager Greg Canessa told IGN in an interview in 2006: "Developing a game for Xbox Live Arcade can cost a few hundred thousand dollars and take a small group of passionate game makers anywhere between 4-6 months to develop and test the title," says Canessa's overview. "Upon approval of the game concept and successful evaluation of the developer, the game creators work closely with the Arcade team on everything from game design and testing to ratings, localisation and certification.Notice the casual air that Canessa says "a few hundred thousand dollars", which to be fair is quite casual compared to the $20-$30 million that the average AAA game costs to develop.

To launch an App for iPad and iPhone you just to own any Intel Mac (it doesn't even have to be a particularly good one). The Xcode environment is a free download from the Mac App Store and submission to the iTunes App store costs you to have a developer license with Apple ($99 per year).

 

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