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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?

But if the games market increasingly is locked into paying £5 for games, it becomes increasingly hard to charge the £50 required to get a return on that $100 million; even if the game is markedly better. And with fewer and fewer games carrying the cachet required to charge high amounts; it becomes harder to sell hardware dedicated to those games; and even harder to sell the games. Everything spins down to the indie developers working from their bedrooms.

We all heralded the revival of the cottage developer scene that iOS re-introduced into the video games market; but it's now looking to be the only viable games market. To gamers reared on big-budget classics from Gran Turismo, through to Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid, and Halo; the thought of playing Cut The Rope ad-infinitum isn't that joyous.

Without games developers you don't get games; and without games you don't sell systems. Unless people are buying them for wider reasons, such as tablets and smartphones which serve wide ranging purposes, and gaming is something else that they do.

For now, the games industry has something of a respite in that Apple really hasn't made any moves into taking over the television that their consoles are designed to be attached to. Although you can stream a game from an iPad to an Apple TV via WiFi, it rarely makes sense over just playing it on your iPad screen.

But that's likely to change at some point, probably next year. Apple is still rumoured to be making a full-scale television, which is likely to bring the App Store to the television screen. And along with it games buyers and games developers. Even if it doesn't do that, Apple only has to activate the App Store and create an SDK (Software Development Kit) for the Apple TV and there's no reason to think the App Store won't be as successful on the TV screen as it has on iOS devices and Mac computers. All it needs is an interface (if you think Microsoft ripped off the iPad with the Surface, just wait to see Apple pay it in kind with Kinnect and the Apple TV).

Even if Apple doesn't make a television, or update the Apple TV, the disruptive nature of the iPad and App Store is likely to take all the money from the next wave of traditional consoles anyway. Leaving the television to do just that, show television shows. While games are played on portable devices. And not ones made by Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft.

So what can we expect from the future of video games if Apple is the gravitational centre which all developers must spin around. Well Apple is likely to continue to enforce its process of locking down the hardware. And even though the performance of its devices is good, Apple is sure that they don't come at the expense of battery life, heat dissipation, and other factors. Great for general consumers, but there'll always be a nagging doubt that they could run twice as fast, or push twice as much power, if only Apple would create a device with half the battery life (which it won't).

 

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