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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?

Apple also controls not just its devices, but the ecosystem around them. Insisting on what kind of input and output it has. Notice that there's no way to attach any kind of traditional controller to an iPad via bluetooth, even though this would make games like N.O.V.A more playable. It is suggested that this is because Apple wishes to push the touchscreen as the more modern and better, indeed only, input mechanism. We'd wager that this ethos extends this to some form of Kinnect-like arm waving and Siri-powered voice input SDK for the television, and it's possible that there'll be no kind of traditional controller for an Apple TV either - although the company can be pragmatic at times. But as with all things Apple you'll find out when it happens.

Games Developers: What will it be like working for Apple?

Apple will continue its approval process, and probably continue to be distant with its communication during development and explanations behind its reasoning. Although it's approved games like Grand Theft Auto on the app store, that game has legacy and popularity behind it. Many people don't remember just how groundbreaking and outrageous the Grand Theft Auto 3 game (which was the first to provide a 3D sandpit world of mayhem). It'd be a brave developer to drop hundreds of thousands of pounds into a new franchise that pushed the boundaries of morality, realism, and taste to the same level when facing Apple's approval process.

Apple's can be at times surprisingly liberal, and surprisingly prudish: like most high-profile companies it's particularly touchy about its public image being affected by other companies, and any public backlash (in either direction) is likely to be responded to.

It will continue with the 30 per cent agency model, which is a pretty good deal for small indie developers compared to the investment required in more traditional distribution. But the open door policy will result in the expansion of the App Store. Also, as most app developers have noticed: you can't really depend on having any kind of presence on the app store. With 650,000 other apps (and climbing) you'll need to have some kind of marketing strategy that doesn't involve 'put it on the app store and see what happens'.

There may be some alternatives. The Ouya Kickstarter project aims to create a new kind of open source console, although it's powered by Android. And services such as OnLive (which will also run on Ouya) have proved that cloud gaming can work, where games are number-crunched remotely and streamed to a low-powered local device. We sincerely doubt whether any of these approaches will really impact on Apple's (or indeed any other major player) control over the overall games market.

 

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