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Daily Reaction: Apple – The Silent King of the Games Industry

February 7, 2013 Written by Dan Oravasaari


Gamers love to discuss who the king of the gaming industry is – Sony? Microsoft? Or Nintendo? Well, you are all wrong, it is Apple. Today, the Daily Reaction crew of Seb and Dan discuss Apple’s dominance over the gaming market, and what it really means to us core/hardcore gamers.

Dan: When everyone talks about the major competitors in the games industry, most of them only think about the ‘big three’: Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, but usually fail to realize that even if we added up all of their hardware sales, someone else would have already sold more devices. Apple have already moved more than 500 million iOS devices, all of which are capable of accessing a marketplace very similar to the one found on our favorite home console. Some may think that they are simply a hardware developer and are not very influential in the actual gaming atmosphere, but you would be mistaken – Apple recently announced that 40 billion apps have downloaded from their store, most of which are games, showing that they not only entered the gaming market, but surpassed all of the competition without many really noticing.

Even though the core market of gamers consider themselves the most influential segment, the sheer number of people who use Apple devices to play games is so high, that every developer in the industry is taking note. While a few us of us are very tuned to shifts in the industry, as we have been gaming for years or decades, this new generation is now bigger than anyone could have anticipated, and a big percentage will move onto bigger titles in the future. This is something that publishers know, and they are trying to find ways to bridge the gap between these mobile gamers and the products they initially designed for the core market. We are seeing examples of this as these IPs are being produced as mobile products, to segway between both their primary market (consoles/PC), and the mobile market. Games like Minecraft are being ported over to mobile devices, while games like Borderlands are receiving mobile spin-offs like Borderlands: Legends to carry these brands across platforms.

Currently, Apple is not really doing much outright to control the gaming segment of the market, as they really have already established a firm base for their consumers to easily and quickly purchase games with little debate. Sony and Microsoft are arguably the most prominent figures in the industry today in regards to the core audience, and Nintendo is now feeding off of their own loyal segment of the market. But all three of them are still competing over the same number of average gamers, by spending millions to reach those who have not adopted a console completely, or are still bouncing between all three. Luckily, Apple is still currently fairly immune to the worries of having to completely compete with anyone, the only real competition for them is on the Android market, but due to the over abundance of iOS devices available, most developers will be bringing their titles to Apple anyway.

Seb: It’s horrifying just how large Apple is, and how many youngsters are being brought up on a diet of just iOS games. I have an iPhone and an iPad, and they’re fun gaming devices – but they’re not satisfactory console replacers. Anyone who has properly played a console knows this, but many new gamers don’t even bother because they’ve already spent $600 on a tablet. If the rumors about a touch pad/screen on the DualShock 4 are true, then this is why. Sony wants to seem relevant to people whose mindset doesn’t associate controllers with controlling a game, and rather a touch screen.

Back when the musket was invented, bow and arrow users scoffed, saying that their weapon was more accurate, lighter, cheaper and reusable. But the musket won out. Why? Not because it was better – it was awful – but because people could learn how to use a musket really fast, while the bow required practice from childhood. We’re now seeing a flock of children taught to use the imperfect touchscreen, never even considering to look at our finely crafted bows. It doesn’t matter that our way is better.

Apple is changing gaming simply by their presence. They never set out to do it, the iPhone was simply Steve Jobs’ way of ensuring the iPod wasn’t killed off by smartphones. But now they’re mind bogglingly huge, responsible for the livelihood of thousands of developers and hosting an unrivaled array of exclusive titles every single day. This has its benefits – it’s a brilliant outlet for small developers, and many of the games are actually pretty good – but it also has its drawbacks – a huge percentage of the games are shovelware, it’s hard for developers to get noticed due to the sheer number of games, and even the good games find it hard to offer any meaningful depth. Plus, it makes it harder for Sony to convince developers to use the PSN as their platform of choice.

Apple will never get into the console business – the market is too small, the returns are too little and the effort required is too high. They already have the world’s biggest ecosystem, they don’t need to fight tooth and nail for every user. But they might indirectly get into the console business, simply with their Apple TV. The little living room box has long been rumored to be upgraded to be able to run apps and games, and recent filings suggest that might even be imminent – this could mean a small, cheap, popular device that plays all the iOS games people already own – think Ouya, but people actually buy it.

That’s why the launch of the PS4 is so important. There are too many people out there who have played iOS games but not a console game, too many people so sucked into the Apple ecosystem that they don’t even know what they’re missing. When mobiles first started gaining traction as games devices, many – including Sony – said it was great because it would entice people into the gaming world, make them go from iOS to something meatier. But the problem is, they didn’t, they stayed stationary, hopping up and down in Temple Run and never looking up to see what else there is.

The next generation of consoles needs to reinvigorate excitement in core gaming, get our youth wanting a PlayStation instead of an iPad Mini 2. The future is what we make of it and, currently, we’re making it wrong.

Do you think Apple’s mobile presence is as big of a contender as we are sure it is? Now, pick up your iPhone or Android device, and tell us that you disagree. Have you bought any games for your futuristic phone? Do you still look in amazement when you see someone pull out a flip phone? Let us know by writing in the comments, or by following us on your Twitter app at Seb and Dan.

Be sure to email DR ideas, podcast comments directly from your iOS device to DailyReaction@PlayStationLifeStyle.net.