Will Apple Be The Next Big Name in Gaming? (Part 3)

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Apple and Nintendo?

In our January 13 cover story we talked about the potential Apple has to make waves in this industry through an acquisition, or even a partnership, with Nintendo. Nintendo could fully concentrate on what it does best: software.

Description: Apple and Nintendo?

Meanwhile, Apple would concentrate on hardware. The unlikely pairing would both benefit from such a deal. However, with egos involved and the philosophies of the companies being so different, I wouldn’t hold my breath for such a partnership. I certainly wouldn’t hold my breath for an acquisition due to the power Nintendo still holds and the cost this would involve for Apple.

Rather than a partnership, a much more likely scenario would be heavy competition between the two companies in the coming years. According to Did That Box, Nintendo is geared towards taking mobile gaming head on with its upcoming Wii U controller. The controller resembles a tablet, but comes with buttons and a joystick on its sides. However, it can’t act independently of the console and be taken on trips, for example. This means that it isn’t a tablet or a mobile gaming competitor at all. The report from Dig That Box point out, however, that Nintendo may be trying to market it as a mobile gaming replacement.

Description: The WiiU controller is designed to counter the iPad

The WiiU controller is designed to counter the iPad

According to Dig That Box, “The WiiU controller is designed to counter the iPad. And if you have children, or know someone who does, then you understand why Nintendo is making a competitor for the iPad. Children are obsessed with smart phones and tablet computers. Specifically the Apple brand hardware.”

Will Nintendo support cheap development from independent game designers for its Wii U controller and system the way Apple does? Evidence that it may support such development exists, as Nintendo’s guru and game designer, Shigery Miyamoto, was recently heard praising Rovio and Angry Birds. He said that it was his favorite non-Nintendo game and offers innovation that Nintendo is known for among traditional gaming companies.

“What I like about Angry Birds is that it has a traditional videogame [feel] to it, but also a very creative side,” Miyamoto said. “And you can really feel that they’re having fun developing the game. That’s what I like about it.”

Apple and Valve?

Description: Apple and Valve working on a console?

Apple and Valve working on a console?

Besides Nintendo, Valve is another major software developer in the gaming world. However, Valve concentrated on PC gaming and the development of its Steam platform that allows gamers to purchase titles through digital distribution. Valve has been mentioned as a potential Apple partner over the past few months due to a rumor that turned out not to be true. A popular Apple blog claimed that Tim Cook made a trip to Valve’s headquarters in Bellevue, Washington on April 13. This led to speculation that Apple would be working with Valve on the rumored Steam Box project. This is a rumored project that aims to bring PC gaming to the living room and compete with traditional consoles as well as allow PC developers to have the ability to scale software to a base model.

However, this rumor turned out not to be true as Valve CEO and co-founder, Gabe Nevell, dismissed it. He said that he was caught off guard asking co-workers if Cook actually showed up or if anyone has seen him around the office. He also admitted that he would love to talk with Cook about gaming but unfortunately didn’t have a chance to. Despite his rebuttal of the meeting, it could still possible that it took place and that the two companies want it to stay under wraps until an announcement can be made public.

Sometimes companies dismiss claims only to reveal them as true much later. However, Nevell outright dismissed it and didn’t even allude to the meeting taking place in one way or form.


Description: App store

App store

Even if Apple never becomes a major player in the console gaming space or gaming in front of a TV set, it will continue to gain ground and position itself as a leader in mobile gaming. The company will also continue to take more market share from portable gaming systems and gather developer support. What is so attractive about the App Store in terms of gaming is the innovative spirit it brings. Developers have low up-front costs for entering this market, so creative games that would otherwise be dismissed by big publishers are constantly released. Games like Incoboto and Waking Mars really make the iDevice platform shine. The next big challenge Apple faces is to find ways to get developers to create games with bigger budgets and not just ports. For this to happen, the ecosystem will need to attract longer development times and higher-priced software demand. It seems that the freemium model is taking over, but there is room for titles that attract hardcore gamers as well. Slitherine’s recent release of a full-blown PC strategy game, Battle academy, is evidence of this and it currently costs $ 20 on the App store.

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