Handheld and Console Gaming is Changing, How Apple is Changing It

Apple and other mobile platforms like Android might change the big three in gaming consoles faster than people think.  Gamasutra has an article about Apple’s assault on the gaming industry.
Besides recently becoming the most popular configuration in the entire iPod lineup, the iPod Touch “has become the most popular portable game player in the world,” Jobs chimed. “The iPod Touch outsells Nintendo and Sony portable game players combined. It has over 50 percent market share for both the U.S. and worldwide.”
Small caveat is that the DS still has the most units but that will only last for a month or two more:
  • DS = 125m
  • iOS devices = 120m
  • PSP = 62m
Game sales
  • DS = 718m games sold
  • PSP = 252m
  • iOS games = 1.5B games and entertainment
But as far as devices Apple will surpass Nintendo this quarter as Apple handily beats them each month currently.
I believe that the Apple TV is also a notch in the future to console gaming, replacing the console with a thin client that can be controlled by handheld devices such as iOS devices. This may or may not happen but I think it will and it may be an Apple TV feature in the next year or two.  The Apple TV is an iOS device.
However, as Mike Capps commented to Gamasutra in our interview immediately following the event, “Right now, I can display from my iPad to my Apple TV on a big screen TV. How far away are we from ,’That’s my game console, and it’s displaying wirelessly to my television set?’ It’s not far away.”
What will that mean? What form will it take? How soon will it come? All unanswerable. But Sony, Nintendo, and even Microsoft are all officially on notice as of today.

Do consoles anchored to a TV suddenly seem like the old way?

To the argument that the Appstore is full of bad games, it is, but it is also the secret to their success.  Apple built a platform and let indies in.  Apple was very critisized about their approval process but Playstation, XBOX, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Sony PSP all have more harsh approval processes and dont’ even let indies begin developing until they approve.  The result is higher quality games on the latter devices however it is the same problem the web brought.

I think that was Nintendo and Sony’s downfall in that they didn’t jump on the downloadable store AND allow indies in.  There are lots of fart apps that come with allowing almost everything but you also get stuff like Angry Birds, Monster Dash, Real Racing, 2XL, Gameloft etc.  I’d rather let everything in and let the charts decide what is best rather than it be a closed market to indies from even trying.  But that comes with lower quality games for the most part except those standouts that might have been rejected on Nintendo or Sony platforms. 99% of the Appstore is crap but 1% is awesome, that 1% might be bigger than the quality games that make it to the PSP or DS.

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  • http://pimpelsang.ee Eero Koplimets

    Wow! Super nice figures from apple and ipod touch is not even branded as a game console. :)

  • sascha/hdrs

    So far I have encountered maybe five games on the IPhone that are actually fun to play. Two of them are Fargoal and Diamond Twister. The problem is mainly that not every game type works with a touch display. Puzzle games are good and some other games where you have direct control. But games that give you indirect control (i.e. with a drawn joypad on the screen) are downright awful to play. There are also still many extremely bland games on the iPhone. Compare Advance Wars on the DS with almost ANY of the so-called strategy games available on the iPhone! There are worlds between that. The fact that Apple sells more games doesn't prove that the game quality is better.

    • http://drawlabs.com drawcode

      Advance Wars is awesome, but that is one that could translate pretty well. I agree not all games are perfect on it but as the hardware gets better it will get better. Currently the DS and PSP are still pretty hardcore, iOS is still pretty casual. But there are some interesting hardcore titles on the horizon and stuff like Nova is pretty sweet today. Strategy games with depth is something that will have to be virtual goods based probably simply because of the market and revenue differences that you get from a DS/PSP market ($40-50) and Appstore ($10 max). The amount of time spent on depth comes down to that. I like quick games on handheld and then full immersion on PC or console.

  • borkbork

    Interesting, but I don't really think they compare that easily. Handheld consoles games have a team of developers and artists, advanced 3d graphics, soundtrack, cutscenes and so on which makes them last long and cost much as everyone involved needs to get paid. Most iPhone games are made by one person or a team of 3-4 people who mostly try to shove out loads of products to cover a large audience who buys a dollar game, plays it for some weeks and then buys another one.

    • http://drawlabs.com drawcode

      Yes true, overall the quality of games on the DS and the PSP are higher but they also gate access to their platforms. Only approved ideas even get the chance. Which makes for a nice high bar of quality. I believe that quality is in some of the Appstore games but it is a newer market and as devices get more powerful things will change. Take a look at the 'CItadel' demo by EPIC (http://kotaku.com/5627701/play-with-the-unreal-engine-on-your-iphone-with-epic-citadel) and the Rage demos by Carmack (http://kotaku.com/5611523/id-unleashes-rage-on-the-iphone). Next year or two on the Appstore for games is looking interesting. Then the flipside is that games like Monster Dash, Angry Birds, etc aren't the type of games that you'd see very often on DS or PSP simply because they are too simple but they are very fun games.

  • AppleSux

    The numbers do not do any justice. 99% of games for Apple cannot even be compared to those on a console handheld systems aka games made on any Apple handheld platform = turd. Turds have very little market price value seeing that most turds on apple are sold for less than a few dollars. It obviously says a lot about this demographic, who are not true gamers.