Apple Entering Video Games Console Market? Not Likely.

by Aaron Wright Dec 06, 2006

Let’s be honest, there’s barely enough room in the video games console market for the three companies already present there, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, so why would Apple want to stick their noses in?

In an article recently published on Apple Insider, Prudential analyst Jesse Tortora says that there is indication via a series of checks that Apple Computer has hired video game designers and may be entering the video games [console] market. What that really means is that Apple hired a couple of guys/gals with previous games development experience to either work on future operating systems for the Macintosh platform or to develop some snazzy but rather pointless games for the iPod. And his version of “may” is actually just a premonition that Apple could have the ability to delve into the games market now that they’ve acquired a few gamer geeks.

You see if Apple did ever enter the games console market, they’d either have to do something so innovative that it puts Nintendo to shame (and I’m sorry but Nintendo are the innovators of video games and console) or lose untold amounts of money invested in the graphics whilst playing catch up to Microsoft and Sony.

At present I believe there’s only room for two console giants in the market, one of those being Nintendo with their revolutionary ways, the other place being fought out by Microsoft and Sony. SEGA were once a part of that clan where Microsoft now lay but prefer to stick to simple and boring games that were popular twenty years ago and no longer create consoles.

Apple has always been known as a hardware company, creating some of the most beautiful computer units known to humanity, if not the most beautiful. They make some pretty amazing software as well, with an award winning operating system (it has won awards, right?), but it’s the hardware that has made Apple so incredibly rich. On the other hand, it’s also known that the games console market is the complete opposite of that, with sales of every piece of hardware losing money (in order to compete you understand) whilst the giants rely on profit made from games – Halo being a huge seller for Microsoft and Final Fantasy for Sony. So how would a company such as Apple Computer fit into this?

The answer? They wouldn’t.

Why would Apple want to change what they are first and foremost about, hardware, and rely on software alone to make their money? The only way I can see them developing consoles and making money on each one sold in order to compete is to produce that console at a cheap price, which would most likely mean dirt-cheap parts. Asking Apple to produce ‘cheap’ is like asking Microsoft to develop something of quality (other than the Xbox 360); it isn’t going to happen folks.

So these game developers?

Exactly that, they’re games developers. Apple already has a ‘console’ that is both profitable and world renowned, it’s called the Macintosh and it comes in many forms. Although I personally see these developers coding some iPod games or perhaps some part of a future operating system, there’s also the possibility Apple will just create a game or two, possible for other consoles, just to see if it’s worth their while going down that route. Even then that would be going against what Apple stand for, but it’s more likely than them creating a computer console that will lose them millions of dollars.

So what’s your view? Do you think Apple would and could create a profitable computer console? Are these games developers doing exactly what I’ve just said, coding future operating systems or maybe developing a couple of iPod games? Or are they going to develop their own games to play on other computer consoles, such as the PS3 and Xbox 360?


  • They could always be thinking about developing Mac games…

    Just one insanely great Apple game could breathe a lot of life into the Mac games market. Halo did it for M$.

    Dan Ebeck had this to say on Dec 06, 2006 Posts: 23
  • Or hey, what about this… You buy a MacPDA. It runs a slim downed version of OS X, all the stuff none of the fluff. It’s a PDA, It’s a computer, it has a qwerty keyboard, and on either side it has two thumb interface keypads… Girble inside wheel turning yet? Ok, it’s got 1gb of Ram, a 20gb 1.8” drive. There’s a 2.5"x5” LCD screen that rotates the image as you rotate the device (IE: hold it like a phone and it’s long up, hold it like a PSP and it’s widescreen) or maybe it switches auto based on what app your working with.

    Ok, toss in a 3mp camera with video, a decent Lit-ion battery. Bluetooth and 802.11 as well as a firewire and dock interface ports and just for giggles a mini-dvi port.

    What would you have?

    xwiredtva had this to say on Dec 06, 2006 Posts: 172
  • An over-kill phone

    Aaron Wright had this to say on Dec 06, 2006 Posts: 104
  • The Apple brand is red hot though, at the moment. and if Apple could somehow sync any future gaming device up with the Mac, or the iPod, or feature some kind of iGames style functionality, then they could have success. The games market is having trouble sustaining a three-horce race as it is though, without another contender entering the fray. As you say, they make nice hardware, but how would they manage to entice developers and publishers to release titles on their platform? They don’t have the bottomless pockets of MS, the bullishness of Sony, or the pedigree of Nintendo. An ‘iBoy’ would undoubtedly sell millions though, if done properly.

    dr. tongue had this to say on Dec 06, 2006 Posts: 1
  • When does a phone become something else?

    When did the computer becoming a gaming portal?

    When did the portable game become a PDA?

    Apple Computer has the knowledge the ideas the creativity and imagination to bring a device like this to market. I may be talking in the future but in 1984 nobody thought GUI’s would take to heart as much as they did.

    BTW: I think all the hirings of the game developers may mean something like we are going to get a Development Platform for games tied into the Xcode IDE.

    If you want someone to use your product over others you need to make them need you. If you GIVE AWAY the tools to build applications like games and make it easy enough to use and develop you’ll find ALOT more game developers switch ships, move over and embrace the Mac platform for what it REALLY is: An outlet for creative imagination.

    xwiredtva had this to say on Dec 06, 2006 Posts: 172
  • Really? Anywhere I could learn more about this?

    Habadasher had this to say on Dec 06, 2006 Posts: 20
  • Halo for apple that is

    Habadasher had this to say on Dec 06, 2006 Posts: 20
  • I honestly could not care less about games for any platform. I seriously doubt that Apple has “making games” in mind when they hired the folks with the Open GL experience. Why would they? What real reason is there for Apple to create games? No-one’s been able to justify that. This rumor has been one of the stupidest I’ve ever seen going around.

    Aurora77 had this to say on Dec 06, 2006 Posts: 35
  • I don’t agree that Apple is a hardware company that also makes good software. I see Apple as a software company that also makes good hardware. Sure the hardware looks great (mostly) and the combined software/hardware experience benefits Apple tremendously.

    So to games - I agree it would be bad for Apple to make a big games play. A money black hole. But MS/Sony are expanding their games machines to play music, TV, & movies, whether Apple likes it or not. Apple WILL compete in that space, the question is simply “How will Apple position itself?”.

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Dec 06, 2006 Posts: 228
  • FYI: Nintendo has made money on each and every piece of hardware it’s ever sold.  That is, they don’t sell it at a loss.  I doubt the Virtual Boy made them much money, but on a per unit basis, a portion of that 179.95 USD was profit.

    And if the iTV were to be released for 300 bucks and didn’t play even the most rudementary of games, then I would be VERY disappointed.  There’s no need for killer graphics or anything, but something akin to the Wii’s virtual console where you can download SNES level games (something the iTV shoudl be capable of handling at a nice resolution if it’s capable of outputting high def video).  All they would need to do is include bluetooth in there along with the WiFi (at the suggested retail price tag of 300 bones, it shouldn’t be too hard for Apple to fit it in, heck they probably get them at a discount seeing as though every mac for the past few years comes with them) to let you play your friends with wireless controllers and even online multiplayer.

    I’ve suggested this sort of thing once or twice before, and if they were to make the games compatible with the Mac, then you could have all kinds of crazy WiFi fun.  The hardware specs for the iTV may not be cutting edge, but the only thing keeping it from being a game machine is the software and the will of Apple to allow others to develop for the platform (third party developers are what killed the Nintendo 64).

    Chicken2nite had this to say on Dec 06, 2006 Posts: 79
  • I remember back in the day my cousin was talking about Halo as an upcoming Mac Game.  Bungie, the developer that Microsoft bought out, had been developing games for the Mac platform, one of them was a FPS called Marathon.

    Meanwhile there was underground talk about a new player in the game console market, I remember reading a one page article in some game mag referring to it but withholding the name of the company, referring to it as ‘Project X’. 

    Anyways, Microsoft acquired them and had Halo be their launch title for their behemoth Xbox with the gigantic controller and two years later the game is released on the Mac platform to be used in Apple ads for the Mac Mini.

    Chicken2nite had this to say on Dec 06, 2006 Posts: 79
  • The iTV will have rudimentary, if not adequate and just a tad generation behind the PS3 and X360 in graphics quality - as far as pixel pushing is concerned. A PS2 or GameCube-level games are just fine with most gamers.

    There is no need to have a supercomputer power under the hood to have good fun games. Just look at the Nintendo Wii with its PS2.5-level hw and not even playing DVDs. It’s meant for simple and creative games.

    Just like Apple, Nintendo is a great innovator in their field of expertise. Apple in computer hardware and software design. Nintendo in gaming consoles and handhelds.

    What if Apple and Nintendo comes together as partners in the gaming arena. Apple could make the iTV a Wii compatible (via downloads, of course) and Nintendo designs the games for the Wii and iTV. Nintendo has a treasure trove of simple, classic games that are perfect for the iTV. And what of the GameCube games?

    Apple will gain from the iTV hw sales and Nintendo from game downloads. I don’t see this as negative since neither company has overlapping products.

    Will this partnership hurt the Wii as a retail product? I doubt it. The Wii is already priced well below the expected $299 to fetch the iTV.

    So there, my wishful thoughts of what the iTV should be. What do you think?

    Robomac had this to say on Dec 07, 2006 Posts: 846
  • “... to develop some snazzy but rather pointless games for the iPod…”

    It looks like Aaron Wright doesn’t like to adapt to changing technologies. iPod is a fantastic device, and for it to also play games is awasome on plane flights, and I see nothing wrong with that.

    As for Apple entering the gaming console market, this could be a possibility. But not any time soon. I’m open to bold ideas from SJ.

    domino360 had this to say on Dec 07, 2006 Posts: 2
  • In a lot of ways, a gaming console makes more sense than a phone.  The one drawback is that they’d have to rely on game developers porting/creating for yet another gaming platform. 

    I don’t see them doing it, but that sure doesn’t mean they won’t.  If they’re bothering with phones, then it seems like any product in the “gadget” market is fair game.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Dec 07, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • Hehe this is funny I just wrote about an Apple Game Console on my blog a couple of days ago. Here:

    So I was excited to hear what Aaron had to say. Actually his opinion was pretty much what I assumed people would have when I wrote my blog. In a nutshell I think it actually makes sense for Apple to make a console but they have to use another strategy than the others that leverages their current Mac market share.

    I basically argue that they use a game console as a way of increasing the number of games on the mac platform, thus grow the appeal of the whole platform itself.

    I see this as less about coming up with fancy hardware, but more about adopting a specific business model for parts of their hardware, that is loss selling hardware subsidized by game royalties.

    Erik Engheim had this to say on Dec 07, 2006 Posts: 4
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