I’m not the only person to remember the ill-fated Apple Pippin, launched in conjunction with gaming company Bandai in the mid-1990s. Yes, you might be surprised, not everything with an Apple logo on it is a success.
But quite a bit has changed since then, perhaps the most important of which is the tremendous success of the gaming side of the iPhone Application Store. How important is that? Check out the following quote from this Reuters article:
“With around 30 million devices on the market — 17 million iPhones and 13 million iPod Touches — and access to thousands of games at their slightest whim, consumers are buying and playing games by the tens of millions.”
You read that right, tens of millions of games have been downloaded – many of which were purchased – and are residing on iPhones and iPods throughout the United States and any other country where the devices are sold and supported.
When I counted, I have 45 games on my own iPhone, of which about 20% were paid, a number of which cost $9.99. I figure a total investment of perhaps $50 for games on my iPhone. I am probably not a typical iPhone user (yeah, I admit it) but still, if you just do the math, there are tens of millions of games being downloaded, representing tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars worth of transactions.
Remember, that’s in less than a year: the iPhone App Store only went live in July of 2008, so it’s been around for less than a year.
Just as one example, game developer Gameloft offers almost 30 games in the App Store and tells Reuters that it’s sold 2 million copies so far. Even at $0.99/game that’s two million dollars in revenue. Not too bad.
Nay-sayers aside, I think this demonstrates that in the handheld arena, at least, Apple’s figured out how to effectively and successfully penetrate the gaming arena.
The other piece of this puzzle is the AppleTV, rather a sleeper device. It’s not a best seller, but that’s because it remains somewhat of a one-trick pony. But what would it take for Apple to make it a digital video recorder (a DVR), slap a much bigger drive into it (the biggest you can get today is 160GB, but I’d want a 500GB drive, personally) and add Netflix, Hulu and/or Amazon video support in addition to the iTunes store, and you’ve got one heck of a great gizmo to hook up to your video sources.
AppleTV + iPhone Games = Apple PlayTV
What if this device could directly play iPhone games too? What if iPhone game developers were offered incentives to redo their graphics to support a larger HD display and resubmit them to the PlayTV store in addition to the iPhone store?
Imagine we can somehow put ’em together while retaining a focus on casual games that are primarily intended to last 10-15 minutes maximum (think of Tetris, Bejeweled, card games, simple strategy title, or something aimed at children) and you have one heck of a cool device and system, don’t you?
Better yet, by focusing on the massive and growing casual game market, this leaves Apple able to sidestep competing with the hardcore gaming platform systems (e.g., the Microsoft Xbox, the Sony Playstation-3 and the Nintendo Wii) which, after all, are also essentially one-trick ponies too.
Gamers won’t buy the PlayTV, but do we care? I would be delighted to have an all-in-one unit that offered all of the features and capabilities I list here, including a library of thousands upon thousands of fun, casual games, many of which were free and some of which were anywhere from $0.99 on up.
The market’s proven. The companies are already writing the games. The software development kit (SDK) is in the developer community. And we all have TVs, most of which are now HD-capable.
Will Apple take the plunge? I hope so. I’d buy one.