With Microsoft and Nintendo both hit badly by disappointing sales figures on their next-gen releases, and Sony struggling to stay afloat in a wavering handheld console market, the future of gaming seems set to change. Valve are already pioneering online gaming forward, by delivering their game library into the living room via their Steam OS and Steam Machine consoles. Major firms are also following the gaming migration to the TV screen, with Apple showing some real potential.
Nat Brown, the co-founder of Microsoft’s Xbox console, is already praising the Apple TV as a possible means to an end of console gaming. He states that this and similar platforms, such as Amazon’s Fire TV, could provide a valuable opportunity for indie and third-party developers to make money from their releases.
“Apple, if it chooses to do so, will simply kill PlayStation, Wii U and Xbox by introducing an open 30 per cent cut app/game ecosystem for Apple TV,” said Brown. “I will be the first to write apps for Apple TV when I can, and I know I’ll make money. I would for Xbox if I could and I knew I would make money.”
He added that Microsoft charges developers around $10,000 a year to publish games on its platform, alongside a difficult bureaucratic process that makes it virtually impossible for small firms to find the same success there that they could on the App Store or Google Play.
While devices like the Apple TV signals a change in home gaming trends, smartphone and tablet devices have already potentially put the final nail in the coffin for handheld gaming. Thanks to the multi-functionality of these devices, the availability of free and affordable app titles, as well as access to sites for social and online casino games, mobile gaming is beginning to threaten traditional optimised handhelds.
A recent report by research firm App Annie found that in the third quarter of 2013, the combined game revenue of the iOS App Store and Android’s Google Play were three times higher than that generated by consoles such as Nintendo’s 3DS and Sony’s PlayStation Vita. The integration of app gaming on Apple TV could therefore be hugely attractive amongst the growing mobile gaming demographic.
Despite this though, the Apple TV is not set to be a hard-core gaming console like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. All the major three hardware firms deliver core gaming capabilities, features and software that Apple is unable to compete with. In addition to this, serious gamers are unlikely to waver from platforms they have already invested in.
Having said that though, the Apple TV has a great opportunity to capture the casual gamer’s attention. With a much more accessible price tag, good graphics processing, a decent storage capability, well-designed controller and secured deals with publishers, there’s nothing to stop the Apple TV from taking off. Just as they have done with mobile gaming, to monumental success, Apple could become a major force to be reckoned with in the home gaming market.