Mirror, Mirror

The home console market faces plenty of threats, but iOS isn't one of them

With Apple's iOS 5 off to a flying start - already installed on around one-third of devices capable of supporting it, according to figures released this week - pundits have been lining up to predict that the new software, along with the recently launched iPhone 4S, is the herald of the demise of the home console. Apple's new approach puts the writing on the wall for Sony and Microsoft; it's an arrow in the heart for Nintendo. Anyone still developing for those obsolete home console systems might as well pack up and go home.

The culprit for this hyperbole? A feature called Airplay Mirroring, initially available only on the iPad 2 but now rolled out as a core feature of iOS 5 and seemingly confirmed as basic functionality of future iOS devices, starting with the iPhone 4S. What it does is straightforward enough - hooking up to an Apple TV device connected to your living room television, it allows you to use the television as an external display.

The uses of this for gaming are fairly obvious, although no developer has yet managed to create anything remotely like a killer app for the functionality. Essentially, though, it's not a million miles away from what Nintendo is aiming for with the Wii U - a touchscreen device serving as controller for what's happening on screen. Given that iOS devices pack a touchscreen, an accelerometer, a microphone, a camera and a speaker as default, that's a fairly flexible controller - albeit still one lacking any buttons or sticks, of course. Moreover, the graphical fidelity of devices like the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2, while not quite challenging the HD consoles, is certainly in the same ball-park right now.

High-end iDevices start out at 16GB of storage, which isn't much more than the space being taken up by a single large game on PS3 or Xbox 360 right now.

So that's it, then? Game over for consoles? Just come home, collapse into the sofa, pull out your phone and start gaming on your HDTV?

Honestly, I don't buy that for a second. Airplay Mirroring is a nice feature, certainly, but it's primarily designed to allow people to show off photographs or watch movies on their televisions - and that's where it will excel. The concept of this replacing or even challenging the established markets of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo in gaming, however, is extremely far-fetched.

There are lots of problems with the idea of users turning to Airplay Mirroring games as a key part of their gaming diet. As mentioned above, there are no buttons or sticks on the device, making it into a fairly tricky sell as a controller for games where you're not actually looking at the screen you're touching. The distinct lack of major gaming franchises on the device is another problem, as is the question of storage - high-end iDevices start out at 16GB of storage, which isn't much more than the space being taken up by a single large game on PS3 or Xbox 360 right now. Then there's the basic question of assuming that your audience owns an Apple TV, a device which Steve Jobs himself described as being "just a hobby" for the company and which has largely failed to capture consumer imagination, or market share.

Ah, you may say, but this isn't about traditional games! It's about expanding the world of iOS games onto the living room television, not about moving existing console epics onto iOS. The assumption is that if you start crafting iOS games for the living room, they'll somehow bring with them the development economics, size-conscious approach and innovative control systems which have characterised successful iOS projects so far.

Yet this is an enormous leap of faith. The reality is that when you move a gaming experience onto a 40-inch television, you change the expectations of the player. It's not all about graphical fidelity, of course, but if we're going to talk in terms of home consoles being threatened by iOS, I think that the idea that players are going to accept a sharp drop in the amount of content and graphical quality of their games is one which requires a body of evidence rather than just some unsupported claims. It's easy to forget, in all the excitement around the success of iOS titles and freemium games, that there is still a vast amount of money being made from tens of millions of sales of big, expensively made games - the likes of which iOS simply can't support right now.

Herein lies the basic problem with almost any claim that the console business is under threat from some new source. The console audience right now is made up of somewhere between 50 and 100 million players who enjoy the kind of content and experiences they get from existing games consoles. If something is going to replace consoles, it needs to offer the possibility of replicating those experiences - or at least the most important aspects of them. Right now, iOS doesn't do that - and nor do the social game platforms so beloved of investors right now.

As for Apple? Right now, Apple doesn't really have a living room strategy.

If what we're actually talking about with regard to Airplay Mirroring is the potential to move iOS-style game experiences onto the living room TV, then fine - that'll undoubtedly create a nice little niche market for a handful of developers to exploit. But threatening consoles, really? Bear in mind that what we're talking about here is an audience of people who have bought a big HDTV for their living room, bought an Apple TV streaming device to go with it, invested in an iPhone 4S or iPad 2, have a WiFi router and the technical nous required to link all of these devices together - but then for whatever reason, don't want to spend an extra £150 or so on a games console, and decide to play iOS games on their telly instead. Do these people exist? Honestly?

None of this is to say that the traditional console business isn't under pressure right now - it absolutely is. The stagnation of the market, which is stubbornly failing to grow past the scale it reached in the PS2 era, is making it harder and harder to justify rising development budgets, and will pile the pressure on even further when we move to a new generation of hardware. Emerging platforms, although mostly focused on opening up new audiences rather than cannibalising the core gamer demographic, are applying serious downward price pressures to games, and the platform holders' inflexible business models are going to make it hard for game creators to experiment with new ways to pay the bills - all the exciting work in that field is happening on PC and mobile devices.

Those pressures aren't going to go away, and need to be square addressed by platform holders, publishers and developers alike. The console business must evolve to survive - this much is clear. Airplay Mirroring and the prospect of people replacing their Xbox with an iPhone, though, are the least of its concerns.

As for Apple? Right now, Apple doesn't really have a living room strategy. Its interest in the home console market is marginal at best - the real prize would be to do to living room entertainment and cable/satellite network dominance what iPhone did to the mobile phone market, and it's almost certain that the company will make an effort to do that at some point in the coming years. Then, perhaps, home consoles will be in Apple's sights. For now, the console business should stop looking over its shoulder at what Apple's doing, and start worrying about the real problems confronting it in the short term instead.

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Latest comments (34)

IPAD3 + viable strategy from apple may help change this prospect into entering the home entertainment system. Even if its not a direct contender into the big 3 consoles, it is still enough to take a small slice + its own niche IOS market, that is a combined nice revenue in all + powerful clout
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James Boulton Owner, Retro HQ Ltd8 years ago
Consoles will always be the home to the greatest audiovisual experiences money can buy (apart from high-end PC's, of course), and I don't think that's going to change. Mobile devices will always be the underdog in terms of processing power and graphical prowess -- banging on about the latest and greatest mobile devices being in the "same ball-park" as a 6 year old console doesn't really impress me.

I can certainly see consoles evolving into more general purpose devices, more like a console with app-store and wireless keyboard etc..., but it will be a long time before mobile devices can remotely compete in high end gaming.

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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 8 years ago
Well, iOS devices still have a way to go to get anywhere near the graphical power of consoles. Even Sony says the Vita should not be considered anywhere near as powerful as a PS3, and it's twice the power or more of the latest iPad.

The controller issue is solvable: sell a Bluetooth controller just like the PS3 uses. Unfortunately, unless they can get the price down well below the $50 Sony charges for their controllers, that might be a bit much for the iPad users to swallow.

But the real problem is the games. What's going to make it economical to develop on the iPad the kind of big games that console players like?
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Show all comments (34)
Jonathan Withey Producer 8 years ago
It opens up possibilities, but it sounds like the Apple TV requirement is the limiting factor here.

If I could connect my smart-phone to the TV with a cheap (and long) cable or similar, see the game world on TV, and the virtual controls on my would be a fairly decent approximation of a super-scale DS. Add in the social and game network support...

Potential rather than a definitive win.
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Keith Andrew Freelance Journalist, Keith Andrew Media8 years ago
I see AirPlay Mirroring as a first step towards an Apple assault on the living room, rather than a direct challenge to consoles here and now.

To think Apple won't make the move eventually, however, is daft. It's coming. (Although that doesn't mean Apple will succeed.)
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Gary Lucero QA Analyst, Senior 8 years ago
Not only do you have to have an Apple TV but the apps you want to mirror need to support it. Right now only a handful do. I'm not sure why Apple didn't just let developers have that for free, although one would hope it's not hard to implement.

If it was available to all apps, I might buy an Apple TV just so I could game on my iPod touch without having to squint or wear reading glasses! But the truth is my Xbox 360 provides great gaming experiences in the den and the iPod touch gives me the same the rest of the time.
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Jason Avent Studio Head / Creative Director, TT Games Publishing8 years ago
This generation, compared with Sony and MS, The Nintendo Wii won. It was a much less powerful console and it took over half the market for what? Four years or something?

iOS could take Nintendo Wii's space in your lounge.

What's more with annual iteration of hardware, these devices get better quicker so if the Wii-style space is taken first, then more sophisticated gamers can be brought in as the hardware becomes more powerful.
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Jed Ashforth Senior Game Designer, Immersive Technology Group, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe8 years ago
And while you're watching that movie and playing that game, what the hell do you fiddle with? Your phone. How will you do that then if your phone is running the game?
If you need to take or make a phone call while you're playing, how do you that?
If you want to look up GameFAQs or mssg your mate... how will you do that?

It's a minor step forward - you've been able to output from an iOS device to a TV for years with Apple Component AV Cable or the Apple Composite AV Cable, for example.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jed Ashforth on 21st October 2011 2:58pm

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Harrison Smith Studying Games and Graphics Programming, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology8 years ago
This whole Airplay thing is something that is going to be made bigger and more possible, but not from apple but from Microsoft. While the Ipad as dominated the tablet market, I have strong feelings that Windows 8 could be even bigger just because of the fact that it has fully functioning windows below a slick user friendly design. MS are building there ecosystem like SONY has basically done with Apple and next generation will see SONY and MS further combine there new consoles into that ecosystem with much more functionality. That functionality is left to be desired but this could open new ways for game developers to use this ecosystem to enhance the experience which is exciting. But overall I dont see Apple and IOS the death of consoles, no, everyone can see that Browsers and Cloud are the death of consoles, while there is still a place for physical media, what about todays generation growing up with digital distribution on there phones, soon there need for disks wouldn't be and the uptake of cloud and browser will grow, by most likely from the hands of MS, Amazon and Google, all major software corporations, all investing big into cloud and will use there vast wealth to teach the current market and dominate over the smaller places who are building the foundations.
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Wont Sony PS4 + Sony TVs + peripherals be a more complete ecology in comparison? whilst being open to other inputs as well?
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Eric Boosman Creative Director, Dark Tonic8 years ago
with talented artists, the newer iOS devices can definitely rival the Wii in graphics quality, and will likewise easily be able to rival the WiiU when it's out.

With creative designers, the control method isn't a hindrance at all. You have full accelerometer control, with the advantage that you don't have to look at the handheld screen. You can use full edges of the device as control/button areas and don't have to worry about your hands blocking the screen.

And then you have the additionally awesome benefit of being able to take the game with you, possibly having a different experience when it's not connected to the display (could be more mini games, inventory control, collection/trophy case stuff, etc.) The sky is totally the limit. I look at this idea as being a continuation of the Dreamcast's VMU, which was awesome in being able to take a little Sonic Adventure Chao pet along away from the core game.

You devs who think this won't happen, just keep thinking that. We'll be happy to have less competition. My company for sure is going to exploit this for all that it's worth, and as Keith says, to think Apple won't pursue this is daft.
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John Blackburne Programmers 8 years ago
I don't think Apple's living room strategy (which I think they have) is based on the iPad and Airplay. Rather it's based on the Apple TV. It's notable how close that is to a home console: it doesn't have a [Blu-Ray] disk drive but the next Xbox and Playstation consoles might not either. Apart from that it's lacking a controller and the ability to play games, both of which could be fixed probably with a software update and trivially with a hardware refresh. It's iOS so will be easy to develop for and comes with a ready distribution channel: no need to win over retailers. It of course will still play films and TV content from the App Store.
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Chris Paton8 years ago
This is all assuming Sony and Microsoft sit on the fence and do nothing. I am a little surprised as to the lack of BRAVIA sync on the PS3, though this may be a hardware issue...

I completely respect Apple as an innovator (their track record so far says it all), but these innovations are hardly nails in the home console market. Swaying all those loyal Xbox and PS fans may take longer than they'd expect. Still, with the expected growth in the gaming market over the next few years, there'll be new pies cropping up for everyone to get a fair slice of.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Chris Paton on 21st October 2011 3:53pm

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Daniel Hinkles Management/Design 8 years ago
"requires a body of evidence"

The Wii was the less powerful machine it took the market by storm, the PS2 was less superior to the xbox it destroyed it (and interestingly enough since the 360's launch, the PS2 has still sold more copies in that same time period). The N64 was 64 vs 32 and the Ps1 whooped it. I'll agree that power is not the only factor in either of those battles but it's not the only factor here either. I don't know much about the DS vs PSP but I'd assume that the DS doesn't have the same kind of specs but is the clear dominator in that space.

Then of course there's Facebook which clearly has more gamers than all the console makers put together despite the games being incredibly crap and with no graphics.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Daniel Hinkles on 21st October 2011 3:59pm

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Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief8 years ago
Two comments:
1) You don't need all gamers to stop buying consoles. You just need *enough* to make the razor/razor blade strategy stop working. I haven't yet worked out how many that is - 20%, 30%, 40%? A small enough percentage that I am worried not by wholesale replacement of the role of the console, but by death-by-a-thousand cuts.

@Curt: the cost of developing a game is only about a quarter of the cost of bringing it to market. Plus the "fire and forget" mentality makes initial dev costs much higher than they need to be. I expect it would be quite easy to fund high quality games like that iPad. We've already seen Infinity Blade and Dark Meadow. Expect more of them.
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Stuart Radforth8 years ago
Whilst I agree there are some valid arguments in the article, I disagree with the overall finding that iOS (and other phones) will not be direct competitors for consoles.

- Did I buy the X360 for the asthetics of having a box sitting in my living room? No.

- When my X360 blows up, will I want to replace it now I enjoy games on my iPad? Urm. No

- Is the graphical quality between new iOS devices and X360 that different to give better game play? No.
(I've programmed for both high end consoles and & iOS so without talking specifics it's just my personal view that there is very little graphically that significantly improves gameplay anymore.)

- Is a DVD really required for a game? No! Take a look at google earth, that's an order of magnitude bigger than any DVD/BluRay and runs on most smartphones. Having enough local memory and a fast internet connection is all that's required AND it is in the interest of game developers/publishers to shift to this approach as it stops illegal copies popping up or the 2nd hand market.

- Will it annoy me I can't play with my phone and my kids play the games? Yes. Solution, I'll buy each of my kids their own phone so they don't argue and I still have mine.

So is it the end of living room consoles? They've co-existed with high end PCs for a long time which is surprising but dedicated games machines have a very elegant controller and instant 'in' to the game by just turning it on with a disk in. Now however my iPad boots up and plays an amazing racing game far faster than my X360 can!

Will it reduce people buying these consoles in future? My hunch is yes, imagine if Apple insist in their TRCs that developers have to have bluetooth controller compatibility and TV out enabled for future games, suddenly we have a true games console that is a DIRECT competitor to console machines!

Will publishers stop adopting these consoles? That's the killer question for consoles, right now phone games are not yet the revenue generators compared to disk based games so only small indies and co-developed projects are appearing on the phones while everyone is testing the water but the surge of change is happening and our industry about to enter another exciting era.
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Joe Van Den Heuvel President, CloakWorks8 years ago
Mobile processing power has been increasing faster than Moore's Law, and has only been held back by the need for power efficiency. If you have a dock, this limitation goes away. Imagine your phone in a doc that provides power, an HDMI connection to the TV, additional control mechanisms (wireless button-based controllers, Kinect, etc), wired ethernet, and an external hard drive. When docked the phone can enable more power-hungry processors (NVidia's Kal-El, anyone?). Now the phone is a console that you can take with you. One device to rule them all.

I think the company in a better position than Apple to execute this strategy is Microsoft. They too have a mobile OS product, they are already merging the interfaces between Windows Phone and Xbox 360, they already have Xbox Live on both, they have an established presence in the console business, and a back-catalog of AAA HD games that can be available for the new platform via emulation.

Play Skyrim at home on the big screen, and craft potions, weapons, armor and spells for the same character while on the road? Yes please.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game8 years ago
"Imagine your phone in a doc that provides power, an HDMI connection to the TV, additional control mechanisms (wireless button-based controllers, Kinect, etc), wired ethernet, and an external hard drive. When docked the phone can enable more power-hungry processors (NVidia's Kal-El, anyone?). Now the phone is a console that you can take with you. One device to rule them all. "

Will you be able to cool it enough though? Where are you going to put the fan?
What about the people who need to wait for it to hit 200 before they can consider it? What about the fact that rapid iteration means a lower userbase has the newest model, whereas every Playstation 3 plays Playstation 3 games, but the iPad 1 won't play iPad 3 games in less than 2 years after release.

"They've co-existed with high end PCs for a long time which is surprising"
No it's not, most people can't afford a high end PC, plus the required funds to keep it current.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Andrew Goodchild on 21st October 2011 8:11pm

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Jon Greenberg Graphics Engine Lead, WB Games8 years ago
Anyone arguing that the Wii succeeded despite being a weaker console - that's because of three factors: 1) Nintendo branding - it's the only place you could get Mario, Zelda, etc. 2) Novelty of interface, 3) Wii Fit.... and last but not least, PRICE. The Wii was cheaper out of the gate by a huge margin.
It's quite possible an iPad-ish console could catch on... but there are a bunch of obvious killer problems:
a) couch multiplayer is a non-starter. Party games are non-starters.
b) without an alternate controller, the iPad suffers from a lot (but not all) of the control precision issues the WiiMote. Hardcore games usually require a lot of precision, as precision determines skill. Good luck stealing the hardcore away from consoles. Couple that with the fact that you can feel the controls on a traditional controller, whereas you have to "remember" the controls if you're watching a game on a TV, and I don't see this going well.
c) video game controllers are built around ergo-torture and constant abuse. I'm curious how long an iPad can hold up to that kind of intense gaming abuse day after day that a simple plastic controller can. Heck, do the ergonomics even make sense for extensive intense use?
d) Apple is revving the hardware too frequently, which will cause massive market fragmentation. The simple fact is your average consumer can't afford to absorb that kind of hit every 2 years. Having to support the iPad 2 and the iPad 5 at the same time isn't going to be terribly fun as a dev either. The iPad cycle seems almost as bad as the GPU one has traditionally been
e) so far, no killer apps that justify it as a must-have console replacement.

I realize a lot of people love Apple and want them to control the world, but there's really no reason to assume (just yet) that's going to happen.
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Tony Johns8 years ago
Nothing beats having a console in your living room, perferably multiple consoles from multiple formats and generations.

There are allot of things that iPhones and iPads can do, even PCs have some advantages.

But there is nothing more awesome than having just to sit in your couch and kick back to play a home console and enjoy the experience of opening a door to another world.

And the challenge for consoles, is that all 3 need to survive the next hardware generation in an ever changing market. And it is not Apple who the big 3 need to worry about.

Because is Steam gets the ability to be played on the HDTVs, THAT is when the console business might be on shaky ground.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
I don't really get it..

Why compete against home consoles solely with a tablet if with a tablet at all? All Apple need to do (and they could virtually do this tomorrow) is make a new version of Apple TV, beef it up, give it a new name and the IOS platform..

I think we should look at how Apple can threaten the console market by bringing the iPhone/iTunes business model to the living room with their own box. The huge brand will easily attract developer support and there is huge potential for user generated content using similar tools to their existing devices.

Mirroring is a joke compared to what Apple could potentially do as soon as next year if they so desired.
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Reilly Davis8 years ago
i could see apple doing a merger with microsoft to get in on the market, lets face it they have had dealings in the past.

Apple on its own i dont think it would survive, the console market is far more competitive then the mobile market, and IMO apple isnt even doing that great in the mobile market, 1 in 3 people i know have and love their android phones.

Its an interesting development however, and i look forward to see what comes of it.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago

That's what I used to think, but we shouldn't forget just how powerful Apple have become. They're one of the top consumer electronics companies and have even exceeded Microsoft in value, profit and the strength of their brand in consumer electronics.

I don't know any other company that could release an iPlay/Hub/Box or whatever name tomorrow and likely sell it as fast as their latest phone has. We shouldn't forget either that actually, there is more competition in mobile and less in the closed platform business. There are only three platforms in home consoles, in mobile you have at least 5 manufacturers already way above Apple in their market share along with other competitors and rival software platforms. 5 billion phones, less than half a billion gaming devices including portables and the age old PS2..

There is a lot of potential in the console market, especially as Nintendo are doing their own thing (and missing some changes in the market) and Sony and Microsoft are looking increasingly similar with their COD machines.. Not dissing the platforms as there is a lot more to them than that and I love them especially PS3. But Apple have the unique position of a digital only distribution model that has been proven, a huge development community that the rest lack and of course their own credentials in consumer electronics. Apple could make a much smarter, more flexible box than what you see in PS3 and 360,, use it to converge their existing iOS products and ecosystem and go on to rake in even more profits.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game8 years ago
@Adam Campbell
"They're one of the top consumer electronics companies and have even exceeded Microsoft in value, profit and the strength of their brand in consumer electronics. "
The value, at least in Market Cap, but they have not exceeded them in profit by a long shot. The reason their market cap is so high is potential for growth, for instance Microsoft have over 90% of the home computer OS share, Apple have 4%, so Apple could conceivably triple their share with 5 years, which isn't numerically possible for MS.

Apple are also doing well in growing markets, like tablets and smartphones, whereas computer usage is not growing by much. So Apple's Market cap isn't because they are bigger than MS, but because next year they will likely have grown more than MS.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew Goodchild on 22nd October 2011 6:29pm

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Konstantin Weckerle Games/Level Designers 8 years ago
Platformproviders will structure their platforms around the four main pillars of the consumer device market of the future: Smartphone, Tablet , Noteboook/Desktop and TV. Apple is successful in the first three but is still lacking in TV. How to get there? They already have Apple TV. They use roughly the same Hardware than in the other IOS devices with absolut minimalist design to gain advantage of economy of scale and material costs -> very cheap. Think Apple TV for 100-150 Dollars that contains the hardware of next years iPad and is HD capable and Appenabled. The only thing missing is a powerful controller solution. Now imagine next years Apple TV + iController for around 200 Dollars. Box and Controller can be bought seperatle and refresh cycle is one year. Casual gamers will love that. Next thing is the TV itself. The trend now is to put computerhardware and software inside the TV. But TV has long refresh cycle and computers have short refresh cycle. Thats a big problem as long as the computing hardware is inside the TV. But if you already have the Apple TV box+controller why not go the other way and just kick everything out of the TV, even the setting controls can be removed because you can copntrol them via the Box. This way Apple can make a cheap TV and combine long with short release cycle.
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Antony Johnston Writer & Narrative Designer 8 years ago
@Andrew, unfortunately those are old myths and no longer true.

Last quarter, Apple made $1billion more profit than MS (though MS made their profit on proportionately less revenue), and their PC market share is now around 13% due to the massive shift to laptops by consumers that is still ongoing. That's still a long way off from MS, no doubt, but the constant refrain of Apple's single-digit market share hasn't been true for a long while.
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Antony Johnston Writer & Narrative Designer 8 years ago
And in re the article, I agree that AirPlay isn't a direct threat to consoles, but the rise of iOS in general as a gaming platform is certainly significant. I fully expect to see AppleTV gain access to the App Store within a year or so, which could be a very big disruptor.
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In a militaristic analogy, this would represent a wedge approach, applying a tiny fraturous force multiplier, and thus establishing a beachhead from which to lob and launch sustained ongoing wartine efforts ( busibess assault) either through stealth, or direct traditonal sales techniques . And as experts of charm, developing desirability, the force maybe be overwhelmingly potent in Apple for many a years to come.

Thus, if i were the microsoft, sony or nintendo, i would keep a sharp beady eye on these developments
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Murray Lorden Game Designer & Developer, MUZBOZ8 years ago
I think there's a massive potential for the iPhone 4s and iPads running iOS5 to make a bit impact in people's homes, in a shares social/gaming space, on a large screen.

I don't think it will 1:1 replace consoles. I think it fits more into the area of the Wii, where the Wii invaded many homes, where games consoles had never been before. A new sort of device, a new sort of experience, for a new sort of gamer.

Just as the iPhone has made many a latent gamer into a person who "plays a bit of gaming everyday", and "spends a little on gaming every month", I think these "casual devices" will extend this sort of casual (and "not so casual") gaming into a more mainstream/shared/social realm of people's living rooms, etc.

How it will actually interact with people's high end consoles over the next few years, it's hard to say? Many people will have BOTH, I suppose. But I think the games that can be made possible through this "new medium" will begin to shape their own new genres, to some extent.

- Murray
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Sergio Rosa8 years ago
While iOS is gaining momentum as a gaming platform, I don't see that platform, in its current state, as a threat o home consoles, and before Apple, developers, or anyone else starts thinking that iOS devices will be the end of home consoles you have a few things to consider.

The first, and most obvious, is markets, and I'm not talking about marketshare, quantity of users, or anything like that, but the types of gamers. People on the iPads play angry birds or whatever, but console-owners are playing Batman Arkham City right now, and while angry birds may be a good and entertaining game in the eyes of many, the majority of gamers won't drop Batman in favor of AB or any other iOS game. This also takes me to the next point...

Content in general. The types of games on both platforms are very different, and while some AAA games are making their ways to iOS (although I don't know if the iOS version of Rage or Dead Space can be compared to their consoles counterparts, as an overall experience), the huge majority of games are aimed to casual gamers, not hardcore gamers. There's also the fact that having a higher number of games doesn't mean a better system, and Apple likes to use numbers on their presentations for many things including the amount of games as a way to show why "the iPhone is the best gaming device" but they fail to mention that the amount of tetris and canabalt clones on the iphone is far higher than the amount of FPSs on the PC, so quantity doesn't equal quality...

And for some reason I have trouble imagining a world where big companies sell their big budget AAA titles for $0.99 or $1.99, which is the price of most paid apps in the top 10...

Controls. There's a reason why the Wii U has sticks and buttons and not just a touch screen, I don't think there's anything else to explain here... And don't tell me to buy one of those sticks you stick on the screen because that's more like a patch than an actual solution.

Throw PCs into this equation and things become even more interesting, specially after considering that there are many good games that are PC exclusives, like the MMOs and some indie games.

I do believe in a future with general purpose devices acting as gaming devices, and mobile phones such as the iPhone can play a part in this, but it will take more than hardware horsepower to do it. We'd need a huge paradigm shift on how we see iOS as a real gaming platform, from the software and hardware sides.
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Murray Lorden Game Designer & Developer, MUZBOZ8 years ago
If the market and the gamers shifted about a bit, I could see a situation where Apple devices become the platform where you run the game, AppleTV is simply a way to get it to the big screen wirelessly, and perhaps you shell out for an extra controller or two if you want to use Mouse, Keyboard or Gamepad (these could work wirelessly with a Mac desktop or laptop computer, too).

Then it's a matter of making a variety of games that suit casual players AND core players.

So make a AAA title that's not sold all at once, but it's sold for $10 - $20 (or given away free!), and then have additional content packs for $1 - $5, as well as other extra stuff for those players who love to collect the bonus stuff, and are happy to pay for it.

I don't think any of these shifts are something that happens overnight, or as a direct 1:1 exchange. But as an evolution, I can imagine a fairly traditional core console experience working just fine with a system like AppleTV/Airplay, even with an additional controller thrown into the mix.

If you already have an iPhone, which millions do, then you can simply buy an Apple TV, and you have a "sort of games console" at your disposal. And if you bought an extra wireless game-controller or two, or various other peripherals, you could shift yourself into the "more core audience" of that system, and get more out of playing those games that are made with support for those extra controllers.

The appeal of it, I suppose, is that you are getting a whole extra gaming experience basically just by buying the Apple TV. If you already have an Apple TV and an iPhone, you get the game experience for free (or just the price of the games).

I think that what Apple have done SO well, is to basically CREATE a market of users who are willing to happily BUY downloaded content. They started with MUSIC for the iPod, then APPS and GAMES for the iPhone.

With the Apple TV, you can buy movies and TV show episodes at the click of a button. And you'll also be able, I guess, to flick onto the Games tab, and buy games there, see videos of games in action, etc. I can certainly see it working smoothly, potentially.

Core gamers may not be trading in their consoles for an Apple TV, but some of them will probably buy an Apple TV as well! And then they can use both for games, occasionally, even if their favorite games are on their console of choice. but with more and more core gamers dabbling with their Apple TV, the more reason developers will have for release more core-oriented games for iOS platform, the more people will buy those more-core games. The circle spirals onwards.

Interesting times.

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Rick Cody PBnGames-Board Member 8 years ago
A few moves and a couple years and this iPhones could ABSOLUTELY take over the home console market. Here's my convincing evidence....

1) An increasing number of TVs are including wi-fi. That will allow easier connection and streaming with the iPhone/iPad in the future.

2) iPods already have 160 GB of storage.... That's a prety reasonable amount of space that should be available on all iPhones/iPads in the next 3ish years.

3) OnLive will be available to play on iOS devices soon. There's also a universal controller coming. That right there is like a home console in the house.... Though any TV with wi-fi should run OnLive anyhow.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago

Their yearly profits are definitely exceeding them now. People aren't recognizing just how successful the company has become in the last two years even. It was declared recently that this is more than just market value.

That said, this statistic just shows they have money. Apple's potential in the console market is one of the strongest brands along with a new gap in the market..
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Shamsuddeen Salihu-Alkali 3D Artist / Environment Artist 8 years ago
Cant see the core gamers leaving consoles for this. I know I wont. Unless they have a dedicated controller or attachement to the device like "Gametel" for android mobile games. heres a link to it if you havent seen it [link url=

If setting it up is not as easy as connecting a HDMI cable to the back of your telly or bluetooth pairing, then I dont think it will catch on with the casual. Also playing games designed to look good on a small screen wont look as good on a 40" plasma unless its upscaled.

This sounds cool at the moment but the only real threat is when Apple decide to make their own game console coupled with AppleTV or some sort of hybrid which will be called something like iPlay or iGame if they decide to be serious about it lol.
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