When rumors of an Apple takeover of Electronic Arts arose, I steered clear of reporting on it, but it’s hard to ignore Apple’s recent hiring of an Xbox executive and its previous investment in a UK-based chip maker. I can’t help but ponder what the computer and gadget trendsetter might gain from gaming in the first place.
Today, there’s an article from ChannelWeb’s Brian Kraemer on why Apple should get into gaming, arguing that Apple should develop its own game console. After reading Kraemer’s bullet points, I’m not convinced this is a good idea, and here are five reasons why:
1. The Best Ideas Are Already Taken: The notion that Apple can do to video games what it did to music only works if there’s a void in gaming that needs to be filled. While MP3 players were certainly lacking until the iPod came along, most gamers can find what they’re looking for these days. Before the Wii, it might have been a different story.
2. A Console Wouldn’t Play to Apple’s Strengths: Apple is known for creating easy-to-use technology, and while some people need books like Wii for Dummies, the average consumer can figure out how to put a disc in a tray. Beyond that, Apple is renowned for its products’ sleekness and quality materials, but those features don’t have the same cachet in gaming. Fancy-looking set-top boxes won’t impress the ladies.
3. It’s Expensive: Microsoft’s Xbox division endured an entire console cycle, and then some, of financial losses before turning a profit, and I need more than two hands to count the number of companies that have failed at making consoles entirely. With Apple already profiting on the strength of the iPhone, why make such a risky investment?
4. The Field is Too Crowded: When Sega’s hardware division bit the dust and discontinued the Dreamcast in 2001, Microsoft’s Xbox filled the gap, but is a four console market necessary? I don’t think so. If anything, gaming needs fewer consoles so developers won’t have as many headaches trying to port between them all.
5. The iPhone and iPod Touch: This is the biggest reason of all. Apple already has two capable game consoles that are also multimedia and communications devices. Even the most gaming-averse users can try an App or two, and that crossover appeal is exactly why games are already so successful on these gadgets. If Apple indeed plans to advance in gaming, it will be through existing devices that do other things.