Man, we’re getting so close to having Apple as a real contender in the handheld game console wars, I can feel it.
As Gamespot points out, Apple’s music-themed event marked the first time that the company publicly argued why the iPhone and iPod Touch are better gaming options than Sony’s PSP and the Nintendo DS. Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, went so far as to say those other two consoles are “not a lot of fun.”
Now, we can debate ad nauseum the merits of iPhone and iPod Touch gaming vs. the PSP and the DS. We can argue which device is the most successful, has the best games or has the greatest chance of survival. But that’s boring. What’s really great about the console wars is all the bickering and spin that goes along with it. In that regard, Apple showed that it’s ready to play hardball.
At yesterday’s event, one of Apple’s slides touted a catalog of 21,178 “Games & Entertainment Titles,” compared to 3,680 DS games and 607 PSP titles. Of course, it’s totally bogus for Apple to include “Entertainment” in the mix, as we’re strictly comparing gaming devices here. A quick check of Apptism shows 14,657 games on file.
If Apple’s still ahead, why fudge the stats? Because that’s what you do in the console wars. I’m reminded of when Sony argued last January that it’s a better value than the Xbox 360, assuming that you bought the basic Xbox 360 Arcade, then purchased the most expensive hard drive available and threw in an optional Wi-Fi adapter. Sure, the argument is valid, but the math is fuzzy.
And then, there’s all the trash talk. Back in February, I looked on with delight at the way Microsoft and Sony were sniping at each other. Yesterday, Schiller argued that “once you play a game on the iPod touch, you think ‘hey, [the DS and PSP] aren’t so cool any more…’” Burn!
Sony and Nintendo haven’t fired back yet (in fact, Sony’s been unbelievably timid on the matter), but if Apple keeps up this rhetoric, it’s only a matter of time until the sparks fly. I can’t wait to watch.