With little fanfare, Apple has created the world’s largest, most profitable game platform in the iPhone and iPad. Meanwhile, sales of standalone game consoles have taken a turn from bad to worse. What’s going on is nothing short of a quiet revolution.
Quiet. A Death Is Happening
While most of the hard core console gamers were predicting Microsoft’s Xbox would rule the digital game landscape and crush Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s PlayStation, Apple’s iPhone began the next generation of games.
Games as in handheld games, mobile games, inexpensive games, and games to be played everywhere– iPhone to Apple TV.
Meanwhile, Microsoft launched the third generation of the Xbox, called it the Xbox One, and anointed it as the new king of the living room.
The Xbox One is a multi-purpose device that lives as game console, a television tuner, and a cable box, wrapped up in the highly touted Kinect package.
Microsoft On Top
Sounds like a winner, right? The only problem is that the entire industry is changing so fast that Microsoft didn’t notice. Yes, some games may remain in the living room, but they’re also moving from a dedicated console to the individual handheld device (which, thanks to Apple TV, can also be displayed on the big screen).
The male species of the MacKenzie household grew up with game consoles. You name it, we’ve got it sitting in a closet gathering dust. Xbox 360. Nintendo Wii. Sony PlayStation. And a few devices with so much dust the name Atari on the front is nearly obscured.
Is Microsoft’s latest attempt to dominate the living room too little and too late? Yeah, probably.
The Punch That Kills
What Apple did with the iPhone (and now being copied by Android games and devices) was create a highly capable, multi-tasking platform for games (and apps and phone and camera and internet access) with feature rich game action and shockingly low prices per game.
That punch is killing the standalone game console business just as Microsoft made it to the top of a an empire about to be crushed. Look at all the games on your iPhone. Then look at how Apple views the living room conquest vs. how Microsoft views it.
Apple’s view of games is iPhone and iPad, each a multi-purpose mobile device which connects to the diminutive Apple TV which connects to whatever TV screen you choose. Ultimate portability, great value.
Microsoft’s new view of games is a big black box, a dedicated (and black) game console, and a black Kinect device with some decent gee whiz factor (I like the Kinect) to wrap it all together.
The game industry is changing so fast that Microsoft has yet to figure out where the puck is, let alone where it will be.