by AJ Adejare
On Wednesday, Apple decided to do what we’ve expected all along: make a play for the living room. Again, they decided to make the same movie we expected with their new operating system tvOS, for the living room: gaming. So when they showed off the their capabilities, I couldn’t help but see how this effects. Make no mistake, Apple did put everyone on notice with their foray into the gaming living room. However, this entrance affects people at different levels, let’s explore them.
Let’s first start off with the actual middle which is Microsoft. Microsoft for years tried pitching a similar integrated TV console concept for the Xbox One. Unfortunately two things occurred, one is bad pitching/marketing. It made them think that they were focused more on television unless on gaming. What Microsoft wanted to do was to incorporate The Xbox One to be the entertainment system in your living room. Whether it was gaming or watching television or even listening to music you could depend on that box to do it all. However massive PR blunders allowed Sony to capitalize on this aspect as well as others and dust make Microsoft shell those plants.
The second issue has more to do with the general concept of gamers themselves. Gamers as defined from Microsoft’s particular demographic is more about just a standard gaming console that pushes extreme power for an affordable price. What Microsoft wanted to do was to bring that particular console idea but also integrate Kinect into the system. Unlike with Nintendo where people are more willing to give time to their systems with a new controlling gimmick, Microsoft didn’t have that same leeway. The Xbox One, slightly more expensive and not justifying the gaming aspects of the Kinect immediately to gamers, sent it to the grave.
What’s significantly frustrating for Microsoft is that Apple, essentially did 80% of what they wanted to do and then made it cooler. When they announce the fact that games could be played on the Apple TV and showed all of the various aspects of the Apple TV, it must have been some salt too old wounds for Microsoft as essentially their competitor once again came in took their ideas made it cooler and sold it to the masses.
The good thing for Microsoft about the Apple TV is that maybe just maybe he can give the gambit of the Kinect another go. If they can get Cortana onto the system and show that their console is everything Apple TV wants to be and more with Kinect, they could still work through this generation with their ideas in contact.
If you’re Kaz Hirai, and Sony Entertainment as well as Sony Corporation right now you’re just popping bottles. Apple did absolutely nothing to create an existential threat for you. The controller bundled in is not a hardcore gaming controller and to ask people to go get extra controllers already is going to cause a significant lack of adaptation for large games. On top of that your demographic already would either have another box to complement the Playstation( if not the Apple TV itself) or many gamers would get near same functionality on your Playstation. Add that with the fact that the PlayStation brand is at its strongest since the late days of the PlayStation there really is nothing to fear.
Sure you’re still going to have to compete more to emphasize that you have the functionalities of the Apple TV, but you already have the gaming demographic locked down and satisfied. Doing the work shouldn’t be that hard in the next two years. The only thing to be worried about is the fact that the Apple TV will get more powerful as the years go by. So make sure to do what you do best: make third parties an exemplary area to show off their skills by developing on the PlayStation 4.
Finally Nintendo. If you are Nintendo, you’re the most distraught. To understand this aspect you have to look at how Nintendo operated for arguably since their console release. A lot of gamers will tell you that Nintendo has been a core gaming box up until recently. However, that’s not necessarily been the case. Nintendo has usually aimed themselves for family and accessibility for their games. Whether it’s Mario games, or Zelda or anything else, a lot of their games have centered on the fact that they want to make as accessible to everyone as possible. That’s why, for a lot of their boxes up until the Wii U, they’ve been in the relatively inexpensive area of $200 or cheaper. The fact that Nintendo developed core gaming was the compliment to accessibility. Like soccer, or Tetris, their games thrived on easy to understand, but hard to master.
One of the biggest demographics for Nintendo is the child audience. The fact that Skylanders Disney infinity, and Guitar Hero will all show up on the Apple TV is enough to cause issues. For a lot of parents it would be nice to have one particular box that can do everything and consolidate. We’ve seen this scenario with MP3s and phones that would that eventually consolidated to phones. If the box can do the same with Apple’s ecosystem for apps and games, having one Apple ID roam between computers, phone, and television boxes makes it an easier pitch to people then having to invest in yet another platform. Sure there are limitations, but all of the limits are purely profit limits (storage and specs). For Nintendo to have to compete with Apple on said demographics, history has proven kinder to Apple with free to play games and apps, then Nintendo with more premium gaming with the 3DS doing well but not as well as its older brother the DS.
The technical aspects where Nintendo fails, arguably Apple fails less at. Apple may not be the best at consumer web services, but they are in a lot better shape than Nintendo. Having said integrated web service is going to be a major aspect within the next two years.
With that being said, all hope is it necessarily lost. On the technical front, Apple’s ascension into the living room may prove beneficial for Nintendo. Apple uses ARM archetecture for their phone and now Apple TV. if Nintendo should make the switch to ARM ( and I highly recommend I do) for console may be the thing that coaxed into developing for Nintendo in earnest. Having the ability to develop for two architectures instead of 3, makes it more attractive for Epic as well as Unity (which they already have) to put their own gaming engines on the platforms and make them viable. In that case, we might finally have a weird pseudo/3.5 console race and in the end have status quo retained.
Let’s hope that this scenario of weird happy harmony occurs.