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With or without Jobs, Apple is the next major games firm

Thursday, 25 August 2011 09:41 GMT By Patrick Garratt

Steve Jobs has finally resigned as Apple’s CEO, but the departure of the enigmatic visionary will not stop the rise of Apple as a major force in video games. Patrick Garratt reports.

Steve Jobs

Co-founded Apple in 1976 with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne.

Left in 1985 after an internal power struggle, but returned in 1996 after Apple bought Jobs’ NeXT Computer.

Was one of the first people in the computer trade to recognise the importance of the mouse-based UI.

Announced troubles with cancer in 1994.

While investors predictably panicked at news of Steve Jobs’ resignation as Apple’s CEO this morning, it’s an overdue move that clears the way for a well-earned retirement and the destruction of the myth that Jobs is some kind of Atlas, holding aloft the world’s most prestigious computing firm on his increasingly frail shoulders.

And let’s be clear: Apple is video gaming’s next major player, with or without Super Steve.

The transition away from Jobs as Apple’s figurehead was inevitable, and has been expertly managed. His standing aside is a necessity, and comes at a time of perfect corporate strength.

Apple is unbelievably solid. The company has sold more than 25 million iPads since it launched in 2010, with over 9 million moved in the June 30 quarter alone. That’s an awful lot of games-playing devices.

iPhone, too, is clearly now an unmovable part of the games landscape, with over 20 million sold last quarter, a three-month period in which Jobs was obviously planning his exit.

While the investor community argues over the significance of Jobs’ resignation, the implications for Apple as a gaming firm are minimal. Apple has made clear its intentions on the games space in the past year, with its iPad 2 announcement focusing on graphics at a San Francisco showcase immediately after Nintendo’s keynote at GDC, and its next major set of announcements being held during E3 week.

Apple UK has also become far more active on the games side, with the recent hires of Rob Saunders from Nintendo and Nick Grange from Activision, both PR veterans of gaming hardware launches – Grange was a British PR exec for the original Xbox release.

“The most popular portable game player in the world”

It’s not hard to see why. Cumulative iPhone, iPad and iPod touch sales now stand at 222 million units. In the past quarter, Apple sold virtually every iPad 2 it could make. Over 33 million iOS devices were sold in the three months ending June 30. Apple now openly claims iPod Touch is the “most popular portable game player in the world”.

And iOS isn’t the only popular Apple games platform any more: Valve has thrown itself on the Mac-wagon, with its Mac Steam release coming in April this year.

Steve Jobs’ resignation will not stop the rise of Apple as a major gaming company. Jobs confirmed his battle with pancreatic cancer in 2004. He received a liver transplant in 2009, at which time Apple endured heavy speculation that Jobs could die: COO Tim Cook, a strict “doer” type, replaced him as the day-to-day operator for the firm over the surgery period, and will now succeed Jobs as CEO. Jobs is to become chairman of the board, and will still be in a hands-on role involving product development, according to the WSJ’s Walt Mossberg.

Jobs and Cook have been working together with Cook as acting CEO over Jobs’ illness for the last two years: recent successes have fully involved Cook.

And Apple’s apparently unstoppable push into the gaming sector comes in stark contrast to the fortunes of the more traditional figures in the handheld sector. Nintendo, especially, is obviously struggling to remain relevant in the iPhone era. 3DS launched earlier this year to low sales that fell to crisis level in the machine’s second quarter, a set of terrible figures that prompted a serious price cut to both the console’s RRP and Satoru Iwata’s salary.

At GDC earlier this year, Iwata showed an offline portable console with expensive games on catridges, while the world was downloading dollar-apps for iPhone – the president even spoke directly about the erosion of premium handheld software by “big app stores” and how it could damage the games development topography irrecoverably.

Apple’s App Store now plays host to over 425,000 aps.

Sony has also been hit by the alterations in the handheld games market brought on by iPhone, and, of course, Android, but has managed the transition better than Nintendo. Vita clearly has a better understanding of what a mobile device needs to be in the iPhone world, with social connectivity being placed at the device’s core at gamescom last week. It has twin thumbsticks and an over-powered chipset to allow it to provide an experience unique to the iOS devices, and a 3G option. How could a modern mobile device not have a constant connection?

Ask Nintendo: 3DS doesn’t.

While Sony and Nintendo try to find their places in the modern handheld landscape, though, the fact we’re discussing their trouble in any respect says it all: Apple has changed mobile gaming forever, continues to sell millions upon millions of handheld gaming devices and is clearly set on focusing increasingly on games going forward.

Steve Jobs’ resignation will not alter that. The Apple will grow. And Steve Jobs, finally, will be able to step back from the demands of coal-face management of one of the world’s most successful companies, and see to his health. Given such a sparkling career, it’s about time.

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45 Comments

  1. frostquake

    He really has been nothing more then a Figure Head for a long time. Once the Markets Calm down, and they will, everything will be moving forward for Apple. I am not an Apple Fan, but they will be here till the Earth Freezes over or Burns up, which ever one you choose!

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Christopher Jack

    Everybody has been saying this for years, Apple has never really shown any initiative towards gaming since the Pippin. Just look at how bare the Mac is, Apple could have solved it by getting in contact with these publishers & developers but they never will, they just don’t care.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. rainer

    Jobs has always disliked gaming going way back so really any success Apple have had with games are inspite of Jobs not because of him.

    I seriously doubt Apple have any major desire to be in the AAA business, they will always be considered a casual games platform and nothing more.

    There is room in the market for both casual and hardcore.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. bpcgos

    Another nice article from you,Pat! Also quite fast to publish after jobs resignation! In fact, this is the first time I read about jobs resignation although my RSS feeds full with it since last night!

    #4 4 years ago
  5. rrw

    @3

    conspiracy/

    job is dislike gaming. that why he want to destroy the market. he probably try to flooded the market with casual stuff and make it crash!

    /consipiracy

    #5 4 years ago
  6. Anders

    I’d say that Apple’s chances to break into gaming on the Mac have increased with Steve Jobs departure. He has always wanted their computers to be geared more towards video and music than gaming.

    I could really use some real AAA titles on my Mac. Minecraft, Torchlight and Bejeweled doesn’t cut it in the long run.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. FeaturePreacher

    I’m willing to bet no one thought Atari could fail in the 70′s. All you have to do is look at Apple when Steve Jobs was removed before to see how bad it got. You must remember iphones are phones, not portable gaming systems. All that’s necessary for the iphone hype to end is for people to choose Android, a different phone, due to iphone falling too far behind in new features. With the influence of Jobs on the wane, it’s time to watch the delicious decline of the darling of too many in the enthusiast tech press.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. Gurdil

    @Pat

    “Jobs is some kind of Atlus, holding aloft the world’s most prestigious computing firm on his increasingly frail shoulders.”

    Mmmm nice geek typo there! I think you meant Atlas, not Atlus ^^

    #8 4 years ago
  9. DaMan

    Nothing ‘s going to happen to them. Bill Gates leaving MS didn’t lead to cancellation of anything.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. Gurdil

    @6 well all Blizzard games are playable on Mac, right? I wouldn’t describe Portal 1&2 as casual games either so there ARE some core games on Mac. Sure all are not compatible but it seems more and more games are made for both. Just look at your Steam library and you’ll see.

    #10 4 years ago
  11. G1GAHURTZ

    I’d like to see an Apple home console…

    It’d probably be made out of brushed chrome and cost about £1000.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. Lahanas

    Patrick should stop riding’s Apple and Jobs Dick all the time. No, Apple is not the next big games firm, and no the type of gaming the iDevices offer is not real gaming. Iwata was right about what he said at GDC. These $1 games are a plague. Mobile/social gaming is not serious gaming. If Apple and its stupid “hey look I’m the cool kid in town” attitude is the future of this industry, then we are all doomed.

    #12 4 years ago
  13. G1GAHURTZ

    Ironically, many of these $1 games are many times more complex than the entire NES library.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. DaMan

    Apple ‘re doing exactly the thing they should with handheld gaming, quick on the go entertainment. You can also get Machinarium from their store if you really want to play a desktop title on a tiny screen.

    #14 4 years ago
  15. DrDamn

    @14
    Machinarium is only for iPad2 as 2D point and click adventures are too intensive and demanding apparently.

    #15 4 years ago
  16. daytripper

    four consoles is too much imo

    #16 4 years ago
  17. mojo

    on tablets or telefones they can do whatever they want, but realy, the day they infect the console space is the day i quit gaming.

    #17 4 years ago
  18. stretch215

    2 words : fuck apple

    #18 4 years ago
  19. OlderGamer

    As far as an Apple console running around 1000usdplus….I would guess closer to 800usd, and would also guess the new MS/Sony systems will flirt with the same type of numbers.

    The next gen of consoles, in order to have enough power to actualy be a gen ahead of where we are right now, will be priced more like Gaming PCs then low end consoles.

    Otherwise we will get the Nintendo flavored console. Less power, proven tech, and affordable price points(manufacturingwise).

    #19 4 years ago
  20. Fin

    @18

    2 words: fuck you

    #20 4 years ago
  21. ultramega

    Ahahahahahahahahahahaha

    #21 4 years ago
  22. DrDamn

    @19
    I don’t see why. It needs to be a gen ahead of current consoles and that’s how it’s always been. The GPUs in the current systems were out of date at the time of release, but within the more known and set confines of a specific configuration they can produce more impressive results. If anything MS & Sony will have learned lessons from Sony’s problems with a $600 price point and ensure they are competitive.

    #22 4 years ago
  23. poopoofruits

    If apple enters the world of core gaming, they’re going to do it with excellence.

    #23 4 years ago
  24. Maximum Payne

    His last words were: Iquit :P

    #24 4 years ago
  25. Telepathic.Geometry

    I’d go a little bit further Pat. I’d say that gradually iPhone and iPad gaming is replacing not only handheld gaming but PCs themselves. It’s only a matter of time.

    #25 4 years ago
  26. stretch215

    @20 oh, you’re a fan of overpriced, overhyped electronics ? Did I direct that statement at you, piece of shit? If you’re not an apple employee/shareholder you’re an idiot. Apple doesn’t care about you, why do you defend them (other than blind fanboyism)?

    #26 4 years ago
  27. triggerhappy

    Slightly off topic, but I hope he kicks that cancers ass.

    #27 4 years ago
  28. DSB

    @26 Objection, your honor.

    We can all agree that Apple doesn’t care about us, which is something that’s common to any publicly traded company.

    However, while Android phones may be cheaper, the people I know who work with web statistics claim that people who use an Apple device spend a lot more time using it, and spend a lot more buying apps for it. It’s obviously not a direct conclusion – But it seems to me like those people just enjoy their devices a lot more. People who buy Android phones are far more likely to use them as just a phone, rather than a mobile digital platform.

    Which, supported by the overwhelming sales figures, would indeed seem to support the idea that those electronics aren’t overpriced at all. They could probably earn a considerable bit more by raising the price. 50% of consumers are willing to buy the next model of an iPhone without even knowing what’s in it, and the resale value of those devices remain consistently high.

    As such, it’s certainly not overpriced. I think it just hurts a lot of asses when someone has a certain degree of succes with something. I don’t think it’s hard to see why Apples products are so popular.

    #28 4 years ago
  29. RandomTiger

    @28 “People who buy Android phones are far more likely to use them as just a phone, rather than a mobile digital platform.”

    Android users use more data:

    http://www.pocketables.net/2011/06/android-users-use-a-lot-more-data-than-others.html

    #29 4 years ago
  30. RandomTiger

    @28 iPhone users are more likely to pay for apps whereas on Android users expect stuff to be free but developers usually monetise their products with adverts.

    #30 4 years ago
  31. Phoenixblight

    People have been saying that Apple will get in the console market since NES. THe answer is No they won’t they didn’t when Jobs left the first time and they definitely won’t now. They have a lovely system going now where they can update their tablet and phones every 6 months and make booku off of that. There is no need to waste their money in the console market.

    #31 4 years ago
  32. DSB

    @29 Read that article again.

    #32 4 years ago
  33. Fin

    @26

    lol u mad bro?

    I wasn’t defending them anyway, I just don’t like seeing anything (companies, people, games, whatever) being blindly disparaged.
    No call for that sort of language, was there?

    #33 4 years ago
  34. deathgaze

    Actually, now that Jobs is gone, we can probably expect an even more aggressive push by Apple into the game space.

    Apple hasn’t really done much of anything to help games on iOS. The games industry has been entirely on it’s own. Jobs is likely to blame for that. Jobs has a proven history of discounting the viability of games as a form of media, even though the game industry exploded in popularity. He adamantly insisted that computers shouldn’t be used for playing games back during the old Macintosh days. He missed the boat again the later Mac incarnations, as Apple certainly doesn’t do anything to help out game developers. They even lost Halo to Microsoft. Jobs could give a shit less about games.

    Now that he’s gone, it leaves Apple with a free hand to pursue the games business with renewed vigor. As you might be able to tell, I’m no big fan of Apple. However, their design and engineering prowess is second to none and they never fail to bring interesting, usable and attractive products to market. Therefore, I look forward to what Apple can bring to the game industry table.

    #34 4 years ago
  35. manamana

    I enjoy Apple Products pretty much for twenty years now. Without them, hard and software wouldn’t be as utterly beautiful designed. I don’t give a rats ass what anyone else thinks about it. Apple products fits just perfect into my world. No Linux Editions and no Windows serve my needs. Call me fanboy, troll and whatnot but I prefer Apple and it really makes my life easier. Hefty pricetag? Who cares! I have absolute freedom to buy whatever I want!

    Good article Pat. Keep them coming!

    #35 4 years ago
  36. Ireland Michael

    ITT: Basement dwellers scared of their hobby being “infested” by people who don’t feel the need to spend every single minute of their lovers in front of a computer screen or television.

    I play core games. I play games with complex mechanics and deep rooted gameplay going back 20 or 30 years of progression. I play them a lot, and I love them to pieces.

    But you know what? I also like to pull out my iPod Touch or my Android phone on a bus or train journey and play some Pocket God or Plants vs. Zombie or Fruit Ninja.

    There are plenty of fun games on these devices. Sure, they’re not Civilisation (though ironically, you can buy a mostly intact Civilisation on the Apple App Store), but that doesn’t stop them from being fun.

    Stop feeling so fucking threatened by something that isn’t even a threat. Get out of your basement, and have some fun that involves something other than pressing a bunch of controller buttons for a change.

    —-

    In regards to Apple and entering the games industry, here’s the funny thing about Apple – they have designed their products in such a way that they don’t actually need to do much work.

    Any “entrance” into the games industry (which I’m going to argue they’ve already done), is through the hard work and creativity of the people putting their products on the App Store. Not Apple.

    Apple just needs to update their products every year or two, overprice them by a few hundred dollars, and spin the hype to consumers who have way too much disposable income (recessionlol), and they’ll keep going for a very long time.

    #36 4 years ago
  37. FeaturePreacher

    @36
    No one here feels scared or threatened by Apple and its wasteland of softcore titles with horrid controls. They are just tired of cloistered press constantly telling them that something they all like is the next big thing in games. It’s like telling National Basketball Association fans that the WNBA is more exciting than the NBA even though women hardly ever seem to dunk.

    #37 4 years ago
  38. Ireland Michael

    @37 Yeah, because there isn’t a wasteland of “softcore titles with horrid controls” on consoles at all, right?

    For every 100 pieces of shit, there’s at least 1 little gem that’s worth having. This is true no matter the format, whether console or portable device.

    #38 4 years ago
  39. FeaturePreacher

    @38
    The difference is that the horrid controls aren’t inherit to the console gamepad, whereas they are to smartphones when it comes to its games.

    #39 4 years ago
  40. Ireland Michael

    @39 I don’t have any problems with the controls for most smartphone games.

    A good game adapts to its format and creates its own unique ways to be played and controlled. Just because *you* think touchscreen controls suck doesn’t actually *mean* that they suck.

    #40 4 years ago
  41. manamana

    Homo ludens you aint.

    Edit: @39

    #41 4 years ago
  42. HauntaVirus

    I hope he gets better, cancer is horrible.

    #42 4 years ago
  43. Lightmanone

    You know what’s funny… There are more, WAY more, android devices activated every day then Apple. Numbers: apple: 450.000 every day. Android: 650.000 every day.
    The numbers are getting closer and closer together, and it’s expected before the end of this year, there will be more android devices then there are apple.

    Yes, I am a google fanboy. But let me explain. I like the apple design. I really do. I think they are doing a great job. EXCEPT the way they treat the software and customers. Computers suppose to be open. Apple does not. It can (and already has) delete software from you OWN device from a distance if THEY decide you can’t have that on YOUR OWN device. That attitude will get them killed eventually.
    That’s the reason I don’t support Apple in any way. And to the looks of it, now that Steve is bye bye, it’s the beginning of the end for Apple. That man was a visionary. Him leaving will make it very hard for Apple.

    But.. I do hope he gets better.. Cancers a bitch. I know, believe me.

    #43 4 years ago
  44. sg1974

    LOL. Media types and their Apple obsession. Take off your iGoggles.

    And anyway, they’ve run out of Braun/Rams designs to rip off. Where will they get their “new” ideas from?

    #44 4 years ago
  45. Apple4daWorld

    If Apple lost Halo to Microsoft,
    I have a suggestion for them:

    Kidnap Mario and leave Nintendo dying!!!

    and other products:

    iLollipop
    iSlipper
    iGlasses
    iToilet
    iCar
    iEarth
    iSun
    iGalaxy
    iUniverse

    MWAHAHAHAHAH!

    #45 3 years ago

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