EA exec: Apple would have ‘good chance’ in console market | iLounge News


EA exec: Apple would have ‘good chance’ in console market

In an interview with CVG, Electronic Arts vice president Patrick Soderlund said he believes Apple would have a fighting chance in the video game console market should it choose to enter. When asked whether Apple would have a shot at challenging Sony and Microsoft in the console market, Soderlund said, “If it was anyone but Apple, I’d say that’s going to be very hard.” He continued, “I still think it’s going to be extremely hard for them but they’ve surprised many people before. Look at what they did with the iPhone, right? They are a truly brilliant company so I would give them a relatively good chance to succeed if they tried.” [via MDN]

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I think EA needs to define “good chance” to put this headline in context ;)

Doesn’t anyone remember the Pippin?

Apple through in the towel after only a year of full release. Microsoft hemorrhaged money on the X-Box for many years before finally turning a profit, and Apple, with their quarterly financials performance obsession, doesn’t seem to possess the sort of corporate fortitude you’d need to tackles such a venture.

Admittedly, EA is one of the more brain dead, soulless zombie game companies, so I suppose they’re probably not the most insightful, but what original IP other than operating systems has Apple ever really hit it out of the park with? Nintendo, who is third place in todays console market, remains stable because they have three-plus decades of consumer loyalty around their brand and IPs, Sony has nearly two decades of consumer loyalty, IPs, and back catalog of licenses to draw from, and MS has a lot of money and the willingness to throw it at problems they want to conquer. Apple, for all their consumer loyalty in personal electronics and computers, has never been known for their house IPs, nor their boldness at chucking money at uncertain ventures.

Posted by Code Monkey on December 4, 2010 at 8:48 AM (CST)


^^ that’s “threw in the towel…” DOH

Posted by Code Monkey on December 4, 2010 at 8:48 AM (CST)


... and before anyone else points out my lapse of brain power, iTunes should be classed as an IP they hit it out of the park with, but still unrelated to the sort of software and development that makes you suited to create original games.

Posted by Code Monkey on December 4, 2010 at 8:50 AM (CST)


Why should Apple blow potentially billions of dollars trying to compete with the big three console companies on their terms when they’re already got a very succesful and profitable gaming platform in the App Store? It would be much smarter to simply continue building on that rather than starting from scratch with some kind of proprietary console.

Also, @Code Monkey,

I don’t understand how Nintendo’s in third place these days, since Wii has by far the largest install base this generation. Even this year, which has been its weakest so far, it’s still sold much more than PS3, and is basically neck and neck with Xbox 360.

Posted by Jerome on December 5, 2010 at 3:15 AM (CST)


Jerome, I may be wrong, didn’t actually look it up before posting, was assuming based on its second place to X-Box for some time and the big uptick in Sony PS3 sales that it had been overtaken.

Although I’m not so sure how well the app store games are going to work in the long run. I confess my touch has displaced my DS in terms of hours spent playing on it, but mentally it’s still an insignificant affair. It’s great to be able to get 15 hours of distraction for $0.99, but it’s just not a serious threat to gaming in general: touch screen controls will never be the equivalent of a true D-Pad and buttons, nor will the general lack of finesse in the ability to point at teeny things every outstrip the sort of games that can be made with a stylus. The app store games are what they are: fantastic uber casual game, and I expect Apple is going to be a huge player in this market, but the next portable Final Fantasy and DragonQuests are not going to appear on a controller-less touch screen where hardware changes and OS changes year to year.

Posted by Code Monkey on December 5, 2010 at 9:37 AM (CST)


Yeah, from industry talk these days, anybody would assume Wii is a distant third, but according to some just-released YTD numbers from NPD:

Xbox 360 – 3,534,089
Wii – 3,389,900
PlayStation 3 – 2,593,500

Obviously there are some limitations to current App Store games, but there are quite a few things Apple could do to upgrade them without moving to a proprietary console. For starters, adding a few buttons and a directional controller would work wonders for iPhone and iPod Touch. The issue of yearly hardware updates remains, but maybe Apple could change their strategy and take notes from Nintendo, with their constant portable revisions that keep the core hardware relatively unchanged. One of the biggest issues they face seems to be attracting more high budget titles and actually convincing people to pay something for them after getting so used to 99-cent games.

Apple could even, if they wanted to, make some easy inroads into home-based TV gaming. Apple TV has basically the same hardware as their handhelds, and outputs 720p, which is in the same ballpark as the iPad and even the other iDevices. Apple is also releasing OS X Lion soon, which lets you use Apps on your Mac. It would be fairly easy to let you run (specially tweaked) Apps on your TV in HD. The interface wouldn’t even have to be that tricky, just make a new remote about the size and shape of an iPod touch but a little longer and with some buttons on the sides. Give it a multi-touch trackpad instead of a touchscreen, throw in an accelerometer and a gyro, and you have a very servicable controller. Oh, and also change the name to iTV, to better fit with the other App Store devices. Maybe this wouldn’t be the ideal way to go, but it could be done relatively simply and cheaply, and without the huge risk of a proprietary system using physical media.

Posted by Jerome on December 5, 2010 at 2:41 PM (CST)


Oh, as Steve used to say, one more thing. I guess my main objection to the whole Apple console thing would be the physical media part. For all I know, they could release a console and have it be a success, but they’d be stupid at this point to go with physical media. Also, if they are interested in making a console, they’ve got their work cut out for them in lining up a lot more high-quality exclusive content.

Posted by Jerome on December 5, 2010 at 3:04 PM (CST)


You’re all missing the point, people. The iPad *IS* a console. Apple is already in the game business with both feet. A “console” is just a computer that is optimized for games. Apple would be foolish to get into the “console” business with an actual “console” in the same way that I think they are foolish for having entered into the “TV” business with Apple TV. Just keep rolling with iOS and develop peripherals and output solutions. There’s nothing special about a “console.”

The idea that a piece of physical hardware needs to be dedicated to any one task is deprecated and will disappear in the next year. 2011 will be an ass kicking for many. Yes, Sony. Yes, MS. Yes, Nintendo. If they think iOS is not a threat to their realm, they are fools.

Posted by Some Guy on December 5, 2010 at 11:47 PM (CST)


@Some Guy,

I agree that Apple is in the game business in a big way, but there are some areas in which their current offerings are lacking, and unless they address these things, they will limit themselves quite a bit. Also, a console isn’t exactly just a computer that’s optimized for games, otherwise companies like Alienware would own the console market. I agree that Apple would be foolish to bring out a new proprietary system separate from the App Store ecosystem, and in Post #6 I gave a few ideas how they could improve the current devices without doing this. From your post, though, it sounds as though nobody cares about being able to play games with a big screen, better local multiplayer than an iPad can offer, tactile controls, or even many games worth paying over $5 for. The iDevices are very slick pieces of gaming technology, but they’re not all things to all people, at least in their current forms.

Posted by Jerome on December 6, 2010 at 1:14 AM (CST)


I honestly do not believe Apple is even remotely interested in trying to compete with Wii, Xbox or Playstation right now. Apple has a nice groove in the mobile gaming environment. They offer affordable games that are simple to play on a device you are already going to be carrying in your pocket/bag. My daughter has all but abandoned her DS and I have not touched my PSP in almost a year. Why? Because the selection of games on my iPhone (or her Touch) makes lugging an additional device around ridiculous. Sure, there are more powerful games with more precise controls on those other systems. But I have TV connected consoles for those bigger, better titles. My mobile gaming is a “time killer” in waiting rooms, on mass transit or during late night bouts of insomnia when I do not want to disturb my wife.

Apple knows their role here and have taken to it quite well. AppleTV COULD evolve into something that allows you to play the games on your iPhone/iPad/Touch right on your TV (Airplay is a step in that direction already). But I can’t see that being a big push right now. Without tactile buttons, it is too difficult to watch the big screen while trying to control via smaller touchscreen. And I DO NOT want some afterthought D-pad and buttons on my iPhone. That would alienate a lot of iPhone fans.

Posted by Mitch on December 6, 2010 at 10:39 AM (CST)

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