The possibilities are unprecedented.
While Sony and Nintendo are quite concerned about Apple taking a big chunk of the portable gaming market, I think they should be more worried on the non-portable side of gaming. Currently, the PS3 and Xbox 360 are enjoying a large base of hard core gamers but think about this for a second – what’s stopping Apple from entering and eating this market?
Let’s start with the hardware. The new iPad with its quad core GPU is already capable of powering a display that is even higher in resolution than a full HD display. So it is safe to say that that the next version of Apple’s SoC, the A6, will be a fairly capable piece of silicon that should be able to deliver at least the same quality of games that the 7 year old Xbox 360 and 6 year old PS3 currently do. Apple is already using a cut-down version of the A5 CPU on Apple TV so upgrading to a full A6 SoC on the next version of ATV won’t be much of an issue.
The next thing Apple needs is a gaming controller which they obviously don’t have at the moment. However, one of the articles from Anandtech suggested that Apple is indeed working on a gaming controller for iOS. While many people might start thinking in the direction of an iPad or iPhone, remember Apple TV is also based on iOS. Apple can easily utilize Bluetooth for pairing up the controller to Apple TV- maybe even use the latest low powered 4.0 standard already present on the iPhone 4S.
Last and certainly not the least, you need a gaming ecosystem. Guess what? You already have that in the form of App Store- much like Microsoft has Xbox Live and Sony has SEN. Games like Infinity Blade and Epoch are pushing non-casual gaming on the iOS further and further and with studios like EA and Ubisoft, Apple already has support from the gaming industry. In fact, there are rumors of Blizzard entering the iOS market; and then a supposed visit by Tim Cook to Valve adds fuel to the fire, even though Gabe Newell denied it.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who can see all the pieces of the puzzle coming together. At $99, the Apple TV is even more affordable than a $160 Nintendo Wii and becomes an impulse purchase. Games on the App Store are also much cheaper than their console counterparts- yes, I know they are cut-down or alternate versions but last-year devices can play games like Max Payne so imagine what next year’s silicon will bring?
So don’t be surprised if Apple repositions the Apple TV as not just a multi-media player but also a full blown system capable of playing games that are as good as the current-gen consoles games.