Thursday, August 16, 2012

Will Apple Be The Game-Changer?

I've been saying this for years, and I'll keep saying it until I get either the satisfaction of history proving me right or the lesson of history proving me wrong: The end of dedicated gaming-consoles is coming soon, and it will be heralded by games becoming a regular feature of streaming-enabled TV devices. Whether it will be the Ouya, OnLive, or something else... it's coming, and it will change everything.

Lately, I've added a caveat to that, only half-joking: In the near future, there will not be ONE device for all of your movie/music/game/etc content - there'll be two: The one that holds a solid majority of your stuff... and the Apple one that holds all the Apple-exclusives. Okay, maybe an excessive "dig" at the late Mr. Jobs' "keep it in he family" approach to technology, but you get the idea.

According to the Wall Street Journal, though, my "joke" is inching closer to reality: Apple may be developing a "next gen" successor to it's thus-far modestly-recieved "Apple TV" set-top device that would allow it to stream cable TV and "other content." Presumably, "other content" mostly means movie/music delivery a'la iPads comes to TV... but the i-devices are ALSO a big part of gaming. It wouldn't be TOO difficult (just figuring out how to control it, really) to bring iOS gaming to TVs via such a device; and if Apple DID do that and it "clicked" with people... they could become to the streaming-age of home gaming what Nintendo was to the console age via the NES.

One way or another, this is the future.


tehwaffleman said...

I disagree, "casual"-gamers are a apathetic market and usually stick to the one game.
It's a bubble that sooner or later is going to burst.

Anonymous said...

I still hold that when a game-changer hits, it will be a tablet.

Think about it, their are already tablets that cost around the cost of a console at launch, it wouldn't be much to give one an HDMI port (assuming it doesnt already happen), USB means you get whatever control scheme you want ON TOP of the touch screen, and we already have titles that can prove damn good looking in the 3d graphic department on the iPad in the form of the Infinity Blade series.

You made this claim a ways back, Bob. I think you were right. It won't be this apple thing... it will be a tablet... either running iOS, Android, or Windows 8 (or whatever Windows exists at the time).


Joe said...

Really, the only reasons this hasn't happened already are the twin fears of today's content owners: That a single major player will gain a near-monopoly over distribution, like Apple did with music and Amazon threatens to do with eBooks(1); and that digital distribution without the crippling and clunky DRM schemes currently in place will mean increased piracy(2). This is further complicated because with the exception of Google and maybe Netflix, every major device or distribution platform is also a content owner (and those two have just waded into the creator pool).

(1) Arguably, this fear goes back as early as the early 2000s, when Google basically became the gatekeeper of the confused mess that was the World Wide Web. But that wasn't a usual situation, because Google couldn't really be bought, but its system could be gamed.

(2) It still doesn't click for the content owners that while Megavideo was a pirate haven, it managed to sell millions of subscriptions for on-demand content. Why is it such a hardship for them to do the same with content they actually own?

Graham said...

Here's some interesting news...

El Pibe Progre said...

The all-in-one device you talk about already exists, it's called PC.

Vinny Andreotti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vlademir1 said...

El Pibe Progre, you took the words from my mouth. That said, the PC isn't an ideal choice for most people for a variety of reasons, even with the current significantly reduced cost of PC gaming hardware ($600 or so to build a low end rig yourself) sitting at a computer isn't how the general public want to spend their leisure time, and PC to TV has myriad other issues that many get headaches dealing with, knowing which cable you need to buy being just one.

The real winner will be the first off the shelf combo converter box/gaming rig that a major cable or satellite provider adopts as standard. If Microsoft or Sony are smart with their next hardware, that'll be the direction they go. Of course large HDDs will have to play a significant part in such hardware, likely two terabyte or larger SSDs, since both games and video will be stored in such a machine.

Anonymous said...

Apple is far from the only company creating tvs like this, i doubt that they will end up dominating. I´m expecting Samsung to nail this one.

Evilkinggumby said...

hmm.. I am wondering if Bob is on to something. I heard that Google is running a test program where in a city in the US they are offering high speed internet as a service, and it is supposedly significantly cheaper and faster than standard cable internet. If this launched across the country it would mean much better general ping times and transfer rates from gamer to game and gamer to server. The newer technology Nvidia has created to stream realtime gaming video from a central server (so that you could effectively play HD games on anything from a cell phone to a television) would be much more viable with said transfer rates. I could see a whole new wave of gaming break out where it is no longer console wars and arguing about what graphics card is th ebest.. it would devolve into hardware gaming vs software gaming. Many would shout the glories of not having to buy the consoles or computers anymore and set them up/upgrade them etc and others would argu about the lack of control and "yeah but if your internet goes down you can't play ANYTHING" kinds of stuff... would be a strange new world to tell my kids " yeah back when I was a gamer we bought games on physical media! :

TheGreekDollmaker said...

Onlive is a failure.

$5 million dollar a month operating costs? What, you mean rendering and streaming highest definition modern gameplay to thousands of people simultaneously at bare minimum is expensive?

OnLive was to have destroyed all the game consoles by now while we were to be connected to ‘the cloud’. And every time somebody mention ‘the cloud’, I must include the video of ‘Up, up and Away’.!

So much for the Cloud hype…

cdstephens said...

As far as I can tell, PCs as they currently stand will only be relevant for playing RTS and MMO games. Unless consoles include a keyboard or different sort of controller, it'll be impossible to play Dota on anything but a PC.

smile said...

I think gaming will eventually move to the web browsers and exclusivity will no longer matter. Free 2 play, cross platform browser gaming.

That's where we're heading.

Sabre said...

Before Halo came along, the same was said for FPS.

Moviebob, and others, I think are overstating the importance of this. The Wii was a smash hit. Ever since then, everyone has been playing the Activision game of trying to find the next "hot" thing. It's fruitless mostly. The "game changer" is rarely the first one, but the one that does it better after learning the mistakes of the first one. WoW wasn't the first MMO, Minecraft wasn't the first "build stuff" game.

I have heard the claim that PC "gaming is dead!" for years now. It has never happened. Console gaming will only die if companies keep making a mess of it.

TheGreekDollmaker said...

Onlive is no more.

Excerpt from Kotaku

This morning, an all-hands meeting was called at 10 a.m. this morning where CEO Steve Perlman said that OnLive would be filing forABC bankruptcy for an alternative to bankruptcy called an Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors, or ABC, in the state of California—a status that affords financially troubled companies a level of protection from creditors. Perlman also said that the company as it stands now would cease to exist and that no one would be employed by OnLive. A subset of employees would be brought on to the company created from the remains of OnLive.

So much for the cloud.

And for those that tell me that gaming is become Free-2-Play, please, so me in what way can a company make profit using Free-2-Play models? As of now, every MMORPG that has failed to be subcription-fee based has turned Free-2-Play (lol The Old Republic)
With the exception of some Asian companies, I have no idea from a business standpoint how you can make profit from that model. Player acounts don't really count to measure success, neither does a rise in investor stock.

Show me the money, then we will talk.

Sabre said...

The Greek Dollmaker-

I don't understand what you are asking.

If you asking who makes money on F2P games, and how, Sega is making a killing with PSO2 and Spiral Knights atm. Blacklight, League of Legends, they are free to play and also doing well. Zenga was doing well a while ago, but I'm not sure of right now.

If you are asking how they make money. They sell stuff in game. Unlike WoW, which is all or nothing, some people might drop a few pounds here or there, whereas the die hard fans will spend a fortune on it.

I don't know why you say "investor stock" doesn't count as success, but demand to know where the money is. That's like asking for someone to prove how fast a F1 car goes without driving fast.

Anonymous said...

Free2play makes its money through microtransactions.

But let's go back to the likely reason why OnLive failed--lack of a reasonable infrastructure.

The biggest problem with the cloud concept is bandwidth--if you want anything above 1.5M you generally pay through the nose. This is assuming such high speed service is even available in your area.

This is the hurtle that any successor to OnLive will have to contend with.

Evilkinggumby said...

"So much for the cloud".

See the cloud is out there, and doing just fine. Cloud GAMING may not be there yet but there are tons of business applications and sites that are cloud based. I work for a company that relies on the cloud for most of it's applications and business.

It is sad to see a business fail, and I hate to think of all the hard working people at the Onlive roster that are going to suddenly end up unemployed. I watched a good friend at 38 studios go through this, it's not funny when you look at the reality of the matter.

I do think cloud gaming will be a few years away, we need ot see the overal infrastructure of the net across the U.s. grow and shift beyond it's current bandwidth limits and ping times to accommodate entirely virtual streaming games. But someone has to start and try. Most likely another company will pick up where this left off and improve it a bitmore. baby steps... sadly.

cdstephens said...

If it means anything, Guild Wars was a massive success despite using a F2P model, such that they're introducing a large profile sequel (which is also going to be F2P).

From what I understand, aside from setting up the usual cash shop that doesn't impact how powerful a character is (unless you count wearing aviators as powerful), you basically just set up enough infrastructure in the game such that you don't need large updates for people to keep playing. A raid based game would never be able to do this, as people would always want more content. PvP based games however can get away with purely balance changes and don't need complex scenarios that get beaten in a few days. This way, the money gotten from initial sales and the cash shop can pay for the game and subsequent bug fixes and PvP balance patches.

Another game that atm is going to be free to play is Dota 2. Unlike Guild Wars though, it's going to be entirely free to play; the only money you put into it are cosmetics for individual heroes (these cosmetics can also be obtained by just playing). We'll have to see if it pans out though since it's still in beta stage.

LoL is a Dota-like game that is also semi-free to play and it's doing fantastic.

So F2P models can work, they just have to be thought out ahead of time and not something you just tack on after you find out a game doesn't have enough subscribers.

Graham said...

Hey Bob, I got some news regarding a previous episode of your show.

Remember "Seeing Red," where you stated that the FPS genre needs a kick in the pants and should address the issue of war crimes?

Well, a game has finally been released (a AAA-title, in fact) that answers that call!

I'm not sure if you're familiar with a webshow called Errant Signal (it's similar to Extra Credits), but he made an episode on said game that's worth watching.