Posts Tagged ‘steve jobs’

Confirmed: Apple getting serious about games

Monday, September 14th, 2009

It’s that time of the year again: Apple starts off the holiday shopping season with announcements of their new (or significant upgrades to) products. True to fashion, late last week, Man-at-the-helm Steve Jobs and other Apple execs rolled out a number of new features and additions to existing lines, but interestingly, Jobs himself confirmed that Apple is now seriously committed to getting into the games field.

applegamingIf computer hardware/software making companies getting into gaming sounds familiar, the most obvious example is Microsoft’s Xbox console, but one can’t count out Dell and or Alienware’s commitment to addressing what gamers are after. For decades Apple has been doing things a differently (remember the Think Different advertising campaign?), and their committed entry to the gaming market is no different.

Following the event announcements, the blogosphere was awash with speculation about why the iPod Nano got a video camera, and the more expensive iPod Touch was passed over. In a NYTimes interview with David Pogue, Jobs explains that it came down to a question of cost. By not adding video capability to the iPod touch, Apple has clearly signaled that the costlier brother is headed in a different direction than it’s slimed down siblings.

“Originally, we weren’t exactly sure how to market the Touch. Was it an iPhone without the phone? Was it a pocket computer? What happened was, what customers told us was, they started to see it as a game machine,” he said. “We started to market it that way, and it just took off. And now what we really see is it’s the lowest-cost way to the App Store, and that’s the big draw. So what we were focused on is just reducing the price to $199. We don’t need to add new stuff. We need to get the price down where everyone can afford it.”

And therein lies the reasoning, plain and simple: The App Store. Apple senior VP Phil Schiller spoke to the App Store at last Thursday’s San Francisco event, stating that currently the App store has 21, 178 game available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and growing everyday. To put that in comparison, Nintendo’s DS has approximately 3,700 titles available, and Sony’s PSP comes in with a paltry 607. “They don’t really stack up anymore,” Schiller said. Adding another nail to the aging handheld’s coffin, Schiller pointed out that neither of these platforms have multitouch screens, anything even close to the scope of the App Store, and titles remain relatively expensive (on average $25 – $40) when compared to the Apple cost – ranging from free to $9.99.

Although not specifically addressed, it’s also important to remember that with the iPhone (and iPod Touch) OS 3.0 introduced microtransaction capability. Obviously, this option remains incredibly attractive to developers, who are looking for not only a hit, but a hit that they can monetize. Apple is also clearly taking steps to make making a hit more of a reality for games developers. The latest iPhone 3g S is more than capable of handling complex graphics, and supports the OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics standard. In other words, this hand held device is (technically) capable of reproducing graphics we’ve come to expect from ‘desktop only’ graphics processors of just a few years ago. While the 3g S still lacks bonafide OpenGL ES 2.0 compliant games in the App Store, Apple said that they’re slowly but surely making their way there, and will be available later this year.

All of this is fine and dandy, but until there’s developer backing, it’s all just words, no? If that be the case, Apple has received their first official handheld gaming device vote of confidence from Ubisoft. The sequel to their hit Assassin’s Creed is slated for a Nov. 11th release on consoles. Bucking the traditional trend of ‘wait a bit for the handheld version’, Ubisoft has stated that they’ll launch the iPhone/iPod Touch version of the game the very same day.

Many industry vets have long wondered what Apple’s stance on gaming was, and if and when an answer to the Xbox might even make an appearance. As with many of Cupertino’s greatest triumphs, Apple let consumers tell them what they wanted, and appropriately responded. I feel it’s fair to say that Apple revolutionized the portable music industry with the iPod, and arguably introduced the North American market to the microtransaction method. If they plan on attacking the gaming industry with the same fervor, mobile gaming might just be on the verge of another major leap.


Apple announces Gaming selections for iPhone

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Steve Jobs and company are having themselves one heck of a party in San Francisco right now. Amongst Jobs’ exciting announcements in his keynote speech yesterday was the unveiling of what we’ve all been waiting for: Hot games on a hot phone!

Developers are free to set their own prices for games, and keep 70% of all revenues generated. You’ll be able to purchase games from the iPhone itself, provided that the file size is less than 10MB (please keep this in mind publishers). If the game file is over the 10MB limit, you’ll have to grab it via wi-fi or iTunes on a PC. This policy falls in line with all other iPhone downloads/installs.

A number of publishers were on stage with Jobs in a horse and pony show, obviously trying to 1-up the other. Without further adieu, fatfoogoo proudly presents:

The holy worldwide developers conference Steve Jobs keynote speech guide to the gaming grail. (Pics courtesy of Engadget’s outstanding coverage of the event).

Sega brought out and old favorite for iPhone: Super Monkey Ball. While initially previewed at the SDK launch, the perennial favorite with those incredibly maddening tilt levels that you had to clear through to get to the mini games. Right. Now just imagine that on the iPhone. The iPhone version of Super Monkey Ball will have more than 100 Levels. Oye vey!

Loopt is a location aware social networking tool. For those that can’t get enough of their 15 minutes of fame, Loopt allows you to broadcast, and likewise see, pinpoint locations of where you and your Loopt friends are on a map. User profiles can show a daily track of where you’ve been. Along with the Big Brother technology, Loopt also makes it very easy to mobile blog, send a photo, text, or make a call to friends, all within the app.

Pangea Games came to town ready to rock. They brought the noise with 2 titles ready to go for iPhone. First up? Enigmo. Enigmo is a pure physics based game (no mom, I’m working on improving my grades) and takes advantage of the use of iPhones touch controls as well as iPhones smokin’ processor power. The concept is simple enough with water droplets bouncing around and successfully porting them to another location.

The second title is Cro-Mag Rally, a caveman racer. Cro-Mag also uses the tilt controls, has nine tracks and ten cars. Racers are certainly not new to handheld gamers, ‘phones’ even, but….have you ever seen graphics like this on your phone?

Digital Legends brought it’s best via a rather complex looking 3D fantasy battle game. Think of it as a mishmash between God of War and Tomb Raider. Word on the street is that it only took them 2 weeks to program it. If the Digital Legends name rings a bell….yes, it’s the same folks that are pushing ONE for N-Gage.

And finally…while technically not a true ‘game’, I personally think this might be the most entertaining t-bone steak on the table: Band. While technically not a full blown version of Apple’s GarageBand, an independent developer, MooCowMusic from the UK has developer an app fro iPhone that has a virtual Piano, Drums, a 12-bar blues (ummm) “Instrument”, and a bass. Band allows you to arrange and rearrange original tunes and record them. I’m waiting for the next Guitar Hero vs. Band live battle contest.

All titles are scheduled to be available for the Apple App Store’s launch in July for $9.99.

All in all a tasty roundup. I’m not sure how many of these titles will actually make it to my iPhone, but I’m certain there’ll be that annoying long wait for the next train where impulse shopping will get the best of me.


Zune: Zoon? Roon? Rune? Ruin? Ruined?

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

While it might not be the final nail in the coffin, it certain looks like the iPod of Redmond is starting to sing its swan song.

Major US retailer GameStop announced that it’s pulling the plug on Zunes during a quarterly earnings call last Thursday. The man with the money at GameStop CFO David Carlson said that the Zune would soon be pulled from all of its 5,400 stores worldwide (they will however continue to warehouse the Zune and sell them online until inventory is cleared). He offered no further details, but a company spokesperson told that the decision was made based on insufficient demand. “We have decided to exit the Zune category because it just did not have the appeal we had anticipated” and, “It did not fit with out product mix”. In other words dear readers, the Zune at GameStop was just joining it’s all brothers out there: sitting on shelves collecting dust.

Let’s look at some numbers shall we? The Microsoft Zune launched in November of 2006. Since this date, approx. 2 million Zunes have been sold. In comparison, Apple sold 10.6 million iPods in the last quarter. Ummmm… really, need I say more?

Was he inebriated? Do you even know anyone who owns a Zune? Steve Jobs in response to Robbie Bach‘s enthusiasm regarding the Zune at the 2008 ICES in Vegas.

Microsoft was quick to respond to the blow. Adam Sohn, director of marketing for Zune said, “We will continue to invest in deep retail partnership, and have seen good momentum online and at retail over the last few months including a great response to our recent spring update.”