The modern gaming community is very unforgiving towards a lot people, particularly the giants in the industry. When large companies screw up, we notice. And most of all, we aren’t stupid. We know when something is up and when we have been wronged.
One quality I will not understand is how easily gaming communities forget, accept and move on. Remember when Sony was hacked and the PlayStation Network was down for nearly a month? User information was supposedly accessed and taken! How could a consumer forget that so easily? Or when companies sell “downloadable content” that is already packaged on one of its games?
That previous example is common practice nowadays, but it still doesn’t settle right. Though it’s this kind of treatment we as gamers have gotten used to. In this fascinating world of technology and the next generation of console hardware right around the corner, we have a lot of cool things to look forward to. One of those things is no longer a part of that future.
The digital only gaming space has existed on the PC for years. It’s not hard for me or any avid PC gamer to understand that when you purchase a digital item that it’s yours forever and nontransferable. So what’s the big deal about that happening on a console? It already happens when you buy a Xbox Live Arcade game. I find a digital library much easier to manage than a consistently growing stack of DVD cases. The Xbox One would’ve been one giant and much needed step towards the inevitable future of gaming … until we complained. And it worked.
Basically, Microsoft was offering a similar ownership environment to the PC, only with some other perks. If you buy the game, it’s yours, physical or digital. The assumption with the physical copy is that you wouldn’t be able to trade it with a friend or sell it back to a retailer. Also, an online connection would be needed to verify the product. Gamers despised this notion, quickly siding with Sony on the issue once it was announced that the PlayStation 4 games could played without such restrictions.
Microsoft backed down shortly after laying out the plans for the Xbox One and after seeing the effect it had on the public. But why? Microsoft was definitely headed in the right direction with the Xbox One. I really don’t see the problem of their approach because it so similar to what already happens on PCs. I will admit the constant Internet connection does seem a bit farfetched since a lot of PC games don’t have that kind of DRM.
One feature that was potentially pretty cool that Valve seems to be picking up on is the Family Sharing program. I think a lot of gamers would’ve loved this idea if it wasn’t tied to the Xbox One’s proposed DRM policies. Given the fact that Microsoft as strayed from their original intentions, it could mean that we’ll be seeing this feature implemented sometime in the upcoming console generation which starts this November.
I see the gaming community as an incredibly welcoming one and at the same time I see it as a very immature one. A community that is easily upset and delicate when it comes to change. On the other hand it’s defensive to criticism from the mainstream and changes that disrupt the norm. Some company is going to have to make the unpleasant move towards stricter DRM policies. All of them seem scared of upsetting their user base while the gamers are just as scared about having to make the inevitable changes.
Simple answer: no. However, taking into thought what Apple could do with gaming focused hardware is interesting. They are nearly halfway there and have a strong foundation, in concept at least. Let me be clear that I am not talking about Apple’s previous attempt many generations before.
Apple does about six things (give or take) with significant market share and success.
Software / operating systems
Internet connectivity / online presence / marketplaces …
When you combine the focus on their hardware, software and simplicity aspects, Apple could have a decent competitor in the entertainment market. You can already stream your games from your iOS device to the Apple TV, so technically Apple really doesn’t have to do much more.
Other questions do pop-up … like who would support this? Indie developers would probably be keen on the idea, given that the App Store is full of downloadable games already. But, just looking at how the Ouya has been doing, it’s a huge yellow light to anyone approaching the idea. On the other hand, it’s Apple; a big, trusted name in the industry that can sustain such an endeavor. And with that thought in mind, you will most likely attract bigger names to your product such as Electronic Arts.
How about a controller? The easiest way to go would be to manipulate your current iOS device. I find that easy, simplistic and even ideal. I wouldn’t have to put forward any extra cash for a controller … assuming I already own one. Thinking logistically, this is a decent option, but in the end it scares potential consumers with having to put forth more cash than originally intended. My best bet is that Apple would design a new controller specifically for the console, with the option to use an iOS device to further interact with the TV experiences.
What about the format and distribution? Once again, I think Apple has this covered already. It would be strictly digital, keeping with the iTunes and App Store style of purchasing, possibly creating a marketplace specifically for the console. Pricing would be up to the designer, part of sales going to Apple.
Hardware wise, it’s also not that hard to imagine what Apple would use. Currently, I think there would be a push for a 64-bit processor as well as compatible, yet more powerful specifications that slightly exceed the power of the iPad and iPhone.
Finally, would you buy it? Depending on the price, differentiating features and target audience, I’d say a console from Apple can be considered for a purchase quite considerably. Though, with all the choices being introduced this generation, it’s really hard to say. The Xbox One, the PlayStation 4, the Wii U, a rumored Android based console directly from Google and even the Steam Machines from Valve make for one hell of a crowded swimming pool.