Apple makes machines for creatives, in other words, mostly for work. The tech giant once tried to enter the gaming world and failed miserably. Since then, the company has never shown any interest in gaming. On top of that, their machines were not built for gaming; the fanless design and intel chips were not powerful enough to run fan-favorite games. As a result, gaming on Apple has become a meme at this point.
However, the recent activities from the tech giant show that they are trying to enter the gaming sphere once again, and there are patents as proof. They are also interested in acquiring Electronic Arts for 37.62 billion dollars. So, is Apple entering the gaming zone? Can they dominate it? If so, how? Let’s take a deeper dive:
In 1996, Apple took a shot at gaming with the Pippin, collaborating with the Japanese game company Bandai. However, only 42,000 units were sold and went out of production after a year. So, it was one of Apple’s biggest tech failures.
Apple never went gaming after that; they focused solely on making machines for creators; until recently. A massive chunk of the tech giant’s revenue comes from subscriptions; in fact, in the second quarter of 2022, Apple earned 19.8 billion dollars alone from its services. One of these services is Apple Arcade, the tech giant’s mobile gaming service.
If you notice carefully, there are many old but fan favorites on Arcade, for example, Square Enix’s Final Fantasy series, the first three games from the Grand Theft Auto franchise. So, clearly, Arcade is a growing income source for the company.
Recently, EA offered to sell themselves to a potential suitor. Besides Disney and Amazon, Apple seems keen on the acquisition. Also, the recent rumors about the AR/VR headset, the patents, M1 line of chips suggest that the company is keen on entering the gaming industry. Are they ready? What about the competitors? Let’s find out:
Apple’s fascination with the gaming industry wouldn’t have existed without Apple Arcade. What started out as a library of easy mobile games has transformed into a massive library of 200 games, each beautifully crafted and engaging in its own regard.
You can argue that mobile games aren’t “games,” but Apple doesn’t plan on replacing Playstation, XBOX, and other gaming services with Arcade. The tech giant is aware of the demography. Most people play mobile games for the easy mechanics with touch controls. There is also the bandwidth issue; not everyone is sitting with blazing fast internet speed.
That being said, Apple did some ingenious things. While every other gaming company moved toward the game streaming industry, they offered console-quality titles for mobile gamers. Furthermore, for just 5 dollars a month, you get an ad-free gaming experience without any in-game purchases. So, it was natural that mobile gamers would quickly grab this opportunity.
Since its launch, Apple Arcade has put out titles that are now available on Nintendo Switch and other platforms, with a price tag ranging from 20 to 40 dollars. Now, would you like to spend 40 dollars on one game or 5 dollars per month for unlimited and uninterrupted access to 200 games? It’s evident that the Arcade gaming subscription has further Apple’s interest in joining the gaming industry and solidified its position in the mobile gaming market.
One of the early arguments against gaming on Apple was that their machines were not powerful enough. While they made fantastic machines for the creatives, the fanless design, underwhelming processors, and work-focused approach made Apple devices not so gamer-friendly.
However, Apple’s performance has made a significant jump with the introduction of M1, M1 Pro, Max, and Ultra variants. These laptops are now more powerful, efficient, and fast, plus the battery life is simply amazing. In addition, while the laptop wasn’t built around gaming, you can still game on it. Now, it should be said that if you were to game on a Macbook or iMac, you wouldn’t get any crazy frames per second. But you can play with the highest visual settings.
People are already gaming on the M1 computers using software like Parallels to run graphics-intensive games. For the most part, if you’re playing casual games, the experience is smooth. For games like “Rise of the Tomb Raider,” you can get 108 FPS on the lowest settings. For “The Hitman” from 2016, you will have 110 fps on the highest settings. It needs to be said that these parallel software aren’t perfect; neither the machine nor the software is ready to game. However, people get these FPS in such a lightweight and compact chassis.
Now, suppose Apple were to make a game-ready MacBook, beefed up with M1 Ultra, and every other feature to make gaming on Apple a smooth sailing. What’s going to stop Apple from competing in the gaming industry? So, Apple already has silicon, hardware, and software capable of gaming without any hiccups.
When the Apple TV first came out, it was pitched as a device you could game on. The caveat was that you had to use the Siri remote as a controller. Now, that turned away all sorts of developers because the remote isn’t what anyone would game with, and the ergonomics are a far cry.
However, now the device can connect with all your favorite controllers, PS5, XBOX, you name it. The best part is that you have Apple Arcade on the unit. So, the Apple TV is already capable of gaming. Currently, you can play stunning games like “Alto’s Adventure,” “Asphalt 8”, and other amazing titles on the TV. Yes, it won’t run the latest HALO, but think about ported games; you can legally run those without jumping all those hoops.
Now imagine an Apple TV with an M1 chipset; the scenario drastically changes. Apple loves to dress its devices with its in-house silicones. So a TV unit fitted with the M1 or M1 Pro series chipset will be much like the Playstation 3 – playing impressive titles and watching movies and series.
So, what Apple can do is sell a separate Apple TV unit primed to play games with a full-fledged controller. That way, people will game on the TV unit and eventually enter their walled garden.
Apple’s interest in EA makes more sense when you realize that they have patented multiple controller schematics; we just might see a controller from the tech giant very soon. One of those schematics shows a joy con-like setup, compatible with the iPhone and iPhone. This controller will work with devices in either orientation. However, the best part is you’re getting a handheld gaming device much smaller than the Nintendo Switch. The size of the Switch is proportional to the joy-cons, meaning that after a certain degree, the Switch can’t get any more compact.
However, controllers that connect to your devices mean that they can have a smaller footprint. Now, you can argue that there’s the Razer Kishi and similar offerings from different companies. But the problem with those controllers is that they are bulky; they won’t fit in your pocket. So, you won’t use them as much as you think. But knowing Apple, they’ll come up with something you can shove in your pockets. Hence, it makes more sense to have dedicated controllers that you can carry.
Another schematic shows a Folio-style controller for the iPhone, essentially a phone case that doubles as a controller. What’s interesting is that the schematics show a secondary touch screen built onto the display.
If these don’t indicate Apple’s interest in entering the gaming industry, their third patent will surely. The last schematic shows a full-fledged controller with thumbsticks. This controller will work with all your Apple devices; iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, you name it! So, Apple is taking steps to enter the gaming industry, and we might see that soon.
Lastly, there are rumors about Apple releasing an AR/VR headset, competing with the likes of Oculus Quest 2 and PSVR. On top of that, Apple has secured the trademark RealityOS. The release date for this headset is rumored to be at the end of this year and in 2023.
So, it makes sense that Apple would want to acquire EA; the games on Apple Arcade aren’t really VR compatible, so a different OS for the AR/VR headset and the desire to purchase EA make the most sense.
From the Apple Arcade to the patents for the controller and interest in acquiring EA, it seems Apple is interested in entering the gaming zone. It seems like acquiring Electronic Arts can be their golden ticket to the gaming industry. Even if they acquire EA to enrich Apple Arcade, it won’t be a wrong decision; people will hop on for the sake of nostalgia. But, Apple has bigger plans and wants to compete with Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo.
Now, even if Apple does enter the industry, it’s going to be long before they can come close to XBOX, Playstation, and Nintendo. The massive games library these companies have will be hard to catch up to in a short span.
However, Apple inherently hates microtransactions, so seeing how they deal with that will be interesting. In addition, they need to change some aspects of their philosophy to survive the gaming industry. But, from the patents, it seems like Apple will prioritize handheld gaming before thinking about a console. So, Nintendo just might be the first competitor for the company. How will they stack against each other? Only time will tell.