10 Things Apple Can Do to Score with Gamers

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10 Things Apple Can Do to Score with Gamers

by Don Reisinger

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Acquire a Major Developer

Apple seems intent on investing in the gaming space. It makes sense. The gaming market is a multibillion-dollar industry that is well on its way to overshadowing the film space in overall revenue. Apple should want a piece of that market. The best way to do it and officially enter the space is by acquiring a major developer. Apple has billions of dollars in cash on hand that it can use to invest in companies. Acquiring a major developer will give it the control it needs to deliver high-quality titles for its platform. Plus, it will make it more relevant in the industry.

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Make the Apple TV More Console-like

The Apple TV has been called a hobby device by practically every Apple executive. But it can be so much more. With the right tweaks to both its hardware and software, the Apple TV could be transformed into a solid gaming device. It might not pack the punch that the PlayStation 3 does, but if users had the ability to play high-quality titles on a device that taps into iTunes' content to extend its functionality, they might really like it. If Apple wants to be a real gaming company, it needs a console.

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Consider a Stand-Alone Game Console

If the Apple TV won't cut it for Apple, it should consider a stand-alone gaming console. Yes, that would effectively mean that the Apple TV would stay in "hobby" territory, but Apple doesn't seem to care. The company has the opportunity to take on Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony where they don't want another competitor: in the home. Apple can parlay its success with the iPhone and, now, the iPad and use the relationships it has built with developers to offer up solid software on its own console. If any company can pull it off, it's Apple.

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Encourage Development of Hardcore Games

If Apple wants to truly increase its gaming cred, it needs to get more "hardcore" games into the market. Currently, there are too many casual games in its App Store that allow users to perform very basic tasks. It needs more first-person shooters, a solid offering of adventure titles and more. To some, the iPhone is not a true gaming device. They believe it's little more than a product where you can play some simple games. But as Apple has shown, it wants to be taken seriously in the gaming market. It can only do that by encouraging developers to offer more advanced titles.

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Take Aim at Nintendo and Sony First

For Apple to be successful in the gaming space, it needs to continue its fight against Nintendo and Sony. Although most game companies start with consoles and move to handhelds, Apple has decided to do the opposite. Because of that, it needs to find a way to apply pressure on Nintendo's DS and Sony's PSP to be successful. If Apple stays as the third company in the handheld market, it won't be able to do much. That's precisely why it needs beat out at least one of them.

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Double Down on Social Gaming

Apple's decision to offer up a social gaming network is a smart move. As a provider of an App Store that delivers social games, it would only make sense for the company to get into that market. Plus, we can't forget that casual games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars have made a fortune by using the power of social networks to build buzz for a title. Social gaming is very much the future. If Apple can get in on that now, it will help it in the gaming market going forward.

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Online Gaming Is a Must

Microsoft has been successful in the gaming space because of Xbox Live. The company's online-gaming platform delivers the best experience of any similar offering in the industry. It has also made online gaming in any device a must-have. Realizing that, Apple needs to find a way, if it wants to improve its gaming cred, to deliver an online gaming platform that can compete on the same level as Xbox Live. Admittedly, that would take a console and support from developers. As difficult as that might be to implement, Apple can do quite a bit for its standing in the gaming industry if it can pull it off.

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Make Gaming Prominent in Future iPhone OS Versions

The future is gaming. Whether it's in the living room or while sitting in an airport, users want to be able to access their favorite games no matter where they are. Realizing that, Apple needs to ensure that games take center stage in iPhone OS Version 5.0. Microsoft is making it clear that it wants to invest in mobile gaming and has made it a top priority in Windows Phone 7. If that does well, Apple will have no choice but to respond with an element of gaming built into its own iPhone OS. Gaming must play a major role in future iPhone OS versions beyond Game Center.

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Consider First-Party Games

Apple should acquire a major game developer so it can get to work on first-party titles. Anyone who follows the game industry knows that for a hardware maker to truly deliver an end-to-end experience that will make it profitable, it needs to develop its own first-party titles. That doesn't necessarily mean that it will need to offer the majority of the games available on a platform, but it does need to come up with some unique games of its own. That's standard practice in the gaming industry.

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Dont Forget the Hardcore

Apple must focus on hardcore gamers if it plans to be a success in the gaming industry. Hardcore gamers might not be the most profitable group in the market, but they dictate success. The hardcore gamer is different from the casual gamer who wants to play simple games. The hardcore gamers expect role-playing games, adventure titles, great graphics, a solid storyline and titles with dozens of hours of entertainment. They are willing to forgo the fun of Solitaire for the mind-bending twists of a survival-horror game. They want genre games, not mainstream titles. And they're important.

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