This year is shaping up the be the hottest in the history of computer gaming. We eagerly await the two big releases from the old guard: The Microsoft Xbox One and the Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4). However, news is emerging that Apple and Microsoft may be looking to get in on the game.
This seems like a strange move by either party. Sure the Apple ecosystem has become popular with gamers, and as such introducing the ability to use a gaming controller makes sense, as was announced earlier this week. A games console is a whole other kettle of fish though. Sony and Microsoft could certainly caution that it takes more than the Angry Birds franchise in order to build a games console legacy.
Same goes for Google. The search giants generate all of their revenue out of… search. Therefore, surely all of their accessory businesses should be focussing on the main value proposition that the company has for the end-user: organising the world’s information better on the Google search engine?
So delving deeper, we need to acknowledge that the Google threat is currently nothing more than a rumour. One fears that if it becomes anything more, than the company will have a giant cash sink on their hands. They surely have enough to focus on, with balloons bringing the internet to Africa, cars that drive themselves, Google glass, and a small project based around Android (it powers a few mobile phones and tablets, nothing major mind).
What Apple and Google should be focussing on
Cheap digs and poor humour aside, Android is a huge growth area for Google. It also helps the core company aim of powering their search engine’s growth (or at least continued dominance). After all, the more devices that run the Android system, the more devices there are that come with the Google search engine as the core search mechanism. The fact that Google can make a killing out of selling the physical tablet and phone devices too, is all the more of a bonus. As for Apple, they are increasingly a company which is being led by their iPad. The iPhone has taken a pounding at the hands of Samsung, so why not focus the company’s mission around selling more tablets (as well of course as the new iPhone 5S/6 which will launch this September).
Read: Is this the iPhone 6?
The simple answer in all of this seems to be, turn the tablet into a games console. Neither company has nailed the TV market, so why make a device – IE a standalone games console – which acts as nothing more than a glorified HDTV interface? There is no bigger picture to push with that.
There is a much bigger picture to push with hardware sales of tablets though. Considering the strength of the gaming sector at the moment, this could be the next wave of innovation required to really mark the next generation Nexus tablets and iPad’s out as something differentiated from the last. There’s already signs that the mobile phone market is starting to hurt tablets – with some questioning if tablets are just a fad – so why not give the tablet a big piece of unique value over a smart phone? That’s got to be one way to keep people coming back for the next iteration?
The console, hard to belive that it is considering the current hype, is actually antiquated. Its oversized and clunky. It’s not portable or mobile. It only works on one device. It requires physical games, or a omnipressent internet connection. In short – the console is not the future.
The future of gaming is something much closer to what the tablet already represents. So why don’t Google and Apple put some serious resource, perhaps including their own teams, behind making the first truly great tablet game?
So are they serious, or is this a mad scramble to excite investors and to push an image based around continued innovation? We know that investors get seriously jittery the second that the innovation pipe looks a little dry – even if the core product is steamrollering the market. One hopes this isn’t the case though, as done right, a tablet-console could be an awesome step forward for gaming. Games consoles are zombies, and if gaming is to have a future, it’ll be on the tablet anyway.