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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Apple Should Learn From Nintendo

I rarely click on flash ads, but a couple days back I saw one for a liquid-cooled SLI PC and just had to see how much it cost. The baseline was $3500. I'm not sure that included the video cards.

Now, truth be told, if you owned one of these beasts you'd be privy to some of the most advanced graphics for games on the planet seen in all their glory. Definately. Plus, you certainly couldn't blame someone else's frag on your processor or lack of RAM. And I'm sure you'd be the envy at LAN parties.

But spending over three grand on a PC? For games? It just seems so archaic these days. PC hardware has gotten so powerful that it's almost impossible not to get a decent rig. It seems more impressive to try and create leaner, cheaper computers. Unless you're a serious first person shooter fan, these high-end rigs are simply overkill.

Take a look at Nintendo. It's DS is holding up just fine over the PSP, even though it's not as technically powerful. They plan a similar model with the Revolution. By emphasizing casual gameplay and innovative designs, they cirumvent the whole "my framerate is better than yours".

What does that have to do with Apple? I really think Apple is missing out on the declining PC market, which is largely seen as complicated and overpriced. Apple has definately become aware of this with introducing a proper low-end line. The Mini and G5 fit perfectly into computers as appliances and not as luxury items.

Problem is, they're kinda boring. It ships with Nanosaur and Marble Blast, sure. You can play Halo on a Mini with all the details off ... OK. Nobody is going to rush out and buy a Mini for their kid based on that kind of library.

Apple needs to shift it's gaming image. It's never going to get the Doom 3 crowd, especially when Doom 3 is a belated port with substandard performance. That crowd is already lining up for F.E.A.R. or Quake IV ... and they have medium to high end rigs already.

Instead of Doom 3, Apple needs their own Nintendogs. Or Feel the Magic. Or maybe a game which leverages Apple hardware like the iSight or even the iPod. Something that doesn't care that the Mini is only loaded up with an ATI 9200 ... but also something that has mass appeal on its own.

Now, a proper response to this would certainly be "so do it". Nobody is stopping small studios from trying to make such a game, it's true. However, the problem is that without backing from Apple, a small studio would be insane to release it as a Macintosh only game if they could easily do a Windows version.

Right now, Apple is busy trying to define the concept of a digital lifestyle. It's probably noticed that it's chief competitors ... name Microsoft and Sony ... have taken the game console angle to spearhead their initiatives. Clearly Apple can't contend with that.

But it doesn't mean it has to give up the fight on games completely.


Corvus said...

I suggested (I think only to my wife) a few months ago that Steve Jobs needed to buy a small game development studio and throw a lot of money their way to produce a spectacular series of Mac only games.

I was thinking of PJ's Attic, of course, but he could probably benefit from buying a studio with... oh, I don't know, actual experience perhaps, as well.

Josh said...

Yeah, this came from a work convo on Apple.

I also really think their hardware expertise could pay off here. An Apple version of the Revolution controller, essentially. Create a contoller for casual players that would be unique to the Mac market.

With Nintendo, it's like they looked at the hardware race on gaming and said "We can't do that, let's do something else."

Apple seems content just to say "We can't do that".

Jeffool said...

To a degree I think Apple did just that. Where Nintendo is saying "We can't beat them on hardware, let's beat them on software," apple said the opposite "We can't beat them on software, so let's beat them on hardware."

The thing is, when they got a nice bump from their new tactic, Apple seemingly threw the towel in on the old fight. That would be like Nintendo saying "Hey, that was a good idea! Let's stop making new systems and concentrate on making games for the Revolution forever!"

I'm not a Mac guy, but if they were to do something new in gaming, I'd be forced to give'em a look.