How Apple TV Might Disrupt Console Gaming

Ben Thompson:

The net result is that traditional consoles are about as far removed from average consumers as they could be. There is clearly a core gamer market, and Sony and Microsoft are fighting ferociously for it, but no one is growing the pie. I think there is an opening.

Imagine a new TV product, with two models:

  • $99 with a full set of entertainment options, but no gaming
  • $179 with a full set of entertainment options, plus gaming

Thompson is overthinking it with the “two models” thing. I think there’ll be just one model, $99 (or even less). The only upsell for gaming would be optional controllers (including any of the third-party controllers iOS already supports).

Games are just apps. There’s no more reason to make a games/no-games split with Apple TV than there is to make an apps/no-apps distinction with the iPhone. Maybe you think you’re buying Apple TV just to watch movies and TV shows, but the App Store is right there waiting for you. Just like how many people bought the iPhone thinking they’d only use the built-in apps (Phone, Messages, Safari, Music, Email) and now have dozens and dozens of third-party apps.

Thompson’s basic premise is sound though. The A7 will be a year old this fall; I bet Apple could put it in a $99 Apple TV. Combine that with the Metal API for graphics, and Apple TV becomes a compelling device for games.

Update: Thompson himself, one year ago:

Imagine a $99 (or $129) “console” with an optional $49 controller and an App Store. That’s a lot of potential escapism, and a lot of user attention.

Thursday, 12 June 2014