Matt Birchler on Apple and Gaming

Matt Birchler:

I would not be surprised if No Man’s Sky releases for Apple’s VR headset on day one, and it gets lots of press as it will likely be one of the few games there at launch, but I don’t think it’s an indication of Apple really “getting” gaming in a meaningful way.

Personally, I just don’t think Apple has it in them to get high end gaming to click on their platforms. Yes, they make a ton of money on iOS games, but poke your head into the App Store top charts and you can pretty clearly see they’re making that money on shitty free-to-play games that rely on whales to spend absurd amounts of money on gems and tokens and whatever else.

Let’s put aside revenue as a measure of a platform’s success in gaming — the free-to-play phenomenon skews that. But even putting aside money as a measuring stick, it’s clear that the iPhone is the premier mobile gaming platform. There are way more good iPhone-only games than Android-only ones. Are there any good Android exclusive games at all?

The question is: will Apple’s XR platform be like the Mac and Apple TV, where gaming is an afterthought, or will it be like iOS? I wouldn’t bet on the headset turning Apple into a top-tier platform for immersive VR games, but I wouldn’t bet against it either. It’s a chance to start fresh.

The opportunity is massive: PC and console gaming is considered more “serious” than mobile gaming not just because the games are bigger and the devices more powerful, but because you play them on bigger screens. Nintendo’s Switch proves that — the Switch is way less powerful than any recent iPhone, but way more “serious” because you can play it on your TV. (And yes, of course, because Nintendo’s first-party titles are unique and extraordinarily good.)

VR gaming has the potential to be far more immersive than anything you play on a TV or PC monitor. Someone will crack that nut eventually.

Wednesday, 31 May 2023