For years now, people have questioned why Apple hasn't gone all in on gaming, and created a games console. Games are a big part of the Apple App Store, yet the games don't have a console to thrive on.
The thing is, Apple do have a gaming console. They have a load of them in fact, but no ones seemed to notice. Much as Apple has tried to ask 'What's a computer?', people need to ask 'What is a console?'
The definition of a console is:
A panel or unit accommodating a set of controls for electronic or mechanical equipment.
That's pretty vague, I guess. So, what makes a games console a games console to the average user? To most people, a games console is a little, or not so little box that sits beside / next to your TV.
A games console also has to support some really great, top of the line controllers, naturally. And, of course, a major requirement for a games console is games. Not just in-app purchase filled mobile games, but actual retail ready games. Games people are willing to pay decent money for. With these requirements in mind, do you still think Apple don't already offer not only one, but multiple, games consoles already? Lets take each point seperately:
A box connected to a TV
Apple recently launched a (very slightly) updated version of their Apple TV box. This device, sits next to, or under your TV, and can share content to said TV. This is, of course, obvious, but thats 1 to 0 for an arguement against Apple not having a games console, right? It needs more than that, however. So, onto point two.
The PS5 and Xbox Series X both have new, enhanced controllers that get a huge amount of praise. And rightfully so. I've only ever used the Xbox Series X controller, but it's a really well made and comfortable controller. Apple's devices couldn't possibly compete with these, could they? Well, they certainly could if they wanted to I suppose. Instead of doing that, however, they've simply let users use the exact same, undeniably console-y controllers across their entire product range.
So we now have a box that sits under your TV, and top tier controllers that will work across a whole range of products. You can connect a PS5 / Xbox Series X controller to your Apple TV for an experience similar to using said Xbox, Series X or Switch. Or, you can connect one to your iPad for a laptop gaming experience. You can even use the, truly excellent, Razer Kishi to make your iPhone an equivilant of a Switch which is, undeniably a console. A Switch with a way better screen. Or a laptop with a way better screen than most laptops as well.
So far, so console. Something pretty major is missing, however ...
This is, of course, where the ball is dropped. The games avaialble across tvOS, iOS, and iPadOS are all in-app purchase riddled garbage or trimmed down filler, right? Well, no actually. First of all, lets look at Apple Arcade. Microsoft's GamePass gets a lot of well deserved praise. This subscription gives you access to a whole host of fantastic titles. Apple Arcade, equally, does the same. While the quality of the content does vary, there are a huge amount of games included in the subscription that are full priced titles avaialble across Switch, PC and beyond.
Some examples of premium, console / PC quality games include:
- Sayonara Wildheart on Switch
- Overland on Switch
- Oceanhorn 2 on Switch
- The Last Campfire on PC via Epic Games
- Grindstone on PC via Epic Games
- A Monster's Expedition on PC via Epic Games
I think you get the point, but there are a lot more examples of this. There are hundreds of pounds worth of console / PC quality games available on Apple Arcade. Many are not AAA titles, granted, but they are still very good games in their own right. The Switch has incredibly strong first party games, of course, but a huge plus point of the Switch is also its massive library of indie titles. Many of these came from Apple Arcade.
It's not all indies either. There are some fantatic examples of big studios making some truly original games for the platform, such as Devolver, Konami, and Sega. Mistwalker, a company made up of ex-Final Fantasy developers, also created the stunning Fantasian, a spiritual successor to the Final Fantasty franchise.
Hopefully we can agree that Apple Arcade features some impressive titles, but what about elsewhere on the App Store? Can Apple devices really compete with consoles outside of that environment?
How about a perfect, on par with PC version of the hugely popular Divinity: Original Sin 2? Or the wildly popular FTL: Faster Than Light, Hearthstone, Dead Cells, Minecraft, and Roblox. The list really does go on and on.
Okay, okay, but you can't play real top tier games on iPad or iOS, right? Well, wrong on that fron too actually. How about playing a huge chunk of your Steam and Epic games library on your iPad, Mac, or iPhone? Would that finally convince you? If so, meet GeForce Now. Much like Google's not-long-for-this-world Stadia, this is a cloud based gaming platform. Unlike Stadia, however, you don't need to spend a fortunate paying for games that are locked inside their service. With GeForce Now, you can connect your Steam and Epic libraries, opening up the very real ability to play some incredible, and most importantly top tier and current, games such as Cyberpunk 2077, Assasins Creed: Valhalla, Destiny 2 and, even Fortnite, which is famously, apparently, no longer available on iOS. The team at NVidia are adding new games weekly, every thursday, so it's a constant new flow of acces to your own games library, which you can take with you if you ever do decide to get a PC or desktop computer of some kind.
So, to summarise, to those that argue that Apple has dropped the ball and are missing out on a console market, I say that you're missing the truth staring you in the face. Whilst it's true that they don't currently have a traditional games console on the market, they do actually sell multiple, less traditional gaming consoles. They have a small console that can connect to you TV to play both indie and premium titles. They have a mobile gaming device with a library that mirrors at least some of the Switch's library, but blows it away in power, battery life and screen quality. They also have an army of gaming laptops, in the various forms of iPad, from the insanely powerful to the small and mighty.
For a company that has completely missed the boat on the gaming console market, Apple sure do sell a lot of gaming consoles.