Apple Entertainment Software & Hardware

Apple get casual about gaming

Let’s just get one thing straight: Apple aren’t in a niche, they are a niche in their own right. In fact, they love being a niche. And, they love hunting down any new niche that is close enough to them to make sense bringing into the fold.

Take casual gaming on the iPod, for example:

“’These games are more for your mom or your little sister. These are play-it-for-15-minutes-and-forget-about-it games.’ Whatever the demographic – many are women – the casual gamer is an attractive market. Last year, the U.S. mobile gaming market was worth $722 million, a 44% increase from 2005, according to researcher IDC. The market is expected to grow to $952 million this year and to $1.3 billion in 2010.”

It’s an interesting market, and it’s something that a good, solid partnership with the likes of Electronic Arts could help flesh out and make real:

“[Apple, Inc.] tapped several game publishers, including Electronic Arts and Namco, to deliver a selection of casual games. Titles include classics such as Tetris and Pac-Man, updates of old staples like the Arkanoid-inspired Vortex, and diversions with current pop-culture cachet like Sudoku and Texas Hold’em.”

I mention Electronic Arts because their name cropped up some time ago in a previous post-iPhone launch article of mine, which provides an interesting segue.

It’s clear that casual gaming won’t be restricted to just the iPod range, but extend out towards the iPhone, too:

“Since Apple unveiled the iPhone in January, speculation has abounded about whether the device will feature games. On one hand, the design is a step closer to an all-in-one portable media device and it includes a robust OS X operating system capable of running elaborate games. The touch-screen interface would pose challenges, say game developers, but would also open some new doors.”

But that’s not all, the iPod and the iPhone are one thing, but what about Apple TV, too?

“The creator of Xbox Live Arcade, now employed by one of Apple’s gaming allies, has let it slip that Apple TV is a future platform for the casual gaming market.

In an interview with Wired, Canessa, who gave birth to Xbox Live Arcade during his time at Microsoft, singled out Apple TV as a platform he expects to embrace casual gaming over the next five years.

As part of his new position, Canessa said he will be ‘taking the stable of franchises and games out of PopCap’s studio and adapting, customizing it for different platforms – adding multiplayer, new play modes, HD, customizing the user interface and display for Zune, ipod, Apple TV, Nintendo DS, PSP.’”

So while Apple might be chasing down casual gamers, there’s certainly nothing casual about their attitude…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.