26 Reasons An Apple TV Game Console Is Unlikely

Of all the new products Apple could release this fall, a revamped Apple TV/game console would be the easiest to make…and could deliver a huge unexpected disruption to the upcoming next-gen game consoles from Sony and Microsoft. […] All we need now is for Apple to announce a new Apple TV this fall. And, I don’t think that’s so far-fetched at all.

That’s not the worst of it. What’s worse is that this is from an article on CNET (ahem) called “Why an Apple TV game console is a no-brainer”.

OK, take a minute to work through the guffaws. Hey, I get it, what are you gonna do… we were starved for any kind of Apple news after Apple spent the first half of the year in silent running. Pundits had to pull something out of their butts! And some took the addition of an iOS game controller API as a natural compliment to an Apple TV gaming box.

But Apple game console… umm, yeah. Aside from my already-established skepticism on the idea of an Apple TV SDK, let me share with you a post I saw on App.Net that utterly killed for me the prospect of an Apple TV game console:

Apple has paid $13 billion [] to iOS developers across the lifetime of the platform. Sales of iOS devices total about 700 million []. Divide one by the other and the total amount spent on apps across the lifetime of the average iOS device is just $26.52.

oluseyi, Nov. 10, 2013

Just a little over $25 spent on apps over the entire lifetime of the device. And since Apple is talking about the cumulative amount paid out to developers, this presumably includes in-app purchases as well as straight-up app purchases (it may include Mac App Store payments too, although the MAS has far less traction than the iOS App Store, and the Mac platform is much smaller than iOS, so it doesn’t throw off the numbers too badly).

Now think about this in terms of a game console. I’ve had a few dedicated consoles (in addition to computers that happened to play games) over the years: Odyssey2, Lynx, CD-i, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Wii, PlayStation 3.

Did I ever put only $25 of software into one of these systems over its lifetime?

My PS2, PS3, and Wii games. Most of them, anyways.

Uh, no.

That photo is our family’s collection of PS2, Wii, and PS3 games. My son only got the PS3 a few months back (and barely plays it), and interest in the Wii faded over time (outside of my daughter’s collection of Skylanders), so most of what’s on the shelf is PS2 games. If I make a a very cursory count of PS2 games, trying to skip over demo discs and stuff we bought used, I come up with about 50 games likely bought at retail (or, in the case of those white-labeled Dance Dance Revolution games, imported at significant expense from Japan). And that’s not even my whole collection, as I’ve permanently loaned out games to my parents’ place Up North, and to friends in Atlanta (speaking of which, I should get Final Fantasy X back from David W. He can keep The Bouncer, though).

50 games at an average price of $40 means I have spent $2,000 on PS2 software over the years, over 76 times what is spent on the average iOS device, as calculated by oluseyi above.

And this is a fairly small PS2 collection compared to others I’ve seen. Even my Wii collection, at 34 games, represents $1,360 in purchases (again assuming an average price of $40/game), which is 52 times more than is spent on apps for the average iOS device.

The premise of only spending $25 over a console’s lifetime would be like buying the console and just a single game, at 50% off.

Then again, it’s not like I’m a slouch when it comes to iOS purchases either, so maybe I’m an outlier. This is just the last 3 months:

Recent iPad purchases, just to prove I eagerly pay for stuff on this platform.

But still, when it’s been clearly established that iOS users will not pay for software, then notwithstanding the big successes of the Angry Birds and Candy Crush Sagas and what have you, I think a developer would have to be frickin’ crazy to develop for an Apple TV game platform. They’d be very unlikely to find enough paying customers to recoup their development costs.

Honestly, it feels like a lot of serious game development has already fled the existing iOS platform. You don’t see EA trying to port major console titles like Mirror’s Edge to iPad anymore, now it’s about turning franchises like Madden into free-to-play card-swipe machines (to apparently dismal results). Maybe the indies will save us — I have high hopes for the built-for-touch Revolution 60 — but it’s hard to argue that iOS gaming is largely anything more than an in-app purchase cesspool at this point.

And what consumer would choose that over the PS4 or XBox One, even at a fraction of the price?

An Apple TV game console would be a bad idea for all involved. A “no-brainer” indeed.

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