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Apple & gaming – what came 1st – the chicken or the egg?

Apple has never quite cracked gaming on Macs – but why?

Gaming on Apple - the future

I missed the boat

Most of my day, in one way or another, is centred around Apple gear.

Their various devices handle all my needs, and rarely do I need to exit their walled garden. One of the reasons that is possibly a truism, is that I missed the boat on gaming.

Gaming was just starting off when I was younger, but, for whatever reason, it never truly interested me – too in to sport, I guess. But, as it turns out, the fact I am no gamer, works neatly in to my Apple fetish. But surely, that hurdle should not still exist, right?

Top brass

Forty-odd years in, and the company now valued at over $2 trillion, Apple has still not managed to crack gaming.

You have to think, that if Apple were truly invested in the future of gaming on Mac, surely they could have achieved it. If the top-brass at Cupertino wanted it, it would have happened, right? All it needs is a concerted, push, desire, and someone hired with gaming coursing through their veins.

For all the brains and genius among the top level of management, it’s pretty hard to imagine any of them settling back for a solid night gaming, once the corporate suit is off, and the slippers on. I mean, can you picture Tim, Craig, Eddy, or Deidre pushing on to the next level of Call of Duty?

Gaming needs to be a passion of someone within that management team, someone with enough clout, to instil a real change of culture.

Change the record

Long before I started to write about Apple, I was reading about them. I can vividly recall reading articles at least fifteen years back about Macs & gaming. It seems the desire has ebbed & flowed over time – sometimes, though, fête just plays its wicked hand.

There was a Macworld Expo, in the late 90s I think that I can recall, Steve Jobs actually making an entire presentation about gaming coming to Macs. I think it may have been called Halo, and it was to be an exclusive for Apple, and Mac. For whatever reason, that game never came to their platform.

We know Apple are sore losers, and don’t forget their battle scars easily or quickly. I wrote recently, they way they’ve never truly forgotten the tough times of near bankruptcy. The same could well hold true with that moment-in-time at Macworld, and gaming.

After all, when the companies CEO gives over precious keynote time to announce its arrival, and it never shows, that’s got to leave a bad taste.

Apple silicon should have proved the perfect moment for Apple to draw a fresh line in the sand, and make a march forward with gaming. The Macs themselves are surely powerful, and carry enough GPU grunt now, to make a decent fist for the gaming community.

If they managed to create Rosetta during the Apple silicon transition period to facilitate Intel apps – I mean, where there’s a will, there’s a way is all I am saying…

So, if the hardware is in place, and the ability is available, I come back to my earlier conclusion, that it must be the lack of desire that is now the only thing holding them back.

Someone has to blink

The position we now find ourselves in is the perfect storm.

Gamers are not tempted to come over to Mac, as there are not enough games to satisfy them. The flip side of the coin is, developers want to avoid wasting time, money, and man-hours on crafting games for Mac…as there aren’t enough gamers to warrant it.

For things to change, one side is going to have to give an inch. I have friends who are Mac users all day long, but the moment they think of gaming, they reach for their PC or console.

Previous form

However, where this truism comes undone, is when we side-step away from Mac and take a look at the biggest selling device Apple has – the iPhone.

Clearly, when Steve Jobs was busy dreaming up the iPhone – “an iPod with touch controls, a phone, and a breakthrough internet communications device”, I’m willing to bet that gaming was not on his radar.

Yet, developers were quick to latch on to how quickly the iPhone and iOS were growing, and becoming a part of popular culture. They realised, they needed to get on-side – and quickly! You see, the sheer popularity of iPhone drove developers to make games for the platform.

Oddly, iPad has never seen quite the same level of success that iPhone has with gaming. Partly, I guess, the size, and dimensions of the phone make it an ideal hand-held, gaming console. Patently, the audience was there to make it worth the developer’s time.

In short, someone did blink, and Apple was there to support the developer’s thirst.

It’s a cultural thing

The iPhone only ever became a reality, because of Steve Jobs passion to make it happen. The same is true for the early days of iTunes. Steve, by all accounts, was truly a music fan, so he developed a store front for it.

That passion is what is needed if Apple are to make gaming a thing.

Possibly, that could start by looking to recruit someone who is already highly regarded in the gamer’s arena as a top developer. They’d need to come in at a very senior level, and report to Cook, or Jeff Williams. Think of Jony Ive, but for gaming – that’s what we need to see happen.

Apple has to loosen their belt a bit too, step back and take a fresh look at gaming and what they are missing out on. Dare I say it, but having someone in senior management of under 40 years old at Cupertino, may be a start!

Stop viewing it as the Beelzebub, and instead embrace the future of gaming with true passion.

Wrapping up

The popularity of gaming shows no signs of abating. It’s already massive, and that growth looks set to only go in one direction. With the market for gaming worth over $150 billion annually, surely this is the time to take stock.

Apple needs to use all their marketing clout, and sass to appeal to the gaming community. As it stands, Macs are an anathema to gamers – that culture needs to change. Apple has to be on the front-foot, and show this community what they are missing out on, and why Mac is for them. It’s time to convince them of making that change.

The passion to invent cultural change within the company has always existed. From the Macintosh, to iPhone, Apple Watch, iTunes, and possibly soon, the mixed reality space too.

All of these only ever happened due to passion. Apple can be for gamers, but only if they really, deeply, and passionately want it to.

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