In reality Apple outsmarted us all, or at least me. The iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches we all have in our homes are the best controllers, but looking at an iPhone screen and trying to watch a TV set across the room is a non-starter. The whole point of a gaming console is to focus on the larger screen in your TV. Enter the new Game Controller framework. This move is so brilliant that it could completely revolutionize home gaming.
Apple has also done something that should be keeping Microsoft and Sony up at night. Instead of building a bigger, faster, badder AppleTV they are offloading the processing power to iDevices. This allows Apple to keep the AppleTV price point at $99 and offloading the processing to the iPhone, that frankly, most of us already own. Using existing Airplay technology the AppleTV is poised to become the gaming console of 2013.
While XBox One and Playstation 4 were being announced at E3 for $499 and $399 respectfully [sic], Apple released an ever updating gaming console for $99 (plus the cost of controller and iDevice). Apple also has the best software lineup of any next gen console with more than 750,000 apps. Including hundreds of thousands of sub $10 games. This comes on the tails of modern PS4 and Xbox games tipping the scales at almost $60.
I think Kyle is wrong about the Apple TV as a thin video client for iPhone-based games, but it’s possible he’ll turn out to be right and it’s definitely an interesting thought experiment.
Personally, I’d expect Apple to release a higher-end Apple TV that supports gaming (and other apps) while leaving its low-end $99 Apple TV in place as a strictly-as-shipped device—or even just bring games and apps to the next Apple TV hardware update. There’s no particular reason for Apple to try to compete hardware-wise with the Big Three when plenty of Apple TV “gamers” will be folks who bought it strictly as a set-top box and got a Bluetooth controller or two for a few bucks each as an afterthought.