Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 23, 2012

Email: Steve Jobs and gaming

Hey there Sean. Like you mentioned in a previous blog post, Steve Jobs was ambivalent about gaming, and I can’t blame him. Several of the products he was involved in creating quite literally changed the world. The Macintosh made desktop publishing possible. The World Wide Web was created using a NeXT computer, and OSX was based on the foundation of NeXT’s operating system. He emotionally invested almost all of his money from the shares he had at Apple in order to keep Pixar afloat until they would create Toy Story. Then there’s his legendary return to Apple near the end of the century and turned it around to become what it is today.

With all of these successes under his belt, I could see why he didn’t devote much of his time and energy into marketing the Mac platform for video games. I can see he was clearly passionate about it since there were stories of Steve Jobs screaming at the folks at Microsoft for buying out Bungie in order to make Halo exclusive to the Xbox because Bungie was one of the few developers left who had some pretty good knowledge of how to make games on the Mac and was planning to release Halo on it. There were also reports that Apple could’ve easily secured Bungie if Apple reacted faster to the offer Bungie was proposing to them, but considering that this was all happening near the end of the 1990s right when Apple was still busy with a bajillion other things (mostly retaining profits because Steve Jobs just got back to Apple, getting OSX ready for Macs and servers, secretly working on the iPod and then developing a content distribution platform to complement said iPod, etc.), I could see why Steve Jobs was ambivalent towards gaming. He probably looked at Apple’s history, saw how badly the Pippin went for the company, looked at the current gaming landscape with several companies vying for control over it, then looked at where Apple was still relevant at (which definitely wasn’t video games), and decided to focus his efforts into securing those markets instead.

I could easily see Apple being a huge influence in the gaming industry if Tim Cook decided that they should use Apple’s laser-like efforts into the videogame market instead of doing half-baked stuff like Game Center which developers don’t use because it feels tacky. All they would need to do is follow a similar mantra that Nintendo used during the DS and early Wii era by declaring that graphics aren’t everything to justify the integrated GPU solutions in most of their Mac products, and that the user experience is. And the user experience is clearly Apple’s forte.

I forgot about the story with Bungie. Apple certainly does have plenty of money. Buying some game companies may not be a bad idea for them. Or if not buying a company, perhaps starting a studio of their own. There are many game developers who wouldn’t mind working inside Apple for gaming.

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