Steve Jobs and Apple’s Lasting Impact on the Gaming Landscape

While most of us hanging around Game Front might be quick to affirm that we are PCs rather than Macs, it’s impossible to deny the impact on technology and culture that has been a direct result of the influence of Apple’s former CEO, Steve Jobs.

Jobs died this week at the age of 56. During his time as head of Apple, he was directly or indirectly responsible for every major product Apple has produced since the iMac, and under his leadership, the company grew to become one of the most powerful technology corporations in the world. The Mac computer line continues to pick up steam against PCs, and while mobile gaming existed on cell phones before Apple came on the scene, the genesis of the current industry of mobile gaming — and its huge, exponential growth in just four years — is pretty much directly due to the popularity of the iPhone and the iPad.

It’s the ubiquity of mobile gaming that will probably end up being Jobs’ lasting impact on the gaming industry. Whether you subscribe to mobile gaming or not, millions of people do, with varying degrees of hard-core-ness. Ranging from easygoing games like Angry Birds and Words With Friends to the more console-like offerings such as Dead Space, Infinity Blade and The Dark Meadow, there’s now a huge market for smartphone video games and an enormous number of people who play video games now, and never have before this.

Similar is the explosion of casual gaming on Facebook and other social networks that, realistically, can be considered a segment of PC gaming. Though many of us kind of hate FarmVille and its legion of players, still — those are people who play games, and pay money for the privilege.

And now these two casual segments are beginning to bridge, and this is likely to be the beginning of a brave new era of gaming, at least to some degree. The popularity of mobile and casual gaming cannot be denied; much more likely is that traditional game developers will begin to adopt these new gameplay platforms and roll them into our existing gaming structure.

You can already play the Scrabble-like Words With Friends, a game developed by a studio Zynga purchased last year, on Facebook or on the iPhone (or comparable Android device), and you can play games against other players regardless of what platform they’re on. Already, this is a game you can start at home on your computer, then take with you on a mobile device and continue playing.

That sounds awfully like the germinating stage of what great gaming minds like Hideo Kojima are trying to accomplish. Konami’s “Transfarring” service will allow players to take their home console games on the road with them on handhelds. But there are mobile devices that are already on pace to do that; another good example is the game Dungeon Defenders, which will soon be available on consoles and PCs, and which will allow its users to play cooperatively with owners of the game using various mobile devices.

Jobs helped to revolutionize not just computers or the way people view a technology company, but the very idea of technology in general. Today we use devices people 20 years ago could only have dreamed about. We have powerful computers in our telephones, and we have the ability to connect with the world in untold ways, with little more effort than the tap of a finger.

A similar, slower wave may yet be sweeping through gaming. Grandmas play video games now. Video games are available not just on dedicated machines or on powerful PCs, but everywhere, and in everything. That’s kind of a great thing, if you think about it. In many ways, we’ve entered The Future in the last few years — thank Steve Jobs for playing a very, very big part in getting us there.

Follow Hornshaw on Twitter: @philhornshaw.

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7 Comments on Steve Jobs and Apple’s Lasting Impact on the Gaming Landscape


On October 6, 2011 at 9:50 pm

I wonder if this means the constant flow of more we dont need but have to have from Apple will finally slow down.

Garyn Dakari

On October 7, 2011 at 12:23 am

I wonder if all the internet douches will ever stop being heartless twits.

*Reads comment*

I guess not.

Brandon J. Clark

On October 7, 2011 at 8:33 am

Sorry, but I don’t feel the slightest bit sad for Steve Jobs death. He was a major head and lived a life basically NO ONE will live. him…

Brandon J. Clark

On October 7, 2011 at 8:41 am

Sure, he led a team to make great things, but let’s not pretend he made or created the idea for these devices.


On October 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm

One thing Job will not be remembered for is pushing gaming forward. He had a very “I’m right and you’re wrong.” perspective of what technology should be. If anything, he set Apple computers as gaming machines into the dark ages with all the stupid middleware licensing fees. Anyone remember Firewire? Wonder why it went from boom to bust? Again, nobody wants to pay Apple a unreasonable licensing fee. USB was (and still is) virtually free in stark comparison to what Apple wanted to charge per device.

The only reason iPhone is a forefront for mobile gaming is because of its sheer popularity and large (lemming-like?) user base. Once that starts to decline (as has been the case historically when Apple ever gets on top), you can bet people will be jumping ship to the more profitable Android or Windows Mobile platform.

Jobs was very good at making money. No one can deny that. And he had a somewhat unique appreciation for beautifying technology (engineers tend to be more mechanically minded). What Jobs will not be remembered for is being a corporate entity that “helped” push gaming forward. I always got the impression that he could have given two s about what gamers thought of his products. They were at the perhipheral of his vision.

Phil Hornshaw

On October 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Feeling a lot of Jobs hate on this post.

I’ll agree that Jobs didn’t specifically push gaming forward, but it’s hard not to see the influence of the innovations and markets the guy imagined, and then created, through his leadership.

Regardless of how you feel about Apple — seems like most everyone’s a bit negative on them, and I can certainly understand that point of view — the company has had a massive impact on the ways that we use technology every day. Steve Jobs is responsible for much of that, and much of those changes have trickled down to effect gaming in large and small ways.


On October 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm

They’ll love the 4S. I bet my life on it — Steve Jobs, on the iPhone 4s October 4, 2011

Only thing Knob Jobs ever did was advertise over priced garbage. He had no impact on anyone or anything besides yuppies.