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.