Do you remember when the iPhone was debuted for the first time in 2007 by Steve Jobs at the Macworld conference?
The first iPhone has truly redefined what we can do with phones. It changed the whole mobile computing industry! It also created a new user experience that people really loved, after phones were just basic devices with small screens, limited functionalities, and a “baby internet.”
One of the most important innovations is the App Store which changed the concept of creating and publishing applications, allowing all developers of all categories and capabilities to reach users in a direct and easy way, without a 3rd party in the middle. Just as iTunes changed the industry of songs and movies.
Well, what about games? Apple isn’t into the field of games as we know, but – by coincidence – it was able to completely change the gaming industry in an unprecedented way, and opened new horizons for game makers after this field was monopolized by large companies.
How did that happen? Here is the whole story!
1. The Birth of the Gaming Industry and the Old History of Apple
The gaming industry began to develop and progress with the emergence of Atari, which had a great impact on the development of the gaming industry to the form we know now. There were two employees in Atari, the first was Steve Jobs, and the second was Steve Wozniak. Then, as we know, the two founded Apple with their 3rd partner Ronald Wayne.
Both had previous experience in building pretty electronic devices and this is one of the things that really helped them unleash their creativity with building the Apple 1. At that time, PCs were really annoying to deal with. They only had some toggle switches and red lights that people use to program the computer, as shown in the photo below. If you want to connect this PC to an external monitor or keyboard, you have to plug in external circuits to add that functionality.
On the contrary, the Apple 1 was composed of an integrated circuit, you only need to connect the keyboard and the screen to the device, without the need for any other external components, and this is how gaming devices work completely. No need for external components when connecting them to an external monitor.
Apple did not stop there, but at the same time, the company tried a lot to enter this field and was not able to succeed at all. For example, Apple was competing with Microsoft to buy the company that developed the game Halo, but Microsoft won the battle in the end. Not to mention the failure of its “Apple Pippins” gaming console after its release in 1996, as Steve Jobs was then expelled from the company. He later founded his other company, NeXT.
Alright, we now know some of the old history of Apple and gaming. How has the company really managed to change people’s perception of games and open new horizons for game makers? This brings us to 2007, the year the iPhone was released!
2. The Creation of the iPhone and the App Store
iPhone was the first modern smartphone device, which pushed the limits of the mobile industry after phones were just basic devices with limited functionalities.
Our model example is the App Store. Do you remember what the gaming industry looked like before the App Store and other services like iTunes and iBooks?
Indie developers were always suffering from the inability to reach the users, especially with the lack of experience and the features required for marketing. In addition, the big game companies were the ones who controlled the entire game industry, and any game developer would have to agree to the terms that Imposed by huge game publishing companies.
Gaming consoles were only targeting passionate gamers with a specific age range, and they were expensive too. Microsoft and Sony didn’t pay much attention to indie developers.
Well, how did the iPhone and the App Store change the gaming industry by chance?
In fact, the idea of the store, which was new at the time, allowed many independent developers to reach millions of users and publish their applications and games freely without the need for a middleman or a game publishing company. The developers really liked the idea of the store. Also, dealing with the phone was easy because the device is touch-based and does not contain fixed control buttons as in portable gaming devices such as the PSP and Nintendo DS at the time. Thanks to these reasons, and because developing applications and games on the device was very easy thanks to some development software from Apple, we have seen many Casual Games which were played by everyone of different ages and classes; everyone loved these games. They were sold for very cheap prices of just a few dollars, less than a dollar, or even for nothing!
That was a big turning point for this industry. Everyone just loved playing those casual games, and this made companies like Microsoft and Sony start to pay big attention to these indie developers, because they were actually making millions. Examples are Rovio, Supercell, King, and more.
At that time, the games for portable consoles were expensive, exceeding $40, and this made these devices acceptable only to a very specific class of people.
And from there Apple discovered the potential of investing more in gaming, after iPhone games were selling more than PSP and Nintendo DS’s together!
One of the most important steps taken by Apple to improve the gaming experience on its devices is the Game Center, which is a social platform that allows players to communicate with each other anywhere in the world, conduct challenges and competitions, track achievements, and compare results on the leaderboards.
The smart devices’ games were then the focus of attention by giant companies such as EA, Nintendo and SEGA, which released many of their games on smart devices at low prices.
On the other hand, Microsoft, Sony, Steam, and other companies have created programs intended only for indie developers to help them publish their games on Xbox, PlayStation, and computers.
After all these developments, what does the gaming industry look like now?
3. Gaming Today
If you look around, you will find that everyone is enjoying playing games on their mobile phone. Who among us has not played Angry Birds, or Candy Crush, or Clash of Clans, or PUBG and Fortnite, and thousands of other games, although in the end they are very simple games and not as large and sophisticated as computer games and gaming devices.
The advent of cloud gaming and gaming services has taken the world by storm. For example, in September 2019 Apple announced Apple Arcade, which enables you to explore and play hundreds of paid games on your device for only $ 4.99 per month! So is the Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now service.
These services have become more desirable to people because they allow you to pay a small amount per month and try hundreds of games that you play without purchasing each game separately.
So, this was the story of Apple changing the gaming industry!