Just when you thought the iPhone App Store couldn’t possibly get more competitive, it has! Apple is showing serious signs of getting their own skin in the App Store game by developing their own cutting edge iPhone and iPod Touch game applications. It’s long been rumored that Apple wants to secure their own chunk of the masive video game market. For years competitors Microsoft and Sony have been raking in billions from their Xbox and PlayStation consoles. Up until recent months many suspected Apple may develop their own game console, but as the App Store’s popularity has spread like wildfire Apple opportunistically has positioned their iPod Touch as a gaming device. Steve Jobs himself acknowledged this to the New York Times:
“Originally, we weren’t exactly sure how to market the Touch. Was it an iPhone without the phone? Was it a pocket computer? What happened was, what customers told us was, they started to see it as a game machine,” he said. “We started to market it that way, and it just took off.”
AppleInsider recently reported that Apple is aggressively recruiting talented game developers with a minumum of 3-4 years of video game development experience. For developers to be considered they must also have shipped at least one high profile game title. In addition to recruiting a new game app development army, Apple also recently hired notable game developer Graeme Devine, who just so happens to be the lead designer for the uber popular video game Halo Wars. While the purpose of this sudden hiring spree has not been formally disclosed by Apple, all signs indicate that Apple is developing its own high powered game applications.
Since the iPhone’s debut in 2007, Apple has sold over 30 million iPhones and 20 million iPod Touch’s. It didn’t take long for big name game development companies to recognize the profit potential in iPhone/iPod Touch game applications, and have since been hopping on the App Store bandwagon like pigeons on breadcrumbs. Most recently, popular game development company id Software announced that they’re going to stop developing for BREW/Java platforms to focus solely on the App Store. Putting their money where their mouth is, id Software recently ported Doom to the iPhone and plan to ship over the entire Quake franchise as well. id Software’s own John Carmack thinks the threat of the iPhone and iPod Touch replacing Nintendo’s DS and Sony’s PSP as the top portable gaming devices is real.
“I think mid- to long-term it’s a significant threat,” he says. “I don’t carry a DS or a PSP around, but I’ve got my iPhoen everywhere. So if it plays good games, I’m less likely to pick one of the others up. … I think the stars could align and it could start to eclipse those other systems in terms of unit sales.”
By successfully positioning both devices as gaming platforms, it’s possible that Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch could become the most popular portable gaming devices ever. Seeing that Apple is the holder of the iPhone and iPOd Touch’s “secret sauce”, developing their own high profile game applications for these platforms will without a doubt elevate the quality required for apps to be successful in the App Store! It’s clear that there is huge opportunity for app developers within the App Store. The size of this opportunity is attracting more and more heavy hitting development companies equipped with arsenals of experienced developers, slews of recognized brands and high valued franchises, and very large marketing budgets. As quickly as you can blink an eye the App Store marketplace is shifting from one that every Tom, Dick, and Harry can compete in, to a place where only the ultra-creative and successfully marketed applications will succeed.
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