Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Monday, September 6, 2010

Brave New World Coming

Thanks for sticking with me while my blog was on autopilot for the last two weeks. Now I'm back and starting to catch up with the latest news...

The console game market is facing an existential threat, and one of the killers is pictured above... the new Apple TV. Apple hasn't dropped the bomb yet, but this new product launch has everything ready. It's a $99 box that lets you stream movies and TV shows... and content from your iPad and iPod Touch and iPhone. That's interesting enough, if you think about being able to see an iPad game on your TV, with everyone using it as a controller (or their iPhones... think about the Scrabble game).

The real threat is when Apple decides to put the App Store on the new Apple TV. Suddenly, tens of thousands of games averaging $3 apiece will be available... soon, many of those in versions especially for the TV screen. And thousands of them are free, or free-to-play. Compare that, as Dean Takahashi just did, with what's available as downloads currently on consoles... mostly $10 or more titles, very few in number and very few free.

And that's not even talking about Google TV, which is clearly planning the same thing. Oh, and let's not forget Apple's new social network, and Google's sub rosa effort to outdo Facebook, both with amazing gaming potential. It could all happen in a heartbeat, with Apple rolling out the the new App store at any time.

Console makers are caught in a rough spot. They don't want to piss off game retailers by offering full-price games, nor do they want to piss off publishers by offering free games. They surely realize what the future is, but getting there means killing or severely wounding their current business model with much uncertainty about how fast the new business model would take over for it. And this in an environment where their typical development cycle is 2-3 years for a game, and in the new mobile/social game world it's 2-3 months or less.

The next couple of years will be a roller-coaster ride for the game industry. Hang on...

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