Apple and Microsoft collaborating? In 2020, anything’s possible. On the back of adding Apple TV to the next generation of Xbox consoles, Apple and Microsoft are working together to enable Xbox Series X controllers in iOS and iPadOS.
For the early adopters, this is a natural progression from being able to use Xbox One controllers with your iPhone, as well as other controllers such as the PS4’s (there are even rumours that PS5 controller compatibility is soon on the way). But why all the noise? What’s really in it for Apple and mobile gamers?
In short, giving gamers the console experience on mobile. Last year, I wrote about how the launch of Apple Arcade was the tech brand’s first step in achieving this goal, but since then it would appear they’ve reached a bit of a bottleneck.
From Apple Arcade’s launch, it appeared Apple’s strategy would be to focus on ‘art house’ games: the titles that those in the know would laud for their artistic vision. But fast forward to 2020, and it looks like the vision hasn’t been fully realised. Instead, Apple’s begrudgingly accepting people’s perception of Apple Arcade as ‘a mobile gaming service for traditional iOS games but without the expected in-app purchases’.
But given Apple Arcade’s capability to enable you to play your favourite titles with the controller of your choice on Mac, iPad or Apple TV, and whisperings of Apple looking to get into 5G Cloud Gaming, it would seem Apple’s looking beyond just mobile gaming. Are they laying the foundations to create an offering to rival Google’s Stadia or Nvidia’s GeForce Now?
Of course, we can’t read too much into the rumours, but if Apple wants to compete and convert both core mobile and console gamers into mobile cloud gamers, there are two hurdles they’ll need to overcome:
- The app store is the go-to for both mobile game developers and users (Apple Arcade’s even a sub-section of the store, rather than a stand-alone app à la Apple Music). If Apple wants to move people on to a new service, they’ll need to offer more compelling proof points for users and clear financial benefits to get developers off the Freemium business model
- Although avoiding AAA titles was part of the initial Apple Arcade strategy, Apple will need to add heavyweight franchises to its library or deliver exclusive titles that can challenge the likes of Assassin’s Creed to compete with other Cloud Gaming services and consoles
In the meantime, Apple Arcade will continue to push forward with new games being released every week, and with the App Store bringing in $54.2bn in revenue in 2019, I don’t think Apple’s in a rush jump ship and hop on the cloud gaming bandwagon.