Imagine a new TV product, with two models:
- $99 with a full set of entertainment options, but no gaming
- $179 with a full set of entertainment options, plus gaming
This TV product would be on an annual release cycle; average consumers would only upgrade every few years (the core OS and most games would support 3 generations), while more serious gamers would upgrade every year providing a nice bit of recurring revenue (this would be much more feasible today, as developers have long since developed the expertise to make games available across multiple architectures).
If Apple were to follow this strategy, and the hints are present in iOS 8 and the videos from WWDC to suggest they might, it would likely be enough to keep me—a lifelong gamer with a gaming podcast, a self-built gaming PC, and a list of past console purchases—from ever buying an Xbox One or PS4. All it would take is the right buy-in from third-party developers, and I’d be sold. In fact, I can’t think of many adult gamers who would continue with the old ways if this were a viable option.
The first version would be underpowered in comparison to a PS4; that’s certain. But if users were able to afford an upgrade every year—or every two years—the consoles simply wouldn’t be able to keep up after only a handful of cycles. Meanwhile, the majority of consumer dollars could go to the games themselves (and the obligatory percentage to the App Store). It’s a future that I hope comes to pass, as I already like the Apple TV and want nothing more than to see it become the hub around which all of my large-screen entertainment centers. If I can add gaming to that list, all the better.
Also, read Thompson’s whole article. This is a guy who gets the industry in a way that many writers seem to not even recognize, let alone have the capability to articulate.