The Xbox One and PS4 could bet getting company. Recent reports indicate that a new Apple TV is well into testing, and might arrive soon. Both 9t05 Mac and iLounge cite insider sources telling them that a revamped set-top box is on its way, and it’s going to have a full-fledged app-store with a game console built right in.
This is a rumor, though one that we’ve suspected for a long time. Apple has grown considerably since it wandered into being one of the more powerful forces in the video game world by virtue of the iPhone, and it appears to now realize the potential gaming has for its devices. We don’t know anything about specs or other details, but it does appear that the company is working on bluetooth controllers, and I can’t imagine that any plan would put this machine on par with current, or probably even last, generation consoles.
For right now, we can consider this in the same way that we consider rumors of a Google console, or even Steam Machines. The console market will see a robust version business as usual as the Xbox One and PS4 go through their first and second years, and these strange new machines cautiously test the living room waters and the markets that come along with them. But even if none of these alternative consoles make a giant splash at the outset, I still think that traditional platforms should be watching them very closely. The gaming business in five years will look very different than it does now, and I have a feeling that’s where companies like Apple, Google and Valve are all aiming.
There’s no doubt that core gamers — the ones who may already have an Xbox One or PS4 — will always want a powerful machine capable of playing the latest titles from major publishers. It’s everyone else I wonder about. I have friends that I played piles of games with in college that just don’t have to time for a major console anymore, and these are just the sort of people that might make a slightly more measured step into returning some games to their living room experiences. If an Apple console could furnish something slightly more powerful than even PS2 era graphics, that could still translate to a large amount of fun, cheaper games.
Apple is realizing something that Microsoft and S0ny realized a long time ago: games are one of the most important keys to the fully digital living room. Those companies have a solid lock on core gaming for right now, but they’re both aiming to hit a broader market as well. When they do, they might find themselves with competition from some very big names.