After Steve, will Apple press its advantage in games?

Steve Jobs never liked video games, particularly the violent ones. Years ago, when id Software’s John Carmack demonstrated a cool shooting game during one of Jobs’ keynotes, Jobs wouldn’t allow him to show any blood on the big screen.
That approach defined Apple’s stance on games, just at the moment that 3D games were flourishing due to the growth of powerful graphics hardware support. And it doomed the Mac to a secondary position.
No longer. With the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, Apple has a built up a tremendous position in mobile games in just a few years. Its platforms are the target for the best mobile games, such as Infinity Blade 2,.
Now that Jobs is no longer running Apple, the question is whether Apple will be able to stretch its wings even more broadly in the game market. Apple executives certainly tout games at the company’s press conferences. Epic Games, for instance, was allowed to give a lengthy demo of Infinity Blade 2 at the recent iPhone 4S press conference.
But in many ways, that is thinking small. Consider that Apple has never exhibited at E3, the giant game show held in June in Los Angeles every year. It has also never held a public event where it focuses solely on the games being developed for the iOS platforms. It holds events for developers, but doesn’t make a big splash for the press when it does so. Apple could clearly get a big audience of press and developers if it held periodic game-focused events.
The problem isn’t that Apple lacks game support on iOS. It has roughly 100,000 games available, and it is competing head to head with Android to be the primary target platform for game developers. The problem is that Apple continues to have a very small staff dedicated to games (beyond the testing of them). Indeed, much of Apple’s success with games, especially in the early days of the App Store, has been accidental. It is the gamers and game developers that have pulled the Cupertino company headlong into supporting games with features such as in-app purchases and the (not-so-successful) Apple game center.
Peter Relan, chairman of YouWeb and chief executive of CrowdStar, says that, from a business point of view, Apple has clearly seen the value of games and has supported the category.
“Going forward, I believe they should highlight games more at events, showcase and feature apps like iSwifter, that bring thousands more games to iOS,” Relan said. “Ultimately, Steve Jobs cared about what users would want to do, more than anything else, and games is THE killer app category in the App Store.”
He adds, “Users have spoken convincingly to Apple: I want my MTV. And I want my games!”
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