According to Xbox co-creator Ed Fries, gaming’s future will owe a lot to Apple.
It’s no secret that videogame consoles have changed drastically since their inception. In terms of physical media alone, we’ve moved from tape-based cartridges, to ROM cartridges, to CDs, and most recently to digital distribution for delivering content. Our technological capability is increasing at a rapid pace, but according to Xbox co-creator Ed Fries, the services provided by console manufacturers are still stuck in the past. Fries believes that the upcoming game generation could finally be the tipping point that changes everything, and in the end, it’s going to look a lot like Apple.
“It’s getting harder and harder for the traditional consoles to ignore the Apple kind of experience,” Fries told Game Informer. “Anybody can develop for the platform, certification is a relatively cheap and painless thing, and in the old days of consoles there are all sorts of myths and legends that say that’s a bad thing to do. That’s why the game business melted down in ’84, there was too much junk on the market, but now you’ve got guys who make games like Fez who can’t do an update to their game because it costs too much, if that game was on iOS that wouldn’t be a problem, but because it’s on XBLA it’s a problem.”
While console manufacturers have been slowly catching up with new technologies and distribution methods, Fries notes that in many ways they’re still inflexible to change. That’s why Fries believes that the Ouya, for which he is currently acting as an advisor, might succeed in the coming generation. Fries even suggests that an Apple console would inevitably spark another gaming revolution. “Those kinds of ideas have to go away in the next generation,” he says. “They’ll go away in Ouya, they’ll go away if Apple brings some kind of product into this space, the console makers like Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, they have to respond to that, it’s just the future.”
While it’s difficult to say exactly how things will shake out, it’s not wrong to note that Apple’s practices have impacted the industry. The iPhone practically changed the way we think about handheld gaming overnight, and its influence is credited to everything from declining console sales to Microsoft’s certification policies for Windows 8. Manufacturers would likely love to emulate some of Apple’s practices, and more importantly its successes, in a console market that is looking a little rough around the edges despite its strengths.