Apple Store“As iconic as Apple may be in consumer electronics—from personal computing to digital music and, now, mobile phones—it hasn’t exactly set the gaming world on fire. The Mac lags behind competing brands in gaming software,” Douglas MacMillan reports for BusinessWeek.

MacMillan reports, “But in recent months, Apple has shown a new openness to gaming by introducing a spate of titles for its iPod digital music players. The company tapped several game publishers, including Electronic Arts and Namco, to deliver a selection of casual games. Titles include classics such as Tetris and Pac-Man, updates of old staples like the Arkanoid-inspired Vortex, and diversions with current pop-culture cachet like Sudoku and Texas Hold’em.”

MacMillan reports, “Most of the titles have lush graphics and multiple game-play options and work intuitively with the iPod’s scroll wheel. And just like song files, the games can be downloaded from Apple’s iTunes store for $4.99 each.”

“The target, in other words, is aficionados of casual games, often played in short duration on mobile phones and other handheld devices… Last year, the U.S. mobile gaming market was worth $722 million, a 44% increase from 2005, according to researcher IDC. The market is expected to grow to $952 million this year and to $1.3 billion in 2010,” MacMillan reports.

“Apple’s casual gaming foray is unlikely to end with the last version of the iPod. Apple is discussing games for the iPhone, due to be released in June, with the casual gaming arm of EA, has learned. Apple could also release games for Apple TV, a wireless device that will transmit video downloaded from iTunes onto a TV,” MacMillan reports.

“Apple is mum on gaming plans for the iPhone or Apple TV, but Mitch Lasky, senior vice-president of EA Mobile, says his company is discussing plans for games on the phone,” MacMillan reports. “Apple also thought to tap two lesser-known developers of Web-based casual games, PopCap Games and FreshGames. The iPod creator handpicked the titles with the most popularity among Web surfers.”

Apple TV “is a shoo-in for games, says Greg Canessa, vice-president for video-game platforms at PopCap. ‘Apple TV is a natural,’ he says. ‘It’s about an extension device for the content you have on your Mac or your PC. It’s a living extension of iTunes—your music and movies—but games are contained in iTunes as well. Once you start looking at a low-cost box that extends those experiences to the television set, that’s an interesting consumer scenario.'”

Full article here.

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