Former GM of Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade: Apple TV to become video game console

Apple Store“The man who birthed Xbox Live Arcade has abandoned his brainchild. With freshly inked adoption papers, Greg Canessa, former general manager of Xbox Live Arcade, will now nurture PopCap Games’ console and handheld divisions as the vice president of video game platforms,” Chris Kohler reports for Wired News.

Kohler reports, “Why is his defection so important? The casual games market is estimated at $1 billion, and it’s projected to hit as high as $5 billion by 2009. That’s a huge amount of growth considering the video game market’s revenues currently tally $7.4 billion. Under Greg Canessa’s watchful eye, XBLA titles have reached 20 million downloads. PopCap hopes the former XBLA manager will extend that same magic to future PopCap titles slated for consoles and handhelds.”

MacDailyNews Note: Canessa began his professional career at Apple Computer as a games marketer and evangelist. PopCap: http://www.popcap.com/

In the Q&A, with Kohler Canessa drops a bombshell:

Kohler: So what exactly will you be doing for PopCap?
Canessa: I will help proliferate their titles on other consoles. It’s a broad in scope role. It encompasses everything from vision and strategy to execution and marketing. It will all be part of my group and charter. Business development will be part of that as well. It will be about taking the stable of franchises and games out of PopCap’s studio and adapting, customizing it for different platforms — adding multiplayer, new play modes, HD, customizing the user interface and display for Zune, ipod, Apple TV, Nintendo DS, PSP.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple TV? Whoops! And then Canessa does it again:

Kohler: Are you going to move PopCap games into retail distribution channels?
Canessa: Absolutely. Without getting into any specifics, the charter that’s been given to me is to extend beyond pure online distribution — although we will be doing a lot of that. It will extend to the retail channel. An impulse price point means you can sit on your couch, decide to buy and then play multiplayer Heavy Weapon. That works perfectly for iTunes or Xbox Live Arcade, for well-formed digital distribution destinations that have the mass market understanding of how to use these channels.

Kohler: Where do you see the casual games market in the next five years?
Canessa: Casual games, gaming in general, will continue to penetrate into the psyche of the mass market public. We ain’t seen nothing yet in terms of where it’s going to be in the next couple years. More and more soccer moms and grandmas will play. It’s going to continue to grow into non-core demographics. This is relevant as it pertains to devices that are not currently earmarked as gaming devices: mobile, set-top boxes, Apple TV, MP3 players and other devices in the home that will reach the non-gamer — people who don’t think they want to play.

Full article and interview here.

MacDailyNews Take: Now, there’s a real “wow!” Hopefully, Apple CEO’s Jobs won’t be too upset about Canessa’s confirmation.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Tommo_UK” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
ZDNet’s Graham: Apple TV hits a number of sweet spots, poised to make a big impact – January 25, 2007
Is Apple out to kill cable television? – January 25, 2007
RUMOR: Apple TV sales blowing away Apple’s internal expectations – January 25, 2007
Steve Jobs: Apple TV is the ‘DVD player for the 21st century’ – January 22, 2007
Apple TV beats out iPod, hits top spot on Apple Store sales chart – January 19, 2007
Report: first batch of 100,000 Apple TVs to ship this month – January 11, 2007
Steve Jobs moves to control the living room with Apple TV – January 10, 2007
Analyst Bajarin: Apple’s iPhone and Apple TV are industry game changers – January 09, 2007
Apple premieres Apple TV: movies, TV shows, music & photos on your big screen TV – January 09, 2007
RUMOR: Apple may enter video game market – December 05, 2006
Could Apple become king of game consoles? – September 26, 2006

34 Comments

  1. Ok, speaking as a mom who currently spends a large amount of time at home with the kids, I LOVE gaming. Halo, Zelda, Mario Kart, etc. I don’t spend huge amounts of time doing it, but when I get a chance to do it it’s a huge stress reliever. Moms are people too, thank you very much. Why the heck can’t we enjoy gaming? If AppleTv is ennabled with this feature it would be sweet.

  2. iPhone icons: [Where does “Games” go?]

    Text – Calendar – Photos – Camera

    Calculator – Stocks – Maps – Weather

    Notes – Clock – Settings – blank

    blank – blank – blank – blank

    [presumably they could simplify this or add more by scrolling]

    Phone – Mail – Web – iPod

  3. Well I for one have an X Box. Why because of Halo and Gears of War. They are by far the best games I have played. I had a Playstation and a Nintendo but when I played Halo it was the worth the switch. I do not play that much but I do play. I went out and got the 360 just because I knew I wanted to play Halo 3 and Gears of War.

    Someone commented that the Apple TV has small specs. The brilliant thing about it is that if they play their cards right they will be able to stream the games from the computer and not have to rely on the Apple TV specs.

  4. Makes sense. There have been lots of reports concerning the hiring of gaming programmers by Apple. Apple TV has the basic components for a gaming console – now I guess we should pull the device apart and look at its capabilities as a gaming console. Processor? Memory? Hard drive capacity? Graphics? Input devices? I am not a gamer but I am sure those who are will be able to analyse the potential of this device.

    Of course, there may be uprated models of the Apple tv in the pipeline…

  5. Umm . . . this is really nothing new. We used to call casual gaming ‘going to the arcade’ back in the ‘eighties. The early consoles were very simple, just like these Popcap games. My parents loved to play some Atari now and then. This has all happened before, folks. I guess we have finally reached a point where generationally speaking, your average gamer wasn’t around for a lot of it the first time.

  6. I always said the Apple TV would host ‘casual’ games, of the type you get on iPod or mobile phone.

    ‘Casual’ games don’t need cutting-edge 3D hardware, they need to be simple to play and appealing to the masses.

    Globally biggest ever selling mobile phone game? Slot machine (fruit machine, one armed bandit).

    Apple TV doesn’t need ‘Gears of War’ or ‘MotorStorm’, it needs content from people like PopCap games. Expect their stuff on Apple iPhone too.

  7. Informed,

    You can’t kill zombies AND read books???

    What about reading books about killing zombies?

    Or killing zombies that read books?

    You know, a lot of the zombie killing games do take place in old libraries…

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