That was the message from Apple this week, as the company finally revealed its intentions to snaffle market share in the traditional gaming space – after years of fervent speculation about its plans.
Speaking exclusively to MCV, the company confessed that its new marketing campaign encourages consumers to buy iPod purely “to play our games” – and even marked the device out as a real threat to Nintendo and Sony’s handheld efforts.
Greg Joswiak, head of iPod and iPhone marketing told us: “It’s not just the screens that are superior to DS – it’s the graphics capability, the computing power and the App Store distribution model.
“I had an analyst tell me in September – and he was right – that the DS is the past of gaming devices, and iPod Touch is the future of gaming devices. It certainly has our competitors scrambling in what they’re going to do in reaction to this. This product is capable of so much more, and there’s a tremendous synergy we have with the iPod Touch and game developers.”
iPod users can already download 1,500 games via Apple’s App Store – and the platform holder is doing its best to persuade traditional publishers to add a huge number over the next year.
When asked if the iPod Touch was better suited to DS’s family audience or PSP’s more hardcore-focused gamers, Joswiak replied: “iPod Touch represents a more future-looking view of gaming, so maybe it’s in a category of its own. There’s nothing else that does what it does. It’s a very interesting new entrant. I think maybe that’s a better question for [Sony and Nintendo].”
And UK games retail has told MCV it welcomes Apple’s intentions for games – although warned that its platform needs more key exclusive titles to encourage consumer interest.
“The iPod Touch and iPhone are both fantastic gaming devices,” said Play.com head of games Gian Luzio.
“We’d be very interested in selling games for them – and that would be digitally, because it couldn’t happen any other way.
“The devices just needs more games from the publishers we know and love. At the moment, it has the impression of being a bit of a cottage industry, confined to a handful of developers. But that will change. It’s starting to become apparent that iPod has real relevance for a core gaming audience.”
Category buyer at Comet Debbie O’Neill added: “Given its success in MP3, I think any games console with Apple behind it could do very well. I could certainly see iPod as a serious handheld offering if they got behind it.”
Gamestation already stocks iPod for its games-focused consumers. GAME would not comment on whether it has plans to introduce the device when asked by MCV.
HANDHELDS... HEAD TO HEAD
Sales so far: 84.33 million
Projected for FY08/09: 30.5 million (by April 2009)
Best-selling titles: Brain Training, Nintendogs, Animal Crossing, New Super Mario Brothers, Pokémon Diamond Software distribution: Physical media (but DSi service launches soon)
Sales so far: 30.32 million (not including Q3 2008)
Projected for FY08/09: 15 million (but 16 million expected)
Best-selling titles: Crisis Core: FFVII, Monster Hunter, God of War, Lumines, GTA: Liberty City Stories
Software distribution: Physical media and selected titles through PlayStation Store
Sales so far: Over 10 million iPhones sold
Projected: 30 million iPhones sold by 2010
(iPod Touch figures unavailable)
Best-selling titles: Super Monkey Ball, Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart Racing, Tap Tap Revenge, Labyrinth, Asterope
Entirely digital through the iTunes App Store