Why Apple Should Start Streaming Games

Why Apple Should Start Streaming Games

iOS gaming could be greatly improved if Apple invested some of its billions into a game streaming service.

On Monday, Sony Computer Entertainment acquired cloud-based game streaming company Gaikai for around $380 million in a move that is sure to excite fans of the company’s PlayStation devices. If the Japanese company uses its purchase to create a compelling alternative to OnLive, it has the potential to gain a huge advantage over rivals like Microsoft and Nintendo.

The same service could provide an even bigger advantage to Apple. In fact, there are a number of reasons why the Cupertino company should use its ever-increasing cash pile to make Mac and iOS gaming even greater.

Devices

Firstly, it already has the devices: The iPhone, the iPad, the iPod touch, Macs, and even the Apple TV are all devices that are perfect for taking advantage of a cloud-based game streaming service

iOS devices are perfect for taking advantage of a cloud-based game streaming service.

iOS devices have already proven themselves as incredibly popular gaming devices, and they’re already stealing chunks of market share from handheld consoles like the PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo 3DS. Furthermore, the success of titles like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and Temple Run are proof that we love to play games on our smartphones and tablets.

As for the Apple TV, we’ve been waiting for Apple to introduce apps and games to its set-top box since it opened the doors to the App Store. And of course, Game streaming services are famous for their ability to deliver high-quality games to devices with mediocre specifications, and so the Apple TV’s A5 processor means no internal improvements would be necessary. Even its 8GB of storage is plenty, because nothing needs to be saved locally.

The only thing Apple may need to add is a controller, but for a lot of games, we could use our iOS devices for control.

The Cloud

Apple is already pushing us to live in the cloud. iCloud, with features like iTunes Match and cloud-based backup, is proof of that. And there’s a good reason for this: As the Cupertino company strives to make devices cheaper, smaller, and lighter, one of the big hits will be to storage.

As Apple strives to make devices cheaper, smaller, and lighter, one of the big hits will be to storage.

We’ve already seen this with the MacBook Air — a fully-fledged notebook computer that can be purchased with just 64GB of storage. And the iPhone 4, which is now available with just 8GB of storage.

But titles like FIFA 12 and Infinity Blade II take up more than 1GB of storage on our iOS devices, and that’s a problem if you only have 8GB to begin with. What’s more, most of us only play these games for short periods of time, and no one really wants them stuck on their device all of the time eating up their space.

By moving our games to the cloud, we’ll be saving all that storage. You can remove big games safe in the knowledge that they’ll be there for you to stream whenever you want them — just like the rest of your library.

The other advantage to this is that we can wave goodbye to those hefty updates. Every time we update an app, we don’t just download a “patch” or “fix” — we have to download the entire package each time. But with game streaming, our games will be updated automatically in the cloud ready to stream to our devices.

Of course, you’ll still have the ability to store chosen games locally, for those times when you don’t have access to a speedy broadband connection.

Syncing

With game streaming, it wouldn’t matter which device you’re using; you would simply pick up right where you left off the last time you closed your game.

Right now, one of the biggest problems for iOS gamers is the lack of syncing between devices. That means you must complete the same levels, missions, or achievements on your iPhone after you’ve completed them on your iPad. There are already ways around this, but not nearly enough developers are taking advantage of them.

With game streaming, it wouldn’t matter which device you’re using; you would simply pick up right where you left off the last time you closed your game. It couldn’t be more seamless.

Pricing

Apple wouldn’t need to make any changes to its existing price model whatsoever. We’ll pay the same amount we currently do for Mac and iOS games, only we choose whether to store them locally or stream them from the cloud.

The only difference would be a small annual fee — like the $25 we pay for iTunes Match — for our share of cloud-based storage.

Wrap-Up

A service like this is one way of making Apple’s impact on the games industry even greater.

So there are a number of reasons why it would be incredibly easy — and incredibly beneficial — for Apple to kickstart a cloud-based game-streaming service of its own. The company has already had a huge impact on the gaming industry with its iOS devices, and a service like this is one way of making that impact even greater.

Would you like to see a game streaming service from Apple?

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  • Facebooker

    Well streaming is a good idea if you live in a city with fiber… if you live in the middle of the woods you don’t get broadband ;) in the mean time i’ll check for games from my favorite http://www.facebook.com/free.mac.games

  • Scott Shanks

    I would love to have the OnLive Gaming Service available on Apple TV. The Vizio Co-Star Google TV Box currently has this functionality for only 99 bucks. I could see Apple adding this as an application to it’s Apple TV Home Screen. As stated above the service would be tied into the iTunes Match Service. For those of us that have an iPhone or an iPad with an Apple TV you have everything you need to create the ultimate gaming experience. Also your friends could come over with their iPhone or iPad and then you could move into the Multi-Player arena. Since Apple has lots of Extra Cash on hand to make deals with third parties that already have the infrastructure in place sounds like a slam dunk. We shouldn’t have to spend a lot of money on memory or graphics processors as we did in the old days. Everything is going by way of streaming. If Apple can stream 1080p HD Video from it’s Movie Library, gaming should be no problem.

  • mikfrak

    Unless there has been a drastic change in corporate culture at Apple since Steve Jobs died there is no way the company will actively spend huge sums of money supporting online gaming. Apple has always been extremely reluctant to be associated with gaming and at times has been actively hostile. It could easily add support for bluetooth game controllers to iOS but has always resisted a move that would be extremely popular. The Online app has been available on Android for over six months but the iOS version appears to have been completely blocked by Apple. I suspect that the popularity of gaming on iOS mobile devices was an unintended and embarrassing consequence of providing apps, which Apple reluctantly tolerates because it brings in revenue. But gaming rarely features in Apple advertising and you will never see games promoted in Apple stores. By now it must be obvious that many people buy PCs who would prefer to buy a Mac, because there is so little support for gaming from Apple, but still the company sticks to its guns. I hope I am wrong because I love my Apple devices and would buy an Apple iTV tomorrow if it supported online gaming, but let’s face it that it is never going to happen. If you want online gaming buy an Android TV box or Google TV. Better still buy a console.

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a freelance writer based in the UK. He has an interest in all things tech, but most enjoys covering Apple, anything mobile, and gaming. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell, or through his website.

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