Opinion: Apple plays the console game

Apple is taking over the games market. One day soon your iPad will be a full replacement for your Xbox, Wii or PlayStation. It will run the latest games, the latest technologies and its processor will possess enough grunt to match any gaming console out there.

Think about it. Apple's already selling millions of games each month via the App Store, where games are the biggest-selling category.

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Look at the craze for Angry Birds at the moment. There's already talk of a movie and the game is the both the top-grossing iPhone and iPad gaming title. This one title has racked up over 10 million paid downloads on the iPhone so far -- that's success, right?

Look at the other titles in there: Scrabble, Reckless Racing, Restaurant Story and more. What you'll see is that when it comes to games Apple is offering the full range: from casual to traditional; from action to adventure and more.

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Some of the most advanced (and expensive) games hint at the kind of power you'll see in future titles, as new games engines appear for the platform, (Unreal is on its way).

What we see now is just the tip of the iceberg. Apple is already developing iPad 2.0. This will host a faster processor, will maintain the as-yet unintroduced AirPlay support and offer much, much more.

That faster processor, and further improvements in the hardware and system level support and developer implementation of ever-more sophisticated graphic technologies will open new vistas for gaming on Apple's platform.

In time it's likely we'll see some impact from this as some games migrate from iOS to the Mac via Apple's Mac App Store. Apple will become a pre-eminent gaming company.

Think too about Apple's GameCenter. The social gaming network lets you play games against friends and strangers, offers online leaderboards, matchmaking and more. We learn today that Apple has begun approving a range of titles which support GameCenter, as it prepares the ground for the release of iOS 4.2.

Here's the future scenario, a lot of which is already here: You'll be in a bar with friends, you'll pull out your iPad and play a shared game of Monopoly. Each of your chums may have their money and property portfolios held privately on their own smartphone.

Perhaps you'll all play a racing game, with each vehicle controlled by each player's own phone, but visible on your iPad. That game already exists and is called PadRacer -- and is featured in this video.

When you get home, you'll hit the AirPlay button to play whatever your latest fast-paced action game might be, using your iPad as the controller but watching the action on your flatscreen TV, thanks to your Apple TV box.

After this you might watch a film or TV show downloaded from iTunes, Netflix or another source, or perhaps just bore yourself to sleep with broadcast TV. Maybe you'll make a FaceTime call.

This isn't a pipedream. This is what games industry insiders are whispering about.

Donald Mustard is the creative director at Epic subsidiary, Chair Entertainment. He believes that a game with graphics as complex as those found in 2006 Xbox hit, 'Gears of War' will be possible to run on the iPhone by 2012.

He was speaking to Develop Magazine as Epic moves toward the release of Infinity Blade, its first title to run on Epic's Unreal Engine 3.

The game is already "way beyond" what you can expect on a DS or PSP, he added.

Epic Games VO Mark Rein believes mobile gaming is the future. That in future games consoles will be more powerful and portable. They won't be huge devices permanently tied to your TV.

"Imagine walking into a bar with some friends, propping it up on the table and playing games like Dance Central or Kinect Adventures anywhere you go," he said.

"Then when you get home that same device will use technology like AirPlay or wireless HDMI to connect to your big screen, you'll pick up a wireless controller, or use your phone as controller to play games like Gears of War," he told Develop magazine.

These are just some of the reasons gamers will flock to future Apple devices.

Developers will continue to offer titles for the platform, because it isn't fragmented, making it relatively easy to develop for; because it already has a huge market of potential customers and because those customers are already primed and ready to spend cash on digital content.

Customers will continue to get into Apple's ecosystem because it is secure, stable and offers a consistent quality experience (failed alarm clocks notwithstanding).

Contrast that stability with this study from Coverity, which reveals hundreds of defects within Android's OS, 25 percent of which are high risk.

Another Apple advantage here is that while the likes of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo see games as the principal market for their gaming solutions; Apple sees games as just one of its markets, albeit one in which it shines.

And this will be part of the reason Apple is expected to sell 100 million iPhones and up to 48 million iPads next year, according to the analysts at Wedge Partners.

In gaming, competitors are fretful. Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime last month told Forbes, that Apple is becoming a rival that could "absolutely hurt us more than Microsoft in the near term."

Think about this, and then think about what you'd like a game to do on your iOS device. Then see if anyone's developed it yet, because if they haven't perhaps you could make an App for that.

Signing-off, here's today's funniest Apple-related video clip.

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