25 years ago Apple and Bandai launched the Pippin (pictured above), a gaming console that was under-powered, overpriced, title-poor, and a flop. Decades later and it seems Apple might try its luck again: Apple is said to be making a games console.
A May 2021 rumour, that started life on a South Korean forum thread claims that Apple intends to launch a challenger to the Nintendo Switch.
This isn't the first report to suggest that Apple will make a move into the games console space, although previous reports had suggested that Apple would instead be ramping up the capabilities of the Apple TV as a gaming machine. Read: New powerful Apple TV will rival gaming platforms.
Whether Apple's planning a dedicated games console, or a next generation Apple TV with enhanced gaming capabilities, the company does seem to be taking gaming seriously. Apple has a clear interest in gaming on iOS and Apple Arcade brings these games to the Mac and Apple TV.
It's also interesting to note Apple's spat with Epic, the developer of popular game Fortnite. The Epic Games vs Apple lawsuit focuses on Epic's complaint that Apple forces developers to pay it a percentage of revenue and won't allow developers to bypass this via in-app payments.
What will Apple's Games Console be?
The question is will Apple's device be a dedicated games console or an evolution of the Apple TV?
The May 2021 rumour from South Korea indicates that we could see a hybrid games console that blends features of, and can switch between the roles of, a desktop device and a portable handheld.
However, we think it is more likely to be a future Apple TV that combines enhanced gaming capabilities. This is what technology leaker Fudge claimed on Twitter back in October 2020:
Apple Arcade is getting BIG money poured into it. There are currently titles in the works that are aiming to rival the likes of Breath of the Wild, which is why new A12X/Z AppleTV, "A14X-like" AppleTV, and Controller are in the works.— Fudge (@choco_bit) October 3, 2020
Some games will require A13 and up to run 💁🏼♀️
The October 2020 tweet from Fudge suggested the new Apple TV model would be able to play games with graphics like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Fudge wasn't the only leaker to suggest that the Apple TV could get enhanced gaming capabilities. Generally accurate leaker Jon Prosser has also said that the new Apple TV could become even more attractive as a gaming platform thanks to the launch of a new gaming controller from Apple. Prosser said back in August 2020 that Apple has its own games controller under development. Read: Apple games controller coming.
Currently customers use Xbox and PlayStation controllers with Apple devices - a new Apple controller would compete with these.
Apple's Games Console release date
One possibility is that Fudge was correct and Apple did intend to launch a hybrid Apple TV games console but that rather than do that it launched the Apple TV 4K 2021 edition. There is little difference between the 2017 Apple TV 4K (as you will see if you read our comparison of the two Apple TV 4K).
So why didn't Apple improve the Apple TVs gaming capabilities as expected? Perhaps because of these ongoing disputes with companies like Epic and similar cases, such as when Apple prohibited xCloud and other gaming services on iOS because it said it would have no control over the content.
It might be that the outcome of the Apple Epic trial determines Apple's plans for gaming.
Will Apple design a gaming Mac?
This is another option and an Apple VP has hinted that a gamer Mac is a possibility.
Tim Milet, vice president of platform architecture at Apple made a comment in an interview with Tom's Hardware that will excite Mac gamers: "Of course, you can imagine the pride of some of the GPU folks and imagining,'Hey, wouldn't it be great if it hits a broader set of those really intense gamers'. It's a natural place for us to be looking, to be working closely with our Metal team and our Developer team. We love the challenge."
Wondering how a gaming Mac might look? Check out this gaming iMac concept design.
If you are interested in gaming read: