If Apple made the world’s best games PC?

Alex Kidman
11 December, 2007
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And more to the point, why didn’t it?

If you look at the world of PC gaming, two things become apparent:

1) Virtually the entire PC gaming population is playing World Of Warcraft. Statistically, you may be playing it right now, and not even realise it.

2) The momentum’s been lost to the console world.

The second point is an interesting one, at least for Apple aficionados. Consoles have always benefited from ease of use — does that sound familiar? They’ve also benefited from relatively consistent interfaces — also familiar — but above all, they’ve benefited from having a stable and consistent hardware base. Every single Playstation 3 is identical to every single other Playstation 3. The same is true of the Xbox 360 — well, if you’re excluding storage, which was a very dumb move on Microsoft’s part, but that’s a whole different argument.

This is appealing to consumers — you can play Halo 3 on any Xbox 360, and it’s the same game every time — but it’s also very appealing to software houses. PC games development is fraught with problems — this sound card reacts badly to that driver; this graphics card can’t manage that effect, and that application simply causes everything to fall over in a great screaming heap. Consoles are more predictable, because the hardware is the same every time, which makes bug fixing a whole lot easier, and allows for a lot of re-use of programming elements.

This got me to thinking. One of Apple’s great strengths — and one of its points of monomaniacal control, if you like — is that it controls the hardware platform with an iron fist. A stylishly adorned iron fist, but an iron fist nonetheless. That equates to a consistent hardware platform — easy to develop for, consistent and easy enough to use the same tools for, over and over again. So why, then, does the Apple community celebrate when EA announces a bunch of what are essentially emulated games titles via Cider, rather than requesting genuine OS X games be written? Apple’s in a position where it could develop the ultimate games PC/console — and yet it’s never happened …

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