Apple announced new MacBook Pros today, and I think Michael Gartenberg addresses about 40% of the importance with his post on it. The other 60% (maybe more), in my opinion, is about gaming.
Gaming’s long been a thorn in the side of Mac users. In a previous era the Mac platform represented only the most miniscule of computer purchasing, and even today it’s just a fraction of all computers sold. That is, until you look explicitly at the home and high-end laptop markets, at which point the story gets more interesting.
Last month it was announced that Steam (a gaming platform) was coming to the Mac. Today, inside their official announcement for the new MacBook Pros they explicitly state:
More than twice as fast as the GeForce 320M, the powerful new GeForce GT 330M provides incredibly smooth, crisp on-screen graphics for the most demanding 3D games, creative software and technical applications.
Video games are an $11 BILLION dollar industry. That’s more zeroes than I can type. And almost none of it is on the Mac platform.
I’m a big believer in betting on trends. Further, if I apply our typical analysis as to determining market viability for gaming on the Mac, here’s how it looks:
- Does the infrastructure already exist?
It does now. Macs have sufficient hardware and a mature enough OS to enable immersive gaming (a requirement for non-console games), as well as well-integrated connectivity and media sharing for casual gaming.
- Does the product tie into a rising trend?
As stated above, “heck yeah”.
- Is there already an “acceptable” solution to the problem?
No, the only way to play games on the Mac today is either (1) use BootCamp or (2) play Web-based games. Minorly acceptable for some, but clearly not touching on that $11B number.
- Is there a perceived need?
Quite clearly, people like to play computer games, and there just aren’t many for the Mac. So yes.
- Is there a want for the product?
Gaming is one of those rare “need/want” industries. Some basic googling will find evidence on both sides of “are computer games a waste of time” but let’s simply agree it’s debatable. It most certainly is a high “want” and has tons of emotional and cultural significance these days.
I believe Apple has laid all the groundwork necessary to entice game developers to really pay some attention to their platform. They’ve showed them a clear revenue path through iPod/iPhone/iPad distribution models, and the Mac is the final bridge to cross. The only downside whatsoever is the amazing costs that go into modern game production, with budgets reaching $100 million, and climbing. But considering a $50-60 price tag, and popular games selling 1-3 million (or more), the possibilities are unquestionably there.