According to one thousand muppets working for some reason within the video games industry, who filled out what can only be described as an incredibly skewed London Games Conference survey, Apple has had a bigger influence on the games industry than anyone else – and Steve Jobs remains the most influential man in the games industry.
Now, after you’ve given me about three hours to laugh at this hysterically, let me explain why this is, in plain terms, garbage.
I want to start off by saying I mean absolutely no disrespect to Steve Jobs or his memory – the man was a genius, a marketing powerhouse of a man who could turn water into wine and feed the five thousand with a budget of fifty pence.
But let us be honest here, Steve Jobs was always way more into technology than gaming. And that accusation can be widely leveled at everyone working within Apple.
Apple spent a not unreasonable amount of time almost refusing to buy into the whole “PC Gaming” thing, to the point their machines were fantastically well made and pretty, but lacked the meat and two veg down below to accurately power anything worth remotely playing. Whilst in recent years this has slowly been changing, it is a poorly kept secret that this seemed to irritate Steve Jobs – who had to be slowly brought around to the idea that people might want to play some of the latest games on their machine.
But to do that meant giving out details on their operating systems, specs and how their machines worked. And that has always been a murky area for Apple, who really haven’t quite believed in the whole open source thing. Again, it’s a poorly kept secret that there was a bit of a “disagreement” (readas; punch-up in their offices) over allowing non-Apple apps on the iPhone, as it meant giving out a bit more internal information than Steve Jobs felt comfortable with.
And where are they now? The iPhone does, of course, have many lovely apps but, as is traditional, their rivals – in this case the likes of Sony-Erricson, Samsung and LG – have overtaken them on the pure technical specs. Android is open source and now a major threat to the iOS platform. Apple instigated a mobile revolution, but then… bottled it somewhat. The latest iPhone isn’t nearly enough to compete with rivals who are showing the way – gaming on mobiles, the Xperia Play is a great little device. If you like apps, speedy stable platform and a good bit of power, the Galaxy S-II proves this is possible. And these are the same price as Apples eponymous revolutionary device.
Steve Jobs was a man who, whilst a genius, wasn’t really interested in fair play. As a result, he held his company back from the gaming revolution for too long, too long it seems to join in completely now. When it comes to games, Apple are probably the most clueless in the industry. Which makes it sadly ironic that so many seem to be hoping pushing his name to the top of the list will honour his memory, you know, by lying.
There are so many companies in the industry, and people, who have truly influenced the gaming world. We of course have to start with Nintendo – who have shaped controllers as we know them, they introduced us to the D-Pad, the shoulder buttons, the four-button colour co-ordinated scheme on the right side of your controllers. A company who brought us revolutions in terms of platforming, 3D technology and how to use it, analogue sticks. Led by Shigeru Miyamoto, a man who quite rightly deserves praise for his decades in the industry – and his inventive nature which brought us a myriad of games, from Metroid to Zelda to Mario and more.
Steam is currently shaping the industry by showing that online distribution works. Gabe Newell is admittedly a big of an egotist, but that cocky attitude belies a keen sense for the market. Valve have made some of the finest games on the PC – sorry id and Epic, it’s true, Valve has beaten you on this front multiple times. I mean, Portal is gaming at its most pure and beautiful.
Sony and SEGA too have had huge roles in the industry – SEGA admittedly fell foul of themselves, and inability to do intelligent business, but they showcased technology and games that in some cases were way ahead of their time. House of the Dead 2 is a game that, despite being over a decade old now, has never been bettered within its genre – despite the amount of attempts Capcom and EA have made. Virtua Fighter is still, for many fighting fans, the purest and best fighting game out there – it’s not as stylish, but fans clearly prefer the substance it provides. Nothing at all wrong there. And this is before we mention the many years where SEGA held dominance over the Arcade Gaming industry, both in terms of games and hardware capable of running those games.
And what of Sony? Admittedly, Sony have had a fair few stumbles, but they worked through it. The Playstation was a stroke of genius, marketing towards a demographic that many felt wasn’t going to buy into it – but they did, with slick racing games, arcade-perfect ports and of course, Tomb Raider. Their acceptance for other studios ensured some of the finest games have graced their consoles – from Final Fantasy 7, to Ico and more.
At every angle you look at the gaming industry, the smallest player with the least influence is Apple. Who became an afterthought, rather than a player.
So I really don’t understand why a thousand people who clearly work in the industry would say something that is so categorically wrong. I can understand the want and desire to honour a man who came up with some spectacular ideas, and some great platforms – iTunes was a stroke of genius at a time that illegal MP3s were at their peak, and people were worried about being found out, which went hand in hand with the iPod – a great modern take on the Sony Walkman. The iMac is a thing of beauty, most Apple products are – to the point everyone now readily accepts that aesthetics are as important as the technology inside the machine. You can’t sell a powerhouse if it looks a bit naff – Nintendo found this out with the original DS design, and it was only the subsequent redesign to the shape and finish we know now that made it a massive commercial success.
So yes, I get it. I respect Steve Jobs for his hand in turning Pixar into what we have today, I respect his memory for his keen business mind and his uncanny ability to market a product and have an audience eating from the palm of his hand. There will never be another man like Steve Jobs. He was unique. He was fantastic.
But when it came to gaming, he and Apple both were way off the curve, and we should acknowledge that and move on, instead of cheapening very important people, events, designs, games and machines by trying to credit a man with an accomplishment that he himself seemed to not like anyway.
There are other ways to honour people in their passing. Disrespecting the living, breathing blood that is continuing to change and mould the industry now is really the wrong way to go about it.
RIP Steve Jobs. Some of us will remember your true accomplishments.