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Apple Racks Up the Gaming Patents 245

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-button-controllers dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Evidence has been growing that Apple is developing a new gaming console. Now, there are some possible details about how a combined media/game console might work, based on patent applications filed by Apple in late 2007 and early 2008. Here is some of what we can look for: having your personal music integrated into a title, a 'natural' gesture multitouch interface, and a single online store that sells games, media, and video."
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Apple Racks Up the Gaming Patents

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  • by denttford (579202) * on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @11:11AM (#27846097) Homepage
    Apple's other attempt to enter the gaming market. [wikipedia.org]

    As much as I dislike their products, if Apple goes after the Wii with stong iTunes and iPhone/Pod integration, as a gaming and convergence device, they could hurt Nintendo. The saturated market isn't an issue when you can lower the standard of definition and quadruple the market space (e.g. the "smartphone" market).
    They will probably have to kill Apple TV, though.
    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @11:16AM (#27846205)

      They will probably have to kill Apple TV, though.

      To me it seems pretty clear what they want is to dominate casual gaming the way they are starting to in the handheld space (yes I know they are still a long ways behind Nintendo, but there are a LOT of games targeting the iPhone/Touch now).

      In order to do that all that is needed is to add some light gaming abilities and controls to the AppleTV. Perhaps it would not look much like what they have today, but I see AppleTV being the core from which they extend into gaming.

      I never did think they would do a console before as I thought it made no sense, but seeing as how almost all the games I purchase on consoles now are online smaller games I can see it working. With other consoles still focusing on larger games as a focus Apple could really sweep up the smaller game category. Heck, all they'd have to do is court all of the indie game competition winners going back a few years and they'd have a hell of a system.

      • by earlymon (1116185)

        I agree and go a few steps further:

        1. Increased resolution, up from 720p (Apple is good at this now on the Core2Duo mini, so the barriers are gone)
        2. Blu-Ray disk support (or however the hell that's abbreviated, sorry (plus, I only *think* Wii doesn't have this and XBox does - I'm no gamer, so I don't know)
        3. Netflix support? Check out the Samsung BD-P1600 to see the integration referred to....
        4. If #3, then also maybe a similar rental deal with those guys that advertise games like Netflix
        5. Certainly

        • by Gilmoure (18428) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @01:36PM (#27848343) Journal

          Only thing I'd add to this wish list is the ability to put a DVD in an Apple TV and have it ripped to iTunes automatically.

          I spent all last summer ripping 300+ DVD's for use on my Apple TV. I have it tethered to a first gen MacMini with an external 1TB drive for all this.

          If I was to start on this project today, I'd bypass the Apple TV and just get a MacMini. Would be easy enough to script Handbrake and iTunes to do this.

          Maybe they'll come up with a MacMiniAVG for all this?

    • Somehow I don't think killing the Apple TV will be too hard, or even painful.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @11:39AM (#27846511)

      The problem with Apple entering that market: price. One of Nintendo's biggest selling points is their price. If Apple continues with their buy-in-club pricing mentality (and we have no reason to believe that they won't), then I highly doubt Nintendo has much to worry about.

      • by NatasRevol (731260) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @12:12PM (#27846997) Journal

        Well, since iPhone sales(4M) are running at about 1/3 of DS sales(12M), I'd say they have a lot to worry about.

        http://vgsales.wikia.com/wiki/Nintendo_DS [wikia.com]

        iPod Touch sales add a bit more - the other 2/3 of DS sales

        ~40M iGamingPlatforms.

        http://www.macnn.com/articles/09/04/22/apple.ipod.sales/ [macnn.com]

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by michael021689 (791941)
          Everyone who buys a DS is playing a game.

          Very few people who buy iphones and the like do so for games.

          They don't have shit to worry about.
        • by Xaoswolf (524554)
          That's the handheld market however. The DS is pretty much the only handheld(does the PSP still count?) And the iphone is also a cell phone, so the comparision isn't as good.

          The console market has plenty of other consoles to choose from. People looking for a cheap system that is fun will go with the Wii still, hardcore gamers will go for the consoles that have the games on them and a proven track record. Mac cultists will buy anything with an apple on it however. If they release a console, I think it w

          • by Sj0 (472011) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @12:36PM (#27847367) Homepage Journal

            You guys are about to learn what I learned 10 years ago: Discrete devices work best. A dedicated gaming platform will have better performance, better form factor, and better battery life than a device that's a million things and also a gaming platform. A dedicated music device will have better form factor and better battery life than a device that's a million things and also a music device. A dedicated phone will have better form factor and better battery life than something that's a million things and a phone.

            And you know what? When my DS is dead, I'll still be able to call a taxi, and I'll still have 11 hours of music left on my iPod.

            • by Xaoswolf (524554)
              Agreed. However, in a console, media integration is now a plus. People like being able to listen to their own music while playing a game. Dorm room gamers may not have the money or space to throw in a second DVD player. Some integration is bound to take place as things progress. I'll agree that trying to add more features that make you console just an underpowered computer is kinda nuts, and I'll never carry around just one thing for gaming and phone use as that's just stupid.
            • I hear you. But I don't like walking around looking like I'm wearing jodhpurs, either. A little convergence goes a long way: putting an mp3 player into my phone (a G1) - or rather, putting an acceptable interface around my phone's ability to play mp3s, is one less device I have to carry around. Add Bluetooth stereo headphones, that's one less wire.

            • by denttford (579202)

              You aren't wrong. Thing is, it's more an issue of what sells best. or more accurately, what most people think works best for them. I remember how Palm was extolled for not trying to do much more than be a PDA; "who needs a computer that small," was a common objection. But the truth is, people will always want to do more if it's set out in an easy fashion for them. A decade later, PalmOS - in code base and system design philosophy - is dead, and for all its flaws, Windows CE is still around.

              Additionally,

            • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @05:08PM (#27851431)

              You guys are about to learn what I learned 10 years ago: Discrete devices work best.

              That is true, and that is what geeks prefer. I preferred that myself once.

              But you are soon to learn a more powerful truth. That the general populace prefers convergence when it works. "Normal" people (and I use that term neutrally, not implying anything wrong with being abnormal!) do not want to have two or three devices to charge if possible. These people will happily sacrifice a few things to carry less and not become The Batman.

              The cycle is that you have a dedicated device until the general devices get powerful enough to absorb the specific.

              This is true of course primarily in the mobile space, for fixed location devices I think people will generally either prefer or have neutral preferences on quality devices that do one thing well (like using a receiver vs. having an all-in-one entertainment system). But when carrying stuff space and weight are all premiums that people will sacrifice a lot to improve - not just true in electronics ether, just look at hiking gear...

    • > They will probably have to kill Apple TV, though.

      As an owner ($200 refurb, what the hell) I have to say I'd be fine if they killed it. I'd be happier if they just fixed it though, and it really doesn't need much work.

      All it needs is an external DVD player, like the one from the Air, and an external tuner (w/CableCard). Plug them in via the USB2, pass through the video, and suddenly it becomes one bazillion times more useful. I get one little stack, plug it into my TV/monitor on one end and tuner on the

    • by donweel (304991)
      You might have it backwards, what if they upgrade the Apple Tv into a game console / multimedia box.
    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      I think you're right. I'm not usually tempted by Apple products, but I would actually get excited by this.

      The reason I'm not a fan of their PCs/laptops is that I don't like the concept of proprietary sealed-unit computers. The reason that I don't like their handheld devices is that I feel a lot of the features (casual gaming, novelty apps, gigantic data storage) would be wasted on me. The reason I don't like all Apple products is that they're usually overpriced.

      But that's all different for consoles. The pro

    • by pcolaman (1208838)
      More likely that Apple discovers how dominant that Nintendo is in this market. Just because Apple is the gleam in every fanboy's eyes and just because iTunes is the most successful music distribution system doesn't mean they are going to hold a candle to Nintendo when it comes to a game system with an online distribution system for games. Nintendo's been doing it a lot longer and is making a profit while doing so. This gaming device, if handheld, would have to battle the DS for supremecy in this market.
  • by Bieeanda (961632) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @11:13AM (#27846125)
    ...in the Xbox 360. It's white, has a circular interface on the front panel, and as Apple considers the iPods, the RROD makes it disposable.
  • Xbox 361 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by steelclash84 (1129221)
    Sounds like an a shiny opengl xbox that will most likely cost more...that will cost money every time they update the firmware. They can't get a very good game support on their PCs, and they intend to get support from developers on this? Highly unlikely...
  • by b96miata (620163) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @11:15AM (#27846183)

    Sounds like something the 360 does right now.

    Maybe the patent covers a system whereby you're forced to pay the console maker for the music you want to integrate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spatial (1235392)
      And the PS3 and some PSP games. But like all Slashdot summaries about patents, it probably left out some specific to make it sound more stupid than it actually is.
    • by rotor (82928)

      I've always been happy to just play the stereo while I'm gaming.

      • by tepples (727027)

        I've always been happy to just play the stereo while I'm gaming.

        That would work if you can turn off the game's music, and if you can set up your stereo to mix the Xbox 360 and music source so that you don't miss world cues that the game presents through sound effects. I doubt that the median console owner can figure out the latter.

    • by MROD (101561)

      Oolite (the Elite re-implementation, http://oolite.org/) already allows you to use your iTunes database for docking music and has done so for many years.

  • Perhaps they are planning to offer these types of features in their current iPhone/iPod Touch products? Then allow developers access to the framework in some future firmware update? They could also be planning to move games into their own section on iTunes, as they are selling better than other apps. Most of this stuff already fits their existing hardware anyhow, so I'm not seeing how this leads to a new gaming console.
    • by alfredo (18243)

      There's also rumors about a Kindle style device. Think of a full color Kindle with the features of the iPhone.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @11:17AM (#27846223)
    All of the stuff mentioned there could apply equally well to the iPhone and iPod Touch, which Apple have been positioning as proper gaming devices anyway.
  • Sounds like patents for games on the iphone and ipod. Am I missing something? Or maybe something like a media center. Hell my DVD player came with 2 games. That does NOT make it a console.
  • "having your personal music integrated into a title, a 'natural' gesture multitouch interface, and a single online store that sells games, media, and video.""

    sure sounds like the iPhone/iPod touch with the iTunes Store, doesn't it?

    I doubt that they will make a "Apple iWii"

    • by V!NCENT (1105021)

      I doubt that they will make a "Apple iWii"

      An Apple iWhy? I don't know HOW they do it, but they just keep on surprising me with their intuitive design!

      "It's a total waste of your monÃh; the iWhy? Never again was it so easy to just ask yourself why the hell you paid for the latest incarnation from Apple... again! Something ofcourse that's not so easy for the PC, but to hell with it! PC's suck at everything and not just at wasting time alone. Redmond start your photocopiers! Oh it was actually a joke but they took it quite seriously. Let's have a

    • I doubt that they will make a "Apple iWii"

      Not to be confused with the ewi [youtube.com].

  • While things work fine for the casual market, for deeper and more complex games that the hardcore crowd will actually want they are going to have to add some buttons. Though its great not having a stylus to loose, the type of screen the current iPhone and Touch use is simply not accurate enough for heavy gaming. The gyros are nice but games that use them are mostly a one trick pony so far. I know Apple is all about slick and elegant but practical would do them alot of good. I'd love to see the iPhone/Touch as a viable gaming platfom, its specs are better than any handheld on the market but its interface cripples it.

    • by dogzilla (83896)

      Except that the hardcore gaming market is tiny compared to the casual gaming market. So if you want to, you know, actually earn money instead of bragging rights, this isn't much of an issue.

      • Except that gamers, will pay £30-40 for a game and will keep coming back for more [gamasutra.com]. So not only do you need to ship 3x as many copies in a much more saturated market, but you also don't have a userbase ready to buy v2,3,4 at the drop of a pin.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by whisper_jeff (680366)
      Lots of people claimed that the Wii would fail because it's graphics weren't adequate for what hardcore gamers wanted. Nintendo proved them wrong.

      I'm just sayin'.
      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        Lots of people claimed that the Wii would fail because it's graphics weren't adequate for what hardcore gamers wanted. Nintendo proved them wrong.

        But also plenty of people claimed it would work too.

        Now with Apple, I haven't really seen that many say it would work, but it might be because of Apple's previous experience [wikipedia.org].

    • by Millennium (2451)

      Depth and complexity are entirely different things, and the attempt to tie them together has driven more people away from gaming than quite possibly any other aspect of the downhill slide gaming has suffered from over the last ten years.

      Depth is good, but can and should be achieved without gratuitous complexity. Fortunately, it's been done many times throughout the history of gaming, video and otherwise, so there are plenty of examples from which one can draw inspiration. It's just a matter of letting go of

      • I'd say it is more that some players enjoy the greater complexity, and many of those players are the sorts of people who go into game development.

        Some people get a big mental reward from being presented with a difficult thing, mastering it, and then using it. It's like racing with an automatic versus a stick. Automatic drivers would be people like you, who want to enjoy the depth of driving without having to master complex controls to do it (put gas to go, point car at destination - then let the course prov

    • by lymond01 (314120)

      Consider dual wielding two Wii-like controllers, and give them buttons as well. Your swinging becomes the blades of your toon, your left thumb button becomes movement, right thumb button jump. A trigger on one hand becomes the camera and a trigger on the other has special contextual functions.

      You become a dual-wielding jedi knight -- just move your mom's vase out of the room.

  • The controller has already been released! [theonion.com]
  • Games != Windows :-D (Score:3, Interesting)

    by starglider29a (719559) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @11:41AM (#27846537)
    Many people [citation needed] use Windows solely because it's how they play their games. With the excuse of "I can't play cool games on a Mac" gone, those "slaves to the game" Windows users will have no excuse, and will switch to Mac.
    • Except that absolutely isn't the only reason PC gamers don't use Macs.

      Macs are overpriced for the components they have and are almost completely uncustomizable. Obviously the very similar hardware that they all run on is good for the average user who just wants to play a simple game, but for actual gamers it's not as good.

      When I can build a Mac from scratch and not have to spend a bazillion dollars on everything, I'll CONSIDER switching... until then the PC gives me the customizability that I wan
      • by geekoid (135745)

        "Macs are overpriced for the components they have "
        this has been shown to not be true many times.

        "e and are almost completely uncustomizable. "
        most people don't customize there PC.

        "...but for actual gamers it's not as good. "

        no, it's better.

        BTW, must hard core gamers don't customize their PC anymore either. It's pretty pointless these days.

        "When I can build a Mac from scratch..."

        you're becoming a niche user. Very few people want to do that. maybe .001% of all people with a PC want to do that.

        Good luck buyin

        • by Ash-Fox (726320)

          Note: I am not the grand parent.

          "Macs are overpriced for the components they have "
          this has been shown to not be true many times.

          It has also been shown to be true many times. I have a £400 widescreen laptop (HP DV6000 series) with 802.11a/b/g wireless, dvi, nVidia graphics with 768MB dedicated (not shared) video RAM, 3GB RAM, 120GB harddrive, Intel Core Duo @ 1.66ghz (admittedly slower than a Mac Mini, however the video RAM which the Mac Mini does not have pays off big time), SD card reader, bluetooth

        • "Macs are overpriced for the components they have " this has been shown to not be true many times.

          Citation please? From my experience in looking at system specs at apple.com and the prices, this is absolutely true.

          "e and are almost completely uncustomizable. " most people don't customize there PC.

          Note that I said that the average user is fine with their non-customizable parts. It's even-slightly-more-than-casual gamers that do at least a LITTLE customization.

          "...but for actual gamers it's not as good. "

          no, it's better.

          BTW, must hard core gamers don't customize their PC anymore either. It's pretty pointless these days.

          I'm not really sure what you're talking about here. I don't know the gamers you hang around, but go to ANY large LAN party and you'll find that the majority of the people there built or at least added parts to their PCs. Th

        • OSX to run games because they will run better do to how it manages memory and devices. You get more performance out of a slower chip.

          Ok I was following you until this. If anything OSX adds overhead and makes games and the like run slower. Especially due to the way it manages memory. The upside is that the OS itself is fairly robust.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by amicusNYCL (1538833)

      Being able to play a game on an iPhone or Apple game console isn't exactly the same thing as sitting down in front of my computer and playing the games I want to play.

      It doesn't matter if I can play specific games on Apple hardware, what matters is if I can play the games I want to play. Right now I'm into things like Team Fortress 2 and Far Cry 2, and hopefully Empire: Total War once they get the bugs out. If I can't play TF2 or whatever else I specifically want to play, then it doesn't matter what other

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Except money.

      Fact of the matter is there are a lot of low end PC's and very few low end Macs

      I can play any game out right now on a 500 dollar PC. not the highest settings, but more then enough to be playable.

      Is the look, style and over all quality the same? no. But when comparing 500 dollars to 1000 dollars many people will live with the difference.

  • Handhelds only (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jigoman (853944) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @11:47AM (#27846625) Homepage
    I think convergence is what's is prompting this. Imagine making the iPhone/iPod Touch a portable gaming console. Remember when we used to carry a cell phone, iPod and DS? Millions of you already have Apple's gaming device in your hand. I can't see any sense in Apple coming out with a dedicated gaming device.

    Also, I was browsing the AppStore last night and noticed a couple of games that were previously only on the Nintendo DS (Cooking Mama being one). The graphics/gameplay were identical if not better.
  • Seems like integrating private music collections into a game would be prior art.. Audiosurf comes to mind, but I am sure there are plenty of others I am omitting...
  • Your music could get integrated into the game environment.

    It would totally rock to play games incorporating music by my favorite artists like Yasunori Mitsuda, Koji Kondo, and Nobuo Uematsu!

  • No Pippin 2.0 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Millennium (2451) on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @12:12PM (#27846995) Homepage

    After the disaster that was Pippin, I very much doubt that Apple will be going into that business again. Steve Jobs' animosity toward computer gaming is well-documented, and it is unlikely that he would about-face on something like this, as he would have to have done back when this project started.

    More likely, this is an extension of the Apple TV into a more full-fledged set-top PC. Jobs hates games, but he's learned the hard way that games sell computers, so of course he's going to have Apple put some thought into the interface. But this will not be marketed as a game console, and ultimately it will not compete with game consoles.

    On the other hand, it's good to see that they're leaning towards Wiimote-like gesture-based control as opposed to 1:1 motion mapping. It's the best of both worlds: the abstraction of buttons alongside the immersion of motion.

  • Apple looking at EA? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phroggy (441) <{moc.yggorhp} {ta} {3todhsals}> on Wednesday May 06, 2009 @12:14PM (#27847017) Homepage

    I was about to dismiss it as unsubstantiated speculation, but I just saw an article claiming that Apple may want to acquire EA [tgdaily.com]. That would fit in VERY nicely with designing their own game console, which I imagine would replace AppleTV.

    Wow. Apple buying Twitter would be silly, but Apple buying EA could totally change the landscape.

  • having your personal music integrated into a title,

    Xbox had this. Xbox360 requires it.

    a 'natural' gesture multitouch interface

    Maybe.

    and a single online store that sells games, media, and video.

    Xbox Marketplace.

  • having your personal music integrated into a title, a 'natural' gesture multitouch interface, and a single online store that sells games, media, and video."

    Ok so first, didn't apple learn it's lesson already about trying to patent 'touchy-feely' terms? What the hell does "'natural' gesture multitouch interface" mean? Touchin my PS3 button feels natural. I just move my finger over the button. It's not a touch screen, but that is the byproduct of my TV not being touch-screen...unless they are trying to do stuff via the same technology in the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report

    Second: Single online store that sells games, media & movie? I am pretty sure xb

  • What name is Apple going to use?

    Will it be iPhone based or iMac based?

    Will they just modify the AppleTV and make it the AppleConsole?

  • Now, there are some possible details about how a combined media/game console might work,

    Most recently, I wrote this [wordpress.com]. Of course, the idea is as old as... well, the hardware.

  • > Having your personal music integrated into a title

    Audiosurf immediately springs to mind

    > a 'natural' gesture multitouch interface

    Erm.... Wii anyone?

    > a single online store that sells games, media, and video

    Blimey! How did they ever come up with that one? Maybe by looking at the same thing on either the PS3 or Xbox 360.....

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