Analysis: Apple Tablet & Social Gaming

There is certainly no lack of Apple Tablet information circulating the news web these days, but as the January 27th announcement date approaches, some of the key information is beginning to firm up. As the feature-set becomes more concrete, the implications of the device become clearer - specifically, the potential increases for the Apple Tablet to be a new avenue for social games.

-Apple Tablet-There is certainly no lack of Apple Tablet information circulating the news web these days, but as the January 27th announcement date approaches, some of the key information is beginning to firm up. As the feature-set becomes more concrete, the implications of the device become clearer – specifically, the potential increases for the Apple Tablet to be a new avenue for social games.

First off, reports state that the device is meant for sharing and passing around a home or classroom. The possibilities are great for turn-based gaming like Playfish’s “Who Has the Biggest Brain” or “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” golf. Imagine players sitting around a room, watching TV, but also simultaneously passing around the Tablet, engaging in IQ-based mini-games. It’s a dream that the DS certainly had, but Apple’s big screen, simple touch controls and user trust means that the games will be accessible for the whole family, rather than just the kids that are used to the DS stylus.

Another advantage of the Tablet is Apple’s use of a camera to recognize the current person using the Tablet. Again, imagine playing a high-score based game where the players could pass the Tablet around the room and automatically be logged in to their own “gaming” account. That high-score you got at your friend’s house is now published for the world to see. This fosters a go-anywhere type of competition, something that really hasn’t been approached by anyone but Microsoft, with XBox live. The difference being that XBox live is not a casual/social gaming system (although with Natal they are attempting to move in that direction).

To really give creedence to Apple’s intent into gaming, we need to look at Apple’s recent announcements. Electronic Arts has confirmed that it has started work on games for the Tablet, according to the Wall Street Journal. Apple also has recently partnered with Ubisoft and Rockstar to develop iPhone ports of Assassin’s Creed II and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. This comes a few months after Apple made statements claiming that iPhone games were superior to DS and PSP games, and that iPhone’s library of over 20,000 Game and Entertainment applications dwarfed the DS’ 4,000 and PSP’s 600 titles. This was the first real attack at the existing games market, and this lead-in to the Apple Tablet may mean the start of a full-out war.

The device won’t be without its competition. Interesting to note is that Amazon is eying independent application developers to develop applications with its latest announcement of the Kindle SDK. Specifically, there’s a quote from EA about developing Games for the Kindle, which signifies Amazon’s intentions. This wouldn’t be anything but a ploy to increase engagement with the Kindle userbase, but the fact that Apple’s new tablet intends to act as an eReader means that the two devices will be in direct competition. I feel Amazon may be looking to develop a larger, Tablet-like device, and others in the blogosphere have echoed such a theory, and by developing relationships with companies like EA, any future devices would certainly continue to support games.

Apple Tablet image via Gizmodo