The new Apple TV set-top box is going to bring Apple’s formidable catalog of iOS games to the big screen. While this isn’t a threat to consoles that cater to hardcore gamers such as the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, it is a potential threat Nintendo’s niche as the go-to console for family-friendly gaming.
Why is the new Apple TV such a threat, you ask? Because sales of smartphone and tablet games have already been eating into Nintendo’s console business for years now. The Wii U has been a sales disaster for Nintendo and the company finally bowed to reality earlier this year when it said it would start making games for mobile platforms.
Seven years ago when families wanted to play games together, they broke out the Wii. Now it’s much more likely that they’ll break out an iPad. Once you translate that ecosystem over to the big screen to make iOS games available to play on the living room TV, it becomes tougher to see how Nintendo can compete except among its hardcore fans.
Because of this, I have to hope Nintendo is having its developers making Mario, Zelda and Pokemon games for the Apple TV platform right now. Given the brand strength of the iPhone and iOS in Nintendo’s home market of Japan, it seems like a no-brainer for Nintendo to bring its hugely valuable IP over to the new platform.
While it may hurt Nintendo’s pride to be making games for what is essentially a rival living room console, this is a huge opportunity to expand its audience that is too good to pass up. The only question is whether a company that reacted slowly to changes in the mobile gaming market will take advantage of it in a timely fashion.