How many hardcore gamers do you know who are also avid Mac users? Probably not many. Windows users have thousands of titles to choose from, and cheap hardware to run their games on. Despite the many virtues of the Mac platform, it is not the first choice of serious gamers. Even the speedy new G5’s will not change that.Editorial Notice: All opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of osnews.com
Today, the Mac has a limited number of games compared to the Windows platform. Many titles are published months after the Windows version debuts, if they become available for the Mac at all. To make matters worse, many users cannot buy Mac software locally.
Why should this concern Apple (aside from the fact that games are a six billion
per year industry)? There are two reasons. Games are the major sales driver of
high end hardware, and the lack thereof is one of the major reason most PC users won’t
become “switchers”. Is there anything Apple can do about this?
Apple should create a game division to produce original Mac games and port
Windows games to the Mac. I’m not talking about Tetris clones; I mean top flight
commercial games. Apple should produce or port ten to twenty games per year, and
make them available as a free download for all Mac users.
The question is how much would this cost? The answer: less than you’d think.
Most commercial video games cost five to ten million dollars to
(although that can be as high as 20 – 30 million). Therefore ten to twenty games
would cost between fifty and two hundred million dollars per year. Porting an
existing PC title costs only
15 – 20% of
How would Apple pay for developing all these games? The easiest way is to pass
the cost onto the consumer. Since Apple sells almost
three million Macs
per year, adding fifty dollars (the cost of a single game) to the price of each
Mac would generate an additional 100 million in net revenue per year. This is
enough to port ten to fifteen PC titles and two or three Mac only games.
Benefits to Apple and Mac users
Many Windows users feel that Macs are simply too expensive. Getting $500 to
$1000 worth of free games per year makes the Mac a much better value
proposition, without sacrificing the margins Apple needs to retain to finance
Research and Development for the platform.
Even hardcore gamers will have to take a serious look at the Mac when purchasing
a new system. If they decide to switch, those gamers are going to buy high
margin G5’s with upgraded graphics cards. This should lead to a small increase
in Market share for Apple.
Why Apple is uniquely positioned to do this
The combination of small market share and Apple’s control of the platform makes
Apple the only platform where this plan is financially feasible. According to
this article , the
“break-even point on a (Mac) title is 7,000 units. A good Mac title for us
sells about 30,000 units worldwide. One hundred thousand units is our
theoretical guess at a ceiling for a Mac game. The Sims on the Mac may hit this
Let’s assume a fifty dollar retail price, and do the math. A “break-even Mac
title” produces $350,000 in gross revenue. “A good Mac title” produces 1.5
million in gross revenue. The theoretical ceiling is five million in gross
Even if it cost Apple five million for each game (the theoretical ceiling), the
$50 per unit price increase for each Mac generates enough revenue to cover the
cost of producing twenty titles for the Mac each year.
This is a win-win for both Apple and the game publishers. The game publishers
would receive maximum value for their Mac ports, with very little (if any)
cannibalization of their Windows sales. You only get the free game if you have a
Mac. If you use a PC, you’ll have to pay for a copy.
Linux distributors couldn’t make a similar deal, because it would destroy the
sales of the Windows version (it runs on the same hardware). Microsoft couldn’t
make a similar deal since the sheer size of the PC market would make the cost
prohibitive (the cost of Windows would increase dramatically). Large PC OEMs
such as Dell couldn’t do it either since it would be difficult to restrict the
game from running on non-Dell PCs.
The worst thing that could happen is that Apple’s market share would increase to
the point where such a deal is no longer economically feasible.